Oh, it’s ON season again? Damn time, moving too fast – I’m totally not ready for all the NF drama yet. But okay, let’s have at it then! Starting with France! So the French have decided (ha!) to keep their national final and instead of learning a thing or two and adapting the revived selection they kinda made it…worse.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the principle of having a national selection – even if there are plenty of cases where an internal selection has brought better results. Even for the French. But when I saw that both semis were going to take approximately three hours to only chuck out half of the performers… Thank you, next. I had to watch the final at least and it quickly became apparent as to why the running time is soooooo freaking long. What IS the deal with covering a successful Eurovision song AND having the otherwise completely pointless jury gushing over it? Especially when said song, and at times the performance, outclasses your own actual entry? And what’s the deal with having an expert panel that is afraid to use their expertise to steer people in the direction they’d take? All they’re doing is praising everyone to death. What are they even doing in that panel in the first place? Please, my dear Frenchies, shake it up for next year.
Right, now I’ve got that off my chest – let’s run through this year’s selection.
- Chimène Badi – Là-Haut: her rendition of Céline Dion’s winning song showed us she can sing and her own entry is OK enough in terms of your standard balladry… It’s just all so been-there-done-that it makes me wanna curl up and take a nap.
- Silvàn Areg – Allez Leur Dire: the way he strangled the fuck out of Amina’s brilliant 1991 song should have taken him straight to the guillotine. The way he ‘sang’ (I’m using that term very loosely) his own song wasn’t that great either, at least it fit the vibe it all. The happy-go-lucky atmosphere was cute-ish, the visual presentation was lovely and refreshing…but I sincerely hope I never have to listen to that man strangling notes ever again.
- The Divaz – La Voix d’Aretha: We’ll not even discuss that rape of Waterloo they served. Let’s take about what they did serve, which was VOICE and ATTITUDE. They confessed they’ve only been singing together for about a month and that kinda showed, but boy do they have the potential to be a POWERHOUSE. Damn! Pity their song was a bit meih, and the word tacky doesn’t even begin to suffice to describe their outfits. Also: The Divaz? Yawn. But by all means, do come back with a better overall package and some experience up your sleeve and blow us all away.
- Emmanuel More – La Promesse: THE example of having your own entry overshadowed by that cover they have to bring. The piano rendition of Euphoria he gave us was beautiful and made the very…eum…French dramatic vibe of his own song come across as rather blah. I kinda liked the drama of it all but if felt more like a therapy session than an engaging performance.
- Douston – Sois un bon fils: Skipping his version of France 2016 because I don’t want to waste any more time than I already did watching that performance. Not wasting too much time on his actual song either: I loved the exotic vibe and I can dig some rap but this all felt way off. A halfbaked oneliner and some good intentions do not a good song make.
- Seemone – Tous Les Deux: Ah, the Lolita of this final. She picked a suiting but uneventful song to cover (France 1977) and then proceeded to be very emotional about her papa. That word is forever tainted by Le Papa Pingouin for me, by the way, so her emotions at the end of the song came across even more ridiculous to me than they were to begin with. I can see why the fan community was gushing all over this, but no. Loving her voice, but it needs a different kind of song. More Carla Bruni, less Lara Fabian.
- Bilal Hassani – Roi: I hadn’t seen or heard anything prior to the final but I’d read A LOT so I didn’t know what the hell to expect. The fan community seemed so torn over this entry, and rather negative about just about every aspect of it, so I was very apprehensive. Imagine my surprise when I heard a cool sounding song with a strong and highly relatable message, performed by a very secure role model. Sure, his vocals need a bit of work. But come on guys, where’s all of the support for someone who simply wants to express his unique self? I’ll come back to this in my usual previews. Until then I have only two things left to say: his choice of cover song was spot on – not too much pressure, lots of fun – and this entry was about the only decent option for Tel Aviv in this selection. It’ll get lots of attention in Tel Aviv, there have been French entries in the recent past that didn’t even get mentioned on the night of the Final. I’m definitely part of #teambilal, be warned.
- Aysat – Comme Une Grande: Aysat could be the love child of Jessy Matador & Marie Line, no? I liked her cheery attitude, but girl: that cover was no good, and your actual entry wasn’t anywhere near being engaging or memorable enough to set the scoreboard on fuego. Pity.
If France brings back the national selection for next year I just have one request: Cut. The. Crap. Focus on the essentials and get those right. S’il vous plait. Mercy mercy d’avance.
Now go, Bilal, and make us queers proud. No matter what anyone says: you’re already royalty.