A brief appreciation of the work of Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Les Rita Mitsouko "C'est Comme Ça" from The No Comprendo

Although Jean-Baptiste Mondino has directed music videos for huge artists like Madonna, Bjork and Chris Isaak, my favorite video of all time is for the relatively unknown Les Rita Mitsouko. Mondino was helped considerably by the frantic sexy robotics of Catherine Ringer, the windmill gyrations of guitarist Fred Chichin and, the sure crowd pleaser, chimpanzee antics. It is a brave director who steps in the room with those three.

Produced by Tony Visconti, the entire album is fantastic and I still listen to it regularly. Sadly, Fred Chichin passed away last November.

Slightly NSFW - Mirwais "Naive Song" from Production

Nearly twenty years after Les Rita Mitsouko, Mondino choreographed the removal of Mirwais' cabaret makeup to the infectious beats of French electronica. Admittedly, I really love trashy French house music and this is a particularly fine example.

French Advertisement for Spontex Sponges

French Advertisement for Kodak

Neither unknown nor underappreciated, Mondino's place in fashion, photography and directing is rock solid. Before the days of YouTube, I would pay attention if I heard of a Jean-Baptiste project, but how the hell would I ever be able to see French commercials?

Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" from Building the Perfect Beast

It would be wrong to leave the reader with the impression that Mondino's talents are restricted to frenetic overloads. The Henley "Boys of Summer" video swept the MTV Music Video Awards and is a beautifully shot, wonderfully restrained, example of the best of the 1980s.

In addition to Mondino's considerable directing talents, he is also a tremendous photographer who continues to amaze.

Mondino's Page
Jean-Baptiste Mondino at wikipedia
Comprehensive music videography at mvdbase.com

(Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)


  1. Thanks for introducing me to some new old music, and a few lovely videos.

    All I have to add at the moment is that Mike Campbell (as heard in “Boys of Summer, which he cowrote)) is probably my favorite guitarist ever.

  2. Wow. I don’t remember the last time I heard that song, and I’ve never seen the video.

    I remember when that album was released. I loved it. I still have a copy on vinyl. I should get the CD or find the mp3s.

    I saw Les Rita live at First Avenue in Minneapolis. I seem to recall they were not very impressive.

  3. Just stopped in to say that the “Boys of Summer” video (and song) were fantastic. I actually did a shot-by-shot analysis of the video back in film school. Nice to know I’m not the only one who was able to appreciate it. Also nice to find out years later that it was done by an artist of some repute.

    \missing the days of narrative music video as opposed to modern displays of bling and non-stop in-your-face hip hop braggarts.

  4. Les Ritas are an institution. Play any of these songs at a party in France and the crowd goes nuts… not bad for an ex-porn actress..

  5. Catherine Ringer had a fight once with Serge gainsbourg live at the TV. He was such a bi… to her about her past of porn actress.

  6. Thank you for posting that video! I lived in Belgium for a year in the late ’80s, and that song was a favorite of mine during that time. I’d completely forgotten about it, but as soon as I saw the name of the band it all came back. What a pleasure to see the video for the first time all these years later!

  7. hey great post – i like the music … this kind of post-punk 80’s pop is something i like a lot – reminds me of the b52’s a bit …

  8. I used to love that Les Rita Mitsouko “C’est Comme Ça” song back in the 80s, but this was the first time I ever saw the video. Thanks.

  9. I thought the kodak as was the work of that other french great director and photographer, Jean-Paul Goude (essentially because of the frantic striped kids and their funny hats) but it’s actually a cross between both worlds.

    In the 80s we would play at spotting the little drummer kid in music videos, a Mondino signature (as in both music videos cited here on BB).

    Jean-Baptiste has also recorded a song : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyuVTCUaG3w (he’s the guy in red)

    He really is a fabulous photographer too.

    BONUS: another great curio, “Soeil by soleil” by Ahmed Fabkroun, starring the late comic genius, Coluche. And that was almots 30 years ago.

  10. OMG thanks for reminding me of that glorious “C’est Comme Ça” video! I remember being so enthralled with it as a kid.

  11. Mr. Jalopy! You are the best! I saw the Marcia Baila video in the late 80s on some local access station in New York. I searched for Rita Mitsouko for years, but couldn’t find anything from them anywhere (it didn’t help that I thought Rita Mitsouko was the name of the woman). Eventually I gave up, got married, had a family, etc.
    I’m so happy you’ve brought them back — I loved the Marcia Baila video, although it seems like such a relic now that I’ve finally seen it again. Nevertheless, way to go with the French Pop.

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