It’s Thursday, so that can only mean one thing: XTRA Throwback Thursday! In the next weeks and months, we’ll take you on a journey through Europe and beyond, a journey through the history of the contest. Each week fits in with a theme. Since tomorrow is the 14th July, and therefore Bastille Day in France, I’ll be picking out a throwback from France’s extensive and fabulous Eurovision back catalogue: namely, their fourth winning song Un Jour, Un Enfant.
This week’s theme: Quatorze Juillet
I’m so glad to have been given this theme for my Throwback Thursday, as France is one of my all-time favourite Eurovision countries. There were so many beautiful songs I could write about – of which I’d specifically recommend the entries from 1964, 1975, 1991 and 2000. However, when it comes to the entry which sums up everything that I love about France at Eurovision, there’s one that stands head and shoulders above the rest…
FRIDA BOCCARA – UN JOUR, UN ENFANT
Like Nick did with Portugal a couple of weeks ago, I’m taking you back to 1969, which despite being one of the most notoriously shambolic occasions in Eurovision history, produced a huge amount of memorable songs. One of the four winners was France, with the incomparable Frida Boccara. Born in Morocco, she already had a glittering career before she took to the Eurovision stage to sing the Eddy Marnay-penned chanson Un Jour, Un Enfant.
France truly reigned supreme over Eurovision in the 1960s, and I’d say this song is perhaps the best example of the genre which brought them so much success in the contest’s early days. Using repeated motifs instead of a verse-chorus structure, the melodies are delicately beautiful, making the most of orchestral flourishes and building to a number of spine-tingling crescendos. But what makes it so incredible is Frida herself. She truly understands every note and every word of this song, which I think is what makes it so special, and at the same time seem so effortless.
Her connection to Eurovision continued throughout her career, as she entered the French national selections again in 1980 and 1981, as well as performing her winning entry at themed events up until her untimely death in 1996. There’s something about the fact that Frida herself is sadly no longer with us that gives Un Jour, Un Enfant even more power and poignancy. She had a voice which could convey so much emotion and power, and her Eurovision winner showcased it at its very best.
What the others had to say…
James and I usually tend to agree on a lot of music, today is sadly not such a day. France’s 1969 winner has never really appealed to me, I have to say. And that isn’t odd: France won a lot in the early years, also with Frida Boccara, but their highlights followed later for me: 1977, 1993 and pretty much anything post-2008 (especially Anggun). I love France, but not I’m not quite as fond of Un Jour, Un Enfant.
While I’m not particularly familiar with this song specifically, ‘Un Jour, Un Enfant’ is a song that immediately stands out when I compare it with other songs from its years. It was certainly a deserving winner, with the sweeping melody and powerful performance. I am however more fond of France’s more recent Eurovision entries, such as Lisa Angell (2015), Amir (2016) and particularly Alma (2017). France always produces songs that catch my attention, and ‘Un Jour, Un Enfant’ is another great example of this.
I admit that I don’t share the love of France in Eurovision as many others do, so don’t know past entries very well. I have however found something to like with France’s recent efforts – namely Anggun (2012), Amir (2016) and Alma (2017). There’s no denying though that the French language has a very pleasant quality to it that works perfectly with the right music. This is a great example of this – a powerful, emotional, clear vocal with classic music that takes you to another era. Not something I would listen to on repeat, but it would get my attention on the night.
In the next edition of XTRA Throwback Thursday, Luke will bring you a highlight from Remarkable Romania.
But for now, let’s remember France’s 1969 winner ‘Un Jour, Un Enfant’. What do you think of it? What is your favourite French entry? Let us know below!