L’ÂME-STRAM-GRAM


En moi, en moi, toi que j'aime
Dis-moi, dis-moi quand ça n'va pas...

“L’Âme-stram-gram” is a 1999 song recorded by French singer-songwriter Mylène Farmer. It was the lead single from her fifth studio album Innamoramento and was released on 9 March 1999. The lyrics were written by Farmer and the music was composed by Laurent Boutonnat. Musically, the song has techno and dance influences which marked an artistic change in the singer’s career, although the rest of the album contains more pop songs.



Based on a famous children’s counting rhyme, the song is primarily about confidence, secret, and confession and uses the lexical field of psychoanalysis; however, the many puns and double meanings can also provide another spin explicitly referring to sexuality. The lyrics are super sexy, its raw and erotic yet elegant and playfully vague. It paints a clear picture of almost a verbal porn movie and yet with the strokes that are impressionistic and romantic. How the heck does she do it?

The text contains numerous erotic puns with the sound associations refer to the orgasm, the sexual organs and penetration. In an April 1999 interview, Farmer explained: “I tried to evoke the idea of confidence, secret, confession, the idea of “the other”, simply. One’s double, perhaps. In all cases, a friendly ear”.  

Although the “other” is a long time underlining theme of Mylene, a vision of the couch in the shrink’s office where one confesses all the secrets is something new. The concept is powerful and very intriguing as apparently for Mylene as well.

First off, it took some linguistic dive into French slang to begin to understand how many different meanings children’s’ rhyme “am stram gram” actually has. I am sure I am missing some but here is a few for you non-French speaking fans. Lucky French native fans, please comment below any more meanings and other play of words I am sure I have missed.

  1. It can be interpreted as English “Eenie meenie miney moe” Example: Pile ou face ou “am stram gram”? (Flip a coin or did you go “Eenie meenie miney moe”?)
  2. Ippy-dippy” (aka Rejecting conventional practices or behavior) Example: Condamné par am stram gram. (I’ve been ippy-dippied to death)
  3. being exactly the same” Example:  Am stram gram, son petit vaisseau colégram (We’re exactly the same person.)
  4. Something like “hey! Woah!” Example: Un am-stram-gram. Qu’est-ce qui se trame, shérif? (What’s going on, Sheriff?)
  5. you are it!” ,“I choose you” the meaning from the rhymes: Neptune, Pluton et ratatam, am stram gram. (Past Neptune and Pluto’s moon, the one I choose is you)
  6. Finally, it is drug dealers slang referring to the gram (cocaine, meth etc) This meaning was given to me by my French speaking acquaintance

The unexpected twist to this already packed with meanings phrase – she replaces the word “am” with “L’Âme” which mean “soul” and takes the text to the whole new spiritual level. Uph…she is for sure a virtuoso of a words play.

Mylène admitted that she wrote the text in Los Angeles, alone, locked in the bedroom. “I can’t explain a text. It was quite spontaneous, it was dynamic. I like this theme! I already wanted images, in relation to this theme.” (Mylène Farmer – Alouette – 04/16/1999)

The clip is apparently Inspired by the romantic comedy horror film A Chinese Ghost Story:

The expensive eight-minute music video was shot by Hong Kong film director Ching Siu-Tung in Beijing and displays Farmer portraying twin sisters who have supernatural powers; the first being kidnapped by Chinese bandits and rescued by her sister, who dies in the process, causing the first twin to commit suicide.

Farmer promoted the song by performing it on three TV shows and then singing it on two of her subsequent tours. The single peaked at number two in France and was certified as silver for having over 125,000 sales. It was also a top ten hit in Belgium (Wallonia).

As of January 1999, Farmer had not appeared on television for over a year and a half, the last time being the release of the live singles from the album Live à Bercy. At that time, it was rumored that the singer’s return was imminent, with the release of a very rhythmic single named “The Small World” and a new album whose name would be “Mes Moires”. These rumors were incorrect. What else is new? 😊

However, as early as February, the radio station NRJ aired Farmer’s new single, titled “L’Âme-stram-gram”. This techno and dance song seemed to display a major change in Farmer’s musical register. According to Farmer, the choice of this single was made haphazardly, as she said in an interview: “This happened like that. Laurent [Boutonnat] wrote a rhythm, and I confess that I really want, precisely, something rhythmic, even a little lighter.” Her voice in the beginning sounds similar to Alice from earlier album Anamorphosée.

I love the whispering rhythmical sounds. Very sexy, vulnerable yet very strong.

Promotional envelopes were released in a limited edition respectively on 2 and 6 March and contained, in addition to the CD single, the song’s lyrics written by Farmer. The remixes, deemed “rather successful” by French author Julien Rigal, were not produced by Boutonnat, unlike Farmer’s previous singles, but by Perky Park and Lady B. The art cover of the various formats, made by Italian photographer Marino Parisotto Vay, showed Farmer behind blue veils.

