French Kiss (Lil Louis song)

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"French Kiss"
French Kiss.jpg
Single by Lil Louis
from the album From the Mind of Lil Louis
ReleasedJuly 17, 1989
  • Marvin Burns
  • Karlana Johnson
Producer(s)Lil Louis
Lil Louis singles chronology
"French Kiss"
"New York"
Alternative cover
US release, B-side
US release, B-side

"French Kiss" is a techno club hit by American DJ and record producer Lil Louis that became a European and American hit in 1989, despite being banned by the BBC.[4] The song also was a hit in clubs around the world and it spent two weeks at number one on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in October 1989. It became a crossover pop hit, peaking at number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a mainstream pop hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number two in August 1989.

Originally an instrumental song (apart from wordless moans), vocals were recorded after the song was picked up for distribution by major labels. In the United States, the lead vocals on the track were performed by American singer Shawn Christopher and in Europe vocal duties were performed by a woman known only as "Pasquale".[5]

Structure and usage[edit]

Distinctions of this song are that it is based on a single note (F-natural) and that it gradually slows down to a complete stop, marked by the sound of female moans, and then gradually speeding up. This was an innovative feature for any dance track at that time. The song includes a more erotic vocal performance than the title implies.

The American 12-inch single was never released commercially on compact disc. It was sampled heavily on Josh Wink's single "How's Your Evening So Far?"—credited to Wink vs. Lil Louis. It was also sampled on The Wiseguys' song "Au-Pair Girls," from 1998. In 1990, the French TV presenter Lagaf' used the sample of the song in a parodic version under the name "Bo le lavabo (WC Kiss)."

The song was also sampled on a remix of "The Loco-Motion" for Kylie Minogue's Enjoy Yourself 1990 Tour titled "The Oz Tour Mix," which remained unreleased in studio form for many years until it was finally released on the bonus disc of remixes of the 2002 Greatest Hits '87–'92.

The track was featured on the 1999 Carl Cox DJ album Non-stop 2000—CD 1, starting roughly midway through track six, "Funk on the Roll." Carl seamlessly mixes it in the background continuously, through the whole of the next track, "Let it roll," before it plays in its entire original form as track eight.

The song was also sampled in "Custom Made (Give it to You)" by Lil' Kim, which appeared on her album The Notorious K.I.M..

Impact and legacy[edit]

American DJ, record producer, remixer and songwriter Armand van Helden picked "French Kiss" as one of his "classic cuts" in 1995, saying, "This song is my first introduction to trance because, to me, it's a serious house track. It was for real house enthusiasts at the time. It's a simple track which builds, it's very electronic. It's full of soul. It's very sexual. It's the first dance track I've known to date to change bpms drastically – I've never heard of an electronic track that had the balls to do that."[6] Also British DJ Pete Tong picked it as one of his "classic cuts" same year, adding, "One of the most important riffs ever written in house music and frequently imitated but never bettered. Everyone else has put it in their charts so why shouldn't I? I signed it and it makes me proud. You can hear its influence in almost 50% of house music that comes out in Europe."[7]

Mixmag ranked it number 53 in its "100 Greatest Dance Singles Of All Time" list in 1996, commenting, "Back in 1989, this was the record that every DJ needed. The one that, if you dared mix out it before the slow down - orgasm bit - speed up gimmick, a horde of people would come up to the DJ for a whinge. At the time it was a bit of fun, a peak time stomper for the height of orbital raving. But looking back, nothing else set the repetitive building tone so much for what would become trance. Ten minutes of eyes-closed bliss from Chicago's legendary trackhead."[8]

Q Magazine ranked it number 516 in their list of the "1001 Best Songs Ever" in 2003.[9]

Rolling Stone featured it in their "20 Best Chicago House Records" list in 2014, saying, "For all the pseudo-romantic flailings of contemporary EDM diva anthems, it's hard to match the raw sexiness of this track, whose vocals came courtesy of Shawn Christopher. But Louis also stretched house's characteristic build-ups to their most dramatic extreme for the era. "French Kiss" is one long, drawn-out crescendo to a climax — get it? — and it hits an almost techno-like, robotic trance."[10]

