France, one of Eurovision’s founding countries, has had an abysmal record at the contest in recent years. Since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004, they’ve struggled to make a mark on the scoreboard, only once finishing in the top ten compared to nine times in the bottom ten. This is despite the fact that they’re part of the “Big 5”, and therefore automatic qualifiers. However, as of 2014, France still had something to be proud of: never finishing last in nearly 60 years of participation… that was, of course, before Twin Twin’s disastrous performance.

In the aftermath of Copenhagen, it seemed that France Télévisions finally understood that something had to be done. France 2 stepped in and took charge of the country’s entry. The decision was partially motivated by a renewed interest after Conchita’s victory and the buzz that followed. With the contest moving to a larger channel, eurofans were expecting big names and hoping for artists such as M. Pokora or Indila… instead they got the relatively unknown singer Lisa Angell with a stereotypical chanson, “N’oubliez pas”. The choice was met with much criticism and predictions of failure. Sure enough, France came 25th out of 27. Disappointed by the results, Nathalie André the head of entertainment for France 2, hinted at a possible French withdrawal, before denying it and claiming that France would be back to seek revenge in 2016. Hopefully they mean it this time!

All this leads us to ask: What is it about Eurovision that France still does not understand? And why do they consistently under-perform?

Is political voting to blame?

Every year, the French media and public come up with the same excuse: bloc voting! Yes, neighbourly voting is a factor, no one can deny that. But that doesn’t stop countries with few or no natural allies from receiving votes. For instance, Australia debuted in 2015 and despite being thousands of miles away from Europe, they still managed to receive a respectable number of points and place fifth. So, instead of complaining and whining about political voting, because that won’t change anything, France should instead work on improving their entries.

Is singing in French a handicap?

patriciakaasdances

No, no and no! Of all the excuses that a country can come up with to justify a bad placing, singing in its native language is the most unacceptable. French is beautiful. Just look at all the French language songs that chart internationally. Actually there’s no such thing as a good or bad language at Eurovision, it all depends on how well you showcase it through your song. Examples of successful non-English entries are countless, with the most recent one being Italy’s Il Volo who placed first with the televoters.

Are French artists good enough to win?

of-course-emma-watson-yes-sure

Undoubtedly, YES! French artists are extremely talented. The country has no shortage of brilliant singers and groups who could proudly represent the country and even win the contest. Unfortunately, public opinion and recent results discourage them from entering. Nevertheless, every year when Eurovision season begins, the rumour mill goes into overdrive, with names like M. Pokora or Tal or Shy’m cropping up again and again. Yet every year fans end up disappointed. Maybe France 2 should start listening. Power to the people!Molly Smitten Downes UK Eurovision Power to the People children of the universe gif

Are the songs the real problem?

Probably. Eurovision has become a major platform for artists to showcase their creativity, yet France still doesn’t understand that and sends very predictable, outdated and forgettable songs that eventually get lost amongst all the other competitors. The country seems to be stuck in another decade and still believes that sending a big voice is enough to secure a good placing. Actually when “N’oubliez pas” was released, some people compared it to Marie Myriam’s winning song “L’oiseau et l’enfant” and even suggested that this song could win Eurovision…. C’mon guys! Don’t you think it’s time to forget that song? It won nearly 40 years ago – music and Eurovision have both evolved since then!

How can France turn things around?

First and foremost, France should start taking the contest seriously. Each and every year, the French media and public throw shade on the contest, branding it cheesy, camp and tasteless. They love to ridicule the chosen representatives and never seem to be satisfied with anyone. How do they expect decent artists to take part? France should take notes from other European countries who actually value the contest. Those that take it seriously, sending their best and backing their act no matter what tend to do rather well.anggun you and i echo eurovision france gif

Secondly, they should understand that, even though this is a song contest, it’s still a visual show. Sending a good song but without appropriate stage presentation is not enough. They actually seemed to have grasped this in Vienna by adding the drummers in the background, but was it enough compared to what Sweden or Russia had to offer? They still need to make more effort in this area.

