We come to one of the great Eurovision nations now, and a member of the Big 5, France. This is also the last of my Top 5s (well top 10 in this case) for the Big 5 as I will be doing something different for my home country, the United Kingdom. With 60 appearances, 5 winners, and being a founder member of the contest, it’s been a challenge to whittle this list down.
I think this top 10 may have the widest difference in time between oldest and most recent entries – and goes to show how long France has been in the contest. While France ties with the UK and Luxembourg for wins (5), they haven’t won since 1977 (before I was born) and their wins took place in a time when the classic French-language chanson made up the majority of contest winners. France are still capable of putting in some great entries though, and you’ll see that reflected in my choices. Allez!
10. Twin Twin “Moustache” (2014, 26th place, 2 points)
I was a bit unsure if I should include this one as this entry is, to date, the only time when France have finished in last place. However, I still love the song and I think it’s just it didn’t translate so well to the live Eurovision stage of that year. If you take a look at the music video for the song, you’ll get a better idea of what the song is about, the humour and why I enjoy this!
9. Noëlle Cordier “Il doit faire beau là-bas” (1967, 3rd place, 20 points)
A dreamy and classy French chanson from the 60s, this song remains popular with Eurovision fans, helped I am sure by a great chorus,
8. Isabelle Aubret “Un premier amour” (1962, winner, 26 points)
1962 might seem very early on in the contest’s history, but this became France’s third win in the contest – a sign of early French dominance. It’s another dramatic French chanson. Isabelle Aubret returned to the contest after her victory in 1968, and did well again, finishing third behind Massiel and Cliff Richard.
7. Amina “C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison” (1991, 2nd place, 146 points)
This 1991 effort is the closest France has come to winning the contest since 1977. It tied on points with Sweden but the rules at the time meant that Carola won rather than Amina. Under the contest’s current rules, Amina would have won and gained France a sixth win. I think this is a great example of France’s willingness (from the 1980s onwards) to bring different styles of music and singer to Eurovision, and to experiment and mix things up. There’s a distinct African feel to this – the writer was Senegalese and Amina is of North African descent.
6. Jacqueline Boyer “Tom Pillibi” (1960, winner, 36 points)
One of the more recognisable winners from the early years of the contest, and one of the oldest entries to feature in any of my Top 5s, this was France’s second win. Somewhat unusually, it made the UK’s top 40 charts, reaching number 33. It’s a bit different from the usual French entry of the earlier contest years and is moderately up-tempo.
5. Alma “Requiem” (2017, 12th place, 135 points)
We go from 1960 all the way to 2017 – Alma and her song became a fan favourite in the run up to the contest, and that was reflected in an impressive vote haul from the public vote, propelling her into the top half of the placings.
4. Jessy Matador “Allez Ola Olé” (2010, 12th place, 82 points)
I think Graham Norton summed this one up well on the night of the contest – at the end of the song he exclaimed “Go on, admit it, you enjoyed that!”. I heartily concur and I think a lot of other people also did and still do. The official music video now has over 54 million views! It’s the second most watched video on Eurovision’s YouTube channel. The song was also used as France’s World Cup 2010 anthem – the song has fared a lot better than France did in that tournament… And as for Jessy Matador (real name Jessy Kimbangi) himself, a more enthusiastic performance I think it would be hard to give than he delivered in Oslo 🙂
3. Amir “J’ai cherché” (2016, 6th place, 257 points)
One of France’s strongest entries for years, Amir gave France their first top 10 entry since 2009 and their best result since 2001. Deservedly so in my view, as it’s a great pop song. He followed up his Eurovision success with another great single, “On dirait” – I think that would have made a great Eurovision entry as well!
2. Anne-Marie David “Je suis l’enfant soleil” (1979, 3rd place, 106 points)
So close to being my French number one – it’s the amazing Anne-Marie David who topped my Top 5 of songs from Luxembourg with her 1973 winning entry “Tu te reconnaîtras”. She returned to Eurovision in 1979 representing her native France with this superb entry – and of course, sung and performed beautifully. It’s a song that builds as it goes on and is more complex and layered than many other Eurovision entries – this would have been my winner of the 1979 contest.
1. Marie Myriam “L’oiseau et l’enfant” (1977, winner, 136 points)
Pipping Anne-Marie to a second number 1 spot is France’s last winner, and it’s a cracker. A full bodied French ballad with great chorus and powerfully sung by Marie Myriam. This was the reigning Eurovision champion when I was born (Jan 1978) so I feel I have an extra connection to this – but even without that, it’s my French number 1, and a song I love to listen to regularly.
With so many songs to choose from, are there any that you would have put in that I have omitted? And who would be your French no 1? Let me know in the comments.