Noée a été volé! Sunday morning with the first French semi of the year


I was otherwise engaged on Saturday evening. That meant while thousands of us enjoyed the novelty of a non-UK final being broadcast on PROPER telly (825 on the Virgin box, no less) as a live event, it was a treat simmering on the windowsill of the TiVo box for me to nod my bedhair to first thing on the Sabbath.

After two-and-a-half-hours of Eurovision-suitability-type ruminating, four of the nine songs performed have gone forth to the national final. We’ll get to that lucky quatuor in a mo – but first some observations.

UN: If only we Brits had the same attention span as our French chums

Can you imagine a UK heat getting a 150-minute slot, peak-time Saturday night? Mind you, after sitting through the full show, it was easy to picture the disgruntled tweets if the BBC borrowed this format.

“Why, oh why, oh why MUST we have each singer performing a DIFFERENT song before getting to their actual entry? It just makes this interminable nonsense an even longer endurance.’

And that’s before they start on Brexit.

To be fair, the UK heat will feature six songs with the whole shebang sorted in 90 minutes so there’ll be a spot of padding needed there to surround the 18 minutes’ worth of stuff that’s actually in contention. This French heat may have lasted a lot longer than some Contests proper of the ’70s and ’80s but if you want to experience truly meandering live TV, San Remo is about to pop its head over the horizon. This was positively zippy in comparison.

DEUX: The French are effortlessly stylish

See also: ITALY. Are there any squares in France? As a nation, they are so gorgeous to watch. They could fall out of bed into a bin liner, trip through a hedge on their way out of the house then have their hair pecked by crows but still be the most fabulous person within a 10-mile radius. It’s just not fair.

TROIS: Noée wuz robbed

Style and sartorial flair aside, the songs themselves were a mostly enjoyable bunch. The one which stood out for me, however, was a remarkable bit of quirk-cum-balladry from Noée. Her L’un Pres De L’Autre was the only one of the nine which had me humming after its conclusion. Remember Anna Rossinelli’s In Love For a While, the Swiss entry in 2011? Well, it was that after it had turned up for its first day in art school full of winsome confidence, had its first naive submission given a D+ by its tutor and spent dark weeks and months glowering behind the student union with its equally affronted mates, half a bottle of cheap beer and countless Gitanes. I weep for its non-progress.

Sixth? Out of nine? Jeez Louise.

So, anyway. Who DID get through? After international votes from Italy, Belarus and Sweden (Christer ‘Mr Melodifestivalen’ Bjorkman doing the job for the latter), then the three homegrown experts (TWO of whom failed to give Noée a single point, the nice man in Italy gave her 10). The four songs going through to the final are:

4th: Mamma Mia by Louka (30 points)

Surprising qualifier. This really wasn’t up to much. Great for fans of the word ‘Et’.

3rd: Ciao by Malo (46 points)

Only third here but if it can conquer a few mountains and still get to Lisbon, this could of rather well.

2nd: OK ou KO by Emmy Liyana (50 points)

Stuff that doesn’t sound like your typical Eurovision stuff is doing better and better at the Contest these days. This is that sort of stuff. Emmy looks and sounds fantastic too.

1st: Eva by Lisandro Cuxi (66 points)

The most accessible pop tune of the evening. There were shades of Amir’s J’ai Cherché so it helped that the man himself was one of three judges in the studio. We are in the earliest mists of dawn of national final season so it’s daft to hail anything as a winner yet but all that aside, this lad’s got potential.

But so did Noée. Bah.

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