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Serge Gainsbourg (born Lucien Ginsburg; French pronunciation: [sɛʁʒ ɡɛ̃sbuʁ]; 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French singer, songwriter, pianist, film composer, poet, painter, screenwriter, writer, actor, and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, mambo, world, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to rock and roll, progressive rock, reggae, electronic, disco, new wave, and funk. Gainsbourg’s varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.
His lyrical works incorporated a vast amount of clever word play to hoodwink the listener, often for humorous, provocative, satirical or subversive reasons. Common types of word play in his songs include mondegreen, onomatopoeia, rhyme, spoonerism, dysphemism, paraprosdokian and pun. Through the course of his career, Gainsbourg wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered more than 1,000 times by a wide range of artists. Since his death, Gainsbourg’s music has reached legendary stature in France, and he is regarded as one of France’s most revered musicians. He has also gained a cult following in the English-speaking world, with numerous artists influenced by his arrangements.