"California" is a 1995 song recorded by the French artist Mylène Farmer. Third single from her fourth studio album, Anamorphosée, the song was released on March 26, 1996. Real tribute to the California, it is generally deemed as one of Farmer's signature songs, although it met a relative success in France.
Among the different media for this single, there was a CD single distributed in a limited triptych digipack edition, and a CD maxi containing 6 titles - this one is the only CD maxi in Farmer's career still for sale because, given the number of tracks, it is referenced by Universal as a "mini-album" and is re-edited. "California" was also released in Germany with a new white cover. Regarding the various remixes, they are the result of collaboration between Laurent Boutonnat / Bertrand Châtenet ('LAPD remix' and 'wandering club mix'), and various American DJs : Niki Gasolino & Peter Parker, Nils Ruzicka, and Ramon Zenker.
The song is available on Anamorphosée in its original version, and on the best of Les Mots in the shorter radio version. It should be noted that, surprisingly, the song is placed at the beginning of the second CD, just before "XXL" and "L'Instant X", which doesn't comply with the chonological order. The song was also performed at the time of the 1996 tour in a remixed techno version ('Wandering mix'), and in a calmer version during the 2000 and 2006 tours. Therefore, the song features on the live albums Live à Bercy, Mylenium Tour and Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy. It was also remixed in 2003 by Romain Tranchart and Rawman for the compilation RemixeS.
It is a song with a highly elegant vocabulary where alternate puns and lyrics in French and English ; it is a clear tribute to California. There are many literary references : for example, the phrase "Vienne la nuit et sonne l'heure et moi je meurs / Entre apathie et pesanteur où je demeure" alluded to the French poem Le Pont Mirabeau, written by Guillaume Apollinaire, in which there is the verse "Vienne la nuit sonne l'heure / Les jours s'en vont je demeure".
The video was directed by the American movie screenwriter and director Abel Ferrara. Farmer had contacted him after seeing his film on a similar theme, Snake Eyes, with Madonna. She wrote the screenplay in collaboration with him. The video, a 5:18 Requiem Publishing production which cost about 200,000 euros (600,000 according to another source), was shot for three days and two nights in Los Angeles (Sunset Boulevard). The man who plays Farmer's lover is the American actor Giancarlo Esposito, and these are real prostitutes who appear in the video.
At the beginning of the video, a young and rich couple (Farmer and Esposito) is preparing to attend a reception where they are invited. Meanwhile, a prostitute and a pimp (also played by Farmer and Esposito) are violently quarrelling. In her car, the rich woman looks the prostitutes on the sidewalk and then sees her double threatened with a knife by her pimp who eventually murdered her. After the society reception, the rich woman gets bored and therefore goes to the toilet where she disguises herself as a prostitute and joined those outside. She makes love with the pimp and savagely killed him to avenge the murdered prostitute.
The first images of the video were published by the French magazine Voici which had managed to acquire illegally some shots during the filming. In an interview on Paris Première in 1996, Farmer explained that the video, which was analyzed on Arte in July 2002, doesn't reflect her perception of California, adding : "It is a little caricature I would say. It is still polarized or focused on prostitution. Los Angeles is not only prostitution. […] I always wanted to play a prostitute and I admit that for "California", it is spontaneously come. And so I called Abel Ferrara who often evokes prostitution in his films". This was the last time that Marianne Rosensthiel photographed Farmer during the shooting. The video was aired for the first time on March 20, 1996, on M6.
In France, the song debuted at number 7, its peak position, on May 30, 1996. It kept on dropping the seven weeks after but regained 16 places the two followings weeks. After that, the song began again to fall but rather slowly, and managed to remain in the Top 50 for 17 weeks. It was the third best-selling single from Anamorphosée. The song was also one of the most aired on radio in 1996 and was ranked #63 on the End of the Year Chart.
In Belgium (Wallonia), the single had great difficulty staying several weeks in a row on the Ultratop 40 Singles Chart, after its first appearition on May 4, 1996. Indeed, it re-entered then four times and reached number 22, on August 3, which was nonetheless the worst peak position of the five singles from the album Anamorphosée. It left the chart on September 7, after 14 weeks of attendance and was the 86th best-selling single of 1996.
|Album version||4:58||Anamorphosée||1995||See the previous sections|
|Radio edit||3:58||Laurent Boutonnat||1996||It is shorter than the album version, with a fade-out.|
|Ramon Zenker's radio remix||3:55||Ramon Zenker||1996||This version is much more accelerated, contains many "Chah ah ah ah ah" sung by Farmer, but the sounds at the beginning of the original song are deleted.|
|Ramon Zenker's extended remix||5:53||Ramon Zenker||1996||This version is similar to the 'Ramon Zenker's Radio Remix', but with more music.|
|Megalo Mania remix||6:47||Mega Lo Mania, aka Ramon Zenker and Nils Ruzicka||1996||This techno version, devoted to discothèques, contains an introduction in which the chorus is sung almost a cappella. All couplets are deleted.|
|Wandering mix||6:10||Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet||1996||This version is similar to the original version, with more "C'est sexy" and "So sex".|
|L.A.P.D. club remix||6:55||Laurent Boutonnat, Bertrand Châtenet||1996||This is a dance remix. The remix's title refers to the name of the Los Angeles Police Department and contains all the sounds from the original version, and many "C'est sexy" and "So sex".|
|Gaspar Inc. remix||5:22||Gaspar Inc.||1996||This is an instrumental version but very different from the album version. It contains many "Californie" sung by Farmer.|
|Live version (recorded in 1996)||7:12||Live à Bercy||1996||See 1996 Tour|
|Live version (recorded in 2000)||5:27||Mylenium Tour||2000||See Mylenium Tour|
|Album version||4:55||Les Mots||Laurent Boutonnat||2001|
|Romain Tranchart & Rawman remix||6:17||RemixeS||Romain Tranchart & Rawman||2003||The song has a much more accelerated rhythm and contains more percussions.|
|Live version (recorded in 2006)||5:19||Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy||2006||See Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy (tour)|
|Country||Certification||Date||Sales certified||Physical sales|
|France||Should be Silver||—||—||150,000|
|Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart||22|
|French SNEP Singles Chart||7|
|End of year chart (1996)||Position|
|Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart||86|
|French Singles Chart||63|