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France: some facts that you probably didn't know!

07 March 2011 at 10:39 CET

Bonjour Bruno, you started as head of the French delegation for the Eurovision Song Contest in Tallinn, 2002, this will be your tenth contest in charge, and we would like to review those contests.


2002 and 2003 Let's start with your first experience in 2002 and Sandrine François, what was the most significant event this year?

BB: I will never forget this first experience with Sandrine François.  Sandrine was among the favorites. I remember something special and  unexpected I saw only two times in those 10 years, with Patricia Kaas  and Sandrine François: when Sandrine started at the very first rehearsal  with the sound check, I noticed all technicians stopped working to  listen to her. One amazing thing many people reported was that her live performance on stage is even better than the CD version!

BB: True, actually, Sandrine is what we call in french the "witness  voice" of Céline Dion meaning that Sandrine records all candidates songs  submitted for a new french album for Céline. Céline and her management  make up their mind based on Sandrine François's interpretation. Sandrine  has a tremendous voice but I think Eurovision came a bit too early for  her. Participating three or four years later would have been probably  fabulous. In 2003, France was represented by Louisa Baileche when something really unexpected happened during the final?

BB:  Well, to start with, I have to say that in Riga, all delegations  had to face major sound return issues. If you watch carefully the video  of the 2003 contest, you can clearly distinguish between 2 categories of  artists: on one side, experienced artists who figured out how to deal  with those sound return problems and, on the other side, newcomers who  hardly managed those issues.
Louisa, experienced singer, expected to have such sound problems at the  final and then focused exclusively on her voice and she actually never  was out of tune. Now, fully concentrated on her voice, Louisa forgot all  the rest. Furthermore, though Louisa was extremely relaxed during the  rehearsals, I clearly realized she got stressed when I brought her to the  stage at the final. On stage, she performed her song "outside of her  body". I've seen that many times during castings. Even though some hair  stuck to her make up, she could not even feel it. She was victim of  her stress.



Sébastien Tellier Let's now talk about Sébastien Tellier and the 2008 contest in Belgrade. How was Sébastien chosen?

BB: Given the average and bad ESC viewing figures from past years,  Marie-Claire Mézerette, Director of the Entertainment department,  clearly stated that she wanted to do something with Eurovision and bring  there a singer representing a specific style of music associated to a  significant market in the world. She looked to various singers,  including Sébastien Tellier, who just released a new album. She attended  Sébastien Tellier's concert at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and  took this opportunity to talk to ask him directly whether he would like  to participate to the Eurovision song contest or not. In 3 seconds,  Sébastien said "yes"! Decision was taken to pick up a song from his new  album and Divine appeared quickly as being the best option for the  contest. What about sending a song with English lyrics at Eurovision Song Contest for France?

BB: Sébastien wrote the English lyrics for Divine simply because french  lyrics did not fit to the song. Composed by Sébastien Tellier and  produced by Daft Punk, Divine is an obvious and  brilliant example of  the French touch, even with English lyrics. There's one thing I want to  clarify: we never decided to keep the original English lyrics thinking  like some other delegations it's required to win the contest. Wouldn't you say there's a "before Tellier" and "after Tellier"?

BB: There's clearly an "after Tellier" but not only for France! There's  an "after Tellier" for the contest itself! Let me explain a bit. When the  old jury system was replaced by 100% televote, never ending  discussions started whether juries should be re-introduced in the voting system  or not. In 2007, Roger Cicero, representing Germany, came 19th with the  full televote system and 5th according to back up juries votes. People  started to point out that such a difference was a problem and one more  evidence full televote was a barrier for some musical styles. In 2008,  Sébastien Tellier ended 17th in the final but became the biggest  commercial hit that year. Another big difference! How a song ending in  last positions could be the biggest Eurovision success in the end? This is why  the voting system was modified from 100% televote to 50% televote and  50% juries. As for french selections, the participation of a known,  experienced and famous artist like Sébastien Tellier brought the  attention of the major record companies and the music community as well.  To sum up, Sébastien Tellier's participation in Belgrade led to two  major changes: first, Eurovision Song Contest voting modified with professional juries  involved at 50% in the voting. Second, Sébastien and his success brought  the attention to the record companies and major music actors in France.  Two important changes and significant arguments to convince Patricia  Kaas to participate to the 2009 contest in Moscow...



