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About Sheila

Sheila (born Annie Chancel) was one of the more successful of the numerous young "ye-ye" girls to enjoy success with cheerfully insipid pop/rock in France in the early and mid-'60s. As little of her extensive discography is easy to find in the U.S., it's hard to make conclusive judgments about the scope of her artistic sweep. What you're likely to hear, however, is lightweight even by the lightweight standards of French rock from the time as a whole. Indeed, its relationship to bona fide rock is pretty casual; it's excessively bouncy, childish pop that happens to use some rock elements in the arrangements. Her early hits put the cuteness into overdrive with her irrepressible cheerful vocals often backed by chirpy choruses and whistling. The perfect soundtracks, in other words, for teenage girls to chew gum along with as they walked the boulevards in sailor outfits; they can't fail to bring to mind musical scenes of corny low-budget youth-oriented films of the era.

After a while Sheila did get into less innocuous sounds, largely by virtue of covers of American and British pop/rock tunes like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," "Daydream," and "Bang Bang." Still, there was an inescapable sense of some of the songs being more suitable for fairground entertainment or Dixieland-based theatrical productions than for rock listeners. Pop singers tend to have longer careers in France than they do in English-speaking countries, however, and Sheila continued to record throughout the remainder of the 20th century. Indeed, she had some success in the disco era, collaborating with Chic at the end of the 1970s on "Spacer." Her impact in the U.S., however, was virtually nil, although somehow she did have an American LP release in 1964 with Sheila, the Ye-Ye Girl. ~ Richie Unterberger

16 Aug 1946

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