Eurovision 2017: [France] Alma / Requiem

France will be hoping to build on their impressive 6th place in last year’s contest. They may have a tougher job in 2017.

Requiem is an upbeat melancholic affair with an infectious syncopated riff underpinning a melody with hint of the souk. The song’s toe-tapping chorus brings the track to life. But beware, come the beginning of the second verse, the song has revealed its hand and quickly becomes tired.

Like many songs in this year’s contest, Requiem has a march-like militaristic feel to it. Harmonically there’s a bittersweet mix of hope-fuelled defiance – God knows what the songwriters of Europe are trying to say to the rest of the continent – but there’s little pizzaz in this number to make it truly memorable.

What Requiem lacks over France’s 2016 song is J’ai Cherche’s unbridled ebullience. That makes a similar position in the voting slightly more difficult to predict with certainty. It appearing last on the running order will not do it any favours whatsoever.

 

Eurovision 2016 – France

What I love about France at the Eurovision is that they seem to remain true to their musical heritage. The French understand song, ie French chanson and, over the years, they’ve resolutely stuck to their musical guns.

Adorable Roger Bens with a twinkly in his eyes in 1985 is a personal favourite, so too, Gerard Lenorman whose song ‘Chanteur de Charme‘ (10th, 1987) oozed continental sophistication (the chord progressions in its chorus still make me go weak at the knees).

From then on, my memory of France at Eurovision was of a country seemingly committed to a distinctive sound – a strategy which seemed to resonate with the juries. ‘White on Black Blues‘ was a classy number that took Eurovision by the scruff of its neck in 1990 – such a shame it was beaten by Italy’s well-meant but uninspiring ‘Insieme‘. Equally distinctive, 1991’s ‘C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison‘ seemed to capitalise on a renewed sense of confidence, and is, to date, France’s finest Eurovision entry.

From then on, France returned to more orthodox compositions. ‘Mama Corsica’ (4th, 1993), the blisfully satisfying pop song  ‘Ill me Donne Rendez-Vous‘ (4th, 1995). Even as late as 2002, Sandrine’s Celine-infused ballad  ‘Il Faut Du Temps‘ secured a fifth place.

All seemed to go a bit wrong from 2003 onwards,, until 2008 with Patricia Kraas brilliantly dark  ‘Et s’il fallait le faire‘ (8th). It’s not quite ‘C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison‘ but in the 2008 running order there is a feeling that France is sticking two fingers up to the rest of the continent and saying: “We know about song. Take us or leave us.”

Last year saw France return to musical form after some questionable numbers. The uplifting anthem ‘N’oubliez Pas‘ brilliantly performed by Lisa Angell, but failed to register even a wimper amongst juries and phone voters. Personally speaking that was a surprise and a disappointment.

France’s song for 2016 is a good radio number and has a good musical hook, but doesn’t do much to live up to the country’s Eurovision back catalogue. Singer Amir seems to be going down well with fans, and whilst I’d be amazed if it ended up at the bottom of the table this year, I’m not quite sure whether its especially memorable to warrant anything higher. Still, at least it’s nothing like as bad as their football chant for 2010.

Eurovision 2012: France Echo (You and I) Anggun

Singer Anggun will sing the arresting Echo (You and I) in Baku for France this year.

The country doesn’t have to do any of that participating in semi-finals thing most of the rest of Europe is required to do. And this year, they’ve clearly taken heed of the expectations some of us more geeky fans have that the song they present has to be of at least a half convincing standard given their fast-track to the final.

In my opinion, this is their best effort since Patricia Kaas’ agonisingly beautiful contribution in 2009 (although this year’s song doesn’t surpass it). They’ll no doubt be keen to beat their best ranking in the past nine contests – 8th place – achieved by Kaas that year. Don’t underestimate the marketing potential of a collection of buff men in their pants on those whose influence matters in Eurovision circles.

Nice work France.

Go. You.

Do be sure to check out a playlist of personal French Eurovision favourites (including the adorably vulnerable Roger Bens from 1985) in this YouTube playlist. I thang kew.

Eurovision 2011: France

France has ‘revealed’ the song which will represent the country at this year’s contest and it’s every bit as tiresome to listen to as I suspected it would be when I wrote my last blog post about singer Amaury Vassili. Although of course, I was far too charming to dismiss it when at that stage I hadn’t even heard it.

Now I have, I can confirm that the colour has drained from my cheeks. I fear I’ll need to go and lay down to recover. It’s pop plus opera with a smattering of musical theatre thrown in for good measure. God help us.

I don’t anticipate the contest being hosted anywhere in France next year.

Eurovision 2010: France


It’s a slightly odd experience looking over the website of the independent record label Wagram Music backing French representative Jessy Matador.

Compared to the big guns involved in the Eurovision – the likes of EMI or Sony – the sight of an independent label is refreshing. It make’s France’s effort seem feisty.

Mind you, singer Jessy Matador doesn’t appear to have that much success with his song from 2009 Mini Kawoule (even if did reach number 16 in the French charts) if the number of views on MTV France are anything to go by (at the time of writing the number amounted to 7 – and I was one of them). Still, there’s something bold (or foolish?) in giving Eurovision audiences a taste of a fairly bland beach party in late May/early June.

Whether that will pay off remains to be seen. I have my doubts.

The song has a great – if highly unoriginal – summery feel to it’s chorus.  The repetition grates after a while. It would only be bearable if you’re in a bar somewhere with a view of a sunset swigging beer out of a bottle. The grinding in the video probably won’t make it to the final show – I’d be surprised – and really, there’s only so many times you can look to camera and go “woop” or “hmm hmmm”. It’s going to take one imaginative TV producer to translate that into a winning performance for Eurovision voters. Expect lots of dancing at the very least.

But Walgram Music’s distribution mechanism  – they build their business on distributing digital ‘titles’ via mobile phone operators first and foremost – not only shows them as a product of the present day digital music machine (and possibly the reality for the future) but also to what extent Eurovision is merely about exposure for Jessy Matador.

This is without doubt, a pragmatic exercise for Jessy Matador. The focus is surely on maximising downloads and building reputation. Winning would be a bonus, but it’s not central. Longevity – and perhaps more specifically revenue – is of considerable more importance.