Following on from their second place finish, after returning to a national final selection in 2021, all eyes were on ‘Eurovision France, c’est vous qui décidez!’ this March to see who would follow Barbara Pravi onto the Eurovision stage. After comfortably winning both the jury and the televote, Alvan & Ahez were selected with the song ‘Fulenn’.

In this article, we’ll be looking at this year’s entrants, Alvan & Ahez, their song ‘Fulenn’, and its chances in this year’s contest.

Who are Alvan & Ahez?

Alexis Morvan-Rosius, known professionally as Alvan, is a French musician from Rennes, who released his first single, ‘Dame de cœur’ in 2016. While Alvan’s music is largely categorised as electro, he likes to incorporate other genres and traditional elements such as chants into his music.

Ahez (which consists of friends Marine Lavigne, Sterenn Diridollou and Sterenn Le Guillou), are a kan ha diskan vocal trio who hail from Carhaix, in the Breton region. Kan ha diskan, which roughly translates to ‘call and response singing’, is one of the most common types of traditional music in Brittany, and has been the first genre of Breton music to find mainstream success, both in France and abroad.

The girls met through their time at high school, and their band name comes from ‘Ker Ahez’, a popular etymology for the Breton name ‘Carhaix’, and ‘Ahes’, a Breton mythological figure. The trio started playing at festoù-noz (traditional Breton dance festivals) in 2018, and ‘Fulenn’ appears to be their first single.

The collaboration between the two acts was born, when Alvan met Marine in a bar in the summer of 2021:

“I met Marine one evening at L’Artiste Assoiffé, and she told me about her musical project in Breton. This idea had been floating around in my head for a long time. I even had an ongoing production in my computer. My manager had seen an advertisement for the national selection, and told us about it. We thought ‘why not?’, but we didn’t think we’d be selected at all.”

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A closer look at ‘Fulenn’

‘Fulenn,’ meaning ‘spark,’ tells the story of a woman untethered, who’s ‘enchanting magic ascends the great trees,’ as she dances in the forest with the devil in the night. It is a song of female empowerment and freedom. It paints a picture of wildness that is rooted in nature and folklore. The lyrical content links well to the EDM elements of the song, which invite the listener to let go with the performers, just as the woman does in the song.

‘Fulenn’ is a song that combines traditional Celtic music with modern EDM, and as Alvan & Ahez are bringing the first Eurovision song completely in the Breton language since 1996, this means that the 2022 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest will have no songs featuring the French language. Despite being advocates for Breton tradition, the quartet has no desire to keep their act rooted in the past. Saying:

“We do not claim to embody traditional Breton music. For me, tradition is the opposite of purism. It is more the transmission of knowledge, a past that must be anchored in the present. Otherwise, tradition ends up in the museum and dies,”

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How will Alvan & Ahez do at ESC?

France are currently tenth in the odds, and as members of the Big Five, have a direct pass to the grand final on the 14th of May. While ‘Fulenn’ has a strong following amongst Eurovision fans, some worry that comparisons may be drawn between ‘Fulenn’ and Ukraine’s entry, ‘Shum,’ by casual viewers. However, France are by no means the only country to have incorporated traditional elements after Go_A’s success in 2021, so this may not be picked up on if other such countries qualify for the final.

As previously discussed, France’s entry is sung in Breton, which has just over 200,000 speakers. Could the lack of native speakers prevent European audiences from engaging with the song lyrically? I anticipate not, as the song’s modern sound is very easily accessible, but there is no ignoring the fact that much of the history of the contest is rooted within the French language, including the iconic ‘douze points’ catchphrase.

In terms of staging, the group has told fans to expect very similar to their national final performance, keeping the same choreography with some improvements, with a few added surprises! This means we should expect green lighting to evoke the image of the forest, plenty of dancing, pyrotechnics, and costumes resonant of traditional Breton clothing.

Listen to France’s entry below!

What do you think of ‘Fulenn’? Let us know in the comments below, and on Twitter!

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