Wednesday, 1 May 2019

I’m not in society’s codes I can bother a few

France
Bilal Hassani
Roi

France were instrumental in founding the "Concours Eurovision de la chanson" (and securing funding from the CIA for what was seen at the time as an important bit of pro-Western propaganda), and to this day insist on bits of the presentation on the night being read out in French (hence "Douze Points" and your Nan being confused at us being called "Roy and Minnie"). But right from the early days of the contest when it consisted of 5 countries, Katie Boyle and "Boom bang a ding a dong" they were pissing about being aloof and snooty.


Every other country that's joined Europe's biggest party has realised it's all about bright colours, and key changes, and flashmobs, and fire curtains, and sequins, and exploding cubes (can Eric beat the cube) and prosthetic devil masks. France, on the other hand, rolls out a dreary existential piano ballad every year, shrugs and goes home again. They're like a rock solid gold guaranteed toilet break country.

Except that year when they had that brilliant bloke with his weird camera angles and Golf Buggy. That was ace. Or like that year when a sort of dayglo anti-capitalist Jedward came gleefully last. Or like that year when they had a great song that everyone thought could win until they saw the staging and then realised could also just as easily come sixth.

The singer this year is Bilal Hassani, one of France's "30 most influential LGBT+ people" - and upsettingly he's been ridiculed by a prominent French television presenter, and gets cyberstalking, racist and homophobic attacks, threats of physical violence, and death threats regularly on his Twitter. He's also a genuine Eurovision fan - "I watch the contest every year since I was 9, and it was my dream since I was a kid to be part of it, so that I could wave the flag and the colours of my country in the biggest music show in the world".

Bilal Hassani will represent France in Tel Aviv with 'Roi'So is the song another opportunity to aller aux toilettes? Non! Tournez a gauche, mon amis! They've only gone and put in a decent Eurovision song! AND il a un message! It's a brilliant moody pop song about acceptance - something that the French can pull off without looking sanctimonious - with a decent melody and great lyrics that, unlike all the other scandipop-in-a-drawer entries also sounds wonderfully, amazingly, beautifully, snootily, doggedly French.

It's air kissing. It's bicycles. It's fine wine and great cheese. It's ordinary citizens and workmen and farmers and seven-year-old schoolkids expressing themselves clearly and coherently, with little hesitation, and to the point. It's like waking up in the morning and finding a baguette in front of your door because your local baker goes around the neighbourhood and puts a baguette in front of the door of people who asked for it. It's like eating that baguette during a long Sunday lunch. And then finishing that lunch with three kinds of cheese that you eat with the said baguette. And during that lunch you complain to your family about everything that the government does. It's THAT French.

ZUT ALORS, I love it. It won't go near winning, but hey. Je voudrais un croque monsieur, DOUZE POINTS.