"Sweet Lullaby" is a song by French world music/ethnic electronica Deep Forest which originally appeared on their eponymous album. The song gained popularity in 1992 and 1993 when it was released as a single, becoming a top 30 hit in many European and Oceanian countries. In 1994, it was re-released in remixed versions.
|Single by Deep Forest|
|from the album Deep Forest|
|Released||15 November 1992|
|Format||CD single, CD maxi,|
7" single, 12" maxi
|Label||Epic, Dance Pool|
|Deep Forest singles chronology|
The song is based around a traditional Baegu lullaby from the Solomon Islands called "Rorogwela", and uses a vocal sample of a woman called Afunakwa singing, originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in 1970 and later released by UNESCO as part of their Musical Sources collection. The lyrics refer to a young orphan being comforted by his older brother despite the loss of their parents.
For a time, Australian TV network SBS used the song as its theme. It was also used by German TV broadcaster RTL as the closing theme to their coverage of UEFA Champions League football during the 1994-95 season.
In 2008, Matt Harding traveled to the Solomons island of Malaita to try to find Afunakwa, the woman who is thought to be the performer of "Rorogwela" on Zemp's recording. According to Harding's follow-up video Where the Hell is Afunakwa?, Afunakwa had died in 1998.
The music video, directed by Tarsem Singh, was also nominated for several awards at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. The video consists of a little girl riding a tricycle in front of iconic scenes from around the globe (e.g. Moscow, Barcelona, New York City, the Great Wall of China, Varanasi, and other locations), juxtaposing images from her journey with parallel snippets of nobility performing similar actions.
James Hunter from Vibe described it as "an eager pop confection of continental synths and excellent singing from "the rain forest pygmies of Africa"." Billboard wrote, "This is one of those great projects that has created a long top-shelf life on its own. Now that the 2-year-old "Sweet Lullaby" has finally run its course, Epic is focusing on the act's self-titled track, running it through the remix mill with sterling results. Myriad versions are included to ensure chances for consumption at several formats, ranging from mainstream club to crossover radio. Nightlife hounds will worship Phillip Damien's interpretation, while cultural purists are advised to stick with the challenging album mix."
The debut single for the group, "Sweet Lullaby" was a success for Deep Forest, reaching #3 in Norway, #7 on the Australian ARIA Charts, #10 on the British charts, #78 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100, and the Top 20 in France, Iceland and Switzerland.
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- Where the Hell is Afunakwa?
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- UK Singles Chart Official Charts Company (Retrieved April 14, 2009)
- "Single top 100 over 1994" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 17, 2010.