30 January 2018

France: Madame Monsieur Win French NF: Review

Eurovision France 2018: Madame Monsieur
Madame Monsieur: French representatives in Lisbon

After a taut, close fought French national final, the duo Madame Monsieur secured a popular victory with their entry, Mercy.

The song was not well-received by everyone though. Destination Eurovision - an effective French mini version of the Contest - threw up a highly visible disparity between what the international judges preferred and the choice of the public.

In fact, the whole affair essentially became a two horse race between pre-show favourites Madame Monsieur and 18-year-old Lisandro Cuxi and his track, Eva. The accumulation of judges' scores pointed to a victory for Lisandro's Michael Jackson/Bobby Brown Eighties-inspired track, but over 28% of the televote went to Mercy - enough to take the husband and wife pairing to Lisbon.

Without doubt then, viewers were particularly empathetic to Mercy: a catchy pop song that tells the true story of a Nigerian baby born on a boat called Aquarius, owned by the charitable organisation SOS Mediterranean and helping in the rescue of refugees.

Such a subject is naturally emotive; lyrically Madame Monsieur have cleverly intertwined the name of baby Mercy with the notion of thanks and the humanitarian effort. Nevertheless, this topic has provoked criticism from some quarters, claiming it is too politically charged, but in essence it is simply the story of a birth in the midst of turbulent circumstances.

Musically, Madame Monsieur are equally straightforward. They have adoped an electro-pop vibe; a strangely dispassionate sound considering the need for a sympathetic warmth the subject matter demands. However, this is offset by Émilie Satt's sensitive vocal styling and heartfelt rendition of the story.

The subtlety of the lyrics may fly over the heads of non-French speakers but as a pop song the entry works well. With the right staging it should draw a substantial amount of votes and keep France on its improving trajectory up the left-hand side of the scoreboard.

Overall, think The Common Linnets mashed up with Norma John with a soupçon of the Pet Shop Boys...

Artist: Madame Monsieur
Song: Mercy
Big 5 Finalist

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