Eurovision France – C’est Vous Qui Décidez 2022 Reviews: All Finalists

Another country which left it all rather late for the liking of reviewers like myself was France, waiting until a large number of national selections were underway before announcing their own. In any case, the more the merrier (mostly), so here are my reviews of the 12 participating musicians, in order of how they appeared on the official YouTube playlist.

Joanna — “Navigateure”
If there’s one thing I expected from this selection, it was a higher percentage of EDM — so far, so good. This is a fairly under-powered track which could have used a boost musically — its’ very much in the background of the song, even during the instrumental parts. Joanna’s floating voice is agreeable enough, but aside from a long note towards the end, doesn’t leave much of an impression. I don’t like to say this about any song, but ultimately this is a bit bland.

Elliott — “La tempête”
It’s nice to see a song which uses the piano for a more uplifting melody: all too often the instrument has been the harbinger of sadness this season. Of course, I’m not saying this song is necessarily happy — there’s certainly a wistful tone to it — but it’s certainly one that sweeps you away with its lush arrangement and Elliott’s clear, clean vocals. There’s something about the melody that’s very familiar, but I’m more than happy to overlook it.

SOA — “Seule”
I listened to this selection the other day while I was focused on something else, and this was one of the few which jumped out at me and made me stop what I was doing in order to check who it was. The fusion of hip-hop and pop works very well both musically and vocally. It’s an impressive composition which comes together on a scale that’s larger-than-life and is a really good example of the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.

Joan — “Madame”
After the success of Barbara Pravi at the contest last year, it was inevitable that there would be an increased interest in the chanson style, which dominated the early years of Eurovision. This one sounds like it escaped from a musical, with the appropriate level of drama and bombast. The singer’s costume and general performance only emphasises this. While this more traditional approach will have its fans, I suspect it will be too over the top for many others.

Marius — “Les chansons d’amour”
Speaking of songs that hearken back to the early days of the contest: we have a piano ballad. Admittedly, Marius keeps things a lot simpler than a song in the late 1950s would have done, giving space for his voice to rest in mid-air rather than being rushed away by the instruments, which keep a respectful distance. This falls into the category of a well-produced track which certainly has merit vocally, but just doesn’t do enough to keep me interested for the full three minutes.

Elia — “Téléphone”
Right from the start, there’s a tension in the music which sets this song on edge in a good way. This is kind of slick, icy EDM that gets you moving and never mind the rest. Elia’s vocals provide the accents and extra flourishes to keep things interesting. Where I think it falls apart is in the last 35 seconds, where all that you hear is a repetitive beat and Elia’s singing “téléphone”. This probably should have been in the middle of the song as a build up to a bigger finish.

Hélène in Paris — “Paris mon amour”
There’s traditional, and there’s just old-fashioned: this is an example of the latter. It packs several cliches about French music into its allotted time as it clatters along like the soundtrack to an American television series set in Paris (turns out it has come from a French TV series). I’m sure there will be people who will love this, and the singer has a certain charm, but I couldn’t wait to finish this brief review so I could stop listening to it.

Alvan & Ahez — “Fulenn”
A high-impact banger influenced by Middle East/North African rhythms and instruments. Intriguing. This is nothing like the rest of the line-up — it sounds like it came from a different world. I’m reminded of Spain’s Tanxugueiras with their dark, intense sound. There’s so much going on in this song you just have to sit back and let it wash over you — it’s an experience more than a song, which might become issue when people realise there isn’t anything like a chorus that will get stuck in your head.

Cyprien Zeni — “Ma famille”
Delighted to see an Afrobeat song in a national selection: we don’t get enough “world” music at Eurovision, especially given the colonial past of many countries who compete. On the flip side, I’m hoping that Zeni has some backing vocalists with him on stage to sing the chorus rather than relying on the backing tape, as I think that would really give the song a burst of fresh energy. The instruments could be more vibrant, especially in the verses, but the ingredients are here for a solid entry (even though I might be one of the few who believes this).

Julia — “Chut”
For some reason this brings up images of a sun-drenched town by the Mediterranean. It might be the Latin-tinged acoustic guitar riff, or the warm beats, which contrast with some of the other tracks in this selection. Whatever brass instrument it is that keeps blaring into my left ear is probably to blame as well. Julia has a good pop voice and somehow gets away with a giggle in the second minute of the track. This is a solid, well-rounded entry.

Saam — “Il est où ?”
Oh no, it’s the return of the drum machine with the irritating snare(?) sound! Saam partly manages to make me put this to one side thanks to his expressive, slightly hoarse voice. But the rest of the instruments aren’t particularly impressive, forcing him to carry this slow but upbeat pop song by himself. He does a fair job of it, but the track feels too much like a demo at times. Not keen on the sped up ending either — I think I just don’t get this song.

Pauline Chagne — “Nuit Pauline”
Very pleased to be ending these reviews with a cool synth pop track, delivered with elegance and class by Chagne. The electric harp adds a surprising but also entirely appropriate element to the song, echoing the kind of synthesizer sounds you’d expect to hear in a 1980s-influenced track. While perhaps not the most original composition, it’s hit one of my sweet spots so I can’t help but like it and hope it does well.