The opinions expressed in this article are the personal views of the individual reviewers, and do not necessarily represent the view of ESC United as a whole or its other editors and members.
The tension and hype is building throughout the week in France as C’est vous qui décidez – the French selection for Eurovision 2021 – nears on Saturday evening. With 12 songs competing, it is sure to be a spectacular show with some diverse genres in the running and a variety of choice for the French public. But, what did our team think of the 12 hopefuls in France?
Over the next few days building up to the final, we will be sharing our thoughts on the French Eurovision candidates, starting with the first three songs right now. What did our panel of Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie, Roy, Sean and Stefan all think of this year’s French selection?
21 Juin le Duo – Peux-tu me dire?
Boris – 7 – “I was already cackling about these two naming themselves after the Midsummer Solstice (New Age pretentiousness is always funny, no matter what you say), so *of course* they show up in white pajamas and immediately bust out in a ball of HAPPY HIPPY that 95% of the people listening will immediately be annoyed by <3 I honestly can’t believe it’s not MESC. Blessed be their freegan hearts.”
Daniel – 5.5 – “There is a lot of cute chemistry and coordinating outfits, like the happy Madame Monsieur. I think this is a cute song with a bit of spunk and positive energy and great emoting. I do not think that it fully carries the sheer force to be a strong entry for France. I did like the drum solo it gave me a lot of France 1990 throwback vibes.”
James – 5 – “Another trite “let’s build an army to combat climate change” anthem. I get what they’re going for with the overuse of “oy oy e-ho” in trying to make a positive call for change, but it falls flat and is nowhere near upbeat enough to overcome its goop-lite lecturing in the lyrics. Speaking of goop-lite, they’re called June 21 as that’s the day they met, and their performative coupling just comes off as strange on a track that is not about relationships. This track would have worked better at Junior Eurovision with a group of kids singing it if it also didn’t sound like an airline advert.”
Melanie – 4.5 – “This is cute and reminds me of songs that I would listen in my childhood. That’s why I also think this song would better fit at Junior Eurovision than the regular Eurovision. It’s catchy, but quite simple and misses something special that would really make it stand-out.”
Roy – 2.5 – “Okay sure, this is fun and innocent, but it is also way too cheap and simple for it to be the entry for France. In a batch of songs this song would not stand out at all since it is so underwhelming. It feels more like they are performing this song at some sort of kids recreation in a semi-decent hotel or camping… This is not what I want France to send to Eurovision!”
Sean – 5.5 – “Well, this is catchy and fun, and summery and it breathes some much needed life into our dark winter months. But eh, there just feels like something missing? I know songs like this don’t need some kind of deeper message or gravitas, but it feels like an opportunity missed. It’s lightweight and basic and I just want something a little more intriguing. The drum break also seems a bit gimmicky.”
Stefan – 1 – “France, please don’t, just don’t. You have 11 other songs. Literally pick any other.”
Total = 31 (avg. 4.43)
Ali – Paris me dit (Yalla ya helo!)
Boris – 8.5 – “Before the first note hit, I thought “ah, France are generous enough to give me a narcisstic flopgay I can safely dislike, so I won’t be forced to put Barbara last like a scrub” only to be punched in the face by a heart-shaped fist of unfiltered SASS. Slay me, king.”
Daniel – 4 – “I like the introduction because it looks very mysterious and builds towards a strong chorus. The chorus, however, is a bit simplistic and includes maybe six words and so it seems not fully fleshed out. The musical composition is cool but then it always reverts to that chorus that does not do justice to the rest of the song. I have mostly conflicting feelings about this song.”
James – 6 – “A decent electropop effort that needs more oomph to carry its celebratory entreaty to party in Paris message properly. When you think outsiders praising cities songs, you recall the bombast and cockiness of Frank Sinatra’s “New York,” the goofy love-it-or-leave-it attitude of Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.,” or Egert Milder’s over-earnest foreigner in “Georgia on my Mind” from Eesti Laul 2020. “Paris me dit” comes off as a second-degree love letter, like we’re hearing about this wonderful city from a guy who listened to Ali’s song. I don’t feel this song brings you into the party the way it intends, but with a good revamp they can extend their invitation to love Paris and immerse all of us.”
Melanie – 6 – “Really loving the haunting vibe the song is creating. I’m really curious how this would sound live, because I don’t like how the vocals blend with the instrumentals in the studio cut. There is just too much reverberation in the vocals that definitely weakens the song. If this would win the national selection, I think they need to revamp it a little bit and create more a moment in the middle of the song. The “Yalla Ya Helo” part is now too repetitive. Nevertheless, we can work with this song; it just needs a little bit work to make it stand out more.”
Roy – 1 – “The production of this song is so cheap. The song is shallow. The singing is sub-par at best. This screams to me like a underground cheap disco with cheap vodka and watery beer. It is repetitive, it kind of annoys me and to me this has no business even to be selected among the 12 to compete. Also I am worried about when the live vocals do become a factor…”
Sean – 7 – “Hmm. This isn’t going to set the scoreboard alight I don’t think, but there’s something to work with here. The refrain is catchy and has ‘call and response’ qualities to it that make for many a good Eurovision classic. The music in the chorus is interesting if a little washed-out, and some technical wizardry could unlock a potential banger here. At the minute it feels very much like a demo, but this could grow.”
