As the clocks struck midnight for the start of the New Year, countries were gearing up to select their entry for this year’s edition of the musical extravaganza, the Eurovision Song Contest.
After a relatively strong showing in the past few years, France are soon to start their live shows, where eighteen acts are competing for the ticket to Tel Aviv, Israel. Most of the songs have their full versions available to the public available on Spotify or YouTube, so let’s get down to the reviews!
(You can find all of the one minute snippets on YouTube through the link here: Destination Eurovision YouTube Page)
Aysat – “Comme une grande”
Blending modern beats and a fantastic xylophone backing with a powerful yet catchy vocal, Aysat is bringing something genuinely French but urban and modern enough to stand out to international listeners. This also lends itself to a great potential performance from the backing dancers. 8
Battista Acquaviva – “Passiò”
Battista is performing her song in Corsican, which is lovely to see. The opening, akin to the soundtrack of a big budget period or war film, is very dramatic, and this quality is maintained throughout. The spiritual chanting and strong vocals could be built on with some interesting staging, but is it too niche and regional to succeed in the selection? 8
Bilal Hassani – “Roi”
I enjoyed the great piano and vocal opening to this inspiration entry. Whilst it is great to have an uplifting message and they stand out for their image, I feel that the chorus doesn’t soar as much as I want it to. It almost feels restraining to the power of the song. It explodes right at the end, as I hoped it would, and continues to be a hot favourite, but I think a couple of tweaks might need to happen. 8
Chimène Badi – “Là-haut”
From the off, the thumping beats are both powerful and toe-tapping. I think the song itself succeeds on the latter term, the tune itself becomes easy to follow and remember. However, the lack of many natural rises and falls means the three minutes go by quickly but unremarkably. I doubt this is unique enough to attract voters. 6
Emmanuel Moire – “La promesse”
So, I thought that I was listening to a Spotify advert when this entry started, the instrumental aspect has that quality. He has a great clarity in his voice, especially when he belts out the chorus, which I love. But apart from the odd moments, this is unremarkable. Not bad though. 6
Florina – “In The Shadow”
It is obvious that this entry prides itself in following the latest trends in female indie-pop, with the chanting at the start and the soaring Sia-esque chorus. However, I feel that the English chorus is disjointed from the French verses. What this effectively is is a regular pop song, which isn’t bad, as Dami Im proved in 2016, but leaves me wanting more for the lives. 7
Gabriella Laberge – “On Cherche Encore (Never Get Enough)”
With a sassy, fun and very French vocal performance, Gabriella is bringing her rebellious side, which gives a lot of opportunity to her live performance. The influence of some more classical musical tones is an interesting decision. I do like the rousing nature of the bridge but overall it does feel slightly too one-note. 7
Lautner – “J’ai pas le temps”
Slotting right into a current trend in music of young male singers, this duo has competition in this competition in the form of Ugo. Alas, neither autotune nor modern electronic beats can save this. At only 2:33, it desperately lacks content or any real memorability. It will be a shock if this makes it through the semis. 4
Mazy – “Oulala”
The opening brings us some traditional French sounds, and then shatters them with a modern beat; the battle between the two is there in the background throughout. The chorus feels very laboured and I can see where the writers and singers were going with the sensual tones, but I needed far more drive than this. 5
Naestro – “Le brasier”
The song starts a bit too musical theatre for my liking but quickly builds into a soaring, powerful and modern ballad. It is clear, even from the studio cut, that Naestro has a great voice and I can’t wait to see him completely let go for the live shows. I see touches of the top-40 in his gritty drive and think this can appeal to the masses, if the live version explodes. 8
Noémie – “Ma petite famille”
A talking crowd, maybe in a marketplace, opens this entry, giving this song an urban, down-to-Earth feel. I also enjoy the breezy, positive energy of this entry, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s easy to imagine this as the soundtrack to the feelgood French film of 2019, but not for Eurovision sadly. 6
PhilipElise – “Madame la paix”
After a relatively long build up, this song explodes with an extremely fun and lively instrumental section, which feels like a throwback to past contests. It’s rare that a Western European country would go down this route at Eurovision but it is just begging for fun staging and feels very French. Is it a bit dated though? 7
Seemone – “Tous les deux”
It is easy to see who this lady models herself on in her music. Like a French Adele, it is just Seemone and the piano, the audience included in her private performance. She certainly brings the emotions into her performance and whilst by-the-numbers for this sort of ballad, it stands out from the more modern acts this year. 7
Ugo – “Ce qui me blesse”
Another artist who fits right into the current trend of male artists, this one even sounds like Shawn Mendes! I definitely appreciate this entry in its studio form but I do worry about how this will translate live for three minutes. It’s all about memorability and whilst I love his voice, the song doesn’t really go anywhere. 6
Finally, there were four songs that I was unable to find the full versions for, so here are my thoughts just from the released one minute snippets.
Silvàn Areg – “Le petit Nicolas”
Full of charm and a whimsical nature, this could be fun live but plods along predictably.
Doutson – “Sois un bon fils”
A slick and relatively modern production, this harks back to the late 2000s and the golden era of rnb.
The Divaz – “La Voix d’Aretha”
A throwback sound though placed firmly in the present day, this has great harmonies and a musical nature that is quite memorable.
Tracy de Sà – “Por Aqui”
Has massive promise, with its modern and catchy sound one for the clubs this year! 2019’s answer to Fuego?
Overall, I am very impressed with the level of quality of this field. The broadcaster has taken at least one song from nearly every single sub-genre of French music and quite a few of them are high quality. Battista, Bilal and Naestro are my favourites so far, though I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the full version of Tracy de Sà’s entry!
So those are my thoughts on the eighteen songs competing for the French ticket to Israel. The two semi-finals take place on the 12th and 19th of January, with the final on the 26th, so there is not a long wait to find out who France chooses.
What do you think? Who is standing out for you and who do you think will do well in Tel Aviv? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.