So, in a previous “Big In…” episode, I posted a video by Germany’s currently reigning Idol-equivalent champion Mehrzad Marashi and the same show’s most successful alumnus Mark Medlock, doing a pretty horrible dance song together… on a boat. Not to be outdone is one Jessy Matador, the 27-year-old Zairian-French singer-and-dancer who represented France in this year’s Eurovision song competition with “Allez! Ola! Olé!” and gave the country its best showing in years. (France last won the competition in 1977. The last time it placed as a runner-up was in 1991.) The song may only have placed 12th in the Eurovision competition but it’s currently shaking its ass at the top of the French pop chart, and it’s formed a gigantic conga line all over Europe going Top 20 in Germany, and Top 10 in Belgium, Norway (who as 2009’s Eurovision winners hosted this year’s competition) and Finland (suck on that, Dark Metal). It even nicked the U.S. club charts.
And why not? Its infectious Afro-Carribean beats feel both instantly familiar and alluringly exotic – it’s a song in search of a Bacardi ad campaign, basically. When Jessy Matador calls out “Tout le monde!”, he means, “Everybody!”. But the literal translation of the French is “All the world!” and that applies here too. The song’s got a chorus that blithely defies language barriers by defying language itself. Allez Ola Ole? A two-year-old from Mongolia could sing along to it! The first time I heard this, I just thought it was a goofy song (the video doesn’t help that impression – see about 3:08 in the video for the dorkiest temper tantrum ever) that I figured I’d forget before I had time to close the internet browser. But its infuriatingly simple hooks have proven as relentless as Jaws, and I’ll be damned if I’ve gone a day the last couple weeks without going back to it at least once before heading out on my morning commute.