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Throwback Thursday: How France made it into our hearts “with each step”!

When I got the news to write a throwback to one of the French entries, it was obvious to which song I’m gonna dedicate this article. In my opinion one of the most magical songs in Eurovision and it’s worth going back 14 years back to the year 2004…

Magic on stage

As mentioned it’s already been 14 years since this entry from France was taking part in the contest in Turkey. Back in 2004 Jonatan Cerrada took the stage with his wonderful song “À Chaque Pas” (With Each Step). It’s to date probably my favorite French entry, so it’s more than a pleasure to make a throwback to this entry.

Jonatan was born 1985 in Belgium. In 2003 he won the first season of the French edition of Pop Idol. After that, he had success in the French, Belgian and Swiss charts with his music including Top 10 placings in all three countries. He speaks fluent French, Spanish, English and basic Indonesian. He currently lives in Bali.

Message behind the song

“À chaque pas” means ‘With Every Step’ in English. The song tells the tale of the ups and downs of any relationship. Jonatan is ethnically Spanish and so is fluent in Spanish and French, singing the final verse of the song in Spanish – the first occasion on which the French Contest entry was performed partly in this language.

At the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 he performed as No. 4 in the Grand Final of Istanbul. The running order and performing before Serbia & Montenegro are probably reasons he finished 15th out of 24 that night. For me this was by far Top 10 material. That night he got a total of 40 points including 12 points from Monaco and 10 from Belgium.

This year Jonatan had a lead role in a movie called “Liam & Laila”. It was a big success in Indonesia. The movie trailer alone got more than half a million views on YouTube. Here you can watch the trailer with English subtitles. He also sang the lead song for the movie called “Lintas Galaksi” (Indonesian for Cross Galaxy). You can check the music video including scenes from the movie below:

Over to the team:

Wivian:

Let‘s get the unimportant stuff out of the way first; I‘m soooo happy the over-sized white suit is a thing left in 2004! Two of my favorites his year; Jonatan and Jónsi, both looked like they had lost about a ton between the fitting and the actual performance. NOT a good look!


Time for the important things; this weeks throwback song and singer! I very often like the French entries, with Sebastien Tellier topping the list, and 2004 was no exception. I have to admit, however, to loving a lot of songs this year; 2004 is one of my favorite Eurovision editions ever. In my opinion „À chaque pas“ has everything a proper French ballad should have; a singalong-friendly melody, hopeful lyrics, a strong build, and powerful male vocals. Yes, you read that right; I prefer a male voice, even in a French ballad. And apart from one bum note at the beginning of the first chorus, just as he started walking down the stairs, Jonatan‘s vocals were spot on. Also, the fact that he‘s kinda cute doesn‘t exactly take away from the overall good impression of the entry.


As for the stage performance; What had those people been smoking?! As if Jonatan‘s ill-fitted suit wasn‘t bad enough?! Those white dreadlock inspired headpieces the backing singers sported? The „almost ripped and torn“ look of their dresses? The weird „not quite a skirt, not quite a coat, not quite anything really“ of the male backing vocalist? And don‘t get me started on the still woman! And what‘s with that entirely pointless and out of place fake tattoo?!

A 15th place is waaaay to low for this beautiful song, and with a proper performance and styling I‘m sure it would have finished well inside top 10, perhaps even receiving a totally deserved top 5.

Hlynur:

Jonatan Cerrada seems more than comfortable with the song and delivers it with passion. The effortless switch to Spanish proves it even more. Because that makes him own the song and get still catch the attention. Despite the dancer’s stilts and the wigs on the backing vocals. The song itself, “À Chaque Pas” is quite moving, that is the melody and the lyrics go together.

Oliver:

This is a sweet enough song, with mostly competent vocals. As a song, this is nothing to write home about, but nice enough. If you keep your eyes closed, the melody kind of takes you somewhere… Even if it that place is a little insipid. If you keep your eyes open, you are subjected to a spectacle of oddities. A woman on stilts flailing her arms. Backing singers in what seems to be dreadlocks and a mummy costume? Why France, why?

For a song that has a few poetic phrases in the lyrics, there really was seemingly very little effort to translate that to the stage. Apart from the jarring audio-visual incongruity, the overall composition doesn’t offer much musical variety. Jonatan has a pleasant voice, but a slight vocal crack in the first chorus, a general lack of convincing or interesting harmonies doesn’t enthuse me with emotion. Some of the lyrics contain a few echoes to the thematic longing of a certain Balkan ballad from the same year – and we all know how well that did! It is a shame the same emotive appeal was not tapped into either live in Istanbul or in the studio version, for that matter. The genteel musicality mixed with bizarre staging is a bit of a soft fail for me, sorry!

Constantinos:

When you think of France’s many Eurovision attempts over the years, “À chaque pas” isn’t one that instantly springs to mind. In fact, I’d go as far as to call this one of the most forgettable French entries overall. Even upon revisiting it now, only the fabulous dancer on stilts leaves an impression. Between the dull choruses, the voice cracks and how unsure of himself Jonatan seems life a performer, this isn’t France’s finest moment at the contest. The chorus has its merits and salvages what could be a complete non-entity. I would say this is very much a 15th place effort, nothing more, nothing less.

Tim:

This track has everything a ballad should have, a really emotive song, with a powerful bridge towards the end. If I was basing this just on the vocals alone, it would be average, could work on harmonization better, but the staging was a bit off putting (I mean what the hell were those backing singers wearing) he just needed to stand there with good lighting and wind machine and the backing singers not somewhere obvious. But not bad for a French entry

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