FRANCE: Bilal Hassani “Roi”February 28, 2019
I was hoping that Seemone's touching Tous les deux would win the French national final, Destination Eurovision. Although she won the jury vote (quite easily), she was not so popular in the televote, which saw Bilal Hassani's Roi (English translation: King) win very convincingly. Additionally, I am not a big fan of songs that are sung in a combination of the mother tongue and English. However, I can appreciate this is done in an effort to make the meaning of the song accessible to a wide audience, and in Bilal's case it's less jarring because his English is fluent and not heavily accented.
Now for the good news...
Bilal is stylish, elegant, confident, and an intelligent young man with a good singing voice. Born on the amazing date of 9/9/99, this 19 year old has been in the business for several years, and is something of an LGBTI icon. Coming from Moroccan Islamic heritage, Bilal has already had to handle a great deal of media attention with maturity.
Roi is a strong ballad that speaks of self-acceptance; Bilal's background enabling him to sing it with power and conviction. Co-written by Bilal and last year's French artists, Madame Monsieur, the song has a solid pedigree that can be felt in its well-written lyrics and in the way it builds musically. The piano is the most noticeable instrument, providing chord progression as well as rhythm. One of the lyrics in the song mentions the "king's crown". In the Destination Eurovision live performance, the crown was formed by the extended fingers of two of his dancers - but not quite as iconic as our own Kate's silver crown!!
A dark haired, slim lad, Bilal often performs with a striking white wig and a fabulous, rather androgynous dress sense. The fact he chose to sing Conchita's Rise Like A Phoenix in the 2015 series of The Voice Kids shows that he will go to Tel Aviv with a genuine enthusiasm for the contest. I am looking forward to seeing how he chooses to present himself and his song in May. I wish Bilal success and enjoyment at this year's ESC.