Right, like it or not here’s a fifth helping of Eurovision 2012’s finalists. This time we turn our focus on one of the “Big Five”, the five biggest contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, who are rewarded with free qualification to the Grand Final. So far, so crooked. For the most part of the last decade these countries have had a rough ride in the finals, whether it be down to lack of effort in their entries, or bitterness at their little ‘arrangement’ with the EBU. To be honest, I can’t imagine many people around Europe even know this rule is in place, so I suspect it’s the former reason.
However success is not out of the question, and despite the Big Five’s spotty track records over the last decade, Germany scored a surprise win in 2010, and in doing so lured fellow “Big fiver” Italy back into the fray after a decade-long hiatus. But we aren’t talking about Germany tonight, we are talking about their neighbour La France.
Stats-wise, France have a good record by sheer persistence, participating in all but two of the contests since it began, and winning five times, with the last of these wins 35 years ago. The last decade hasn’t been kind though, with France not coming top 5 since 2002, and with a sole top 10 finish in Moscow’s 2009 contest.
Against this backdrop I have never really thought of France as a Eurovision heavyweight, and almost forget that the entire contest is presented in French as well as English. The famous “Douze points” and infamous “Nul points” are one of the hallmarks of the contest though, and a permanent reminder of the show’s bilingual nature.
I think of France as a country not afraid to experiment with their entries. In just the last 4 years, we’ve had offbeat pop music, classy songbirds, football-esque anthems, and full-blown opera. The latter offering by Amaury Vassili was the strong favourite to win Dusseldorf’s 2011 contest, but (not unexpectedly) crashed out in 15th on the night, when it became apparent that this wasn’t what people wanted from Eurovision.
So it’s back to something a bit more straightforward, and it’s up to Indonesian-born star Anggun to fly the Tricolore in Baku. It’s a very strange intro, with a beat-driven urban feel to it, but it quickly morphs into a more dancey affair uptempo, with an infectious (but slightly annoying) whistle hook throughout.
On a superficial level (my French isn’t up to much), it’s a bright and breezy pop song, despite its muddle intro, and she comes across as an accomplished and watchable performer. While I’m sceptical that her European profile outside France will provide much benefit, there’s nothing to say this won’t do well.
Not singing in English is more of a hindrance than a help in most cases, and I think this is what might strand France in the middle-bottom of the scoreboard, particularly lacking the benefit of the neighbours that the Balkan and ex-Soviet countries have. A shame, but they can’t ALL win, the important thing is that they tried.