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Single by Renaud & Axelle Red
from the album Boucan d'enfer
B-side "Tout Arrêter"
Released 2002
Format CD single
Genre Pop, Rock
Length 3:52
Label Ceci-Celà
Songwriter(s) Renaud
Jean-Pierre Bucolo
Producer(s) Jean-Pierre Bucolo
Renaud singles chronology
"Docteur Renaud, Mister Renard"
"Cœur perdu"
"Docteur Renaud, Mister Renard"
"Cœur perdu"
Axelle Red singles chronology
"Bimbo à moi"
(2000) Bimbo à moi2000
(2002) Manhattan-Kaboul2002
"Je me fâche"
(2002) Je me fâche2002
Boucan d'enfer track listing
"Coeur perdu"
"Elle a vu le loup"

"Manhattan-Kaboul" is a French song written by Renaud and composed by Jean-Pierre Bucolo, sung by Renaud in duo with Axelle Red, in the album Boucan d'enfer, released in 2002. It was written in the aftermath of the incidents of September 11, 2001 and the War in Afghanistan. The song was very successful in France and Belgium, becoming a top five hit in these countries. As of August 2014, it is the 67th best-selling single of the 21st century in France, with 355,000 units sold.[1]


In the song, two victims of the events of 2001 sing about their situations and the causes of their death. Renaud sings as a young Puerto-Rican who works in the World Trade Center in New York City, destroyed on September 11. Axelle Red sings as a young Afghan girl killed during the attack by the coalition forces during the autumn of 2001.

The song utilizes symbolism and imagery, with a subtle religious undertone throughout. Though the song is about terrorism and its repercussions, it does not directly mention terrorism nor deal explicitly with political issues, focusing instead on civilian suffering caused by the events.

There are many religious images used throughout the song, such as "l'autel" (the altar), "les dieux" (the gods) and "les religions." The song concludes that religions, wars, and countries victimize ordinary people for their own purposes.[2]


The song was elected the "Original Song of the Year" at the Victoires de la Musique 2003 and the "French song of the Year" at NRJ Music Awards 2003.[3]

Cover versions and TV performances[edit]

  • Patrick Coutin, who had composed the famous hit "J'aime regarder les filles" in 1981, has covered the song in 2003 for the French programme Retour gagnant : a CD containing all the songs from the show has been released by Universal Music.[4]
  • Renaud performed "Manhattan-Kaboul" on October 30, 2004, with 500 singers from the choir "Les Fous chantants" of Alès on the show 500 Choristes ensemble on TF1.
  • The song has been covered by Joan Baez.
  • Philippe Berizzi has translated the song in Esperanto (he has received a permission for the translation).
  • Laurent Gerra has parodied the song, under the title "Washington-Bagdad".[5]

Track listings[edit]

CD single
  1. "Manhattan-Kaboul" — 3:52
  2. "Tout Arrêter..." — 3:21

Charts and sales[edit]


Country Certification Date Sales certified Physical sales
France[11] Platinum 12 December 2002 500,000 523,000[12]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"Sous le vent" by Garou and Céline Dion
Victoires de la Musique
Song of the year

Succeeded by
"Respire" by Mickey 3D
Preceded by
"À ma place" by Axel Bauer and Zazie
NRJ Music Awards
Francophone song of the year

Succeeded by
"Le Chemin" by Kyo and Sita


  1. ^ "Top 100 des singles les plus vendus du millénaire en France, épisode 4 (70-61)". Chartsinfrance. 2 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  2. ^ "French - English Manhattan-Kaboul lyrics". Lyrics Translate. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Guillot, Claire (26 May 2005). "Manhattan-Kaboul". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Retour gagnant, track listing" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  5. ^ "Lyrics of "Washington-Baghdad"" (in French). Abcmusiques. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d ""Manhattan-Kaboul", Belgian, French and Swiss Singles Charts" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 7 April 2008. 
  7. ^ ""Manhattan-Kaboul", European charts". Top40-charts. Retrieved 6 May 2008. 
  8. ^ "2002 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "2002 French Airplay and Video Charts" (in French). Yacast. Retrieved 17 May 2008. 
  10. ^ "2002 French Singles Chart" (in French). Disqueenfrance. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  11. ^ "Certifications Singles Platine - année 2002" (in French). Disqueenfrance. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  12. ^ "Les certifications depuis 1973, database See: "Les Ventes" => "Toutes les certifications depuis 1973" => "RENAUD & RED A."" (in French). Infodisc. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2008.