Libertine (song)

"Libertine" (French pronunciation: ​[libɛʁtin]) is a 1986 song recorded by French artist Mylène Farmer. It was the third single from her first studio album Cendres de lune and was released on 1 April 1986 and met success on the French chart, becoming Farmer's first big hit. The long form music video, produced as a short film, contains explicitly sexual and violent scenes. In 2002, the song was successfully covered by Belgian singer Kate Ryan, who reached the top 20 in several European countries.

Libertine (2nd cover).JPG
Single by Mylène Farmer
from the album Cendres de lune
Released1 April 1986
Recorded1986, France
GenreDance-pop, synthpop
Songwriter(s)Lyrics: Laurent Boutonnat
Music: Jean-Claude Déquéant
Producer(s)Laurent Boutonnat
Mylène Farmer singles chronology
"Plus grandir"
Alternative cover
First cover

Background and compositionEdit

The song was inspired by a rock music song, "L'Amour Tutti Frutti", composed in 1984 by Jean-Claude Déquéant. It had not achieved success at the time, but was appreciated by the duo Farmer/Boutonnat who wanted to record it. Although it is one of the few songs for which she didn't write the lyrics, Farmer can be credited with the origin of the song, because when she was doing a demo take, she repeated "Je suis une catin" ("I am a whore"), which inspired Boutonnat.[1] Two covers were released. The first, in April, shows a dark-haired Farmer wearing an orange robe; and the second, in June, using an image from the videoclip with a red-haired Farmer with a pistol in her hand. The song became a hit, fortunately, because their label, Polydor, could at any time end her contract for two albums if the song had not been successful. In addition, the song led to the success of the album Cendres de Lune.[2]

At the time, various remixes were produced by Boutonnat. An English version of the song, "Bad Girl", was recorded, but unlike "My Mum Is Wrong", it was not completed and released as a single.[3]

"Libertine", one of the few songs not composed by Farmer, contains many explicit references to sexuality.[4] Some phrases are very obscure or seem inconsistent.[5]

Music videoEdit


Produced by Polydor and directed by Boutonnat, the video was shot in five days at the Château de Ferrières and Château de Brou in France, with a budget of what would now be about 46,000 euros (76,000[6] or 300,000 euros[7] according to other sources). Farmer said at the time that the video had a derisory cost in comparison with the effect it produced.[8] Presented on 18 June 1986 in preview at the cinema of the Champs-Elysées, this music video was notable for its length (10:53).[5]. It is thought to be the first instance of full frontal nudity made by a singer on a major music video. It was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon.[3] Most of the extras were actually employees of Polydor and Movie Box. Sophie Tellier, who plays the Woman in Red, was one of Farmer's dancers and also appeared in other videos. She would also play Farmer's enemy in the video Tristana. Appropriately enough, Rambo Kolawski, the man who raped Farmer's character in the video for "Plus grandir", also appears as the man she kills in the duel.


The action takes place in mid-18th century France. Libertine (Farmer) is a young woman who dresses in male clothing and spends her time in debauched parties.[9] When the film begins she and a man are about to engage in a duel with pistols, witnessed by a Woman in Red. Libertine kills the man and runs away on a white horse, while the Woman in Red threatens revenge. Later, in a castle, Libertine has a bath with two other women, anatomies on full display. They then dress, Libertine in male attire, and go to a banquet hall filled with people engaged in various pleasures. A man sends Libertine a message and follows her to an upstairs room, rejecting the Woman in Red's advances. The man and Libertine make love. (At this stage Farmer is shown fully naked, including full frontal, and the music stops to give way to sounds evoking eroticism, (moans and howles of wolves)). When Libertine returns to the party she is attacked by the Woman in Red. They fight violently and some blood flows. Seriously hurt by a fireplace poker, Libertine and the man manage to escape on horseback, but the Woman in Red stages an ambush with accomplices and they are killed. The two murdered bodies are shown in close-up.[10][11][12][13] The bodies are later found in the video for "Pourvu qu'elles soient douces".


