Friday favourite at Eurovision and ‘Merci La Belle France’.
2014 was France’s worst ever year in the Eurovision Song Contest, with its representatives, Twin Twin, arriving in last place with only two points. My favourites never win, but I was perplexed to see such a spectacular defeat this time around. The sound hadn’t seemed too great during their performance; perhaps they had been disadvantaged by this, I reasoned. Surely it wasn’t the case that Europe just didn’t care for hipsters with questionable hair? Or was it simply, as I’d heard a French Eurovision commentator remark four years earlier, that the country needed better neighbours?
Certainly, the scores awarded to France in recent Eurovisions display a clear pattern of injustice. Sebastien Tellier’s entry in 2008, for example, wound up in 18th place with a mere 47 points, even though he had arrived onstage in a golf cart and the female backing singers sported long beards. (Full disclosure: I often start my day with this song.)
But it was 2006 that was the cruellest. Les Fatals Picards, with L’Amour A La Francaise, had put forward a bilingual song filled with wordplay. Their costumes had been designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, with a toy cat stitched on to singer Ivan Callot’s pink shirt and an impressive pair of wings on drummer Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues. Their energy was infectious.
And they came 22nd out of 24 contestants.
Thankfully multiple performances of the song can be viewed online, so that we can enjoy Callot’s dramatics against a variety of backdrops –
– as well as his co-singer Paul Leger’s looks of anguish.
Having been around for close to two decades now, the entertainment value of Les Fatals Picards goes far beyond the Eurovision. Their music is typically upbeat and their lyrics poke fun, often with a political bent. Mon Père Etait Tellement De Gauche is a humorous tribute to a left-wing father (“We didn’t see the contraband, we didn’t see the corruption: Siberia was Disneyland!”) which ends on a note both affectionate and bittersweet: “My father was so lefty that when he passed away, the left went with him.”
La Ferme is a children’s song about things you can find on a farm, which, at over eight minutes long, turns into a list of pretty much everything in the world:
And Bernard Lavilliers reimagines the eponymous singer (who I assume to be something like a French Tom Jones) as a daring explorer:
Discovering Les Fatals Picards is one of the greatest gifts the Eurovision has given me, even if the voters failed to appreciate their genius. While we wait for the rest of Europe to issue them a formal apology, show them you care by checking out their back catalogue. Here’s a 50-song mix to get you started:
Author : Nine