Little Peggy March

Françoise Hardy

France Gall

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American dreams

American singers could always count on the German market for hits and acceptance, long after their appeal had expired stateside. Connie Francis, for instance, broke in a brand new career in Germany as the hits dried up at home. From 1960-1965, the Jersey girl entered the German Top Ten on countless occasions, with both covers: "Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel" (Everybody's Somebody's Fool), "Schöner fremder Mann" (Someone Else's Boy), and German-language originals: "Paradiso," "Barcarole in der Nacht." Only the teeny-weeny Pennsylvania-born Little Peggy March came close to equalling her success. Within a year of scoring a US number one with "I Will Follow Him," Peggy's career had quickly lost momentum, thus driving her to international markets like Japan and Germany. Her second German language single, "Goodbye Goodbye Goodbye" reached #8 in the German charts, but she credits her win at the infamous Schlagerfestspielen in Baden-Baden as the catalyst for her massive popularity amongst Germans. The winning song, "Mit 17 hat man noch Träume" (At 17, One Still Has Dreams) spent three months in the Top Ten and was followed up with two more chart smashes, "Memories of Heidelberg" and "Romeo und Julia." By late 1967, Peggy was beginning to look more and more like the stereotypical German—bleaching her brunette bob platinum blonde and posing for the camera in traditional Bavarian lederhosen with pretzels and beer. She even tried releasing English-language versions of some of her German material in an attempt to resurrect her career in the US, but was largely ignored. By the end of the decade, having fallen in love with Germany and her new manager, Peggy moved to Munich, where she resided until just recently. Few American femmes could compete with Peggy March's success in Germany, but Brenda Lee, the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, and Lesley Gore also twisted their tongues around German versions of their international hits.

French Fräulein

The German appetite for ultra-giddy Schlager made an exception for the camera-shy and melancholic Françoise Hardy, who unlike most non-Germans, could speak the language with ease. Rejigged "Peter and Lou" in its German version, Françoise's yé-yé bestseller "Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles" was as enthusiastically received in Germany as it was in her home country. One year would pass before Françoise hit the charts again—this time with "Wer du Bist," an upbeat organ-driven German original that remains her most sought-after French EP. Her biggest success came in the summer of '65 with "Frag den Abendwind," also a major hit in the UK as "All Over the World" and in France as "Dans le Monde Entier." In 1966, German teens voted Françoise their #2 favorite female singer in popular mag, BRAVO, and that same year she scored two more hits with "Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen" ( Pourtant Tu M'Aimes) and "Dann bist du verliebt."

France Gall was the only other French female singer to give Françoise Hardy a run for her deutschmarks. Success came early for the yé-yé tween, whose father supplied her with countless teen-pop confections and paired her with infamous family friend, Serge Gainsbourg. Her childish debut, "Ne Sois Pas Si Bete" sold 200,000 copies at home, but it was Gainsbourg's raucous "Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son" that won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest and put France on the charts worldwide. In Germany, it peaked at #2 and became one of the highest selling singles of the year. French-language hits were uncommon in Germany, hence France Gall's decision to follow up with a translated version of "Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges" (Wir sind keine Engel), which sold so poorly that it isn't even included on many of her German-only compilations. But she quickly redeemed herself with top-sellers' "A Banda" and "Computer Nr. 3," followed by a slew German-only releases with such baffling song titles like "Ein bißchen Goethe, eine bißchen Bonaparte" (A Little Goethe, A Little Bonaparte), "Die Playboys bei den Eskimo" (The Playboys with the Eskimo) and "I Like Mozart." For many fans, her 1968 single "Merci, Herr Marquis" remains her best German oeuvre.

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