Unforgettable artists, part 3; Sébastien Tellier

Welcome to part three of my unforgettable artists! This week I give you Sébastien Tellier! 
An incredible number of artists have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years. Some of them we never hear from again after the contest, and very often that’s just as well. Others have this special something which makes them unforgettable. At least that’s the way it works for me. In this weekend series I will share with you some of the artists I’ve “found” through the contest and that have become part of “my music”.
There are many different reasons why an artist catches and keeps my attention, anything from a cool performance to a song that just fits perfectly in with my taste in music. Very often, though, the voice plays a big part. Certain voices just manage to touch my heart. In this series I will take a closer look at some of the artists who, for me, have gone on to have a “life after Eurovision”. Most of these have found their way into my absolute top league, and their albums are on heavy rotation on my cd player.

Image; The Guardian
Image; The Guardian

Sébastien entering the Eurovision stage, driving a golf cart. One of a kind.

Sébastien Tellier represented France in the 2008 Eurovision in Belgrade with the song Divine. He finished in a very disappointing 19th place with a mere 47 points. Unfortunately he can’t blame anyone but himself, and even more his backing singers, for this.

Image; wikipedia
Image; wikipedia

Backing singers; 5 bearded females, 100% out of tune. One…eh, five…of a kind.

If I were to judge only by the live performance in the grand final I would have missed out on a lot of wonderful music by this amazing artist. The performance was, to put it mildly, weird, unusual and not very good. Sébastien himself seemed like an absurd joke, the “show” was pretty “psychedelic” and his backing singers were off key from start to finish. I don’t know if that was the reason for Sébastien’s rather weak vocal performance, but I should think it was at least a contributing factor. I normally wouldn’t use words like scandal and disaster to describe a musical performance, but were I ever to do so, this would be the occasion.

Image; Youtube
Image; Youtube

On stage in Belgrade, with his helium filled beach ball… One of a kind.

But, thank heavens, I’m one of those proud «Eurovision lunatics» who listen to all the songs beforehand, and the studio version of this song is 100% genious! It immediately landed itself safely somewhere in my top 10 in the history of Eurovision, and though a few more recent songs have passed it, it’s still among my all time favorites.

After having listened to Divine for the first time I went on Youtube to do more research into this wonderfully quirky artist and I found loads of cool and magnificent music. Sébastien performs in French, English and Italian, he is a great composer and lyricist on top of playing several instruments, including, among many others, guitar and piano/synth.
I went to see him live at “Blå” in Oslo, only two weeks before he headed off to Belgrade, and he is possibly the most introverted performer I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in concert. During the 90 minutes the concert lasted he smoked at least one pack of (20) cigarettes and drank approximately a keg of beer…which was interesting… And despite not taking his trademark off even once during the concert he had an almost physical presence.

Image; nrk.no
Image; nrk.no

From Oslo Live Festival, July 2008.

My seat was only a few feet away from the stage, and I could almost feel his voice and his music. When he played Divine, which was the song I knew the best at the time, and La Dolce Vita, my absolute favorite, I almost started crying. No other artist, apart from David Bowie (who is in a league (world!) of his own and no other artist will ever compare) has ever made me feel anything even close to this. This is also the reason why I was so surprised, well, shocked actually, by the dreadful live performance in Belgrade. But there is a massive difference between live on a smoky club stage and live in an arena where the most important thing is interacting with a camera.

Out of all his songs my favorite is La Dolce Vita; to me this is pure delight. I also have a certain affinity for L’amour et la Violence and Elle (both below). But I like most of what he’s done, so I could have kept adding titles till forever…

I am, of course, not the only person to have fallen for Sébastien and his sound; a lot of his music has been used in films, tv-series and commercials. To mention a few; the instrumental track Fantino was used in “Lost in Translation”, La Ritournelle was used both in an episode of “Ugly Betty” and “Gossip Girl” and Renault has used Divine in one of their commercials that was aired on tv in several countries in 2008-10. He is also the man behind the soundtrack of the French movie “Narco” from 2004 and “Marie et les naufragés” from 2016 (listen to the “Marie…” soundtrack here).

His debut album L’incroyable vérité (The incredible truth) was released in 2001, and Divine is one of the tracks on his fifth album Sexuality which was released in 2008, just before the deadline for songs to be eligible for Eurovision participation. Sebastién has released seven original albums, and three compilations/remixes. He has also collaborated with other artists, among others Jean Michel Jarre and Principles of Geometry.

Image; eurovision.tv
Image; eurovision.tv
I can’t wait for the next chance I get to hear Sebastién live, but until then I’m incredibly grateful for all the videos, live and others, that are on Youtube! And as always; fingers crossed for a new album soon!
Part 1; Mumiy Troll
Part 2; BrainStorm
An earlier version of this article was printed in Norwegian on escNorge.net a few years back.

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