It’s our second big 5 country in a row in the countdown. France are 5 times winners but haven’t won since 1977 though their results in the last 3 years have picked up after a long period of poor results. Bilal Hassani will represent them this year, the first big Eurovision artist to have come through the social media fame route rather than via music reality TV which has been the staple for Eurovision entries for over a decade now. Will it bring France continued and improved luck in the contest?
Destination Eurovision, the new French national final, returned for a second year and seems to have found its feet quickly as one of the better national selections/finals. There were two semi-finals followed by the final, which Bilal won. He didn’t do so well with the international jury vote, coming 5th of 8 but had a huge public vote (perhaps not surprising given his YouTuber status), and with the points being weighted on the vote, it gave him a landslide victory.
Openly gay, coming out in 2017 just before Paris Pride, French gay magazine Têtu has described him as “an icon for French LGBT+ youth” and he certainly is a very engaging individual, with a lot of time for the fans. All the more impressive given he has been subject to some nasty homophobia since he won the French national final. His song, “Roi” (“King”), is a really empowering one and reflects strongly I think Bilal’s own experiences.
It’s French pop, but is sung in a mix of French and English, sometimes even within and between sentences, something Bilal says he does in everyday speech anyway. The song was co-written by Bilal with France’s representatives from last year, Madame Monsieur, who were a fan favourite with their entry “Mercy“.
I am uncertain how this will do in the contest. I feared his voice was a bit thin/weak but when seeing him live I can see how it really fits the song and works perfectly for it – just got some long big notes to hit though but I am sure he will. He’s got a big social media base of support of course but that is primarily in France, and with the international juries being lukewarm to this in the national final, I think this might be relying more on televote so will have to see how widely this can appeal. I think it can and deserves to get a decent result though so I wish Bilal “bonne chance”.
Official music video:
Live performance at London Eurovision Party:
My preview video:
France in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding this year): 61
Best result: Winner 1958, 1960, 1962, 1969, 1977
Last year’s result: 13th