What Patti LaBelle Incorrectly Thought ‘Lady Marmalade’ Was About

by Jeremy Spirogis
Patti LaBelle with a microphone

Patti LaBelle has given the world a variety of nice music — not all of which she understood at first. LaBelle really interpreted one “Lady Marmalade” incorrectly. However, she ultimately understood the tune — due to a nun.

Patti LaBelle with a microphone
Patti LaBelle | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The risque line that introduced a traditional 1970s hit collectively

“Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle’s group, Labelle, is a little bit of an odd tune. It consists of English lyrics, French lyrics, and gibberish lyrics. Interestingly, the French lyrics of the tune are what introduced it collectively.

According to The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, songwriter Kenny Nolan stated “Lady Marmalade” was written in elements. Ultimately, he added the French phrase “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?” which interprets to “Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?” After including that lyric, Nolan stated the tune now match collectively like a puzzle. “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?” would turn out to be some of the well-known non-English language strains in 20th century American pop music.

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“Lady Marmalade”

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The risque French line of “Lady Marmalade” matches completely with the remainder of the tune as a result of “Lady Marmalade” is a observe a few prostitute. Oddly sufficient, LaBelle advised The Guardian she and the opposite ladies who sang the tune had a special understanding of it.

What Patti LaBelle thought ‘Lady Marmalade’ was about

“[The other members of Labelle and I] really didn’t know [what it meant] at first,” LaBelle revealed. “We thought it was a woman just walking down the street – it didn’t register that it might be about something else. We were very innocent, and I had no clue. I was very naive.” LaBelle defined why she got here to grasp what the tune is definitely about. 

Labelle wearing flamboyant outfits Labelle wearing flamboyant outfits
Labelle | CBS through Getty Images

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“Then we had some controversy about a nun being upset about the song, and we found out,” LaBelle stated. “I felt stupid … no, not stupid but naive. I didn’t know we were singing about a lady of the evening. Young girls today are so well versed because of the internet, so they’d never not realize, but it was different then. Thank God we did the song, anyway!”

How the general public reacted to ‘Lady Marmalade’

LaBelle definitely has purpose to be glad she sang the tune. Regardless of how the members of LaBelle understood “Lady Marmalade,” the general public embraced the tune. LaBelle’s model of “Lady Marmalade” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Stunningly, this was not the one time the tune reached the height of the chart.

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“Lady Marmalade”

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In 2001, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil’ Kim, and Mýa coated “Lady Marmalade” for the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! This model of the observe added a number of the taste of early 2000s R&B. This model of the tune grew to become a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 as effectively. The tune resonates with the pubic within the arms of various singers — even when its supposed that means wasn’t initially clear to its singers.

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