France: English lyrics become an issue (again)

by Stratos Agadellis 3,742 views

French singer Alma has been selected internally by France Télévision to be the nation’s representative in Ukraine this May. Her entry Requiem already enjoys success in France and Europe and the betting odds give Alma a relatively high placing. However, some internal tremors have appeared in France and this is about the existence of English lyrics in the song.

Controversy with government official

The French Secretary of State André Vallini in a tweet expresses his objection to the English lyrics of the song and talks even about an ”englisation” of France.

Here is André Vallini’s tweet (in French):

In contrary, during an interview to FranceInfo, the Head of the French delegation Edoardo Grassi stated that it gives a modernity to the song to have a few English lyrics. The most important that he said is that interpreting a song only in French attracts the foreign audience more difficult, especially those who don’t speak any French.  The few English elements of the song (its refrain in that case) make it much easier to be retained. His response to André Vallini was direct, as he said:

Whether we like it or not, we have emerged from the hegemony of France on the Eurovision stage, a pity that some have difficulty to recover.

Here is his response tweet (in French):

It should be mentioned that this is not the first time that the Secretary of State insists against using of English in such situations. In 2016, he stated that the English lyrics in Amir’s song J’ai cherche is “conspicuous and unacceptable choice”. However, that entry was a total success for France, as they came sixth, in contrary with the traditional very low placings of the country during the last editions. His objections don’t come only for Eurovision, but also for the anthem of the French national football team and the official hymn for Euro 2016, which was hosted in France, which both were in English.

These were his statements last year:

The Euro 2016 will be a great sports and popular celebration that will take place in France and should therefore spread our country. And our language!

France, as a member of the Big 5, is set to compete automatically in the Grand Final of Saturday 13 May. The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted by the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC at the IEC in Kyiv.