how the song “Dans les yeux d’Émilie” by Joe Dassin became the anthem of the World Cup

From the harmonica of a homeless person in the 3rd half of rugby matches, the song “Dans les yeux d’Emilie” from the end of the 1970s enjoys a second lease of life on the occasion of the 2023 World Cup, and not necessarily with older supporters.

“I had the sun… Day and night… In Emilie’s eyes…” There is no longer a 3rd half without this catchy tune. Older children will recognize the lyrics of the song In Emilie’s eyes by Joe Dassin but it is now the youngest who shout to this music at the end of rugby matches. A song already performed in rugby stadiums and fairs for around ten years.

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This hit from the late 1970s, a hit at the time, is becoming the unofficial anthem of the 2023 World Cup. It seems as if the same refrain is repeated at every international competition. The 1998 FIFA World Cup had I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, Freed From Desire de Gala was (re)popularized during Euro 2016.

A cover of a band from the South-West

But this time, it was not the Irish supporters nor the players of the France team who imposed this song. In Emilie’s eyes is also not very danceable when you listen to the 1978 version. At the beginning of the 2010s, a band from the southwest, the Harmonie de Pomarez, covers the chorus. The fanfare adds “Oh, oh, ooooohh”, traces the newspaper Release.

The song is then taken up during the ferias and then by supporters in the stands… of a basketball hall. Because the town of Pomarez, 1,500 inhabitants, where the banda comes from, hosts the Coupe des Landes every year. Many people come to watch the famous amateur basketball event in this town located between Pau and Dax, explains The Teamand in particular, Patrick Beesley, national technical director (DTN) of French basketball from 2013 to 2017. It is he who will be at the initiative to choose this song as the official anthem of the 2015 French basketball team, continues the sports newspaper.

The French federation even invites Pomarez’s Harmony to the stands to host a first round match then to the Pierre-Mauroy stadium, in Villeneuve-d’Ascq (North) for the final stages. The song will then be found almost everywhere in France from the Dunkirk Carnival to the Yellow Vest movement during an operation at the Pau motorway toll booth, details Release. The fanfare released an official cover, 7 million views on YouTube.

A “spectacular runaway”

The song is also present in the sound systems of certain Top 14 stadiums, the French rugby championship. This summer’s ferias and the Rugby World Cup are giving the tube a final boost. “At the beginning of the summer, we were surprised by the streaming reports which showed a spectacular enthusiasm around this song, particularly on TikTokexplains Christophe Langris, from Sony Music, to the newspaper South West.

“We quickly understood how popular the song had become in the world of rugby and ferias.”

Christophe Langris, from Sony Music

to the newspaper “Sud-Ouest”

Sony Music then decided to ride on this hit and ordered a remix with another Landes brass band, Lous Faïences. The song was released on the day of the France-New Zealand match, September 8. For their part, the mixed collective also released a clip on YouTube repeating the chorus In Emilie’s eyes.

A melody inspired by a beggar

The composer of the original, Vivien Vallay, still can’t believe it. In the columns of the newspaper THE Parisianhe confides his surprise and his joy to see this hit taken up by the youngest: “When I see the images in the streets, in the bars with these people banging on the zinc… Arousing happiness is quite an indescribable feeling.” Vivien Valley tells the daily that the melody was inspired by a beggar in the parking lot of a shopping center in Yvelines who “blew into his harmonica” : “His eyes were closed. With his eyes closed, anything is possible. I told myself that maybe he saw himself conducting a symphony orchestra, maybe in Warsaw.”

“The tune came to me immediately, from the emotion provoked by this scene. The melody describes the misery of this beggar, up to the liberating refrain which is optimism and hope.”

Vivien Valley, composer of “In the eyes of Émilie”

to the newspaper “Le Parisien”

Joe Dassin will subsequently use the melody to sing the lyrics, written by Pierre Delanoë and Claude Lemesle. Always at ParisianJulien Dassin, the son of the star of French song, says “proud and amazed to see that this title still impacts people so many years later” but does not reveal who the famous Émilie is. His first name is likely to resonate for a long time to come, the song has become a must-have in the 3rd halves in the same way as the Goffa Lolita or the Peña Baiona.

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