Song of the Day #5,214: ‘Lady Marmalade’ – Moulin Rouge!

Our final song to reach #1 by two different artists is also the one with the longest span between releases — 27 years.

‘Lady Marmalade’ first reached the top spot in 1974, recorded by the girl group Labelle (Patti Labelle sang the lead vocal). Patti later claimed to not know the French-language refrain (“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”) meant “Would you like to sleep with me tonight?”

The song was covered in 1987 by Italian singer Sabrina Salerno and in 1998 by English-Canadian girl group All Saints, but it wasn’t until 2001 that it made it back to #1.

This version was recorded for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack by an all-star lineup of divas from different genres: Lil’ Kim, Mýa, Christina Aguilera and Pink. The glorious mashup spent five weeks at #1, buoyed by a colorful, sexy video inspired by the film’s visuals.

Over 30 years, nine different songs managed to reach the top spot by two different artists. In the 21 years since, not one song has managed the feat. Why do you think that is?

The songs that pulled it off were all recorded between 1961 and 1974, so maybe there is something about the music of that era that makes it ripe for reinterpretation. Also, over the past 20 years, artists have been more likely to sample an old hit than to cover it outright.

I’ll close out the week tomorrow with an example of the latter.

[Intro: Lil’ Kim & Mýa, Christina Aguilera + P!nk]
Where’s all my soul sistas?
Lemme hear y’all flow sistas
Hey sista’, go sista’, soul sista’, flow sista’ (Uh)
Hey sista’, go sista’, soul sista’, go sista’ (Uh)

[Verse 1: Mýa]
He met Marmalade down in old Moulin Rouge
Struttin’ her stuff on the street
She said, “Hello, hey Joe! You wanna give it a go?”
Oh, uh-huh

[Chorus: Mýa, Lil’ Kim]
Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, da-da (Hey, hey, hey)
Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, here (Here; Oh)
Mocha Chocolata, ya-ya (Ooh, yeah; Uh)
Creole Lady Marmalade (What-what, what-what, what-what)
Oh-oh

[Refrain: Mýa, Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Lil’ Kim]
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? (Oh-oh)
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

[Verse 2: P!nk]
He sat in her boudoir while she freshened up (Hey sista’, go sista’, soul sista’, flow sista’)
Boy drank all that Magnolia wine (Hey sista’, go sista’, soul sista’, flow sista’)
On her black satin sheets where he started to freak, yeah

[Chorus: P!nk, Lil’ Kim]
Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, da-da (Da-da-da)
Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, here, ooh, yeah, yeah
Mocha Chocolata, ya-ya (Yeah, yeah)
Creole Lady Marmalade, uh

[Refrain: Mýa, Christina Aguilera, P!nk & Lil’ Kim]
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? (Ce soir)
(What, what, what)
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
Ooh

[Verse 3: Lil’ Kim]
Yeah, yeah, uh
We come through with the money and the garter belts
Let him know we ’bout that cake straight out the gate (Uh)
We independent women, some mistake us for whores
I’m sayin’, “Why spend mine when I can spend yours?”
Disagree? Well, that’s you, and I’m sorry
I’mma keep playing these cats out like Atari
Wear high heel shoes, get love from the dudes
Four badass chicks from the Moulin Rouge, uh
Hey sista’s, soul sista’s, betta get that dough, sista’s
We drink wine with diamonds in the glass
By the case, the meaning of expensive taste
If you wanna Gitchie, Gitchie, ya-ya (Come on)
Mocha Chocolata (What?)
Real Lady Marmalade
One more time, c’mon now

[Interlude: All, P!nk, Mýa & Christina Aguilera]
Marmalade (Ooh, oh)
Lady Marmalade (Ooh, yeah, yeah)
Marmalade (No, oh, yeah)

[Verse 4: Christina Aguilera]
Hey, hey, hey!
Touch of her skin, feeling silky smooth, oh
Color of café au lait, alright
Made the savage beast inside roar until he cried
More (More), more (More), more

[Verse 5: P!nk, Mýa & Christina Aguilera]
Now he’s back home doin’ 9 to 5 (9 to 5)
He’s livin’ the grey flannel life
Oh baby turns off to sleep, memories creep
More (more), more (more), more

[Chorus: Mýa, Christina Aguilera + P!nk & Lil’ Kim]
Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, da-da (Da-da, yeah)
Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, here (Ooh)
Mocha Chocolata, ya-ya (Yeah)
Creole Lady Marmalade

[Refrain: Mýa, with Christina Aguilera, P!nk & Lil’ Kim]
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?
(Ce soir)
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
(All my sistas, yeah)
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?
(Ce soir)
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
(C’mon! Uh)

One thought on “Song of the Day #5,214: ‘Lady Marmalade’ – Moulin Rouge!

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I didn’t realize the Moulin Rouge version included Aguilar and Pink. Very cool!

    As to your question, I think your theory is a good one regarding covers vs. sampling. On the other hand, it seems so much easier nowadays for a song to become #1 with consideration given to streaming, videos, etc. that I wouldn’t be surprised if a cover went sufficiently viral to add to the list of double #1s.

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