Finally, France Télévisions should seriously reconsider their method for selecting entries. Of late they’ve opted for internal selections, except for 2014, and generally it has proven to be unsuccessful. The real problem lies in the fact that the selection process is obscure and often botched. For instance this year, there was no professional jury. Only ONE person was in charge of selecting a song that would represent a whole country on Europe’s biggest stage. Nathalie André, the head of entertainment for France 2, admitted in interviews that she made the decision to send Lisa Angell alone in her office after listening to the song and developing an instant love for it… in other words she decided to send the song based completely on her own personal taste, which is insane!

Is it too late for France to change their ways? Can they ever return to past glories? Let us know below.

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CookyMonzta
CookyMonzta
5 years ago

@reddawg: Regarding that last paragraph of yours, they might have to send one of their more popular acts. They might have to consider getting Daft Punk as producers. Either that, or perhaps Thomas Bangalter could resurrect his side project, Stardust. >:-)

CookyMonzta
CookyMonzta
5 years ago

@Robyn: Twin Twin’s “Moustache” (2 pts. in 2014) wasn’t weird enough?

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
5 years ago

reddawg: Except most home viewers don’t watch the semi-finals. For example, in the UK the semis shown the minor channel BBC3. For the vast majority of viewers, the grand final is the very first time they’re seeing and hearing all the songs performed.

The juries, however, are the opposite. They’ve seen and voted on all the semi-finalists. But what does this mean? Are they loyal to songs they’ve seen in the semis? Or are they excited to see brand new songs from the Big 5? I sense some spreadsheet analysis is in order here…

reddawg
reddawg
5 years ago

any “analysis” is very poor if it doesn’t recognize one of the biggest reasons France and all of the other pre-qualifiers do so poorly most years– it is BECAUSE they prequalify. This should be REALLY simple to understand. People who bother to vote at Eurovision mostly make up their minds about what they want to win from the semifinals– it is too hard to change people’s minds, so the big 5 and the previous winner have a serious disadvantage. Even if you end up really liking their performance in the finale, you don’t want to not give points to the… Read more »

Graph
Graph
5 years ago

Here are my thoughts on France’s entries since 2010:

2010: Terrible, don’t know why this was a favorite
2011: High quality, but kind of boring
2012: Average
2013: Too creepy. Who would want to listen to this?
2014: Silly, but, there weren’t a lot of great songs in 2014, and some worse songs got decent results (cough cough, Poland).
2015: By far France’s best entry since I don’t know when.

Huh
Huh
5 years ago

Maybe the French broadcasters would get more pumped up in future contests if some other participating countries underestimate or belittle them for their current results, just like how Australia’s Julia Zemiro thinks how it’s just easy for Australia to beat UK. A bit ironic that she’s born in France.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
5 years ago

The amount of comments on here saying that France has sent good songs for the past five years is alarming. France (along with the UK) might be the worst country during that time in terms of quality of entry.
To say otherwise is a level of denial which is part of France’s problem.

marie
marie
5 years ago

OK , 2014 audience was low : 2million and a half but this year it was much better 4 million 6 .so I think it could be better if the French think that they have a good song for the contest.These last years they think that their songs were bad.
If France 2 sends a goos song next year , I think the French will be more interested in watching the contest.

Racal
Racal
5 years ago

Interesting article, I agree with most things said. However, maybe it’s also worth mentioning that France won the ESC five times, making it one of the most successful countries! During most of the contest’s history (until Ireland’s 3 in a row in the 90s), they were actually number one in terms of number of wins, and came close to winning it again in 1990, 1991 and 2001. Do not categorize them as “losers” just because of the recent years. 😉 They used to be very good at this game, and I’m sure they could be good again.

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
5 years ago

I like it when France enters weird stuff. French weirdness is of a much better quality than general European weirdness. It might not score well, but who cares when Sebastien Tellier drives on stage in a golf cart and huffs on helium?

CookyMonzta
CookyMonzta
5 years ago

@Davve: Delusional? Il Volo nearly won this thing singing entirely in Italian.

