La Vie en rose
|"La Vie en rose"|
|Single by Édith Piaf|
|from the album Chansons Parisiennes|
|B-side||"Un refrain courait dans la rue"|
|Songwriter(s)||Édith Piaf (lyrics)|
Louiguy and Marguerite Monnot (melody)
|Édith Piaf singles chronology|
"La Vie en rose" (French pronunciation: [la vi ɑ̃ ʁoz]) was the signature song of popular French singer Édith Piaf, written in 1945, popularized in 1946, and released as a single in 1947. The song became very popular in the US in 1950 with no fewer than seven different versions reaching the Billboard charts. These were by Tony Martin, Paul Weston, Bing Crosby (recorded June 22, 1950), Ralph Flanagan, Victor Young, and Louis Armstrong.
A version in 1977 by Jamaican singer Grace Jones was also a successful international hit. "La Vie en rose" has been covered by many other artists over the years, including a 1993 version by American singer Donna Summer. Harry James also recorded a version in 1950 on Columbia 38768. Bing Crosby recorded the song again for his 1953 album Le Bing: Song Hits of Paris.
Background and release
The song's title can be translated as "Life in happy hues", "Life seen through happy lenses", "Life in rosy hues"; its literal meaning is "Life in Pink".
The lyrics and melody of the song were written by Édith Piaf herself, but the melody was said officially to have been composed and registered by Louiguy only, since at the time, due to the stringent registration requirements of SACEM, Piaf did not have the necessary qualifications to be able to copyright her work with SACEM. Piaf offered the song to Marianne Michel, who slightly modified the lyrics, changing "les choses" ("things") for "la vie" ("life"). In 1943, Piaf had performed at a nightclub/bordello called "La Vie en Rose". Initially, Piaf's peers and songwriting team did not think the song would be successful, finding it weaker than the rest of her repertoire. Heeding their advice, the singer put the song aside, only to change her mind the next year. The song was performed live in concert for the first time in 1946. It became a favorite with audiences. "La Vie en rose" was the song that made Piaf internationally famous, with its lyrics telling about the joy of finding true love and appealing to those who had survived the difficult wartime.
"La Vie en rose" was released on a 10" single in 1947 by Columbia Records, a division of EMI, with "Un refrain courait dans la rue" making the B-side. It met with a warm reception and sold a million copies in the US. It was the biggest-selling single of 1948 in Italy, and the ninth biggest-selling single in Brazil in 1949. Piaf performed the song in the 1948 French movie Neuf garçons, un cœur. The first of her albums to include "La Vie en rose" was the 10" Chansons parisiennes, released in 1950. The song appeared on most of Piaf's subsequent albums, and on numerous greatest hits compilations. It went on to become her signature song and her trademark hit, sitting with "Milord" and "Non, je ne regrette rien" among her best-known and most recognizable tunes. Encouraged by its success, Piaf wrote 80 more songs in her career.
English lyrics were written by Mack David and numerous versions were recorded in the US in 1950. Those that charted were by Tony Martin (reached the No. 9 position in the Billboard charts), Paul Weston (No. 12 position), Bing Crosby (No. 13 position), Edith Piaf (No. 23 position), Ralph Flanagan (No. 27 position) and Victor Young (No. 27 position). Louis Armstrong recorded C'est si bon and La Vie en rose in New York City with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra on June 26, 1950 and this reached the No. 28 position in the Billboard charts. Bing Crosby also recorded the song in French in 1953 for his album Le Bing: Song Hits of Paris.
- 10" Single (1947)
- A. "La Vie en rose"
- B. "Un refrain courait dans la rue"
|US Billboard Hot 100||23|
References in popular culture
Two films about Piaf named after the song's title have been produced. The first one, a 1998 documentary, used archive footage and interviews with Raquel Bitton, and was narrated by Bebe Neuwirth. The 2007 biographical feature film La Vie en Rose won Marion Cotillard an Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying Piaf in the film from childhood until her death at 47.
As music in films
- Stage Fright (1950)
- Operation: Rabbit (1952) – instrumental only (uncredited)
- Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (1953) – hummed by a mischievous Daffy Duck
- By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953) – instrumental only
- Sabrina (1954) – as Sabrina Fairchild's song
- Noches de Casablanca (1963) – sung by Sara Montiel
- The Cheap Detective (1978) – however, Eileen Brennan's character, Betty DeBoop, doesn't sing the words, and just sings "La la la la la la la en rose"
- Bull Durham (1988)
- A Foreign Field (1993)
- Natural Born Killers (1994)
- Prêt-à-Porter (1994) Grace Jones' version
- French Kiss (1995)
- Sabrina (1995)
- Chloé (1996)
- A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998)
- Summer of Sam (1999)
- View from the Top (2003)
- Love Me If You Dare (2003)
- Something's Gotta Give Deleted Scene (2003)
- Piaf starring Raquel Bitton Lionsgate film (2003)
- Modigliani (2004)
- A World Without Thieves (2004)
- Valiant (2005)
- Lord of War (2005)
- The Yacoubian Building (2006)
- La Vie en rose (2007)
- Mister Lonely (2007)
- Jellyfish (2007)
- Fred Claus (2007)
- The Bucket List (2007)
- The Wackness (2008)
- WALL-E (2008)
- Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009)
- X-Men: First Class (2011)
- Monte Carlo (2011)
- Midnight in Paris (2011)
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)
- The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)
- The Other Woman (2014)
- A Star Is Born (2018)
As music in other media
- In the 2006 Egyptian film The Yacoubian Building, chanteuse Christine (Yousra) includes "La Vie en rose" in her repertoire, singing it on at least one occasion for Zaki el Dessouki (Adel Emam).
