White and Black Blues

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"White and Black Blues"
White and black blues.jpg
Single by Joëlle Ursull
from the album Black French
B-side "Instrumental"
Released 1990
Format CD single, 7" single
Recorded 1990, France
Genre Pop
Length 3:00
Label CBS
Songwriter(s) Serge Gainsbourg,
Georges Augier de Moussac
Producer(s) Serge Gainsbourg
Joëlle Ursull singles chronology
"White and Black Blues"

"White and Black Blues"
France "White and Black Blues"
Eurovision Song Contest 1990 entry
Georges Ougier
de Moussac
Régis Dupré
Finals performance
Final result
Final points
Appearance chronology
◄ "J'ai volé la vie" (1989)   
"C'est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison" (1991) ►

"White and Black Blues" was the French entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1990, performed in French (with some words in English) by Joëlle Ursull, from her album Black French. The song was performed fourteenth on the night of the competition. At the close of voting, it had received 132 points, tying for second place in a field of 22. "White and Black Blues" was co-written by French pop provocateur Serge Gainsbourg, who previously had composed France Gall's winning entry for Luxembourg in 1965, "Poupée de cire, poupée de son", as well as the Monegasque entry "Boum-Badaboum" for Minouche Barelli in 1967, which had finished fifth.

Background and writing[edit]

Composed by Georges Augier de Moussac with lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg, the song was originally titled "Black Lolita Blues", however Ursull, the first black woman to represent France at the Contest, declined to perform it due to the pejorative connotations of the word.[1] The rewritten version met with her approval and has become something of a fan favourite.

The song itself deals with the need to overcome the prejudices of skin colour. Ursull sings that "When someone talks to me about skin colour/I have the blues which sends shivers down my spine/I feel as if I'm in a tale by Edgar Allan Poe". That said, she does not believe in relinquishing her connection to Africa entirely ("Africa, my love, I have you in my skin"), but admits that she faces difficulties in a white society ("We, the blacks/We're a few millions, a dime a dozen").

Musically, the song features an accordion as well as the synthesiser effects starting to appear at the Contest in the early 1990s. The song is in triple metre, with the verses following an unusual phrasing of seven triplets per phrase, and the chorus with a more conventional eight triplets per phrase.

It was succeeded as French representative at the 1991 Contest by Amina with "Le Dernier qui a parlé...".

Chart performances[edit]

The song had a great success in France and was one of the summer hits of 1990. It debuted at number 47 on 26 May 1990 and reached number two seven weeks later, but was unable to top the chart ("Zouk Machine", Ursull's former band, was then number one with "Maldòn"). The single remained in the top ten for 18 weeks and left the chart (Top 50) after 26 weeks. It was certified Gold disc by the SNEP and is to date the 618th best-selling singles of all time in France.[2]

In Sweden and Germany, the single achieved a minor success, peaking respectively at number 19 and number 86. It was also a top ten hit in Austria.

Track listings[edit]

  • CD single
  1. "White and Black Blues" — 3:00
  2. "White and Black Blues" (instrumental) — 3:00
  • 7" single
  1. "White and Black Blues" — 3:00
  2. "White and Black Blues" (instrumental) — 3:00

Charts and sales[edit]

Sources and external links[edit]


  1. ^ "White and black blues". Diggiloo. Retrieved 20 August 2008. 
  2. ^ "Best-selling singles of all time in France" (in French). Infodisc. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2008. 
  3. ^ ""White and Black Blues", Austrian singles charts" (in German). Austriancharts. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  4. ^ ""White and Black Blues", French singles charts" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  5. ^ ""White and Black Blues", German singles charts" (in German). Musicline. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  6. ^ ""White and Black Blues", Swedish singles charts" (in Swedish). Swedishcharts. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "Les certifications depuis 1973, database" (in French). Infodisc. Archived from the original on 30 November 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2008.