Over the last few years, France has been one of the most stylistically diverse countries in Eurovision; which makes predicting their next move nigh on impossible. They’ve hopped seamlessly from chanson to opera to soul and always managed to come up with something inherently French at the same time… so whereas I stand no chance of guessing where they’re headed next, I can at least select a few French artists I think would be worthy considerations for 2014!
The first artist I would recommend for France is one whose name I’ve heard on a number of fans’ wishlists – Matt Pokora, who performs under the stage name M. Pokora. He has Polish origins, and – if you’re a fan of tattoos and facial hair – he could make it into the top ten based on his aesthetic merits (I don’t think I’ve ever described someone as hot in such a weirdly eloquent way… I do apologise.)
The 27-year-old Strasbourg native started his career as a member of Popstars-winning boyband Linkup, who disbanded in 2004 only a year after their formation. This proved to be the kick-start to his solo stardom however, as eight years and five studio albums later, he has successfully established himself as one of the leading figures of the French pop scene. He has transcended a number of genres, though tends to favour a very commercial dance/pop/R&B sound. His 2012 single “On Est Là” somewhat typifies his musical style:
As any of you who read my introductory article will know, I am a massive fan of French music and culture in general; and my obsession with this song has a bit of a story to it. I first heard it completely by accident, whilst wandering round a supermarket in Rennes. Having no idea what it was, yet being drawn in by the instant hook, I had memorised the “lyrics” to the chorus, and ended up googling “oh oh oh on est là” the moment I was reunited with the internet. And voilà, I discovered Matt Pokora.
Now, I don’t know whether I think his voice is really good, in a kinda silky smooth, understated way… or whether I’m just paying too much attention to how he looks and ignoring the sound that’s emanating from his mouth. Either way, it can’t be denied that his music is bang up to date, catchy as hell, and certainly the kind of thing that would project an image of contemporary France to the rest of Europe.
Another one of his tracks which I’ve become enchanted with is this one from 2011:
Yes, this is a cover version of a Jean-Jacques Goldman classique (see what I did there?), but it just oozes summer in a way that even “Allez! Ola! Olé!” can’t quite do. Matt’s voice really suits this type of music, and he sure knows how to throw together a flashmob, doesn’t he! I can just see the ESC performance now… alright, he’ll only be able to have five dancers, but I’m sure the impact of the whole thing will stand out enough to get France noticed; and prove they can stage an uptempo entry properly (yes, Anggun, I’m looking at you there.)
This guy knows what he’s doing, and he’s big in his home country. He has a ton of NRJ awards to his name, and has already attracted international attention; having scored a number 1 with Timbaland back in 2008. A Eurovision attempt would only serve to widen his fanbase, and I really hope both he and France 3 would consider the prospect of his involvement in 2014.
So: M. Pokora is the artist who I think would be the best choice for France next year. However, nothing would make me happier right now than seeing this little lady on the Eurovision stage next May:
The sublime Nolwenn Leroy. Her story is an interesting one: having won the 2002 series of “Star Academy” (which would later produce the fabulous Amandine Bourgeois), this Brittany native released three typical French pop-rock albums to varying levels of success, before taking a complete U-turn with her 2010 album “Bretonne”; from which the above masterpiece “La Jument De Michao” is lifted. Granted, it’s a cover version of a traditional folk song, as all the songs on the aforementioned album were, but there is just something about her voice and this contemporary folk genre that just works. It’s melodic, captivating, authentic and exciting all in one; and she has one of the most distinctive voices I have heard in a while. Plus, were France to continue with their genre-hopping tradition, a sidestep into Celtic fusion is something we haven’t heard from them before… it’s meant to be!!
If you have the time, have a listen to these other French artists which we would both recommend!
Nathan Stella from the Netherlands: Matt is hot and talented and his songs are so good, so France would have a shot at winning with him! 😀 Nolwenn could do really well as well, given she gets the right, atmospherical staging 😀
Marianne Arnaud from France: I didn’t realise Nolwenn was making music like this now, it could be great for Eurovision
Hans Leenders from the Netherlands: Sounds good! So why not 😀
Edvinas Gurnevicius from Lithuania: M. Pokora with Tal! ❤ :3
So again, they’re only two of many possible choices for France in 2014, but they seem to be generally popular options. For me, France have the major advantage of not having to traverse a semi-final; so they can afford to be experimental if they so choose. You never know, one of these days it may pay off for them!