Vanessa Paradis was a lost yé-yé girl. Transported back in time you can imagine her being bustled out of some Rive Gauche club, fur coat over her head, cigarette dangling from pout, followed by a sheepish looking Alain Delon.
Perhaps if this pop corker had been released in 1965, played at double speed and sung in French, hipster DJs would be foaming at the mouth about it being a secret weapon floor-filler. Alas, it has festered alone in semi-obscurity for no good reason.
Yes it was made in the not-so-cool 90s and Lenny Kravitz was Vanessa’s Serge but in fairness to the faux-rock Centaur he managed to create such a seductive string swelling, hip swivelling concoction of 60s pomp-pop that he can momentarily be forgiven for being a Hello magazine version of Prince.
Be My Baby is 60s pop pastiche but not the terribly predictable(and terribly awful) Sgt. Pepper goes Austin Powers with an oompah band variety that was so common in the last decade. Rather, it takes its cue from the cool girl distance of Sandie Shaw and France Gall’s irrepressible sexuality, it’s Bardot’s lips and Twiggy’s limbs, the kind of pop heritage sound people sadly think Mark Ronson invented.
It’s all built around Paradis fragile-bird vocals so distinct and such a refreshing change from today’s big boomers. Her coy delivery gives the tale of ‘boy done wrong’ a heart-breaking air of vulnerability that now sounds all too poignant.
Maybe with her resurgence back into the headlines this one is due for a Saturday night revival, in sticky-floored karaoke bars everywhere or even sung by a back combed, bedazzled wannabe on a TV talent show as an alternative to Adele. Maybe then Be My Baby would no longer be remembered as ‘the song that wasn’t Joe Le Taxi’ or the song after Bjorn Again on Now 23 and get the love it truly deserves.