The French language is incredibly important to those who speak it; so important that it even has its own academy established to do everything possible to protect it. So the fact that this year’s French entry for the Eurovision song contest uses English lyrics has caused a slight national upset.
Jacques Mynard, of the UMP party — the same party as President Nicolas Sarkozy — has urged France’s major TV networks to reconsider the choice of Sebastien Tellier’s song which combines both French and English lyrics. Mynard feels that a bilingual song does a bad job of representing the nation. “The French language is the tool of a huge industry in terms of cultural influence and if we French give up our language, what do you think the others will say?” said Mynar. This isn’t so surprising considering that earlier this year, Sarkozy himself asked for 100% French television broadcasts; when it comes to the French language, there is no kidding around.
Tellier however feels that he needs to use a combination of French and English to achieve his own artistic goals. “To explain the vision of French people of sexuality and of life and so, to be understood, I need to sing in English,” Tellier said. This will be the first time that France uses a non-French song as a Eurovision entry.
Countries that compete at Eurovision are free to sing in whatever language they choose. Sweden has a great way of getting around the language issue: for the contests leading up to the final decision of what song goes to Eurovision, the songs are sung in Swedish, but when the national winner goes on and competes at Eurovision, it is usually with with an English version. According to Eurovision, songs sung in English statistically have a better chance of winning. France will just have to decide whether it prefers to protect the language or have a better chance at coming home with the Eurovision title.