Twee Europop meets Star Wars in a pair of oddball French singles.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a pile of French pop 45s from the 1980s – trash to many, but treasure to a dedicated Europop fanatic. Many of them were by a singer called Dorothée, who I was unaware of until that point – and two of them featured her singing songs about Ewoks. This clearly needed further investigation.
You have to hand it to George Lucas – he managed to bleed every last bit of potential merchandise out of Star Wars (except sex toys, an unfortunate oversight given the possibilities), including creating a bunch of characters for Return of the Jedi that existed solely for the possibility of kids toys and juvenile spin-offs. I refer, of course, to the Ewoks, who have appeared in reprehensibly awful TV movies and cartoon series – and more importantly, in assorted toy shop shelf-filling forms – since 1983.
Lucas was also aware that local markets could be exploited – something current Star Wars owners Disney were past masters at, having made localised TV shows, merchandise tie-ins and area-specific recordings for years. And so when the first Ewok stand-alone film, Caravan of Courage, was released, the French version came with its very own theme tune and narration performed by Dorothée, a popular children’s TV star and singer who hosted Récré A2 and Club Dorothée, shows that mixed cartoons, sketches, music and games. She resembles a French Michaela Strachan, for British readers who remember her, or any blonde Mickey Mouse Club presenter for American readers. Wholesome, impossibly chirpy and entirely at home on kid’s TV.
The lively Les Petits Ewoks was released as a single in 1984, backed by another new song, Nos Amis Les Ewoks. It made it into the French Top 40, peaking at No.32, and was later included on Dorothée’s 1985 album, becoming a regular concert favourite. That same year, she won an award at the Victoires de la Musique for Best Children’s Disc. There’s gold in them thar teddy bears!
In 1987, the Ewoks cartoon series made it to France, and Dorothée was once upon called on to provide a theme tune. Le Chanson des Ewoks, backed by La Planète des Ewoks. Proving that you can have too much of a good thing – and even more of a cynically created, mediocre thing – neither the record nor the cartoon series matched the popularity of their predecessors.
These two records/four songs remain fairly unknown outside France, with even many Star Wars obsessives being unaware of them. They are well worth seeking out for collectors or fans of kitsch Europop alike.
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