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?
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?
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!
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.
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.