See this chapter for more photos: https://mylenefarmerbook.com/chapters-21-40/lamour-naissant-chapter-33-of-155/

“L’Âme-stram-gram” has techno influences and a subdued singer’s voice, making it more heavenly. The music used more synthesizers and bass guitar than the songs from the previous album, Anamorphosée; the song, however, was not representative of the musical universe of Innamoramento. The song marked a change of influences by Farmer who “abandoned the Slavonic and American universes to be interested in Asia”, as noted by author Erwan Chuberre.

It was a beautiful change. Mylene definitely tries many different folk influences (Russian/Slavic in Tristana, Spanish in Sans Logique,

 Arabic in La poupée qui fait non and Leila, Celtic in l’Amour naissant, African Ethnic sounds in Mylenium and now Asian/Chinese). Its just so refreshing to see her always trying something new!

By the way the twin sister was played by Valerie Bony – Mylene’s dancer and a choreographer with whom she collaborates up to this day. For more info visit chapter Mylene is calling

You can see Valerie working with Mylene in the “l’Ultime Création” documentary

Here we go again, having the “The other half” theme brought up again the tragic settings. Surprisingly for me, I find (again!!) the coincidental continuation of the yesterday’s Elle a dit song…there is a definite hint on a female soul mate (closest allegory is a biological twin). The harmony of two souls as one being rudely interrupted and abused by men. Well, we recognize the familiar notion, don’t we? Mylene again threw the bone to chew (I bet she loves doing it) and it works every single time like with the Pavlov’s dog… They drool, the growl, occasionally they bark but always happy to salivate over the newly delivered treat. 😊 Well done, Mylene! It must have been amusing like no tomorrow!

The 7:50 video – 4:42 in a shorter version – was filmed by Hong Kong film director Ching Siu-Tung in Beijing over five days and four nights, although Farmer spent two weeks in China to oversee its production.

Like most of the singer’s other videos, it was a Requiem Publishing and Stuffed Monkey production. The screenplay, written by Farmer, is based on a Chinese legend and the film series A Chinese Ghost Story, made by Ching. The staging was done extremely carefully, and the images were very aesthetic. The video was filmed February 15 to 19, 1999 and had a mind-blowing budget of 900,000 euro as the construction of scenery included a reconstruction of the Great Wall of China and digital special effects.

Despite the cold temperatures during the shooting, Farmer was not wearing a T-shirt under her costume and also directed most of the stunts. She explained: “We worked a lot, sometimes twenty hours without interruption. Weather conditions were difficult. I had a permanent change of costumes. But it was exciting and it was the most important.” You can see on the videos how the clip was made that Mylene was literally shivering from cold in her thin costumes while the crew were in teh warm jackets and fir hats.

What a stoic woman she is! What a dedication!



According to journalist Caroline Bee, the video illustrates the idea of “a myth overtaken by reality”; indeed, “the image of a serene life enshrined in the completeness, came to be overtaken by the harsh reality. This fantasy can exist and be realized only outside reality”. Yeah, I kinda see that point… you?

“L’Âme-stram-gram” was performed during the 1999 Mylenium Tour in an energetic Hispanic-oriented version, later included in the live album and DVD Mylenium Tour. Farmer wore an orange costume composed of privateer trousers, a thick jacket and orange shoes with high heels, and her dancers had costumes with different colors; they performed the same collective synchronized choreography as on television before Farmer repeated the refrain with the audience.

The song was also performed on stage as the second song during the 2009 Mylène Farmer en tournée tour in an electro version, in which Farmer and her dancers, wearing a tight suit showing the human’s muscular system, performed almost the same choreography. Royer qualified this choreography as being “wild”.

On the French Singles Chart, “L’Âme-stram-gram” debuted to number two on 13 March 1999, behind Larusso’s hit “Tu m’oublieras”.

According to French chart expert Élia Habib, many people thought at the time that Mylène Farmer could become the first artist to obtain a number-one single from four studio albums, the first three being:

However, the single dropped during the next weeks and remained in the top ten for four weeks, in the top 50 for ten, and on the chart for sixteen. The single was certified as a silver disc by the Syndicat National de l’Édition Phonographique on 15 December 1999 and was ranked number 58 on the Annual Singles Chart.

In Belgian (Wallonia), the single featured on the Ultratop 50 for thirteen weeks. It started on 20 March at number 22 before climbing to a peak of number nine the week after. Then it fell slowly and was eventually the best-selling single from the album Innamoramento in the country, with the longest chart trajectory and the highest peak position It was 53rd on the Belgian year-end chart.

Tons of great remixes are here: https://soundcloud.com/search?q=l%27ame%20stram%20gram

For the first time, Laurent Boutonnat gives way for remixes young DJ: Perky Park and Lady B.

Rumors advance that the famous Laurent Garnier would have been approached but that he would have refused in a probable desire not to move too far from his side a little “underground”.

