XXL (Mylène Farmer song)

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"XXL"
XXL (Mylène Farmer single - cover art).jpg
Single by Mylène Farmer
from the album Anamorphosée
B-side"Remix"
Released19 September 1995
GenreVariété
Length4:25 (single version)
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)Lyrics: Mylène Farmer
Music: Laurent Boutonnat
Producer(s)Laurent Boutonnat
Mylène Farmer singles chronology
"Que mon cœur lâche"
(1993)
"XXL"
(1995)
"L'Instant X"
(1995)

"XXL" is a 1995 song recorded by French singer-songwriter Mylène Farmer. The song was the lead single from her fourth studio album Anamorphosée and was released on 19 September 1995. It marked an important change in the singer's career, with more pronounced variété sonorities, more accessible lyrics, and a music video directed by a new producer. Although it entered directly at number one on the French singles chart, it dropped quickly and achieved mixed success.

Background and writing[edit]

After the failure of Laurent Boutonnat's film Giorgino in 1993, in which she played, Farmer decided to move to Los Angeles, willing to return to anonymity.[1] In 1995, she found the inspiration to write new songs by reading various books, including La Mort intime by French author Marie de Hennezel, and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.[2] She then asked Laurent Boutonnat to join her in California to produce together a new album, which would become Anamorphosée. However, following the failure of Giorgino, they decided to propose a new public image for the singer, and a new sound with rock sensibilities, inspired by the success of grunge and alternative rock scene in the early 1990s. When the French channel M6 announced the name and content of the first single, "XXL", it surprised the fans, since the album was not released yet. Long-term fans did not expect such a musical departure;[3] some of them decided to turn their back on the new universe proposed by the duo Farmer / Boutonnat, but a new public was won over.[4]

The promotion began on 24 August 1995. Some medias received a sizeable custom-made display rack, designed by Henry Neu, consisting of a giant "XXL" made in wrought iron, with the CD placed between the two "X" letters. The CD single was released on 19 September 1995. The various remixes on the four formats were all produced by Laurent Boutonnat and Bertrand Châtenet.[4] It was Farmer's first single cover on which she did not appear (the second was later "L'Histoire d'une fée, c'est...").

Another remix, named 'UK remix', has been made about a year later by Richard Dekkard, and released on the "Rêver" CD maxi. As for the 'JXL remix', it was produced by the Dutch musician Junkie XL and features on the compilation RemixeS.

Lyrics and music[edit]

"XXL" can be interpreted as a feminist song, in which Farmer expresses women's need of love, in the form of a prayer. For the first time, the message of her song is not universal, since it is exclusively for women.[5] She evokes all kinds of women: bourgeois, homeless, romantic, pessimistic, feminists, anti-abortion, great ladies, prostitutes, transsexuals, celebrities, women who are suffering or not from the AIDS virus.[6] The name of the song is a reference to the largest size of ready-to-wear clothes in the United-States.[7] Unlike the most of the songs lyrics written by Farmer, which tend to be cryptic and loaded with literary references, those of "XXL" are relatively straightforward and easy to understand.[8]

The song has a rock sound with riffs by guitarist Jeff Dahlgren,[9] "electric guitars are ultra-present, the rhythm is more aggressive".[10] As its very outset, the track has a strong driving rhythm.

Music video[edit]

Mylène Farmer, hooked at the front of the 1910 locomotive used in Richard Attenborough's film Chaplin, wears a dress made by fashion designer Thierry Mugler.

Unlike Farmer's previous music videos, this one was not directed by Laurent Boutonnat, but by Marcus Nispel.[11] This Requiem Publishing production cost about 80,000 euros (230,000 euros, according to journalist Benoît Cachin[6]) and was shot in two days one for Farmer, one for the extras – in August 1995, in Fillmore, California,[12] on the Fillmore and Western Railway.[13] Based on an idea by Farmer, the video shows a 1910 locomotive being driven at high speed, which is frequently interpreted as a symbol of sexual intercourse.[14]-This train was also used in the 1992 movie Chaplin, directed by Richard Attenborough[15]

Producer Anouk Nora explained that some difficulties were met during the shooting: "The idea of putting the artist hanging in front of a moving train, it was unthinkable. Because in the United States, they are sticklers on security issues." Thus, it was necessary to sign release forms in order to allow the filming. Moreover, Farmer burned herself twice during the shooting.[16] For the shooting, the singer remained hung on this locomotive for nearly five hours under a 40 °C temperature and was scared because it ran sometimes very quickly. She wore a dress made by French fashion designer Thierry Mugler.[17] No tricks were used, and according to author Erwan Chuberre, "the staging is firmly photographic", but there is "no screenplay". In the video, Farmer appears much more "glamorous and sophisticated woman" than before and "proudly proclaims her femininity".[10]

The music video for "XXL" was shot in Fillmore, California.

