In my five years of covering Eurovision, France has always been a point of curiosity for me. I don’t mean that negatively: the choices France makes for this competition have an old school feel, even though they do not necessarily work out strategically. It’s been a downward slide since France’s 8th place finish in 2009, bottoming out in 2014 in last place.
Given the horrific tragedies France faced in 2015, I was particularly interested in how they would approach Eurovision this year. Would they send an anthem for peace? Would they send the Frenchiest Frenchness that ever Frenched? Instead, France has selected “J’ai Cherché” (“I Sought”) by Amir Haddad, which could be a frontrunner in Stockholm:
There are so many things to love about this entry. First, Amir’s background is Eurovision personified. According to his Wikipedia biography, Amir is the son of Tunisian and Moroccan-Spanish Jewish parents. He grew up in Israel and participated in the singing competition Kokhav Nolad (Israeli Idol). He was also a finalist on France’s version of The Voice, a franchise whose alumni have had a pretty good track record at Eurovision. That’s quite a few constituencies to get represented at the Contest.
Even without the background, this is a fantastic pop song. “J’ai Cherché” is modern in its pop rock sensibility, but doesn’t feel particularly dated.1 Part of France’s struggle in the last few years has been in sending songs that can’t really survive outside the Eurovision ecosystem. Amir’s track is beyond radio-friendly and will likely be in regular rotation on my various playlists.
What Amir and the French delegation need to focus on is creating a dynamic and memorable stage presentation. My issue with France the last several years is that I have been able to correctly predict not only what they will do but that it will be a dull, non-engaging performance. If “J’ai Cherché” is properly packaged, I think this could be a dark horse as the points start rolling in.
- R.I.P. Dubstep. ↵