Slant Magazine ranked it 7th in its "100 Greatest Dance Songs" list in 2006, adding, "'French Kiss' is a moaning, sex-as-house track that audaciously and amazingly slows down and then stops altogether. It builds again, chugging back to its initial speed until it fades brighter than ever in post-orgasmic glow."[11] In 2020, the magazine ranked it number 26 in their list of "The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time".[12]

Time Out's 2015 list of "The 20 Best House Tracks Ever" included it as number 4. They wrote, "This number from Chicago's Lil' Louis was one of the first house tracks to enjoy both considerable commercial success and heavy club airplay on its release. Even one listen to its infectious, unrelenting groove and orgasmic tempo shifts is enough to understand why it got everyone so excited.[13]

Formats and track listings[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

12-inch, cassette and CD single
  1. "French Kiss" — 10:02
  2. "Wargames" — 7:18

• The tracks are actually 9:55 and 7:13 long, respectively, but almost all artwork denote the longer durations.[14]

7-inch single
  1. "French Kiss" — 4:09
  2. "New York" — 3:40
French Kisses (The Complete Mix Collection E.P.) – 12-inch, cassette and CD
  1. "French Kiss (Original Mix)" — 10:02
  2. "French Kiss (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix) (Re-Layed)" — 9:45
  3. "French Kiss (Passion Radio Mix)" — 4:15
  4. "French Kiss (Back Up Your Conversion Mix)" — 9:45
  5. "French Kiss (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)" — 3:50

United States[edit]

12-inch single
  1. "French Kiss" — 10:02
  2. "New York" — 3:40
  3. "Wargames (Remix)" — 7:18
  4. "Jupiter" — 5:20
12-inch remix single
  1. "French Kiss" (the original underground mix) — 9:54
  2. "French Kiss" (talkin' all that jazz mix) — 4:14
  3. "French Kiss" (short but sweet radio vocal mix) — 4:08
  4. "French Kiss" (the songbird sings long vocal mix) — 9:59
  5. "French Kiss" (cherry talk conversational mix) — 5:29

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hed Kandi: Back to Love, Vol. 2 - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Subliminal Sessions, Vol. 5 - Erick "More" Morillo - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Best of House Music: Disco Nights, Vol. 5 - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  4. ^ "16 songs banned by the BBC". BBC Four. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  5. ^ Discogs page for European release.
  6. ^ "Jock On His Box" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental Insert). 6 May 1995. p. 5. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Jock On His Box" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental Insert). 27 May 1995. p. 5. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  8. ^ "The 100 Greatest Dance Singles of All Time". Mixmag. 1996. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Q - 1001 best songs ever (2003)".
  10. ^ Castillo, Arielle; Dayal, Geeta; Harris, Keith (2 April 2014). "20 Best Chicago House Records". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 9 June 2020. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  11. ^ "100 Greatest Dance Songs". Slant Magazine. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  12. ^ "The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  13. ^ "20 best house tracks ever". Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  14. ^ "Lil Louis* – French Kiss". Discogs. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e f "French Kiss", in various singles charts (Retrieved December 27, 2007)
  16. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 9 September 1989. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Top 3 Greece" (PDF). Music & Media. 28 October 1989. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 10 (13. október 1989)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved 23 July 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  19. ^ Irish Singles Chart Archived 2009-06-03 at WebCite (Retrieved April 22, 2009)
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 37, 1989" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  21. ^ "Lil Louis – French Kiss" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  22. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  23. ^ "French Kiss", UK Singles Chart Official Charts Company (Retrieved April 22, 2009)
  24. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 500.
  25. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 156.
  26. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 of 1989" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 6 no. 51. 23 December 1989. p. 6. Retrieved 17 January 2020 – via American Radio History.
  27. ^ "French single certifications – Louis Lil – French Kiss" (in French). InfoDisc. Select LOUIS LIL and click OK. 
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Lil Louis; 'French Kiss')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.