France’s Eurovision 2021 Entry

I miss Destination Eurovision, France’s national final format in 2018 and 2019. Granted, neither entry picked those two years did particularly well at the Song Contest, but the shows themselves were a lot of fun. Plus I love Garou.

The one-night Eurovision France, c’est vous qui décidez! was fine, but it really could have benefited from a multi-night format (and Garou). They winnowed 12 songs down to 8 for a superfinal, for crying out loud!

Maybe I was just annoyed because it was such a long show when France had such an obvious winner. Je présente Barbara Pravi avec “Voilà.”

Barbara Pravi is a Paris-born singer and actress who co-wrote Valentina’s “J’imagine,” which won the 2020 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. She once again teamed up with her “J’imagine” songwriting parter Igit for “Voilà.” Igit competed in the 2018 edition of Destination Eurovision with “Lisboa Jerusalem.”

Now, I would have argued that “Lisboa Jerusalem” was the most unapologetically French song ever written. But “Voilà” is more French than a croissant served by a waiter who is only pretending he doesn’t speak English. It is full of raw, sweeping melodies, and has a bouncy rhythm that strikes me as a hallmark of chanson. The impressionistic string flourishes add power to the song. Edith Piaf would have rocked the hell out of, and if there is higher praise than that, then tell me and I will use it.

Barbara’s vocal performance is intense, so much so that it risks being hammy. I don’t necessarily think that works again her because I would be shocked if anything else at this year’s Song Contest sounded anything like “Voilà.” Moreover, the effective Eurovision France staging is likely to translate well no matter which Song Contest scenario comes to pass. If she channels an inner Patricia Kaas, then my hope is that she will do very well.

Of course, I always overrate France’s entries (except in Patricia Kaas’ year), so I feel like I’ve doomed Barbara by saying that.