The French have spoken!
A strong public vote has seen 19-year-old Parisian Bilal Hassani – and his self-acceptance song Roi – crush the opposition and win the right to represent France at this year’s Eurovision song contest.
Hassani, who has been singing since he was five, has built a strong social media following over the years – his Instagram account has more than 375,000 followers and his twitter handle has more than 120,000.
And it may have been this following that got him over the line.
Like Eurovision, the winner of Destination Eurovision (the French national selection conest) is determined by the television audience (50 per cent) and a 10-person international jury.
After the jury vote, Roi (co-written by last year’s French Eurovision participant Madame Monsieur) was only in fifth place with 50 votes.
The jury’s favourite was 21-year-old Seemone and her song Tous les Deux. They were clearly impressed by her strong vocals and the emotional pull of the song.
But the tally board changed dramatically after the public vote. Hassani received 150 televotes to rocket to 200. Seemone could manage only 62 and held on to second on 156.
In the end, it was a comprehensive victory.
Well known French artists Chimène Badi (Lá-haut) and Emmanuel Moire (La Promesse) finished third and fourth.
Hassani’s song has already been likened to Conchita’s Rise Like a Phoenix. However, it does not have the same drama and Hassani’s vocals are not as impressive.
As my colleague Evan Stewart said in his summary of the first semi-final on this webpage, Hassani’s “underwhelming vocals make this number seem more anemic than anthemic”.
France has not won Eurovision in more than 40 years. Its best recent performance was in 2016 when Amir’s J’ai Cherche finished sixth.
It is an automatic qualifier into the final, but I do not expect Roi to finish on the left-hand side of the final tally board.