It’s been a while since we’ve seen France at the top of ESC. They’ve won the contest five times, but the last was in 1977. They can’t even claim to have the last winning French-language song; that honor goes to Switzerland, who won in 1988 with Celine Dion at the helm. France can, however, claim a more dubious distinction. Last year’s entry, Moustache, ended up dead last, with only two points in the Final.1 I actually liked Twin Twin’s song and video when it first came out, but the quirky energy just didn’t translate well onto the stage.
In response, France’s 2015 entry takes pointers from previous winners:
I like a lot about this song: Lisa Angell has a great voice, and it seems like the lyrics could resonate, emotionally, with the audience. It executes a great slow-build, doesn’t rely on a key change to add tension, and ends with strength. But the song peaks too early. Its climax comes near the 2 minute mark, leaving us a full minute with nowhere left to go. In comparison, 2014’s Rise Like a Phoenix climaxes around 2:20, and 2007’s Molitva peaks around 2:30, ends with strength, then tacks on a short coda at the end that bring us back down to earth. Something needs to happen with the structure of this song.
As one of the Big Five financial supporters of the Eurovision Song Contest, France has a huge strategic advantage: they do not perform in the semifinal, and have a guaranteed slot in the final round. Too often this seems to work against those countries, though, and their performers have a hard time separating themselves from the crowd in a positive way. We don’t have any idea as to France’s staging, but given this is a ballad, there will probably be a lot of standing around involved. Judging by the crowd shots from a recent live performance2 by Angell, I’m not sure she has the charisma and stage presence to get into the top ten with an arena full of rowdy gay Europeans. Or maybe that’s exactly the crowd she needs.