Patricia Kaas Talking about Patricia Kaas, despite the arguments you just  mentioned, wasn't it hard to convince Patricia to participate in the  Song Contest?

BB: The idea of asking Patricia grew in September 2008 in Moscow ¬†where I attended the Reference Group meeting. While walking in the ¬†streets, many pics of Patricia in the city brought my attention. ¬†Patricia is so famous in Russia hence she was the perfect French ¬†candidate for a contest in Moscow. Another co√Įncidence, when I came back ¬†to Paris two days later, I led a radio show with a special guest, ¬†Fran√ßois Bernheim, who wrote so many hits for Patricia Kaas. Off the ¬†record, I told him I would like Patricia to represent France in Moscow. ¬†Two hours later, Patricia's manager called me and I explained for about ¬†one hour, without being interrupted, all the good reasons for Patricia ¬†to participate in the song contest. At the end, he told me "Why not?". ¬†Patricia's Manager got in touch with France T√©l√©visions and 3 months of ¬†negotiations started.... Given she was touring all over Europe, the only ¬†condition of Patricia was to pickup a song from her last album. Sébastien Tellier and then Patricia Kaas at the Eurovision Song Contest, do you see changes in the French press about the Song Contest?

BB: It's quite amazing I must say. When I started ten years ago, most of French music newspapers did not care about the song contest at all!  Even when the name of the artist or the song was revealed officially, no  real interest was given to them! In 2007, les Fatals Picards saw their  success growing after the contest. In 2008, as I already explained,  Sébastien Tellier got a huge worldwide commercial success. In 2009,  Patricia Kaas had a brilliant tour all around Europe. In 2010, Jessy  Matador, number one in sales in France and big sales in Europe. The  contest is still seen as a bit old fashioned, but record companies and  known singers in France have a different view of the event. They keep in  mind it's the biggest TV music event with a huge promotion all over  Europe. If participating to the contest is still considered a bit  risky for artists, I tell to them "You're not taking any risks. Either you are  a great singer and there's no risk at all, people won't forget your  performance and if you don't manage to be in a top10 in the final, the  audience will consider a bad ranking as undeserved". That's why I think  the Eurovision Song Contest is a magnifying glass!



Amaury Vassili 2011 is your 10th year as head of the french delegation in the contest, and we  would like to know more about the selection process which led to  Amaury Vassilli's choice.

BB: I did not met Amaury especially for the Eurovision Song Contest as I already knew him, having  seen him when he participated to the casting of "Le Roi Soleil". We did  not want to send pop opera but powerful and contemporary music with  an opera voice. When the selection committee at France Television  listened for the very first time to the demo version, all of us were  immediately impressed. It was really incredible and it's really hard  to explain. It was clearly an outstanding composition with a fabulous  voice, far beyond our expectations. I have never seen that in all  previous selections. There was something magic. We did not hesitate one  second. Even those who initially thought it was not the best idea to  send an opera singer to the contest changed completely their minds after  listening to the song. What are France Televisions' expectations for D√ľsseldorf?

BB: The worst thing for singers participating in the Eurovision Song Contest is probably to be forgotten. No one will forget S√©bastien Tellier or Patricia Kaas. There's one thing I am sure about regarding Amaury Vassilli: no one will forget him and his song. Daniel Moyne who wrote Sognu together with Quentin Bachelet already has a Eurovision Song Contest experience as he was Press attach√© of ... Marie Myriam in 1977... 34 years ago! We wish him to have another successful experience in D√ľsseldorf. And yes, France Television has really high expectations with our 2011 entry!