France finally hit the jackpot in 2016 with Amir, a fresh artist with an incredibly catchy song, and finally they hit the top 10 for the first time since Patricia Kaas in 2009. This year, they internally selected their artist and song once again, and it will be Alma performing the now bilingual version of her song Requiem. At first, the full French version was released, and then later announced to be undergoing a makeover to feature some English lyrics. Was the choice to feature English the right choice?
Let’s start off with the original. The song is charming, so very French, and a tune that everybody can bop along to. I knew upon first listen that France is really trying to back up last year’s success, and it’s great to see the nation finally exploring different avenues to come up with their Eurovision act and song. The thought of a bilingual version scared me a little, because something so good can’t surely get better. Well, I was sort of right. The bilingual studio version when it first came out didn’t really click with me. I can’t tell if it was just because I was so used to the original full French version and didn’t want change, or if France had genuinely destroyed their chances. I can now relatively comfortably say that it was simply because the change startled me. What really encouraged me to fall in love again with this song was Alma performing live across the Eurovision pre-party events across Europe, but we’ll get back to that later in the review!
First, I want to talk about the song itself. The introduction became a bit more dramatic with the revamp, and although I like the strings throughout the song behind lyrics, I find that dramatic note before Alma sings to be a bit odd. Keeping with the strings, I find that they’ve added more of a contrast to the song whereas before it actually felt more bubbly, but now the song has more drama – which I still can’t decide if I actually like. I think that they did quite well to integrate the English lyrics without making it sound forced or overpowering, and the language change in past Eurovision songs has been make or break to a song, so they’ve done well. I also really enjoy the end part of the song, and it’s the kind of end that leaves you wanting more.
Now, to the live performance. Her first few performances were good, but as she has gone through all the Eurovision pre-parties, her confidence seems to have grown, probably especially knowing her song is very well received by most. She has a good stage presence, and matched with a stage performance as classy as her video clip, France is in for a good result. I can’t confidently say that France will win Eurovision, but a) I wouldn’t be that surprised, and b) I wouldn’t be mad at that at all.
Overall, this song has been a rollercoaster for me. From loving it, to not-so-loving it, to loving it again, I can now say this is staying in the ‘love’ pile. I’m going to give this song a 9/10. A very solid entry from France!