The video was aired on many TV channels, but sometimes in an edited version removing the scenes of violence and sex. The character played by Farmer embodies "the liberal ideas of the [18th century], to the borders of vice and the loss of self", engaging in "extremes practices", such as the "sadomasochistic relationship" with the man. Thanks to this daring video, Farmer gained star status in France.[14] The music channel M6 which, at the time, was showing only music videos, broadcast the uncensored version. At the time, she had explained in an interview that she was bare in this video, but that it was for the first and the last time.[15]

The music video is included on the videos albums Les Clips and Music Videos I.


"Libertine" was generally well received by contemporary media. France Soir considered this song has "a little music that puts in a good mood from the awakening".[16] The video was much discussed in the media.[17] It was described as a "detonating videoclip",[18] "a real gem directed as a mini-movie",[19] the music video "the most complete and the longest",[20] "more a mini-movie than a videoclip",[21] "the videoclip the strongest of the year".[22]

In France, "Libertine" debuted at number 43 on the singles chart on 30 August 1986. It reached number ten on 25 October. The song managed to remain for twelve weeks in the top 20 and for twenty weeks on the chart.[23] The song was certified Silver disc in 1986 by the SNEP.[24] It was thus the first Farmer's top ten hit, becoming very popular in France over the years and one of her ten best-selling singles. In February 2018, the single was re-edited and re-entered the chart at number one, becoming Farmer's 17th single to top the chart.

Live performancesEdit

Farmer performed the song on numerous TV shows between 20 January 1986 and 22 January 1987. With more than 25 appearances in different programmes on various French and Belgian channels (TF1, Antenne 2, FR3, RTBF Belgium, La 5, RTL TV), "Libertine" is to date Farmer's song which was the most promoted on television. At certain performances, she also sang - in playback - "Maman a tort" and "Greta", and was sometimes interviewed.[25]

The song was performed on 1989, 1996 and 2009 concerts tours. It was also included in a medley during the Mylenium Tour.

Formats and track listingsEdit

These are the formats and track listings of single releases of "Libertine":[26]

Release historyEdit

Date[26] Label Region Format Catalog
April 1986 Polydor France 7" single 883 829-7
12" maxi 883 829-1
7" single - Promo 883 868-7
12" maxi - Promo 885 077-1
Canada 7" single 87184
June 1986 France 7" single 883 829-7
12" maxi - Remixes 883 829-1
12" maxi - Soundtrack 885 380-1

Official versionsEdit

Version Length Album Remixed by Year Comment[5]
Album version 3:49 Cendres de Lune Laurent Boutonnat 1986 See the previous sections
Single version 3:30 1986 One refrain is deleted.
Long version 4:30 Laurent Boutonnat 1986 The introduction and the musical bridges are extended.
Instrumental 3:31 Les Clips,
Music Videos I
1986 All the lyrics are deleted, except background vocals in the introduction and during the last minute.
Remix 4:35 Laurent Boutonnat 1986 Specially intended to discothèques, the song is fully remixed, but has extended musical introduction and bridges.
New remix 3:35 Thierry Rogen 1986 The introduction is played on saxophone. A musical bridge is added.
Soundtrack from the video 3:22 Les Clips,
Music Videos I
Remix special club 5:53 Cendres de Lune Laurent Boutonnat 1986 This remix uses many drum machines.
Live version
(recorded in 1989)
12:00 En Concert 1989 The song begins with the shot of a pistol. See Mylène Farmer en concert
Carnal sins remix 7:00 Dance Remixes Laurent Boutonnat 1992 This version adds suggestive sighs and cries of Farmer.
Live version
(recorded in 1996)
5:40 Live à Bercy 1996 See 1996 Bercy
Live version
(recorded in 2000)
0:30 Mylenium Tour 2000 The song is included in a medley. See Mylenium Tour
Album version 3:30 Les Mots Laurent Boutonnat 2001 The song is remastered and uses a different vocal take. It is slightly shortened in comparison with the original version.
Y-Front remix 4:02 RemixeS Y-Front 2003 This is a techno remix which has many electronic sounds.
Live version
(recorded in 2009)
5:35 N°5 on Tour 2009

