When “Banana Split” was remixed in the 90s, famed French photographers Pierre et Gilles did the cover image
In 1979, a year before Kim Wilde’s similar-sounding “Kids in America” and three years before Missing Persons released “Words,” the gorgeous teenaged Belgian singer Lio racked up a multi-million-selling hit record with the infectious and cheeky double entendre “New Wave” pop smash “Banana Split.”
My French is barely high school-level proficient, but I can still figure out about how the banana has a whipped cream “avalanche.” You don’t really have to be Sigmund Freud to get this one.
Give it one listen and you’ll probably just think that it sucks—if that’s the right word here—but give it but two spins and it’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, if not for the rest of your life. I’ve always had a soft spot for this record in the same way that I still love Betty Boo...
But the pretty and iconic 80s star—now 53—was no one-hit wonder and she actually has a super cool musical pedigree: After “Banana Split” (which came out when she was just 17) Lio—just Lio, like Cher—went on to work with Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks recording their rather freely translated English versions of her French hits for a Canadian-only release, Suite Sixtine, in 1982. She would also work with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale. In America, Lio was signed to the famed “mutant disco” underground label, ZE Records and married to Michel Esteban, one of the label’s founders, who also produced Lizzy Mercier Descloux.
Lio has acted in films directed by the likes of Catherine Breillat, Diane Kurys, Chantal Akerman and Claude Lelouch. In recent years, she has been a judge on the French American Idol-type show Nouvelle Star and a judge/coach on The Voice Belgique.
More Lio after the jump…