The video premiered on 18 September 1995 on M6.[18] Shot in black and white,[19] it features Farmer hung on at the front of a moving locomotive, filmed in an orange grove.[20] These images alternate with those of the train passengers who are very different from each other (social origin, race, age, marital status...). The action probably takes place in the United States in the mid-twentieth century, as evidenced by the sets and costumes.[21]

Live performances and cover versions[edit]

The song was never performed on television, but was performed on the 1996, 2006, 2009 and 2013 concerts.

The song was the last one performed during the 1996 tour, and is also the last on the Live à Bercy album from that tour. It began with the sound of a train, then the scene was fumigated. Farmer, raised on a hoist, wore an indented black outfit, and her dancers wore pants and a golden tank top.[22] The song was scheduled for the 2000 Mylenium Tour, but finally rejected. During the 2006 series of concerts, the hall was fully blue when "XXL" was performed. The singer asked the audience to clap their hands, and at the end of the song, the refrain was repeated by Farmer and the audience.[23] The song was performed again on the 2009 tour; Farmer wore a glittering short dress with red cape with hood; at one point, she caresses her guitarists from the torso to the crotch.[24] For the 2013 Timeless Tour, "XXL" was performed as the 17th song of the setlist. This version had a melancholic intro with samples of "A-t-on jamais" from her album Monkey Me, then, after the first verse, the song turned into its original arrangement while rotating lights lit up the crowd and the stage. Mylène wore a black suit with a white shirt, and black tie and black high-heeled shoes. During this tour, Mylène asked the crowd to sing the chorus only on a few dates.

The song was parodied in 1996 by Le Festival Roblès under the title "L'Amour en 4L",[25] and was covered by Rejane in 1998.[26] In 2009, Belgian singer Jonatan Cerrada made a comeback in his singing career with an acoustic cover version of "XXL".[27] In 2010, Les Enfoirés recorded a cover of the song for their album La Crise de nerfs! ; the singers on this version are Amel Bent, Grégoire Boissenot, Hélène Segara, Lorie, Renan Luce and Lââm for the verses.[28]

Chart performances[edit]

On 23 September 1995, the single entered directly at number one on French Top 50 singles chart, making it her third top charting single. However, the single dropped quickly over the next weeks. It remained for five weeks in the top 10 and was listed for a total of twelve weeks in the Top 50.[29] It was the 42nd best-selling single of the year 1995 in France.[30] In December 2017, the single was re-edited and re-entered the chart at number 27, staying three weeks in the top 200.[29]

In Belgium (Wallonia), the single ranked on the Ultratop 50 chart for 14 weeks, from 7 October 1995 to 6 January 1996. It went straight into the top ten and reached a peak of number three for two non-consecutive weeks. It totaled seven weeks in the top ten[31] and was the 36th best-selling single of 1995.[32]

"XXL" stayed on Swiss Singles Chart for ten weeks, from 15 October to 17 December 1995, including a peaked at number 11 on 5 November, then dropped. This peak position remains for Farmer her highest placement in Switzerland.[33]

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of single releases of "XXL":[34]

  • CD single – Black CD with white writing[35] / CD single – Gilt CD[36] / CD single – Japan – Long box[37] / CD single – Promo – Japan – Long box[38]
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (single version)4:23
2."XXL" (no voice remix edit)4:20
  • CD maxi – Crystal case[39] / CD maxi – Digipack[40]
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (single version)4:23
2."XXL" (distorded dance mix)5:20
3."XXL" (extra large remix)5:02
4."XXL" (new remix edit)4:25
  • CD maxi – Germany[41]
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (single version)4:27
2."XXL" (extra large remix)5:06
3."XXL" (new remix edit)4:43
4."XXL" (distorded dance mix)5:19
5."XXL" (single dance mix)4:23
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (extra large remix)5:02
2."XXL" (distorded dance mix)5:20
  • CD single – Promo[43] / CD single – Promo – Without sleeve[44]
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (single version)4:25
  • CD single – Promo – Germany[45]
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (German radio edit)3:54
2."XXL" (single version)4:25
No.TitleLength
1."XXL" (video)4:22

Official versions[edit]

