This is my penultimate Big 5/automatic qualifier in this top 39 countdown, and it’s the powerhouse of the early days of Eurovision – France. They internally selected last year, choosing Tom Leeb and his (partly John Lundvik-penned) song “Mon alliée (The Best in Me)“. Tom was ditched in favour of a return to a national final that took place at the end of January. It was so good to watch a national final with a (limited) live audience and there were several good songs in the mix, but the result was never really in any doubt, Barbara Pravi won easily with both juries and the public vote.
“Voilà” is in the “chanson” style of French song – the dominant style of early Eurovision (when France was the most successful country in the contest). This is of course a more modern sounding chanson, but it is still very Piafesque sounding. Barbara brings passion, class and quality to this performance. She also has a Eurovision pedigree – she and the cowriter of “Voilà” were also the writers of “J’imagine“, the song that won Junior Eurovision for France in autumn 2020. It may possibly be a good omen for her chances at Eurovision.
While this was one of the very first known songs for Eurovision, it’s remained high in fan polls and in the betting odds right the way through. I can see why people appreciate it though I do confess it does remind me of when I saw “La Poule Plombée“, a wonderful comedy show and character created by Sarah Louise Young (check out the signature song “Baggage“) .
The staging at the national final was impressive (easily the best of the acts) and while I think there may be some changes, it will be interesting to see what is brought to the Rotterdam stage. I’m expecting it to be impressive and complement the drama of the song. Can “Voilà” actually win for France? Well, as I mentioned, it’s certainly very popular among fans and the betting though I would offer a word of caution – France has gone into quite a few recent contests as one of the favourites to win (2011, 2016, 2018) and yet not got close in the actual results (though did achieve 6th in 2016) but with Barbara’s Eurovision record to date, it’s not impossible they could get a 6th win.
France in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 62
Best result: Winner 1958, 1960, 1962, 1969, 1977
Last year’s result: 16th