Europop: why the French do it better

Posted by Laura

The French are very good at beating us at our own game. Only a few weeks after rubbing their inherent stylishness in our faces with the effortlessly chic visit of Nicolas Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni, they’re at it again – only this time it’s music.

Football we can handle (just about) but music, dear Gallic neighbours, is OUR turf. It’s something we hold dear to our hearts as the one thing, when all the sporting remonstrations are said and done, we fall back on.

But this week the French Eurovision entry was announced – and it’s actually very good. They seem to have struck upon a canny formula. Take a genre France is renowned for (arty, indie Europop), add an already acclaimed musician (enter Sebastien Tellier) and a song that’s kooky without being too kitsch, et voilà – a Eurovision dream.



There’s only one problem: many French people don’t like it. Pourquoi? The lyrics are English. In fact, Tellier’s Divine is stirring up such controversy a group that defends the French language has even suggested withholding TV taxes paid to public television by way of protest.

But aren’t we missing the point here? French acts who sing in English, including the likes of Air, Daft Punk and M Tellier, don’t sound British at all. They’re still able to maintain their mysterious French je ne sais quoi despite not singing in their native tongue. It says a lot about a country’s culture when its music can be intelligent enough to embrace the spirit of Europe and another language without losing its national identity.

And what kind of Euro-embracing pop do we produce here? I give you Girls Aloud’s Can’t Speak French. Enough said.

Allez la France! You deserve to win.

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