She’s So Popular – Games Without Frontiers

Song: Games Without Frontiers (1980)

Artist: Peter Gabriel

Album: Peter Gabriel III (Mercury)

Why does Peter Gabriel sing “she’s so popular” in the song Games Without Frontiers? He is singing about kids, so, one of the kids may be popular, but it does seem to come a bit out of left field. Well, it is a commonly misheard lyric, or mondegreen.

She’s So Popular is a Mondegreen

The real lyrics are not ‘she’s so popular’ but “Jeux Sans Frontieres” which is French for games without frontiers. Those lyrics are not sung, or garbled, by Peter Gabriel (in a falsetto), either, but by Kate Bush. She also sings on the song No Self Control.

Games Without Frontiers is a satirical take on international relations of the time, with leaders acting like children. The title of the song came from a pan-European game show of the same name. The lyrics “It’s a Knock Out!” were inspired by a BBC version of the game show.

Peter Gabriel performing, 1980
Peter Gabriel Performing, 1980 Image by Theo Blonk

From Gabriel’s third self-titled album, Games Without Frontiers became his biggest hit to date, and his first top 10 hit in the UK as a solo artist and the album topped the charts in the U.K. and reached number 22 in the U.S.

In America, the album caused his departure from Atlantic Records, who rejected it, saying he was committing commercial suicide, only to try buying it back when it took off in the UK and began doing well on radio in the U.S. Gabriel refused and went with Mercury Records.

Although most of the other songs on the album are not political, Biko, about the prison murder of South African anti-apartheid activist, Stephen Bilko, is often considered one of Gabriel’s most brilliant songs, using a sampling of South African funeral drumming and chanting.

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