Allez allez! The second big 5 country to hold their national final this season, France has held two semi-finals to determine the final eight acts to compete in the final on Saturday 26 January. We’ve got a better idea of what to expect from the artists, having seen them live, and while the two favourites remain favourites, I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion. Here’s my quick overview of the songs in the running…
Up first in my rundown are the qualifiers from the first semi-final:
Bilal Hassani – “Roi”
The big favourite prior to the semis, YouTuber Bilal sailed through to the final, coming top with both the jury and televote. It’s an anthemic song, with shades of Conchita. I was a little underwhelmed with the live performance but perhaps he is holding on to the final for a full on performance. Also, he is one of two openly gay men in the French final – great to see!
Chimène Badi – “Là Haut”
This did poorly with the jury but very well in the public vote. I’m with the public, and this might be my favourite song/performance from the first semi-final. Staging works well, vocal performance is good and chorus is catchy. She sold a lot of albums and singles in the mid-2000s so perhaps the public vote shows she still has that popularity.
Silvan Areg – “Allez leur dire”
Sadly the live performance from the semi-final is now unavailable as there was an issue with the original title of this song (“Le petit Nicolas”). The song has a new title in time for the final but just the audio of the studio version for you here. It was an engaging semi-final performance and fully deserves to be in the final. It’s SO French! It may not be likely to work at Eurovision but it’s a lot of fun for a national final.
Aysat – “Comme une grande”
The most surprising finalist in my view, and I have to say, my least favourite of the 8. While Aysat scored well with the juries, she got the lowest score in the televote but her score was enough to take her to the final. I thought she might have had a problem with her microphone during her performance but then when I say her cover performance of “Dancing Queen” I realised it perhaps was an accurate impression!
The following final four qualified from the second semi-final:
Seemone – “Tous les deux”
Along with “Roi”, this is the other big favourite of Destination Eurovision. A haunting solo ballad, Seemone didn’t disappoint with her live performance. She secured a maximum possible score from the jury though didn’t top the televote (she came second). I’m not fond of how long the plaintive “papas” go on for in the middle part of the song but otherwise this does cause tingles. What remains to be seen is if it can scoop up a big enough televote (as this will get lots of jury votes).
Emmanuel Moire – ” La promesse”
This somewhat surprisingly topped the televote in the second semi-final but it’s a welcome finalist. Emmanuel Moire is an established singer-songwriter in France and also had success in celebrity reality TV, having won the French version of Strictly Come Dancing (Danse avec les stars) in 2012. He came out as gay in 2009 and “La promesse” is a heartfelt song about making a promise to himself “to finally live when his heart beats for a man”. While Bilal and Seemone are the two favourites to win, this is very much the dark horse.
The Divaz – “La voix d’Aretha”
This song is a lot of fun – three female singers with big voices, catchy tune, the homage to the great Aretha Franklin, and of course those awesome red dresses, it’s all very camp and catchy. The three singers sang together on The Voice and subsequently have appeared in the musical version of Priscialla, Queen of the Desert. So perhaps the high octane campness should come as no surprise!
Doutson – “Sois un bon fils”
A surprise finalist, this is actually a very pleasant song with a reflective but ultimately positive message and Doutson put in a very good performance in the semi-final. This is a genre of French pop music that not everyone will like, but I’m pleased this is in the final, and I enjoy the song, though I wouldn’t expect to this making it to Tel Aviv.
So there we go, eight songs in the mix, though it is likely to be a two horse race between Bilal and Seemone. My personal favourites are Seemone and
Chimène but who do you want to see represent France in Israel this year? Let me know in the comments below!