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Bilal Hassani, the 2019 'Franglais' entrant for Eurovision. Wikipedia

French minister regrets English choice for Eurovision

The French Minister of Culture Franck Riester explained that the refrain from Tom Leeb's song had “hurt his ears”.

Published: February 19, 2020, 2:04 pm


    Riester has come to the rescue of the French language during a parliamentary hearing, on Tuesday, February 18. The Minister of Culture was questioned on the choice of the song that will represent France at Eurovision, and was annoyed by the language used in the chorus, reported French weekly magazine Le Point. The Minister simply explained that this song had “hurt his ears”.

    “It is true that the refrain is in English, it hurt my ears a little this morning on the radio” Riester said, in response to a question from the deputy of Aisne Jacques Krabal, secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie, the French speaking world.

    There are a total of 29 countries where French is the official language. French is the only official language for 13 of these countries, while French is the co-official language of 16 countries.

    Auditioned by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly on the audiovisual sector, Franck Riester took the opportunity to tackle the strategy of France Televisions, “who is trying to become the holy grail”  for the first place in the music competition. “It is an independent choice […]. But I expressed my surprise when I heard a song of which the chorus is written in English,” he said.

    For the Minister of Culture, “everyone must set an example to ensure that France is carried with pride everywhere, all the time, even if we know that French content in a foreign language is also a way to promote the France”.

    The European competition will take place on May 16 in Rotterdam, and France will be represented by Tom Leeb, son of humorist Michel Leeb. Most of Tom Leeb’s songs are in English and he has cultivated an American Midwest persona.

    France participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 with the song “Roi” by Bilal Hassani of North African heritage. The French entry for the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv, Israel was selected through the national selection Destination Eurovision 2019, organised by the French broadcaster France Télévisions.

    The visual narrative begins with Hassani – a man – backstage in his dressing room. It shows him dressing up as a woman in a blonde wig and singing about his gender identity crisis. The opening words are also in English and then the singer continues in “Franglais”, a mixture of French and English.

    An established commentator in Hungary,  Andras Bencsik, previously described the Eurovision song contest as a “homosexual flotilla”.

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