Graph
Graph
5 years ago

France’s 2015 results was worse than I expected; however, I sensed that it was not a Top 10 contender. The problem is that musically, the song did not sound serious enough to convince me that it was a solemn remembrance had I not known the lyrics. The musical character was similar to Malta’s Warrior (which didn’t qualify), or Armenia’s Don’t Deny which qualified but wasn’t very successful from there (and who’s lyrics really sounded like troubled romantic love if you didn’t know otherwise). Basically, this kind of restoration-themed power ballad was not very successful in ESC 2015. I think everybody… Read more »

PhysalisFranchetti
5 years ago

I had a look the other day at the National Finals televoting data – I was trying to estimate how much a country was willing to vote and from that get some idea of who was not likely to get over Eurovision’s Minimum Televoting Threshold on occasions. One thing that I saw time and time again was that countries only published televote totals in the National Finals after a good result at Eurovision (not just a win, but somewhere in the top 10 or so). For some, a National Final would carry on for a few years after the good… Read more »

EF0912
EF0912
5 years ago

I feel like France need to send something fresh like their Belgian neighbours. They could do really well with an ‘avant-garde’ (like Aminata, Loic and Margaret Berger) song in French.

EF0912
EF0912
5 years ago

I seriously think that France actually deserves their placings with the exceptions of Amandine and Jessy Matador: 2009: Patrica Kaas: A good well performed QUALITY entry that gave them a good enough placing. 2010: Jessy Matador: An amazing song with a great stage performance killed by juries. It deserved a top 10 at the very least and it should’ve contended for the victory. Really underrated. 2011: Amaury Vassily: I absolutley hated this one. Opera rarely entices me and never really does well in ESC (Il Volo being an exception). The performance was too static. 2012: Anggun: My least favorite French… Read more »

Sparrow
Sparrow
5 years ago

Sorry but Lisa Angell had a classic, not outdated song, with a FLAWLESS performance.
She was top 10 worthy.

Mariam
Mariam
5 years ago

Matt Pokora…such a great voice! It’s been a while since I don’t listen to him..

Maria
Maria
5 years ago

Instead of a pop song, France should send Hip-hop, they have one of the biggest and best hip-hop scenes in the World. Something similar to the last album from Soprano (listen to Clown or Cosmopolitanie) or in the style from Orelsan would be perfect .

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
5 years ago

Honestly, I can’t ever see France in the top 5 again. 1. Public interest is seriously low. In 2014, not even 2 million people (Out of 65 million!!!!!!) watched the final. In fact, there are people in France who have NEVER HEARD OF EUROVISION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Not joking!) 2. Dovetailing into the first point and as it is mentioned above, the French see Eurovision as an awful, outdated, disgusting show. Spoiled by “political” voting. Naturally, this drives away the best artists from taking part. Meaning that France has to settle for less. 3. It’s very clear that France2 is embarrassed (if even… Read more »

davve
davve
5 years ago

if france continues to send boring and bland ballads in french..they will fail… more than 10 years of the same results should be a wakeup call.

send a song in english, and a more contemporary song….done.

Mika
Mika
5 years ago

Very well written article, I agree with pretty much everything in it. France should start caring, make a big national final, generate interest, find truly dedicated singers with songs chosen and agreed upon by the country as a whole.

swissguy
swissguy
5 years ago

I really loved the entries from 2013 and 2015. Maybe it’s because I understand the language but I don’t see any problem in singing the native language. But I really think some people do… I cannot understand why good non-english entries like San Marino 2013, Israel 2013, many Portuguese entries did not make it to the final. One cause of the frequent bad placements of the Big 5-countries is that they don’t appear in the semis. All the other songs that the people do not like fail to pass to the final, while the Big 5-songs start there – whether… Read more »

francoise
francoise
5 years ago

2009 – Patricia Kaas and her classy chanson, lovely 2010 – Jessy Matador and his powerfull dance song, perfect 2011 – Amaury Vassili and his strong opera 2013 – Amandine Bourgeois and one of the best performances in last years, she is the most underrated singer in las 10 years (people are still speaking about boring Ann Sophie with deserved 0 points, but listen France 2013 and think, is her 23th position OK? She should win, this is performance for ESC with everything) 2014 – Twin Twin, cool and funny trio with catchy song France sends perfect songs, every year… Read more »

Marcus Antonicus
Marcus Antonicus
5 years ago

I remember the days when France would send something ‘different’ each year, particularly 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994 and it really woke the contest up (and almost won it for them in ’90 and ’91).
Ok it’s a long time ago but if they really want to stand out they should try something a little more experimental than some of the dirge they have sent in recent years.