At the end of 1998 the first rumors rustle: the return is imminent with a very rhythmic single taken from an album which would have for name: “Mes Moires”. Rumors are wrong once again on this title …

The title of Mylène’s new single was revealed in January 1999: L’Âme-Stram-Gram.

“It’s quite spontaneous. Laurent and I decided that it was going to be this extract. ” (Mylène Farmer – NRJ – 04/06/1999)

The Single CD, the Maxi digipack CD and the Maxi Vinyl are available for sale in Francel on March 09, 1999 . The photos of Marino Parisotto Vay illustrating the different media show or rather let guess the veiled silhouette of Mylène. This title appears on the albums Innamoramento , Mylenium Tour (live version), Best Of  Les Mots , RemixeS (in remixed version), N ° 5 on Tour (in live version), Best of Vol 1 / Vol 2 , Live 2019 (in live version) and the best-of Histoires de.



On March 19, 1999, M6 broadcast exclusively on its program “Mister bizz” an extract of the making of the clip accompanied by an interview with the director. First broadcast of the clip L’Âme-Stram-Gram on March 27, 1999 exclusively on M6 then on all musical channels.

Mylène performs this title during three television shows: on April 2, 1999 in “Les Years Tubes” on TF1, on April 17, 1999 in “Hit Machine” on M6 and on April 24, 1999 in “Red Carpet” on France 2.


MYLENIUM TOUR



The Soul-Stram-Gram is performed during the concerts of the Mylenium Tour from September 21, 1999 to March 8, 2000. Arrangements for the stage: Yvan Cassar. Choreography: Mylène Farmer.


TOUR 2009


The Soul-Stram-Gram is performed on all dates of the 2009 Tour from May 02 to September 19, 2009. Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat.

“L’Âme-Stram-Gram, it was an existing choreography that Mylène had created for the show in 1999 that had to be readjusted a little bit at the start since the music had changed, it was more rhythmic, stronger, more She has a choreographic spirit, very particular, very strong, very square.” (Christophe Danchaud – Video The spirit of the step – 2010)

A new version with a very electro / techno start on which Mylène dressed in her skin off suit dances alone on stage to a frenzied choreography before the dancers join her.



Paris La Défense Arena 2019


Mylène sings L’Âme-Stram-Gram during the nine concerts at Paris La Défense Arena from June 7 to 22, 2019. Arrangements for the stage: Olivier Schultheis. Choreography: Parris Goebel.



remixes



REACTIONS



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lyrics with translation


En moi, en moi, toi que j'aime
Dis moi, dis moi, quand ça ne va pas
Il n'y a que ça qui nous gouverne
Dis moi combien de fois
Partager mon ennui le plus abyssal
Au premier venu qui trouvera ça banal
J'ouïs tout ce que tu confesses
Et l'essaim scande l'ivresse
J'ouïs tout ceux que tu condamnes
T'éreintent, te font du charme
C'est "l'âme stram gram"
En moi, en moi, toi que j'aime
Dis moi, dis moi quand ça ne va pas
Il n'y a que ça qui nous gouverne
Dis moi combien de fois
En moi, en moi, toi que j'aime
Dis moi, dis moi quand ça ne va pas
Immisce, et glisse l'abdomen
Dans l'orifice à moi
Des absents, un bourdon, une oreille amie
Confidences sur divan, on se psychanalyse
J'ouïs tout ce que tu susurres
Et l'essaim bat la mesure
J'ouïs tes œdipes complexes
Et l'essaim se manifestent
C'est "l'âme stram gram"
Am stram gram pique et pique et collegram
Bourre et bourre et ratatam
Âme stram gram pique dames
Âme stram gram pique et pique moi dans l'âme
Bourree bourree de noeuds de males
L'âme stram gram pique dames
In me, in me, you who I love
Tell me, tell me, what's no go
It's only that which governs us
Tell me how many times
Share my most abysmal boredom
To the first comer who finds it banal
I hear all that you confess
And the swarm chants the drunkenness
I hear all those that you condemn
Embrace you, make you charm
This is it (you are the one)
In me, in me, you who I love
Tell me, tell me, what's no go
It's only that which governs us
Tell me how many times
In me, in me, you who I love
Tell me, tell me, what's no go
Intruded, and slide the abdomen
Into the hole of mine
Absentees, a bumblebee, a friendly ear
Confidences on the couch,
the psychoanalysis
I hear all that you whisper
And the swarm beats the beat
I hear your Oedipus complex
And the swarm
manifests itself
This is it (you are the one)
To fill, the one I choose is you
(play of words from the rhymes)
This is it pique ladies
This is it pique and pique me in the soul ("pique" means "spade" aka object of penetration)
Stuff stuffed with nodes of males
you are screwed, ladies


The page last edited July 28, 2022

One thought on “
L’ÂME-STRAM-GRAM

  1. Ah,the plots from The Enchanting Shadow and Edipo Re are both mentioned in the erotic lyric text

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