Jun 18, 2013

304/917 Sophie: Une chanson c'est une lettre (Monaco 1975)

After several two or three pointers I'm more than glad to have random number generator draw me a full pointer for a change. The 304th song to be sung on a Eurovision stage is on the surface a boringly normal schlager sung in a very traditional way. But if you listen to it more, you'll find that there is more to it than meets the ear.

As mentioned before, André Popp is one of my favourite Eurovision composers. I have already given the full 5 points to his classic L'amour est bleu from 1967, and he also wrote two excellent entries for France in 1964 and in 1960 when Tom Pillibi would win the whole contest. Should these songs be drawn or requested to my blog, I promise to attribute high points to them as well. Apart from his four Eurovision entries, Popp has written numerous hits for French artists and scores for about ten films.

For his last (so far) participation in the ESC Popp also acted as conductor. Song Une chanson c'est une lettre was sung by 30 year old French singer Sophie Hecquet. Before Eurovision her main achievement in the music business was to have accompanied Johnny Hallyday on his tours in the mid 1960's.

Sophie is a good a singer and shining performer and she looks stunning in her red dress on a brigh blue stage. However the real star of this show is the song itself. The melody is simple and the chorus is almost naively repetitive. What makes the song stand out is the distinctive time signature that the song is composed on. Most of the song is in 6/4 time and in the verse Popp alters between 6/4 time and 4/4 time. 6/4 time signature is quite rare in a pop song, which gives the song a totally different feel and combined with a most ordinary melody the result is quirky and mysterious. Additionally André Popp's arrangement is excellent and the Swedish orchestra is up to the task.

On top of it all the lyrics are a poetic masterpiece telling in different ways and metaphors how a message of love is so much easier to put in a song or a poem than to tell someone face to face. A song is a letter, that is never sent. You can openly tell "I love you" in a song, when you are not the one to sing it. When one speaks of love the words get stuck in your throat, but in a song or a poem love is always perfect and you are not afraid to feel silly.

The lyrical genious Boris Bergman had already written song for Monaco in 1973 and he would eventually write the French entry as late as in 2013.

The juries in 1975 did not see this detailed perfection and awarded the song only 22 points and 13th place in the final results (among 19 participants). Neither has this song become particularly popular among Eurovision fans. To me this song, from the typical schlager intro through the affective key change and until the charming finale, is one of the dearest memories from 1970's Eurovision Song Contest, certainly one of the best songs in 1975 contest, which was filled with premium quality entries anyway.

Sophie would not continue her career as a singer. Instead  she made a career as a radio and television presenter and a producer in Monaco, Luxembourg and Belgium. She died in 2012 at the age of 68.

My points 5/5.

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