Tag Archives: france

Eurovision 2012 Preview Part 13 – United Kingdom, France and Italy

Hard to believe, but we’re on to the penultimate part of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest preview. By this time next week, we’ll know the full line-up for the final, with twenty countries having qualified from the semi-finals. Meanwhile, of course, there are six other countries who are already in the final: hosts Azerbaijan and the so-called “Big Five” of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and, of course, the United Kingdom. Those countries have been allocated their places in the draw for the final, so we’ll be previewing them in the order that they’ll be performing. Starting with the United Kingdom, who’ll be opening proceedings next Saturday.

Last year saw the abandonment of the televised selection contest in favour of an internal selection that was then unveiled to the public. Blue put in a decent showing in the end, although they earned the dubious distinction of being the first-ever act to finish outside the Top 10 despite achieving a three-figure score – an indication of how spread-out the voting was last year. On 1 March this year, it was announced that our representative in Baku would be Engelbert Humperdinck, an announcement that led many (myself included, I’ll admit) to wonder if they’d accidentally slept through March and woken up on 1 April. But no, Engelbert, who’s just turned 76, will be representing the UK – although thanks to the Russian grannies, he won’t be the only septugenarian taking to the stage. Engelbert (I refuse to call him “The Hump” – it’s just not going to happen), always happiest with a waltz rhythm, performs Love Will Set You Free, with his hair resolutely stuck in 1972 and a giant shower curtain in the background.

Not just the hair stuck in 1972 – the song itself could comfortably have been a hit 40 years ago. Still, it has a certain class about it, although I’m really not sure about that strangled shriek that he ends on. The bookies have it as one of the favourites, although being drawn first isn’t great news: on only three occasions has Eurovision been won by the first act of the night – Teach-In in 1975, Brotherhood of Man in 1976 and Herreys in 1984. My suspicion is that we won’t be bringing Eurovision home this year, but nor should we disgrace ourselves.

Performing ninth in the running order on the big night will be France. Last year they started out as one of the hot favourites with a big operatic number, but in the final finished some way down the table. This year’s offering is more conventionally pop, with Anggun (an Indonesian-born recording veteran, albeit not of as many years as Engelbert Humperdinck) singing Echo (You and I). The video, with Anggun the sole woman surrounded by strapping butch men drowning in their own homoeroticism, is reminiscent of nothing so much as Total Eclipse of the Heart. With added gas masks. And some pink gas that has the pleasing effect of making the soldiers kiss each other.

A strong performance on the night (preferably with some male backing dancers who don’t wear too much, as in the video) could lift this one above mid-table. Finally today it’s Italy, who’ll be coming straight after France in the final. Last year saw the Italians return to Eurovision after a self-imposed exile of 14 years. And, as Italy always seem to do when they return to Eurovision after a break, they sauntered in nonchalantly and ended up finishing, rather surprisingly, in second place, courtesy of their answer to Jamie Cullum. This year they’re represented by Nina Zilli, who appears to be their Paloma Faith, singing L’Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love). The Italian bit translates as “Love Is Female”. She should certainly get the vintage vote with this one – in fact, the bookies seem to think she’ll get lots of votes overall, as Italy are second favourites behind Sweden.

It’s a catchy number and taps into a retro pop sound that’s been in for a few years now (although having said that, Serbia tapped into the same trend last year and only finished a modest 14th in the final), so it’ll be interesting to see how it does on the night.

So that’s three of the six countries who can sit back and watch the rest of the competition sweating it out next Tuesday and Thursday night. Tomorrow, it’s the final part of this year’s Eurovision preview, as we look at the 2012 offerings from hosts Azerbaijan, plus Spain and Germany. And we’ll take another look at the bookies’ predictions to see who their favourites are to host next year’s Contest.

Chris x

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Eurovision 2011 Preview: Germany and France

And so the Eurovision preview nears its end, as we get to the five countries who, thanks to their “Big Five” status, are already in the final. Starting with the hosts and defending champions Germany. Last year’s win, courtesy of Lena Meyer-Landrut singing Satellite, was a big turnaround in German fortunes. One of the original seven Eurovision participants, Germany had excellent runs in the late 1960s/early 1970s, late 1970s/early 1980s (including victory in 1982) and late 1990s/early 2000s, but in recent years they really have struggled, trying out a variety of musical styles (country ‘n’ western, big band, swing) before finally realising that catchy, contemporary pop might actually do them some favours. And, having enjoyed so much success with Lena last year, they’ve sent her to this year’s contest in the hope of a repeat showing. If Lena were to win, then she’d make history as the first act to win Eurovision two years running – but I don’t think she will. Although this is a very good track, it’s low-key and unsettling, sounding more like the sort of thing you’d play at about 3am in the morning than the successor to Puppet On a String, A-Ba-Ni-Bi, Love Shine a Light and, indeed, Satellite. And if you were surrounded by lots of people in silver all-in-one bodysuits at 3am in the morning, you might just get a bit unsettled yourself:

The sort of song that could get under your skin, I reckon – but Eurovision is about a three-minute fix, and if the juries and the viewers don’t “get” you in those three minutes, then it’s game over – nevertheless, odds suggest that this will achieve a respectable Top 10 finish. On now to France who, like Germany, have been in Eurovision since the start, with the exception of a couple of years – including 1982, when they boycotted the contest, protesting that Eurovision had become a monument to mediocrity and drivel. Like the Germany, France’s days of consistent success seem to be long behind them, and they’ve only placed once in the Top 10 since 2002. However, this year could be very different. They’re currently favourites to win with this entry, Sognu performed by Amaury Vassili. Amaury is a big-selling classical singer, although he presents here in biking leathers and hair last seen on Chesney Hawkes in 1991. Which is perhaps appropriate, as this represents his country’s best chance of winning Eurovision in 20 years:

And if the voters are in the mood for a stirring orchestral anthem, that song could go all the way on the big night. The intelligence does seem to be that it’ll be a fight between this and Estonia’s bubblegum pop offering. Time now for the classic corner, and I’ve gone for two very contrasting songs from the archives. First up, the German entry from 1979. Channelling Boney M for all they were worth, and led by Ming the Merciless showcasing some truly awesome Cossack skillz, here are Dschingis Khan with, well, Dschingis Khan:

If you want more of the same, have a listen to Moskau afterwards. It’s the Judas to their Bad Romance. Amusingly, their tribute to the Mongol warmongerer was written by the same man who, three years later, wrote A Little Peace for Nicole. Now for the classic French entry. I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog that, back in the early 1990s, France had a fine run of entries that reflected that country’s rich cultural heritage. And I mentioned earlier in this post that Amaury Vassili represents their best chance of winning since 1991. So here is their entry from 1991, performed by French-Tunisian singer Amina. Cruelly denied victory by a technicality after she finished in a dead heat with Sweden’s Carola, this is C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison:

Wonderful, sexy, spine-tingling stuff (and you don’t hear that said about Eurovision very often). What makes Amina’s defeat even more agonising is that a subsequent change in the mechanism for dealing with a tie (from counting back the number of 12s, 10s etc received to awarding victory to the country that received points from the most other countries) would, if applied 20 years ago, have given her the win. Whether Amaury and his big voice (and even bigger hair) can put things right remains to be seen. Tomorrow we’ll see what Spain have got lined up this year – and we welcome the return of Eurovision’s prodigal son, Italy. See you then!

Chris x

Eurovision 2010 Haiku #36: France

A summer anthem
Made for soccer coverage
But will it score goal?

Eurovision Haiku #39: France

La chanteuse seule et
Le rouge a levres – pourquoi?
Parce qu’elle le vaut