Eurovision-sceptics: Are the French the biggest?

The world’s most famous song contest takes place in Copenhagen on Saturday night but it seems no one in France actually cares. Are the French Europe’s biggest Eurovision-sceptics.

Eurovision-sceptics: Are the French the biggest?
Eurovision will not be watched by many in France on Saturday. Photo: AFP

The Eurovision song contest is both loved and hated and and in France it is ridiculed and even worse, just largely ignored. 

The annual event which united singers and groups from all over Europe on the one stage takes place in Copenhagen on Saturday night, but it seems not many people in France will be tuning in to see how their act Twin Twin fares against its rivals with their song Moustache. 

TV audiences for the show have been falling in recent years in France and they are unlikely to continue that downward trajectory on Saturday night as the Eurovision song contest clashes with the final of talent contest The Voice, which the French public are very much fans of.

Even the trio of French singers that make up Twin Twin, who have apparently cause quited stir in Copenhagen this week, realize that their efforts, will most likely go unnoticed in their home country.

“We never had a second thought about participating, even though in France Eurovision has rather a bad reputation,” the group said this week.

“Here [in Denmark] we only get good feedback. But the sarcasm, that only comes from France. The show the stage, the organization is amazing. I am not sure they could put on something like this in France,” the group said.

Twin Twin's views were backed up by a former French Eurovision entry Natasha St-Pier, who sung under the colours of the Tricolor in 2001, and laments its unpopularity in France.

“For the countries in northern Europe, it is the musical event of the year. It’s only in France that it is seen as nerdy (A few in the UK might disagree with that).

“I wonder if we are too serious, even a little bit snobby, [towards Eurovision],” St Pier told Closer magazine.

Perhaps the problem is France’s performances in recent years have failed to inspire a public, who are normally only to keen to express their patriotism.

A French contestant has not won Eurovision since 1977, with St Pier herself finishing in the highest position in recent years when she came fourth. Last year France finished 23rd, one place lower than their 2012 position.

There is not much hope in France that Twin Twin’s, Moustache will do any better, at least  according to headlines this week.

“Why France has no chance of winning Eurovision,” was the headline in RTL which pointed to the “lack of Eurovision spirit” in the country and “our “rivals know it” they said.

“Moustache: The song that will see France lose Eurovision, once again,” was another headline.

And when The Local took to the streets of Paris this week, it turns out the problem wasn’t so much a lack of support for Eurovision, but a lack of knowledge of the event itself.

“I have never heard about it. What is it?” said Sonia Hadden, when asked if she cared about Eurovision. She wasn’t the only one who appeared oblivious to the whole thing.

“No, I do not know what the Eurovision song contest is. I have never heard about it. Sorry," said Parisien Martine Depuis.

Only one person we approached, Julie Legagneux, from Paris said she found Eurovision fun, but then admitted she wouldn’t be watching it.

Some of The Local's French readers blamed the qualitty of the French entrants over the years. Michel Burnier pointed to the "stupid songs and music" that failed to inspire the French.

The French are not alone however when it comes to snubbing Eurovision. Our colleagues at The Local Germany reported that a survey in the country revealed that most Germans had no idea who is representing them on Saturday night.

While the competition has been slightly overlooked in Spain and Italy as well, in Sweden things are very different.

The Local Sweden has also been canvassing opinion on the streets and while not everyone knew who the Swedish entry was, most of them believed the contest was good thing.

"Eurovision is like a religion in Sweden. Of course there are those who hate it, but what's not to love?” says The Local Sweden’s Oliver Gee. “If it wasn't for Eurovision, Abba would never have thrown Sweden in the spotlight."

Twin Twin are unlikely to do for France what Abba did for Sweden, it looks the French antipathy towards Eurovision will only continue to rise. ALthough perhaps that's not surprising given their apparent hardening towards Europe in general.

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French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test

France's Europe minister on Monday called for "total transparency" over speculation that one of Italy's victorious Eurovision contestants used cocaine during the song contest, saying it should be grounds for disqualification if confirmed.

French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test
France's entry, Barbara Pravi, said she didn't care whether Måneskin had used drugs or not. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Damiano David, the outlandish vocalist for Italian rockers Måneskin, has agreed to take a drug test after video footage appeared to show him snorting something from a table backstage during Saturday’s contest.

“I think there needs to be no doubt here, and total transparency,” Europe Minister Clement Beaune, who attended the show in Rotterdam, told RMC radio. “If there is a problem, there are penalties… Provisions are made for sanctioning measures, including potential disqualification in case of problems.” 

French hopes had been riding high on singer Barbara Pravi, who was a bookmakers’ favourite to end France’s 44-year Eurovision drought with her
moody ballad “Voila.”

But she was edged out at the last minute by a surge in public votes for Måneskin, with a final tally of 524 to Pravi’s 499.

“I don’t want to be a sore loser,” Beaune said, but “in terms of image, we can’t let people think that such competitions can result in such behaviour.”

The president of France’s public broadcasting group, however, said Monday that France would not contest its second-place finish, no matter the speculation over David’s backstage antics.

“France has absolutely no intention to lodge an appeal,” France Televisions chief Delphine Ernotte told the Parisien newspaper. “The vote was quite clearly in Italy’s favour — it didn’t steal its
victory and that’s what matters,” she said.

Pravi herself said she was not interested in the speculation.

“What’s true is that they were chosen by both the public and the jury. Afterwards, if they use drugs or they put their underwear on backwards or whatever… it’s not my problem,” she told France 2 television on Sunday.