Cyanide
Cyanide
5 years ago

If you want the honest answer…France should compete in the semi-finals. Then they will learn from mistakes easily rather than embarrassing themselves in the finals.

Mar
Mar
5 years ago

Europe and the wax in their ears are the problem. France has sent nothing but quality the last five years, and yet they still get depreciated. How is Lisa Angel’s song more outdated than Patricia Kaas’? You can’t praise one and then diminish the other. How were Twin Twin and Anggun outdated at all? That argument doesn’t hold any water. It’s been already demonstrated by the UK that big household names don’t mean guaranteed success. I do agree that the press should start taking it more seriously. Eurovision hasn’t been cheesy and camp for a couple of years now, and… Read more »

Darren
Darren
5 years ago

France’s problem with Eurovision is simply from one extreme to the other, they either bring an Edith Piaf wannabe (2009, 2015) to the Eurovision stage or else they bring something very very weird (2007, 2008) or a novelty act (2014), but the fact that its in French, nobody else can really get the joke behind these weird novelty acts. They entered good songs in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, but they were severely underrated, maybe due to running order and if I’m honest, I loved them in 2007 and 2008, but only as guilty pleasures, not actual songs I would… Read more »

Blah
Blah
5 years ago

As a French myself, I would love to give my two cents on the case that is my beloved country’s participation in Eurovision. Brace yourself, long comment incoming, I guess… (TLDR at the end ;)) I actually think there are quite a few problems with us, which are all part of a bigger problem: the interest that France itself puts into the contest, or should I say, the obvious lack of interest. Starting with the interest of the viewers. A huge proportion of the French people still see Eurovision, as mentioned in the article, as something outdated, old and cheesy.… Read more »

VojazSRB
VojazSRB
5 years ago

I loved last year Twin Twin – Moustache. If song did not work it wont have so many views on Youtube. So maybe it’s marketing problem. Greetings from Serbia! #LoveWiWiBlogs

Sarah Boucher
5 years ago

A Nouvelle FH (a 2010s girlie from France) could make an Andre-like chanson & win it in stockholm.

Nott
Nott
5 years ago

Celine is the only one who could bring back Eurovision to France.
hahahaha

marie
marie
5 years ago

daniel varga : yes she said in an interview if France has to sing in English to score well , France will sing in English , even it’s a pity she added but She doesn’t want to end bottom again.

Kjetil
Kjetil
5 years ago

I really don’t know why but i have a feeling that they will win Eurovision 2016 (they will probably not but still xD)

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
5 years ago

I think Mathew hit the nail on the head. Once the general public and the media turn against Eurovision in the country, the incentive for legit artists to take part in it disappears.
Seriously, why would a credible artist risk ridicule by doing Eurovision in either of these two countries?

danielvarga
danielvarga
5 years ago

@marie: “…next year she will send something pop and in English…”

In English???!!! Dear Nathalie André, DON’T DO THIS!!!

marie
marie
5 years ago

The language is not the problem because everybody likes indila’s or kendji’s songs even sung in French.
I sincerely think that 2016 will open a new era for France because Nathalie André the head of France 2 entertainment said that she learnt from Viena ( it was her first time as head) and that next year she will send something pop and in English( all the song I don’t know).
May be a new French Revolution? better late than never.
Wait and see.

Melissa J
5 years ago

I think the Big 5 (except for Italy) have a major problem with actually marketing their songs. How many Big 5 entries have taken part in Eurovision in Concert or the London Eurovision Party? Which countries go to these events? The ones that tend to do better on the big night. Many times, no one has heard the song of France live until the final, and by then the audience has already picked others as their favorite. It’s all about the marketing of the entry. If France changed their snobby image and put their entry on display with pride, rather… Read more »

Maxim
Maxim
5 years ago

If they take the contest seriously and they select their songs and artists on a professional way, there’s a chance. I do think singing in French is a handicap (I’m sorry) But only because it’s the French language. I love Balkan languages like Serbian or this year Montenegro. Some languages don’t sound that well. The same as Dutch. Do you remember The Netherlands 2010 ? I think RTBF proved this year that countries who participate for a long time can do well. If you chose a good song / maybe something different for the Eurovision, a very good staging (this… Read more »

Mario
Mario
5 years ago

@ Yeah…I didn’t have great expectations 4 Lisa’s song either.. It seemed old fashioned- it didn’t have great appeal to the juries or europeans audience- and the fact that it appeared just 2nd on the grand final ruined France’ chances…Lisa’s live performance was not that great it went down.. SO…How on earth could France get voted enough by both juries & televoters so to finish on that high place inside the top10 that would offer precious points to her song?? There were 27 whole songs in the final…France would struggle to even reach the top15 or top20 inside the countries’… Read more »

Esc Petit
Esc Petit
5 years ago

This article should be addressed not only to France, but also to other countries (aka Portugal).