Credits and personnelEdit

These are the credits and the personnel as they appear on the back of the single:[26][27]

  • Laurent Boutonnat – lyrics, photo (first cover)
  • Jean-Claude Déquéant – music
  • Bertrand Le Page and Toutankhamon – editions
  • Polydor – recording company
  • Éric Caro – photo (second cover)
  • Studio Bonne Mine – design

Charts and certificationsEdit

Cover versionsEdit

Several artists covered the song including French punk rock and alternative rock group Ludwig von 88 on its album 17 plombs pour péter les tubes, in 1994,[28] Edwige Chandelier, one of the dancers on the 1989 tour, in 1996, for the album Les Plus Belles Chansons françaises - 1986,[29] Les Enfoirés, in 2000 (the song was performed by Liane Foly, Karen Mulder, Axelle Red and Michèle Laroque and their version is available on the album Enfoirés en 2000, released on 28 February 2000),[30] Kate Ryan, in 2003 (see below), and Les Dindes Suprêmes, in 2007.[31] In 2009, French band La Pompe Moderne released its album Greatest Hits with a cover version of "Libertine".[32]

Kate Ryan versionEdit

Single by Kate Ryan
from the album Different
ReleasedDecember 14, 2002
Length3:13 (main version)
3:04 (2009 mix)
Songwriter(s)Laurent Boutonnat
Jean-Claude Déquéant
Producer(s)Phil Wilde, AJ Duncan (main version)
Niclas Kings, Niklas Bergwall (2N) (2009 mix)
Kate Ryan singles chronology
"Mon cœur résiste encore"
"Only If I"
Music video
"Libertine" on YouTube

Following the success of her cover version of "Désenchantée", Kate Ryan recorded "Libertine" and released it as single in late 2002. The single also reached the top 20 in several countries, but was less successful than Ryan's previous Farmer cover.

In Belgium (Flanders), the single entered the chart on 14 December 2002 at number 25, then climbed directly to the top 10 and reached a peak at number seven in the following week, then dropped quickly. Staying six weeks in the top ten and for a total of 13 weeks on the chart (top 50), it had an average chart running in comparison with the other singles from the album Different.

In Germany, the single reached the top ten in its first week at number nine, then climbed to number seven, its peak position, a few weeks later. Spending a total of 15 weeks in the top 100, it had the second-best chart run for a single of Kate Ryan in this country. It also reached number seven in Austria and stayed even for 17 weeks on the chart, including seven weeks in the top ten.

Formats and track listingsEdit

CD single
1."Libertine" (radio edit)3:13
2."So In Love"4:01
CD maxi 1
1."Libertine" (radio edit)3:13
2."Libertine" (extended)6:42
3."So In Love" (radio edit)3:48
CD maxi 2
1."Libertine" (radio edit)3:13
2."Libertine" (extended)6:41
3."So In Love" (radio edit)3:49
4."So In Love" (extended mix)6:20
12" maxi
1."Libertine" (extended)6:42
2."Libertine" (radio edit)3:13
3."So In Love" (radio edit)3:48


  • Paul van der Jonckheyd – mastering
  • Peter Bulkens – mixing
  • Philippe Mathys – photo
  • AJ Duncan, Phil Wilde – production


Chart (2002/03) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[33] 7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[34] 7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[35] 34
Denmark (Tracklisten)[36] 15
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[37] 20
France (SNEP)[38] 48
Germany (Official German Charts)[39] 7
Hungary (Mahasz)[40] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[41] 15
Poland (Polish Airplay Chart)[42] 3
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[43] 19
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[44] 16
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[45] 26


