None of the beating about the bush, endless domestic competitions or public voting to determine who would fly the tricolor. No, that’s not France’s style.
Instead it was a simple announcement by the public service broadcaster France 2, that Alma (Alexandra Maquet) would represent the country.
|Alma (screenshot “Requiem” official video)|
Flushed with the “success” of last year’s sixth-placed finish (yes only the French could deem sixth as a “success”) all hopes are that Alma will be able to go one - or even five - better than the 2016 contribution from Amir (Haddad), “J'ai cherché”.
Keeping to a tried and trusted recipe (sort of) “Requiem” has been written by Nazim Khaled, the very same person who composed the 2016 entry and who has penned a number of hits for the likes of former Voice winner Kendji Girac such as “Andalouse” and “Conmigo” or Popstars’ season 2 (2002) participant - and now mainstay of the French music scene - Chimène Badi with “Mes silences”.
So, Khaled’s ability to write a catchy little ditty isn’t really in doubt, even if “Requiem” reflects the same sort of musical heritage as many of the hits he wrote for Girac (Spanish-gypsy-north African flavours) and has just the slightest hint of Belgium’s electro-pop music maestro, Stromae to it.
The weak link perhaps will be the 28-year-old Alma’s ability to perform. She doesn’t have the greatest of voices (on reflection, maybe not a pre-requisite for doing well at Eurovision) and, as you can see from her live performance during Ukraine’s televised national final to determine its representative, lacks stage presence.
All that set aside,
The omens are good(ish) even if the song isn’t particularly (and since when did that matter at Eurovision) and 2017 could well prove to be France’s year.
The presidential election campaign (how on Earth did that make its way into a piece about “music” - stretching a point is what it’s called) has been pulling the attention of political pundits from around the world. That’s a rare occurrence during the campaign stage and perhaps due to the presence of a) the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen and her chances of making it through to the second-round run-off, b) the dour refusal by the right’s candidate François Fillon to admit there was anything wrong earlier in his career in employing family members - wife and children - as parliamentary assistants for the modest sum of almost €900,000 and c) the 39-year-old golden boy of the moment Emmanuel Macron, who has never held a politically-elected position in his life but has quickly become the “darling of the nation”.
Then there’s the chance of Paris being awarded the 2024 Summer Olympics. All right, so it has at least a 50 per cent chance as there are only two cities (Los Angeles being the other one) left in the race. And, if it doesn’t convince International Olympic Committee members in the September 2017 announcement in Lima, it could still see itself appointed as the 2028 host city - although that remains but a rumour.
Something that is more than speculation and indeed a fact, is the country’s triumph at Miss Universe 2017. That title was claimed by the 24-year-old Iris Mittenaere, Miss France 2016, in February although it somehow slipped under the radar of the French president, François Hollande, who neglected to send his congratulations or even acknowledge the win.
Mittenaere though, along with Amir’s “success” (really, the inverted commas are obligatory), Khaled’s songwriting “skills” and Alma’s “singing” talents all bode well for possible victory in Kiev…n’est ce pas?
Cough, cough. Splutter. “Enjoy”.