Saturday, 18 May 2013
France in the Eurovision Song Contest: Ten highlights
Saturday night sees France's Amandine Bourgeoise represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song L'enfer et moi. It's a strong bluesy rock number, and time will tell how it does at the event in Malmo.
Arguably France's landmark moment in Eurovision was France Gall's victory with Serge Gainsbourg's song Poupée de cire, poupée de son. It was, however, an entry for Luxembourg. A victory for the international spirit of co-operation and cross border artistic collaboration, but not a victory for France.
France's first Eurovision victory came in 1958, with the song Dors Mon Amour, performed by André Claveau. France has so far won the contest five times.
The last time France won Eurovision was in 1977, with the song L'oiseau et l'enfant by Marie Myriam
Recent years have not seen France dominate at Eurovision like they did in the early years of the competition. 2012's entry Anggun came 21st in the contest.
Recent years have seen some big names from French music compete for Eurovision, although with only limited success. One that did give a good account was Patricia Kaas, who performed in 2009 with the song Et s'il fallait le faire, which came eighth.
That level of success wasn't enjoyed by Sébastien Tellier the previous year who despite one of the most memorable entrances in recent years, came 18th with Divine.
France's entries have traditionally always been in French, one interesting exception was in 1996 with the song Diwanit Bugale, which was in Breton and performed by Dan Ar Braz and L'Héritage des Celtes, featuring vocals by Scotland's Karen Matheson
Another more recent entry that wasn't in French was the 2011 entry, with the number Sognu by Amaury Vassili, which was performed in Corsican.
It was the second time a song in Corsican was entered into Eurovision by France, following 1993's Mama Corsica by Patrick Fiori.
France automatically qualifies for the finals, as one of the five countries that contributes the most to the European Broadcasting Union. Maybe this gives them an unfair advantage, but over the years I reckon France has done better than the UK in the quality of their entries.
And there have been no 'Nul Points' incidents like the UK got in 2003, or last places like the UK graced in 2003, 2008 and 2010.
For all Eurovision is easy to criticise, it's worth remembering that for many in the UK, the event is the only time in the year that they get the chance to hear via prime-time television music from outside the anglophone sphere.
Eurovision is a strange parallel music world, where normal critical judgement can be suspended and the show can be enjoyed for the spectacle that it is.