Shortly after France’s Eurovision 2020 singer Tom Leeb debuted “The Best in Me”, the reviews came flowing like the Seine through Paris. But few have been as colourful as the one delivered by one French politician.
As Le Parisien reports, the French Minister of Culture, Franck Riester, told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that he was not a fan of France’s Eurovision entry, mainly because of its refrain in English.
“It is true that the English chorus broke my ears a little this morning on the radio,” Riester said in answer to a question from deputy Jacques Krabal, secretary general of the Parliamentary Assembly of la Francophonie. Nevertheless, he understands the angle that the broadcaster and artist decided to take.
“It is an independent choice of France Télévisions,” the minister explained, feeling it was a strategy to try to win Eurovision.
“I still state my perplexion of the French sending a song with a chorus written in English. Everyone must lead by example to ensure that France is carried with pride everywhere we are, all the time, even if we know that French content in a foreign language is also a way to promote France.”
No surprise there: France is known to be defensive of its language and traditions. Back in 2008, Sébastien Tellier’s mostly English-language entry, “Divine”, caused enough controversy to be discussed in the French parliament. Tellier eventually added two lines in French on the final night. Other Eurovision stars, such as Barei in Spain, have also faced backlash from politicians and Eurovision stars alike for choosing to sing in English instead of their national languages.
The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 is on May 16. France automatically qualifies for the final as a member of the Big 5 — the country’s who contribute the most financially to the contest. Tom Leeb will sing “The Best in Me”, written by several big names from the world of Eurovision, including Thomas G:Son, John Lundik and former French contestant, Amir.