Aug 26, 2013

858/917 Natasha St-Pier: Je n'ai que mon âme (France 2001)

Sometimes a small, tiny, almost unnoticable thing can make a firm favourite fall. Sometimes the expecations are so high that when the reality comes in, the disappointment is too hard to bare. This happened to my relation with the Eurosong 858.

Natasha St-Pier was to change the gloomy streak of French eurovision entries in 2001. The preceding five years had given the country only one top 5 song and the rest didn't even reach the top 15 in the final results. For France, one of the most succesful countries in the contest, this was disasterous and so an established canadien singer and succesful french songwriter were called to help.

Robert Goldman has written international hits for Céline Dion, Florent Pagny and Patricia Kaas under the pseudonyme of Jean Kapler. The song he wrote for Natasha St-Pier was a well crafted ballad starting quietly and growing towards the end of the song. The arrangement is masterly and in the recorded version St-Pier is well up to the task. When I saw the preview video and heard the studio version of the song, I was sure this song was going to win. A sure five pointer from me.

In Copenhagen something changed, I don't know what. There is nothing really wrong in Natasha's performance, slight insecurity at some points and maybe a little tense presence on the stage, but that is only to be expected for a young singer on such a big stage. She sings well and manages to touch the audience enough to reach the fourth place in the final results.

Still, for me the magic of the studio version was gone. The song didn't gel like on record, and the small imperfections in the performance all but ruined the song for me. After high expectations I felt disappointed by the French entry and song fell from my favourite position to somewhere in the middle. To kill the song in my mind Natasha St-Pier decided to do what no other French representative had ever done before, sing the last verse in English for no apparent reason else than wanting to please as much audience as possible. Maybe it helped the song to gain more points, but this calculated change of language was the last straw.

Natasha St-Pier has continued her career succesfully for over 10 years in the francophone music business. Good for her, but her name reminds me for always of the disappointment of the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest.

My points 3/5.

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