MirkoJoshua
MirkoJoshua
5 years ago

To be honest, I expect a low placement this year for France. And I’m really sorry for that, because the song is just marvellous, but, obviously, people didn’t understand the message behind the song. The performance wasn’t as spectular as swedish or russian ones and that’s good since the song was a soft one. I think the biggest problem of France is the method of selection because even if Lisa had a beautiful voice and a beautiful song, we have to admit that her song didn’t convince most of people to vote for her. J’espère que l’année prochaîne la France… Read more »

Mario
Mario
5 years ago

Well…
Back in The Vision of New Millenium 2000 that was in #GLOBEN of Stockolm France had finished almost last with gathering just 5 points..
I wonder if history will gonna repeat itself & see the french to bombing again in the upcoming EuroVision next year..

JESCGermany15
JESCGermany15
5 years ago

France really need to change something like the UK (Germany also with the national selection)! And you can’t blame it on the bloc voting! The bloc voting went away in the last years! But after the change of the broadcasters my hopes were really high! But after the first time I heard the song from France I though: ‘In the 60s/70s they have won it with it but not today!’ But I give them one last chance for 2016! A singer and a song which sounds fresh and new (example: Belgium and Latvia this year) and not old and outdated!… Read more »

Huh
Huh
5 years ago

As much as I want Indila or Kendji to participate in the future contests, I think that sending them soon is highly impossible. French music industry might be reserving them to not perform the contest thinking that it could affect their entire music career and reputation, much like what worries the UK singers. They are treasuring them to perform in France and other countries without having to enter a contest where the whole Europe might criticize their overall singing capabilities (sometimes appearance, musical styles, and the like) just for singing one song in one night. This, of course, mostly happens… Read more »

John
John
5 years ago

I think there are two issues: 1. Cheap sounding songs. Moustache was absolutely terrible and (in my opinion) the worst song since 2010 so far. Echo isn’t far behind and I cant stand Allez Ola Olé. The songs that score well are usually pretty good and exciting. 2. Poor draws. I love L’enfer et Moi but a first place draw and a performance that didn’t stand out meant the televoters didn’t enjoy it as much. N’oubliez pas was similar in second draw, leading to it’s failure. It’s a shame their best songs seem to get the draws, but their 2009… Read more »

Jonas
Jonas
5 years ago

NO, it is NOT time to forget “L’Oiseau Et L’Enfant” – what a thing to suggest!

danielvarga
danielvarga
5 years ago

@Davve: Hopefully France will NEVER send a 100% English language song. And all of the countries should send their songs in the national languages. EBU, please, bring back the language rule!!!

MathESC
MathESC
5 years ago

And last thing, after reading other posts : France can’t sent Kendji Girac, it’s a TF1 artist, and there is a king of war in the domain of the entertainment between France2 and TF1. So that’s impossible.
But maybe our fantastic french artist Christine and the Queens, and she loves ESC !

Roelof Meesters
Roelof Meesters
5 years ago

This years entry wasn’t that bad, butt it wasn’t good enough to get in the top 12 or something… Butt still, 25th place was too low. I want to see how it goes when they sing in English, and with a popular French artist. The problem: i think they need a national selection for a good song, butt an internal selection for a popular artist.
Greets and hopes from The Netherlands :).

MathESC
MathESC
5 years ago

Good afternoon wiwibloggs.com and readers, I want to specify that I am French and I would indeed like to react on this article. First, it is necessary to say that the change of broadcaster was a first step in the change of french entries. All the french fans saw it : the stage performance and communication in France around the event, Eurovision Song Contest allowed France to give a more innovative look to the Eurovision. Because, as you say it in your article, French and the Eurovision, it is not a big love story these last years. This change allowed… Read more »