Version[47] Length Album Remixed by Year Comment[6]
Album version 4:45 Anamorphosée,
Les Mots
1995 See the previous sections
Single version 4:23 Laurent Boutonnat 1995
No voice remix edit 4:20 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 It is an instrumental version with a remixed music, more techno and dance, and in which Farmer sings only "XXL".
Extra large remix 5:02 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 There are many voices at the beginning and several sighs. It is a rock and techno version devoted to the discothèques. Chorus are changed.
Distorded dance mix 5:20 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 This version adds dance sonorities, with numerous sighs.
New remix edit 4:25 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 This version adds dance sonorities, with numerous sighs.
Single dance mix 4:25 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 This version is similar to the 'no voice remix edit'.
New remix edit (Germany) 4:43 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 This is the same version than the 'New Remix Edit', but longer.
German radio edit 3:54 Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet 1995 The introduction is shortened and electric guitar arrangement begins very promptly.
Music video 4:22 Music Videos II, Music Videos II & III 1995
UK remix 9:00 Richard Dekkard 1996 This is a techno version.
Live version
(recorded in 1996)
7:25 Live à Bercy 1996 The song begins with the sound of a locomotive and its rolling, then is followed by the introduction with more rock sounds than on the album. (see 1996 Tour)
JXL remix 6:06 RemixeS Junkie XL 2003 This is a disco version, with a 1:15 musical introduction.
Live version
(recorded in 2006)
5:28 Avant que l'ombre... 2006 See Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy (tour)
Live version
(recorded in 2009)
4:30 N°5 on Tour 2009 This version is similar to the one at the Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy concert series. (see Mylène Farmer en tournée)

Credits and personnel[edit]

These are the credits and the personnel as they appear on the back of the single:[34][48]

  • Mylène Farmer – lyrics
  • Laurent Boutonnat – music, mixing
  • Bertrand Châtenet – mixing
  • Requiem Publishing – editions
  • Com'N.B – design

