Cristina (singer)  

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"Elegant, intelligent, beautiful and the wittiest girl I have ever met. In a sassier, zestier, brighter, funnier world, Cristina would have been Madonna."--Strange: Punks and Drunks, Flicks and Kicks (2005) by Richard Strange

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Cristina Monet Zilkha (nee Monet-Palaci, January 2, 1959 – April 1, 2020), known during her recording career as Cristina, was an American singer and writer, best known for her no wave recordings made for ZE Records in the late 1970s and early 1980s in New York City.



A Harvard dropout, and the daughter of a French psychoanalyst and an American illustrator-novelist-playwright, she was working as a writer for The Village Voice when she met Michael Zilkha, who later became her husband.

A wealthy heir to England's Mothercare retail empire, Zilkha started ZE Records with Michel Esteban. Zilkha persuaded her to record a song titled "Disco Clone", an eccentric pastiche dance record written by Ronald Melrose, a classmate of hers at Harvard.

The original recording, released as ZE001 in 1978, was produced by John Cale and was the first to be issued on the ZE label. A later version featured the uncredited Kevin Kline trying to seduce Cristina, replacing Anthony Haden-Guest on the original record.

"Disco Clone" was a cult success and encouraged ZE to release a full-length album in 1980, which was produced by August Darnell of Kid Creole & The Coconuts. The album was reissued as Doll in the Box. Cristina also issued on a 12" single a cover of Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" with new, satirical lyrics. Its authors Leiber and Stoller sued and successfully got it withdrawn for many years. Later, she released a cover of the Beatles' "Drive My Car" (also released as "Baby You Can Drive My Car"). She released the track "Things Fall Apart", produced by Was (Not Was), on ZE's Christmas Record, in 1981.

Cristina's second album Sleep It Off was produced by Don Was and released in 1984 with a sleeve design by Jean-Paul Goude (a year before he used the same idea for Grace Jones). The lyrics satirized urban decadence with often dry, sarcastic delivery. The record flopped, and Cristina retired to domestic life in Texas. The album was re-released in 2004 with six bonus tracks, two of which were produced (and one co-written) by Robert Palmer.

Monet-Palaci and Zilkha divorced in 1990, and she returned to New York City. She later contributed learned essays and reviews to publications such as London's Times Literary Supplement while battling a debilitating illness. Her two albums for ZE were reissued in 2004.

Cristina died on April 1, 2020, at the age of 61, reportedly from COVID-19.


Studio albums

  • Cristina (1980, ZE Records)
  • Sleep It Off (1984, ZE Records)
  • Doll in the Box (2004, ZE Records) – Expanded re-issue of Cristina
  • Sleep It Off (2004, ZE Records) – Expanded re-issue



No wave, Fonovisa Records, Annie Nightingale, Softcore Jukebox, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Kittenz and Thee Glitz, Alex Gimeno, Slave to the Rhythm (album), Island Records discography, Dance-punk, Is That All There Is?, Tony Wright (artist), La Poupée qui fait non, Anthony Haden-Guest, Blue Money, John Cale discography, Compass Point All Stars, List of artists who have covered Van Morrison songs, Post-punk, A Christmas Record, ZE Records, Sleep It Off, Kid Creole and the Coconuts discography, Michael Zilkha

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