RIGHTING THE WRONGS: “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”

Have you ever seen misinformation being spread over the Internet? The same incorrect story gets repeated over and over again, and there’s little you can do about it. Oh sure, you can “reply to all” when someone sends you one of those “Bill Gates will give you $500 for forwarding this email!” emails… but when you see blogs and “reputable” websites repeat the same false story all the time, there’s not much you can do… other than get your own website and try to set the story straight. This is what I want to do with the song “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”. There’s so much misinformation out there about this song, and the truth of it needs to be set free.

“Jey Boy, Jet Girl” is a song about a 15 year-old boy who has a sexual relationship with an older  boy, who then rejects him for a girl. It was originally released in October 1977 by a “band” called Elton Motello. I put “band” in quotes because the “band” was actually a bunch of session musicians and singer and songwriter Alan Ward, who also used “Elton Motello” as his stage name. Anyway, the song was a minor hit in the UK, but became much more famous after it was covered by the punk band The Damned. If you are familiar with the song at all, it is probably The Damned’s version that you know and (perhaps) love.

Shortly after the song was released in the UK, Belgian songwriter Roger Marie Francois Jouret hired Ward’s session musicians and formed a “band” called Plastic Bertram (like Ward, Jouret used his band name as his stage name). The musicians from Ward’s single played the same song as Bertrand sang some nonsense lyrics written by fellow Belgian Lou Deprijck (the song was deemed “too controversial” by RKM Publishing, the song’s producer, hence the “nonsense lyrics”). The result was “Ça plane pour moi”, a song that became an international hit. In the United States, “Ça plane pour moi” has been used in countless movies, most notably Eurotrip and National Lampoon’s European Vacation, as well as commercials (most notably, a recent campaign for Pepsi).

Here’s what you need to take away from this article:

  1. The song was originally recorded by Elton Motello.
  2. Although “Jey Boy, Jet Girl” owes its popularity to The Damned’s cover version, The Damned didn’t write the song, nor did they “translate” Plastic Bertrand’s version.
  3. Plastic Bertrand’s version is basically a cover. The publishing company feared that the song might get banned if the lyrics were translated directly into French, so Bertrand had a friend write a bunch of gibberish instead.

Consider the wrongs to be righted. Tomorrow: McDonald’s apple pies!

6 Replies to “RIGHTING THE WRONGS: “Jet Boy, Jet Girl””

  1. Back in the early 80’s, I once introduced a girlfriend to this song (the Motello version, of course). Being a college DJ at the time, she went back to school that fall and promptly played it on the air. In turn, this promptly resulted in (1) her expulsion from the station, and (2) the station’s immediate conversion to classical format. Heartwarming!

  2. Actually they aren’t nonsense lyrics at all, the lyrics were written by A Belgian using a lot of current slang that just didn’t make literal sense in translation, or at all in a few years when the phrases went out of style. The song is about being hung over and was meant as a parody of punk lyrics

  3. Thanks for the info. This song (both French & English) has “haunted” me my whole life, popping up at the strangest times & places. The wierdest was in a boutique on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights where it was just a musical version performed by Craftwork ( I think).

  4. FIRST, song does not specify age of song’s subject. While the singer claims to be “only fifteen”, is the “only” enough to infer subject of his affection is older? (at least you didn’t age the subject as much as other commentaries though, you are only one refusing to use word “man”)

    the fact he later has a girl “hanging around his neck” actually implies immaturity that could mean younger than singer. (allowing/encouraging her to do so could even be a bearding attempt with straight friends)

    BUT i also wish to further analyze the song. the singer obviously isn’t “jet boy” or “jet girl” so why the dual title? plus, the chorus doesn’t make sense …if he’s singing to two people.

    now maybe I’m missing something because I’m not a part of the street culture, but the singer is obviously aggressive ( receiver of head, initiating the kiss and “taking” jet boy ” ’round the world” [i do know THAT reference though, i always considered it a “three point landing” around a female] ) how does “make him” or “make him a girl?”

    my mathematical brain might just be over thinking this or maybe there is a sub culture reference i didn’t recognize (please tell me what if any, I’m not too old a dog yet) the least resistant solution i can imagine as of this writing is that a jet boy/girl is interchangeable and submissive. this quasi connects with 2001 Canadian movie “Jet Boy”. if so, the subject of song is trying to break away (possibly by taking a jet girl of his own) and singer is declaring to reclaim what was his once.

    not a clean logic analysis to be sure, but hope someone will be kind enough to help explain. There’s no chance I’ll ever be a Jet Boy but i do wish to understand the situation. 🙂

  5. I actually first heard the Motello version (on Pandora of all places lol), I really do love the Damned but their version of this song is kinda lame compared to the original. Anyway I think it’s kinda cool to have these topics in a punk song since punk is often super macho

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