Eurovision 2023 France profile: 'Évidemment' by La Zarra
France in the Eurovision Song Contest
One of the longest-standing Eurovision participants, France has an impressive pedigree at the Contest, with five wins, five runners-up and seven 3rd places over the years.
These statistics, however, are overwhelmingly concentrated in the early years of the Contest, notably a period when the French language had a hugely important status both in Europe and internationally. In recent years, France has had a much more mixed trajectory, with occasional impressive finishes coming alongside a number of results on the right-hand-side of the scoreboard.
The country's results in recent contests have exemplified this. In 2021, France missed out on winning the whole contest by just 25 points with Barbara Pravi's chanson ballad, 'Voilà'. Conversely, last year's Breton-language EDM track 'Fulenn' came 24th with just 17 points, despite being a fan favourite for the entire Eurovision season.
After a 2nd place finish and two Junior Eurovision wins since 2020, France is nonetheless on the lookout for their first win since 1977.
2023 entry: La Zarra - 'Évidemment'
As a representative of a "Big 5" country, La Zarra automatically qualifies for the Grand Final. The running order slot is yet to be known.
My Eurovision Scoreboard ranking: 5th
Odds to win ranking: 9th
(Rankings as of 8 April 2023)
About the Artist
La Zarra is the stage name of Fatima Zahra Hafdi, a rising star in the French music industry. Originally from the francophone Canadian province of Québec and with family roots in Morocco, as a young girl Fatima always dreamed of a music career, watching videos of francophone icons such as Céline Dion or Mylène Farmer for hours.
A chance encounter with Canadian hip-hop producer Benny Adams would ultimately change her life. Fatima convinced Adams to work with her following an impromptu performance of Céline Dion's iconic hit, 'Pour que tu m'aimes encore'. Not long after that, Fatima would begin recording her own material under her now iconic nom de plume: La Zarra.
In 2020, La Zarra relocated to France to expand her burgeoning music career. She released her first album, 'Traîtrise', in 2021 - a record that defies genre classification, mixing elements of hip-hop, rap, French chanson and electro-pop. 'Traîtrise' gave La Zarra her first commercial hit, 'Tu t'en iras', which has been certified platinum in France.
Around this time, La Zarra was also approached to participate in Eurovision for the first time by the French delegation, although she would ultimately decline, stating that she was not yet in the right stage of her career. Three years later, it seems that the time is ripe!
An artist of diverse musical influences, La Zarra is inspired by French and American icons such as Edith Piaf, Barbra Streisand and Drake, as well as by her Maghrebi heritage. She is the first French-Canadian to represent France at Eurovision since 2001, when Natasha St Pier came fourth with 'Je n'ai que mon âme'.
About the Song
'Évidemment' continues La Zarra's fondness for mixing and experimenting with genre, combining the vocal timbre and structure of a Piaf or Brel chanson classic with disco elements that wouldn't be out of place on Dua Lipa's much-loved 2020 album 'Future Nostalgia'.
Thematically, the song is about moving on after a failed love affair. In interviews, however, La Zarra has also emphasised the references to the broader Francophonie (including her native Québec), seen most notably at the song's climax with its now-infamous reference to 'la Grand France'.
The song was written and produced by La Zarra herself alongside a team of Montréal-based songwriters and producers, including Ahmed Saghir, Yannick Rastogi, Zacharie Raymond and long-term collaborator Benny Adams.
How was La Zarra chosen for Eurovision?
Perhaps recognising La Zarra's huge potential as a Eurovision act, the French delegation cancelled their national final process this year, "C'est vous qui décidez", in favour of an internal selection. The last time France opted for an internal selection was 2020, when the delegation selected Tom Leeb with his song 'Mon alliée (The Best in Me)'.
During the press conference announcing La Zarra's selection, Alexandra Redde-Amiel emphasised that the decision to cancel "C'est vous qui décidez" was taken because the delegation were excited about La Zarra's song and artistry. The national final may return in future.
However, perhaps taking inspiration from the success that nearby countries such as the UK and the Netherlands have had with internal selections, Redde-Amiel also stated that "the Eurovision brand must grow if France is going to get behind [our act]," implicitly suggesting that internal selections may encourage more mainstream artists to participate in the Contest.
Will France finally get the victory they missed out on so narrowly in 2021? Only time will tell!
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France will compete in the Grand Final of Eurovision 23 on May 13 (European time) in Liverpool.
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