As a founder member of the Eurovision Song Contest and one of the Big Five, France has been an integral part of the competition since 1956 and is joint third in the list of all-time winners, having won it on five times. But the glory days of French success in the Contest are long gone.
In fact, France has a poorer record than the UK, which can at least point to the victory of Katrina and the Waves in 1997. There hasn’t been a French Eurovision winner since Marie Myriam in 1977, and aside from a couple of runners-up places in the early 1990s, France has struggled to make an impact on the contest in recent years, having made the top ten just twice in the last ten years.
But this time round, France have a realistic prospect of challenging the front-runners thanks to a song and a performer that has the potential to appeal to a number of different demographics. Bilal Hassani, who was born in France to Moroccan-born parents, is a 19-year-old singer and Youtuber who came out two years ago. His song Roi is the first single from his first studio album and won him his place at Eurovision thanks largely to the French public whose votes outweighed the points awarded by the judges in the qualifying contest.
From a betting perspective, there is a clear potential for Bilal to achieve the same success as Conchita in 2014 and Dana International in 1998, given his likely strong appeal to LGBTQ and young audiences. For that reason it’s hard to argue with Betfred’s current odds on a French win. They rate Bilal as a 33/1 shot, putting him inside the top ten.
The downside for punters considering backing France this time around is that Bilal has not yet shown the same ability as Dana International or Conchita to deliver a compelling performance. That may explain why France are not shorter in the betting, but those odds may well shorten by the time Saturday’s contest gets underway.