Lady Marmalade

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"Lady Marmalade"
Single by Labelle
from the album Nightbirds
B-side "Space Children" (U.S.)
"It Took a Long Time" (Europe)
Released August 3, 1974
Format 7" single
Recorded 1974 - Sea Saint Studios, New Orleans
Genre Soul
Length 3:56
Label Epic
Labelle singles chronology
"Going on a Holiday"
"Lady Marmalade"
"What Can I Do for You"

"Lady Marmalade" is a song written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. It became a popular hit in 1975, recorded by the American girl group Labelle with Patti LaBelle singing the lead vocals. The song is famous for its sexually suggestive chorus of "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?", which translates into English as "Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?" Labelle held the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week, and topped the Canadian RPM national singles chart.

The song has had many cover versions over the years. In 1998, girl group All Saints released a cover of the song that peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. The 2001 version by singers Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink, recorded for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. for 5 weeks.

Labelle version[edit]

Background and release[edit]

Labelle's version of "Lady Marmalade" was produced by Allen Toussaint and Vicki Wickham. It was released on August 3, 1974 as the first single from the album Nightbirds. The song was inspired by Bob Crewe's first-hand observations of New Orleans. After it was first recorded by Kenny Nolan's group Eleventh Hour in 1974, on Eleventh Hour's Greatest Hits LP, Labelle's producer Allen Toussaint decided to record it for Nightbirds. Patti LaBelle sang lead vocals on "Lady Marmalade" with backing vocals being contributed by band mates Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. The song's chorus, "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?", appeared previously in the play A Streetcar Named Desire, uttered by the promiscuous Blanche DuBois. Lyrically, "Lady Marmalade" is about a prostitute. Patti LaBelle, the lead female vocal of the band, expressed that, "I didn't know what it was about. Nobody, I swear this is God's truth, nobody told me what I'd just sung a song about."[1]

Labelle performed "Lady Marmalade" on Soul Train on December 7, 1974.[2] "Lady Marmalade" was a number-one hit for one week on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States during the early spring of 1975, and charted at number one for one week on the Billboard Top Soul Singles chart.[3] Along with the track, "What Can I Do for You?", "Lady Marmalade" peaked at number seven on the disco/dance charts.[4] The single also charted at number seventeen in the United Kingdom. "Lady Marmalade" replaced another Crewe/Nolan composition, Frankie Valli's "My Eyes Adored You", as the Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, a feat that made Crewe and Nolan the third songwriting team in Billboard history (after Lennon–McCartney and Holland-Dozier-Holland) to replace themselves at number-one.[5] Billboard ranked it as the No. 22 song for 1975.[6]

Labelle's version of "Lady Marmalade" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.[7] and was ranked number 479 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Labelle version also appears in several films, including The Long Kiss Goodnight, Dick, and Jacob's Ladder. It was featured on the video game Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 as a version performed with Patti LaBelle. Patti Labelle also danced to Lady Marmalade on Dancing With The Stars.

Track listings and formats[edit]

US 7" single
  1. "Lady Marmalade" – 3:14
  2. "Space Children" – 3:04
Europe 7" single
  1. "Lady Marmalade" – 3:14
  2. "It Took a Long Time" – 4:04

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1974–75) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart 17
Canadian RPM Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 2
Italian Single Chart 5
New Zealand RIANZ Chart 21
UK Singles Chart[8] 17
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[9] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play 7


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[10] Gold 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Sabrina version[edit]

"Voulez-Vous Coucher avec Moi? (Lady Marmalade)"
Single by Sabrina
from the album Sabrina
B-side "Megamix"
Released 1987
Format CD maxi, 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1987
Genre Soul, Italo disco, funk
Length 3:56
Label Baby Records
Writer(s) Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan
Sabrina singles chronology
"Sexy Girl"
"Lady Marmalade"
"Boys (Summertime Love)"

Background and release[edit]

"Lady Marmalade" was covered by Italian pop star Sabrina. It was released in 1987 as the album's second single by Baby Records. In some countries, including France and the Netherlands, the song was known as "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? (Lady Marmalade)" and was released in 1988.

Track listings[edit]

7" maxi[11]
  1. "Lady Marmalade" – 3:55
  2. "Boys, Hot Girl, Sexy Girl" (7" megamix) – 4:10
12" maxi[12]
  1. "Lady Marmalade" (12" remix) – 5:57
  2. "Boys, Hot Girl, Sexy Girl" (12" megamix) – 6:04
CD maxi[13]
  1. "Lady Marmalade" (12" remix) – 6:08
  2. "Boys, Hot Girl, Sexy Girl" (megamix) – 6:04
  3. "Lady Marmalade" – 3:55
  • Remixed by Peter Vriends, produced by Claudio Cecchetto

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
Belgian Flanders (Ultratop)[14] 36
France (SNEP)[15] 41
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16] 40

All Saints version[edit]

"Lady Marmalade"
Single by All Saints
from the album All Saints
B-side "No More Lies", "Get Bizzy"
Released January 27, 1998
Format CD single
Recorded 1997
Genre Dance-pop, disco, R&B
Length 4:04
Label London
Producer(s) Johnny Douglas, Timbaland
All Saints singles chronology
"Never Ever"
"Under the Bridge"/"Lady Marmalade"
"Bootie Call"
Audio sample
file info · help

Background and release[edit]

In 1998, English girl group All Saints covered "Lady Marmalade" as part of the double A-sided single "Under the Bridge" / "Lady Marmalade". The third single from their self-titled debut album, it contained the "Marmalade" cover and a cover of "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers; it reached number one on the official UK Top 40, becoming their second number-one hit. In Europe, only the "Lady Marmalade" single was released. A total of 424,799 singles have been sold in the UK, with proceeds from the single going to breast cancer charities. The All Saints version contains different lyrics for its verses; the only lyrics retained from the original composition are the chorus. A version remixed by Timbaland appeared on the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack.

Music video[edit]

British actress Kathryn Allerston appears in the music video.

Track listings[edit]

  • All Saints CD maxi single
  1. "Lady Marmalade" ('98 mix) – 4:02
  2. "Lady Marmalade" (Mark's Miami Madness mix) – 7:55
  3. "Lady Marmalade" (Sharp South Park vocal remix) – 8:09
  4. "Lady Marmalade" (Henry & Hayne's La Jam mix) – 6:47
  • All Saints CD 1
  1. "Under the Bridge" – 5:03
  2. "Lady Marmalade" – 4:04
  3. "No More Lies" – 4:08
  4. "Lady Marmalade" (Henry & Haynes La Jam mix) – 9:23
  5. "Under the Bridge" (promo video) – 5:00
  • All Saints CD 2
  1. "Lady Marmalade" (Mark!'s Miami Madness mix) – 7:56
  2. "Lady Marmalade" (Sharp South Park vocal remix) – 8:10
  3. "Under the Bridge" (Ignorance remix featuring Jean Paul e.s.q) – 4:55
  4. "Get Bizzy" – 3:45

Chart performance[edit]