Stefan – 2 – “Again I have to raise concerns regarding use of autotune and voiceover technics. I can’t say much expect that I just don’t like it. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Total = 34.5 (avg. 4.93)
Amui – Maeva
Boris – 8.5 – “and suddenly the grumpy Belgo-Bulgarian felt a rush of nillies nostalgia flowing through his meridians as he basked in the radiant energy of the unexpected Polynesian dance anthem.”
Daniel – 6.5 – We love to see this be a showcase of a beautiful culture. I think that this has a fun factor closer to France 2010 (and not Monaco 2006). I still think that these island vibes would add something very unique to the show and make a strong statement. My thing is to make sure that the staging does not look like a rendition of a Disney sing-a-along but rather something that celebrates the culture. I think it is overall a good song.
James – 6 – Should this make Eurovision 2021, this will be the second instance of Tahitian used at the contest (Monaco’s last entry in 2006 with Severine’s “La Coco-Dance”) and Ken Carlter would be the second Tahitian to go (after Jean Carilou gave France a respectable 3rd at Eurovision 1981 with the French lyric song “Humanahum”). The drums at the bridge are a highlight for what is an otherwise paint-by-numbers mid-tempo Ethno-dance song that was popular in Europe with the “world music” boom of the mid-to-late-‘90s. As with some other songs in this French selection, “Maeva” could be helped with more energy and more punch.
Melanie – 5 – I’m happy to hear some Polynesian flavour in this national selection. Sadly, the song itself doesn’t sound refreshing at all. I have the feeling that I heard this song before. It’s the kinds of song what I hear when I’m at some random beach club while sipping on my freshly made cocktail. Of course, I would dance along if this would be played on the radio, I just expect more from France when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Roy – 1.5 – “Who here ordered a cruise? Not me at least. This is another cheap attempt at trying to sound interesting and flavorous. The beat is dated and simple, the singing isn’t anything special either. This feels like a family gathering trying to write an interesting danceable song for their annual reunion. It is danceable, I give them that, but no… Not for Eurovision…”
Sean – 6 – Tahitian?? Well, I didn’t expect that! But then again, France has influence in many regions around the world, so nothing should surprise, and it’s good to see them represented in this selection. The song is a tropical treat that flows like sangria but it wears a little thin across three minutes and doesn’t really feel like it has much substance (not knowing the lyrical content withstanding). I know it may be limited from the performance video point of view, but I want to see some movement too! A pleasant surprise all round though.
Stefan – 4 – To be honest I was expecting something like this. They seem like they have stage fright and its just a preview video. They need to shake those legs. Overall impression – Cute. No more, no less.
Total = 37.5 (avg. 5.36)
Andriamad – Alléluia
Boris – 8 – In 1998, France sent a Muslim singer in an oversized shirt and a frizzly-haired woman, doing a wacky-woke dance. Never expected a 2021 finalist to evoke the SAME ethno-trance vibe <3
Daniel – 7.5 – Oh, these harmonies gave me the chills. This is a song celebrating the cultural heritages of the world and has so much potential for the staging to be meaningful and powerful. I think this song can either be a hit at Eurovision or may be underrated which sucks because France has been providing socially relevant songs to somewhat lukewarm reception and this song seems headed in a similar direction. This is not a knock against it, if anything it is a compliment because I like it so much, I am already thinking about it at the next stage.
James – 6 – As with “Maeva,” we have another mid-tempo Ethno-dance number that was popular in Europe with the “world music” boom of the mid-to-late-‘90s, this time with a North African / Middle East vibe instead of Tahiti. They are trying for a unity anthem that the non-French may appreciate, though with the many “we are the people of the world” and “same same same” thrown in in English, I do wonder how the locals will take to the usage of English here. The composition is fine, the sentiment admirable, but it lacks the magic of a KEiiNO “Spirit in the Sky” to truly take off as a unity anthem people can stan and dance to.
Melanie – 7 – This one has a lot of potential! I really love the instrumentals in this song. The verses are really great, but the chorus is a little bit underwhelming. They need some more power to make it even more contagious. I’m also not liking the random “People of the world” sentence. It’s really a vibe killer in this song and so unnecessary. But overall, I see this as a potential contender for the win, it just needs a little bit of a revamp to make it stronger.
Roy – 3.5 – At least this is workable right? I don’t know what it is with these songs so far, but they sound like low-effort trying to be dance-y and with that not trying to make an effort at all of making it innovative, unique or stand out. This would be okay for something like Belarus or Moldova, but we are talking about France here… the country that has been participating for so long and is guaranteed a spot in the final. This song would be easily forgotten and just lacks a whole lot of substance as well unfortunately…
Sean – 8 – I love this! French pop can really hit just right if done well and this is ticking all of my boxes. The languages blend brilliantly, their performance is strong and it has an intriguing mixture of world music, tribal pop and some electronic elements. The song is really well structured for its three minute duration too. Very well done!
Stefan – 5 – Well even for a preview video they gave it all. They have chemistry going on. And comparing them to Amui guys they sound quite better. Not to mention they know how to shake it. But I just can’t see this winning the French NF.
Total = 45 (avg. 6.43)
Let’s see how our French ranking is looking so far…
- Andriamad – Alléluia – 45
- Amui – Maeva – 37.5
- Ali – Paris me dit (Yalla ya helo!) – 34.5
- 21 Juin le Duo – Peux-tu me dire? – 31
So far it’s Andriamad who are in the lead, but what will our panelists think of the remaining eight French hopefuls? Stay tuned to ESC United to find out in the coming days!
Do #YOU agree with the views of our team members? Are any of these songs underrated? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!