Let’s copy France. Or not

Attention, s’il vous plaît! We aimons very much cet artiste:

During our coming of age in the 80s and 90s, we got used to artists with strong images. There was David Bowie. Madonna. Freddie Mercury. Blondie. Kurt Cobain. Either people who dressed up like no one had ever seen before with the result of everyone looking exactly like them in the following years. Or people who pretended not to care about how they looked and how they were perceived with so much conviction that their non-styles ended up as separate collections in H&M this side of the century.

Either way, these guys had one thing in common: They were genuine. They copied no-one in the effort of standing out and expressing some inner, deeper truth about themselves that seemed to resonate well with young people’s crucial desire for doing exactly that and for being accepted as the weirdos we all are at a certain point in our lives.

Then came the turn of the millennium and we moved on to the times of copy-paste and heavy waste. While there may be authentic and real artists now as well, building on someone else’s well-established imagery seems a lot easier when everything moves at a quick pace and people’s attention span is limited to three seconds of maybe-I-care. That has also harmed Eurovision, where the winning odds for your song are set before you open your mouth, where Sweden regularly hosts flea-markets all over the continent offering standard formulas for reaching top 10 and where the fandom keeps looking for the next Carola, Conchita or Rybak instead of listening to artist’s own, genuine stories.

No one makes decades like the 80s anymore, but the occasional star does shine. And this is where we salute France’s Bilal. While the other artists of 2019 have competed for the spot of most desired naked guy, most shouting woman, most hip-swinging latino and most emo man pretending to be a vulnerable little boy, Bilal has been doing his own thing, bobbing along just below the top 10s of the betting companies. He has the same androgyne image he’s always had, wearing a wig like always, being as strange and funny as always. He’s Freddie Mercury, Prince and Madonna in one package and yet he is so very much himself. No wonder Israel wanted to broadcast a TV show in his dishonor. Few people make a better plea for the freedom of expression this year. He should even be forced to reveal support from foreign countries and it should make him proud.

We quite like Bilal’s song too, once we get past that quirky mix of English and French. It’s sweet, but strong. Modern, but familiar. Untraditional, but catchy. Bilal delivers his message well, with a strong voice and, judging by the preview parties, a rock steady live performance. He has a presence that is intriguingly charming. And sequin shoulder pads are never wrong, of course.

Je suis free oui j’invente ma vie, is the message of Bilal. We don’t know how far that will take him on the 18th of May, when everyone gets a 3 minute shot at catching the attention of 200 million people. But we do know one thing: In terms of genuineness and star quality he is up there with the kings. And that is more than enough for us.

Thank you beaucoup and bonne luck!

Attention! Holding your hands over your head like that might make you look like Louis XIV in France, but in the Nordics, we would see a moose.

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