- In the 1954 movie Sabrina this song is mentioned and played many times throughout the movie, including a partial rendition by Audrey Hepburn.
- In the season 4 I Love Lucy episode "Hollywood Anniversary", the song is played by a band in the final scene.
- Steampunk chanteuse Veronique Chevalier does a parody version – which turns out to be about a battle with slugs.
- In the 2003 romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give, the song is played several times during scenes of Paris, and actor Jack Nicholson (Harry Sanborn) sings it during the closing credit roll.
- Cristin Milioti performed the song in "How Your Mother Met Me", an episode of How I Met Your Mother.
- It is used prominently multiple times in BioShock Infinite's DLC BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea.
- Korean drama A Rosy Life's main title song is a Korean version aptly titled "장밋빛 인생" (Revised Romanization jangmitbit insaeng, translated as "rose-colored life"), which is also the original Korean title of the drama.
- Philippine political suspense-drama Wildflower Zsa Zsa Padilla portrays the villanious Red Dragon sings this song at a charity ball she organized.
- Ian Fleming references the song in his first James Bond novel Casino Royale, when Bond is eating with Vesper Lynd, and again in his fourth novel Diamonds Are Forever, when Bond chooses to skip it on the record player as it has "painful memories".
- The Avengers TV series used this song as an episode title. It was played repeatedly in a house in which Emma Peel was held against her will by an enemy agent she had seduced and betrayed by utilizing the song.
- Lyrics from the song are quoted in Albert Cohen's 1968 novel Belle du Seigneur (chapter LVI).
- La Vie en Rose was the name of a spaceship in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, as well as an episode title of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
- La Vie en rose is mentioned in John Boyne's 2006 novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
- Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall recorded a cover, included as a digital bonus track of her second studio album Drastic Fantastic.
- American singer Lady Gaga performed 'La Vie en Rose' during her Cheek to Cheek Tour with Tony Bennett in 2015. Gaga also recorded the song for the soundtrack to the 2018 film, A Star Is Born. Her recorded version debuted atop the Billboard World Digital Songs chart.
- American singer/songwriter Madonna performed 'La Vie en Rose' during her Rebel Heart Tour in 2015–2016. The live recording of the performance was released on the album, Rebel Heart Tour.
- Marina Prior and Mark Vincent covered the song on their album Together in 2016.
- Dean Martin covered this song on his album French Style recorded in 1962.
- French singer Anne Pigalle has sang La Vie En Rose live since the beginning of her career and all over the world, including Ronnie Scott's and the Café de Paris in London, Silencio club in Paris, Japan, Mexico, Chateau Marmont in LA, Danceteria in NY and a fundraiser for Tin Pan Alley, the film
- Filipina actress and singer Zsa Zsa Padilla also did the song from the top-rating teleserye Wildflower.
American singer Donna Summer covered "La Vie en rose" in 1993 for the tribute album called Tribute to Edith Piaf or Edith Piaf Tribute, on which several contemporary stars recorded interpretations of some of Piaf's best known songs. Released on both vinyl and CD, the American release of the album and single contain a different mix of Summer's synth-driven performance than the French release. These releases are among the most sought after of Summer's collectables. The U.S. single features a variety of remixes by DJ Chris Cox.
|"La Vie en rose"|
|Single by Grace Jones|
|from the album Portfolio|
|Length||7:27 (album version)|
3:35 (single version)
|Grace Jones singles chronology|
Background and release
Jamaican singer Grace Jones covered "La Vie en rose" in 1977 for her debut studio album Portfolio. It was the third and the last single off that album, and at the same time, her first single release on Island Records after having signed with the label.
The single version was heavily edited from its original album version being more than seven minutes long to a 3.5-minute track. Jones' fairly radical bossa nova interpretation of Édith Piaf's signature tune became her first international hit single and a staple of her repertoire. It was later performed as part of her 1981 A One Man Show, then the only track from her disco era to be included in the show. In Spain and Mexico the track was billed as "La Vida en rosa" on the 7" single release, although it was not a Spanish version of the song. Jones' recording of "La Vie en rose" was later re-released a number of times in the early 1980s and finally reached #12 in the UK charts when re-released as a double A-side with "Pull Up to the Bumper" in 1985. The single was certified Gold in France and Italy.
Grace Jones about the song: "That's a very special song to me. Oh God, I cry every time I sing it. I had quite a few French lovers, so every time I sing it I think about them."
It has sold 158,700 copies in France. The music video for the song was made using the chroma key technique. It presents Grace dancing and singing the song with the famous 1978 montage picture of herself in the background, which was later used for the cover of her 1985 Island Life compilation. The video begins with Grace wearing a rose-patterned coat. Having removed it, the singer dances in a scant gold dress which reveals her right nipple as well as black underwear.
*sales figures based on certification alone
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