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format
France, Belgium, Switzerland August 1995 Promo CD single,[43] VHS[46]
19 September 1995 CD single,[58] CD maxi,[59] 12" maxi[60]
Japan CD single[37]
Germany October 1995 CD maxi[41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Habib, Élia (2002). Muz hit. tubes (in French). p. 330. ISBN 2-9518832-0-X.
  2. ^ Rigal, Julien. "Discographie du single "XXL"" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  3. ^ Khairallah, 2007, p. 27.
  4. ^ a b "Mylène Farmer – "XXL" – Histoire du single" (in French). Mylene.net. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  5. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 209.
  6. ^ a b c Cachin, 2006, pp. 267–72.
  7. ^ Przybylski, Eddy (16 July 1995). "Mylène en XXL". La Dernière Heure (in French). Brussels. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  8. ^ Rajon, 2005, p. 101.
  9. ^ Chuberre, 2007, pp. 305–06.
  10. ^ a b Chuberre, 2008, pp. 174–77.
  11. ^ Gianorio, Richard (19 September 1995). "Mylène Farmer – Anamorphosée". France Soir (in French). Paris. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  12. ^ "Interview of Mylène Farmer, on Paris Première, by Paul Amar" (in French). Dailymotion. 1996. Retrieved 15 January 2008.
  13. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 92.
  14. ^ Bee, Caroline; Brunet, Océane; Thiry, Benjamin; Parpette, Jennifer (2001). ""Fuck You" Acte 1". Instant-Mag (in French). Pantin: Tear Prod. 7: 6.
  15. ^ Guillermet, Fabrice. "Mylène Farmer – Son étrange confession". Télé 7 Jours (in French). Levallois-Perret: Hachette Filipacchi Médias. 1849.
  16. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 158.
  17. ^ Violet, 2004, pp. 173–75.
  18. ^ "Le nouveau clip de Mylène Farmer". Libération (in French). Paris: Libération SARL. 18 September 1995. Retrieved 23 March 2008.
  19. ^ "Découvrez ce soir le nouveau clip de Mylène Farmer". Le Parisien (in French). Saint-Ouen: Éditions Philippe Amaury. 18 September 1995. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  20. ^ Rigal, Julien. "Clip "XXL"" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  21. ^ Bee, 2006, p. 148.
  22. ^ Rigal, Julien. "Live à Bercy (1996) – Description du live" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  23. ^ Rigal, Julien. "Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy (2006) – Description du live" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  24. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 342.
  25. ^ "Émission : Le festival Robles de 1995 à 2001 sur NRJ" (in French). Blog 90. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  26. ^ ""XXL", cover by Rejane" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  27. ^ Thierry Cadet (18 September 2009). "Jonatan Cerrada reprend "XXL" de Mylène Farmer" (in French). Chartsinfrance. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  28. ^ "Les Enfoirés, La Crise de nerfs!, track listings and charts" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  29. ^ a b "Mylène Farmer — "XXL", French Singles Chart" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  30. ^ "Classement Singles – année 1995" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  31. ^ "Mylène Farmer — "XXL", Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 3 January 2007.
  32. ^ "Rapports Annuels 1995 — Singles" (in French). Ultratop. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  33. ^ "Mylène Farmer — "XXL", Swiss Singles Chart" (in German). Hitparade. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  34. ^ a b "Mylène Farmer – "XXL" – Supports" (in French). Mylene.net. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
  35. ^ XXL (Black CD-one Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 577 152-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  36. ^ XXL (Gilt CD-one Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 577 152-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  37. ^ a b XXL (Japan CD-one Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. PODP 1121.CS1 maint: others (link)
  38. ^ XXL (Japan Promo CD-one Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. PODP 1121.CS1 maint: others (link)
  39. ^ XXL (Maxi CD Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 577 153-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  40. ^ XXL (Digipack Maxi CD Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 577 153-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  41. ^ a b XXL (German Maxi CD Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 577 391-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  42. ^ XXL (7-inch Vinyl liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 577 153-1.CS1 maint: others (link)
  43. ^ a b XXL (Promo CD-one Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 3197.CS1 maint: others (link)
  44. ^ XXL (Promo CD-one Single (wrought iron) liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 3197.CS1 maint: others (link)
  45. ^ XXL (German Promo CD-one Single liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995. 3197.CS1 maint: others (link)
  46. ^ a b XXL (VHS liner notes) (in French). Mylène Farmer. Polydor. 1995.CS1 maint: others (link)
  47. ^ "Mylène Farmer – "XXL" – Versions" (in French). Mylene.net. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  48. ^ "Mylène Farmer – "XXL" – Crédits" (in French). Mylene.net. Retrieved 3 April 2010.
  49. ^ "Ultratop.be – Mylène Farmer – XXL" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  50. ^ "The Eurochart Hot 100 Singles (14 October 1995)". Music & Media. Archived from the original on 31 August 2005. Retrieved 3 January 2018.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  51. ^ "Lescharts.com – Mylène Farmer – XXL" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  52. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Mylène Farmer – XXL". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  53. ^ "Lescharts.com – Mylène Farmer – XXL" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  54. ^ "Rapports annuels 1995" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  55. ^ "Rapports annuels 1995 – singles francophones" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  56. ^ "Music & Media 1995 in Review – Year End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 12 no. 51/52. 23 December 1995. p. 14. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  57. ^ "Classement Singles – année 1995" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  58. ^ ""XXL" [CD Single]" (in French). Amazon.fr. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  59. ^ ""XXL", Mylène Farmer. CD maxi single. Paru le 19 septembre 1995" (in French). Fnac. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  60. ^ ""XXL" [EP]" (in French). Amazon.fr. Retrieved 6 June 2011.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bee, Caroline; Bioy, Antoine; Thiry, Benjamin (January 2006). Mylène Farmer, la part d'ombre (in French). L'Archipel. ISBN 2-84187-790-6.
  • Cachin, Benoît (2006). Le Dictionnaire des Chansons de Mylène Farmer (in French). Tournon. ISBN 2-35144-000-5.
  • Chuberre, Erwan (2007). L'Intégrale Mylène Farmer (in French). City. ISBN 978-2-35288-108-7.
  • Chuberre, Erwan (2008). Mylène Farmer, phénoménale (in French). City. ISBN 978-2-35288-176-6.
  • Chuberre, Erwan (18 June 2009). Mylène Farmer : Des mots sur nos désirs (in French). Alphée. ISBN 2-7538-0477-X.
  • Khairallah, Sophie (2007). Mylène Farmer, le culte - L'envers du décor (in French). Why Not. ISBN 2-916611-25-8.
  • Rajon, Florence (2005). Mylène Farmer de A à Z (in French). MusicBook. ISBN 2-84343-319-3.
  • Royer, Hugues (2008). Mylène, biographie (in French). Spain: Flammarion. ISBN 978-2-35287-139-2.
  • Violet, Bernard (2004). Mylène Farmer, biographie (in French). J'ai lu. ISBN 2-290-34916-X.