  1. ^ Interview of Jean-Claude Déquéant, Mylène Farmer et Vous, summer 2005
  2. ^ "Libertine" (in French). Sans-logique. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b Chuberre, Erwan (2007). L'Intégrale Mylene Farmer (in French). City. pp. 190–91. ISBN 978-2-35288-108-7.
  4. ^ Habib, Elia (2002). Muz hit. tubes. Alinéa Bis. p. 86. ISBN 2-9518832-0-X.
  5. ^ a b c Cachin, Benoît (2006). Le Dictionnaire des Chansons de Mylène Farmer. Tournon. pp. 151–58. ISBN 2-35144-000-5.
  6. ^ Rajon, Florence (2005). Mylène Farmer de A à Z (in French). MusicBook. pp. 62–63. ISBN 2-84343-319-3.
  7. ^ Khairallah, Sophie (2007). Mylène Farmer, le culte - L'envers du décor (in French). Why Not. p. 40.
  8. ^ Top 50, Canal +, 6 September 1986
  9. ^ "Mylène : Vierge libertine" (in French). Astro. 1986. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Libertine" (in French). Sans-logique. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  11. ^ Christine Hiquet (24 August 1986). "Libertine" (in French). La Dépêche. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
  12. ^ Christine Hiquet (14 September 1986). "Mylène Farmer, une chanteuse "libertine"" (in French). Le Républicain. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  13. ^ "De Libertine" (in French). Salut. 1986. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  14. ^ Bee, Caroline; Antoine Bioy; Benjamin Thiry (2005). Mylène Farmer - La part d'ombre (in French). L'Archipel. pp. 165–67. ISBN 2-84187-790-6.
  15. ^ Danièle Asian (February 1987). "Mylène Farmer : Je ne me montrerai plus jamais nue (1)" (in French). Confidentiel. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
    * Danièle Asian (February 1987). "Mylène Farmer : Je ne me montrerai plus jamais nue (2)" (in French). Confidentiel. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Monique Prévot (29 July 1986). "Mylène Farmer, ingénue perverse" (in French). France Soir. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Mylène Farmer, libertine de charme" (in French). Femme actuelle. 30 June 1986. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Marie-Aline Janneau (23 September 1986). "Mylène Farmer". Elle (in French). Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Laurence Beurdeley (25 October 1986). "En Vogue" (in French). France Dimanche. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Catherine Delmas (20 August 1986). "Vous la verrez dans "Affaire suivante"" (in French). France Soir. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Libertine" (in French). Fun Mag. 1986. p. 15. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Libertine" (in French). Télé Poche. 1 September 1986. Retrieved 20 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ a b c ""Libertine", French Singles Chart" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  24. ^ a b "French single certifications – Mylène Farmer – Libertine" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 29 May 2022. Select MYLÈNE FARMER and click OK. 
  25. ^ ""Libertine", television performances" (in French). Sans-logique. Archived from the original on 8 December 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  26. ^ a b c "Mylène Farmer - "Libertine" - Supports" (in French). Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  27. ^ "Mylène Farmer - "Libertine" - Crédits" (in French). Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  28. ^ "Ludwig Von 88's cover version" (in French). Sans-logique. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  29. ^ "Edwige Chandelier's cover version" (in French). Sans-logique. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  30. ^ "Enfoirés en 2000, track listing and charts" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  31. ^ "Les Dindes Suprêmes' cover version" (in French). Sans-logique. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  32. ^ "Greatest Hits, La Pompe Moderne" (in French). Fnac Musique. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  33. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  34. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  35. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  36. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine". Tracklisten.
  37. ^ "Kate Ryan: Libertine" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat.
  38. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine" (in French). Les classement single.
  39. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  40. ^ "Hungarian Airplay Chart" (in Hungarian). Mahasz. Retrieved 24 June 2008.[permanent dead link]
  41. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine". VG-lista.
  42. ^ "Polish Airplay Charts - Lista krajowa 27/2003". PiF PaF Production. Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  43. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine" Canciones Top 50.
  44. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine". Singles Top 100.
  45. ^ "Kate Ryan – Libertine". Swiss Singles Chart.

External linksEdit