mad men

The Musical History of Megan’s French Mad Men Tune

Jessica Pare serenades Don on Mad Men. Photo: AMC

On the Mad Men premiere, Megan (Jessica Pare) performed a surprise public serenade to her husband Don Draper that had Harry Crane and Stan Rizzo struggling to pick their jaws off of the plush carpet of Don’s new pad. (We should have seen it coming, when Young Mrs. Draper’s old waitressing pal remembered at the party how Megan had always managed to get the best tips: “She laid on that accent.”) And as soon as her number was over — even before Don had a chance to chastise her, and long before it would lead to borderline-S&M cleanup sex — the song “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” had cemented itself as viewers’ next karaoke selection. Anticipating your next trip to the mike to bedazzle the uncomfortable birthday boy in your life, Vulture would like to provide a quick history lesson of this catchy tune.

Megan’s 1966* performance was based on “Zou Bisou Bisou,” a 1961 recording by yé-yé girl Gillian Hill.

Hill’s was the French version of a song originally sung in English by Sophia Loren. (It’s often referred to as being from the soundtrack to the 1960 film The Millionairess, starring Peter Sellers and Loren. Actually, it’s not in the movie at all — it was recorded for an odd album of duets and solo songs by Loren and Sellers, to capitalize on the success of the film.)

The song was produced by George Martin, who two years later went on to record the Beatles, and it was co-written by Bill Shepard (who later arranged the Bee Gees’ breakthrough songs) and Alan Tew, who two decades hence composed Judge Wapner’s entrance music to The People’s Court. Although “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” never charted, its cha-cha-cha charm quickly spread around the world, resulting in versions by Venezuelan combo the Pennies, Swedish singer Kerstin Dahl, and Hill.

Incidentally, Hill told the Daily Beast that hers was the original, though we can’t find any other source to support that. Plus, her version’s songwriting credits are Shepard, Tew, and Michel Rivgauche (who wrote for Edith Piaf), which is a clue that he adapted the Loren song. The words to her (and Megan’s) version, roughly translated are:

Zou kiss kiss
Zou kiss kiss
Zou kiss kiss, zou kiss kiss, zou kiss kiss
My God, they are soft

Zou kiss kiss
Zou kiss kiss
Zou kiss kiss, zou kiss kiss, zou kiss kiss
The noise of kisses!

In the bushes, under the August sky
Lovers glide stealthily
Like birds, they have returned
You can hear everywhere:

Zou kiss kiss, etc.

But tell me, do you know
Between us, what it means
What does “zou kisses” mean?
It is to say, I admit
That yes, I love only you

Zou kiss kiss, etc.

But who needs the bushes of
August when you hold me
Softly around the neck?
It’s curious, you see, I admit
All over it makes me feel, “zou kiss.”

Judging by the Lysol-and-lingerie-induced sexual frenzy to which Megan’s performance would lead, the phrase “softly around the neck” is clearly meant ironically.

* The post originally erroneously had the season set in 1967.

The Musical History of Megan’s French Mad Men Tune