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After last year's disappointing result for "Mercy", France return in 2019 with Bilal Hassani singing Roi. With the lyrics focussed on empowerment and his adrogynous look there is definitely an air of the 'Conchitas' around this years entry.
France is the prime example I think of when I think of the mispriced Eurovision countries in the betting markets last year. "Mercy" was 2nd favourite to win the entire contest when we wrote our review, we weren't convinced at all and it came to pass that France finished in 13th place instead after performing poorly in the public vote. Will this year be any different?
As anyone knows, Eurovision has a large gay fanbase, so you would imagine perhaps that they might flock to Bilal as they have with other 'icons' in Eurovision history. However, this doesn't seem to have materialised for any contestant this year. Last year you had Eleni Foureira for Cyprus whose sass and hairography had Twitter filled with words like "SLAY" and "QUEEN" by the fanbase that Bilal might be expected to profit from, why hasn't it happened this year?
You might argue that since Conchita, the 'this is me' empowerment song by a non-binary individual has kind of been done, not to mention that "Roi" is an inferior song to "Rise Like A Phoenix". I think some of the thunder has been taken too by North Macedonia with "Proud" which strikes me as a superior offering in that vein. France's YouTube stats perhaps reflect this with some very low stats indeed, however Bilal's social media follower stats are actually on the upper-end of the scale.
As a song, I actually quite enjoyed it on the first listen, the composition and structure is solid enough and anyone listening can 'get' it fairly quickly. The verses build up with a piano switching from light to forte, the beat comes in which leads to a very strong chorus which for reasons I can't explain seems to remind me of a Lady Gaga type performance. However if you were to only listen to the music video you could be misled, this song requires a strong and skilled singer to manage the frequent changes in tone - based on Bilal's performance at Destination Eurovision 2019, "Roi" may be a little too big for him.
In terms of appeal, "Roi" didn't even perform exceptionally well at it's own national final. Obviously as one of the Big 5, France doesn't need to worry about progressing past semi-finals but there is definitely work it can do on staging to elevate the live performance in the final. Unfortunately I don't see Bilal exceeding last year's result, likely a medium-low score from the televote with something similar from the juries and perhaps an 18th/19th place finish. So even though I personally like the song, I've given it two stars on the basis of it's likely performance come May.
Will Bilal be the 'Roi' of Eurovision 2019? Let us know what you think in the comments below.