July 11, 2018


The fabulous Bulgarian-French Sylvie Vartan (b. Aug 15, 1944) began her road to Ye Ye stardom in 1961 when her brother encouraged her to record some songs. She made an EP for Decca, which became a hit, and an early TV appearance inspired journalists to dub her the "Twisting Schoolgirl." By the mid-60s she was married to rocker Johnny Hallyday, recording hits, making movies (her first role was in Bulgaria at age 8), staring in TV specials, appearing on Ed Sullivan, Shindig!, Hullabaloo, and touring the world. One project that contributed to her success in Asia was this commercial for Renown- a Japanese clothing company (founded 1902) that had launched a women's ready-to-wear line a few years earlier in 1962. The ad featured a song for Renown she recorded while on tour in Japan, Wansaka Musume. A few different postings attribute the ad to 1965 or 1967, but I believe the former is likely the correct year given the design focus on Op Art. She also mentions the Japan tour and song toward the end of her 1964 diary on-line. Wansaka Musume is basically about enjoying activities throughout the year during the different seasons such as swimming, tennis, and driving. My pal translator Fred Schodt had this to say about the title: "Wansaka usually means “lots” “tons,” so forth. Not exactly sure how it would translate with musume, but in the contexts of this fab CM, it seems to mean lots of young fashionable young Renown girls!" The group Blonde on Blonde (Nina Carter/Jilly Johnson) released a cover of the tune in 1978. Enjoy!

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