If you are still hearing in your head the French sex song interlude from last night's 'Mad Men' season debut, Slate's David Haglund provides the original (above) and some backstory. In the show, Don Draper's new wife Megan performed the song in front of their friends and co-workers at a surprise 40th-birthday party for Draper. He was not amused or entertained, but everyone else ate it up.
Granted, the song's lyrics are hardly sophisticated. This is typical of "yéyé," the French pop genre that "Zou Bisou Bisou" exemplifies. Many yéyé singers—the term is a French corruption of "yeah yeah"—were teenage girls who exuded a faux-innocent sexuality; by using such a tune, Weiner & Co. not only emphasize Megan's youthful sex appeal and the generation gap between Megan and Don, they also highlight a part of the mid-60s zeitgeist that is not so shopworn as, say, The Beatles.
And there may be something else going on, too, something more to do with the singer than the song—by which I mean the young woman who recorded the best-known version of the ditty, one Gillian Hills.
Hills, the daughter of an English travel-writer and a Polish poet, spent her childhood in France, where she was spotted by Roger Vadim, the producer who also discovered (and married) Brigitte Bardot. She subsequently starred in Beat Girl, aka Wild for Kicks, a 1960 British teensploitation movie (tagline: "Hop-Head U.K. School Girls Get in Trouble"; you can watch the whole thing on YouTube). In 1966, the year tonight's Mad Men episode takes place, Hills appeared in Blow-Up, perhaps the quintessential Swinging Sixties film (the movie was a surprise hit in the U.S., and helped kill off the Production Code). She played an aspiring model who has a threesome with the lead character, a photographer played by David Hemmings, and another aspiring model, played by Jane Birkin. (Hills sort of reprised this role in A Clockwork Orange, in which her character partcipates, to quote IMDb, "in an afternoon sex marathon to the music of the William Tell overture" with the protagonist, Alex, and her character's best friend.)
Could Weiner have found a more perfect and surprising song with which to convey the sexual liberation of Megan and her generational cohort? I doubt it.
The translated lyrics to "Zou Bizou Bizou" are at the Slate link. Sunday night's two-hour 'Mad Men' on AMC collected the show's highest ratings yet — despite all those dreadful commercials for Viagra and other male-oriented products.