In our many years of DJ-ing all kinds of events in and around New York City – from fashion shows to weddings to corporate mixers to private parties – we’ve found that it’s always good to throw in a few playful and fun songs that you can bet guests have not heard before, but can immediately like. The genre really doesn’t matter, just as long as the song matches the mood of the event or the part of the event that’s going on at the moment the song is played, and that there’s something about it that makes the guests feel it – whether that means they dance to it, bounce their head a bit during a cocktail hour, or simply smile at it and wonder what the song is.
A reliable way to get this reaction in crowds at almost any kind of event is to mix something exotic with something familiar, and while this is often done through remixes or mash-ups, another great way to do it is by digging up gems of cover songs from the period from about 1950 to 1975, when it seemed a lot of Europe was madly recording their own versions of American rock and roll singles. While German, Polish, Italian and other foreign languages can sound at times great covering rock classics in that they can give them intriguing new atmospheres of many kinds, and while Spanish-language covers seem to always increase the festiveness of an original song, it seems that French covers, at least from this era, have a lock on pulling out from the original versions an impressive amount of both sexiness and playfulness at the same time, but also rarely go too far as to veer into kitsch or over-cutesiness. (Go here to listen to another great sexy French cover recommendation of ours.)
“Excuse Moi Partenaire”, a French language cover by ’60s French heart-throb Johnny Hallyday of a mid-tempo blues-tinged rock tune (originally recorded in 1963 by Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and called “Cuttin’ In”) is a prefect example of this. It’s somewhat unfamiliar of a melody even to American ears, but has a warm, loose feel that’s easy to find room inside to groove with and when you hear Hallyday smoothly croon the title of the song as its cocky first words (words easy to figure out even though they’re in French: “Excuse me, partner”), you immediately will wonder where you’ve heard it – a Quentin Tarantino film? Some Paris lounge compilation CD? Maybe from your parents’ record collection, but the American version of it? Whatever the case, it’s hard not to be drawn into Hallyday’s version of the song, which, like a lot French covers, conjures a more loungey, and suave mood out of the original (which, in in own right is great, go here to hear it) making it equally perfect for background music to tap your feet to while at the bar having a cocktail or sitting down eating dinner, but also for a sly late-night sway with your partner as a party’s wrapping up.
Johnny Hallyday – Excuse Moi Partenaire