Eurovision: Who is Bilal Hassani?

The 2019 Eurovision edition is fast approaching and is already full of controversy and surprises. We have discussed controversial wins, such as Mahmood, and this next one is just as surprising!

On January 26, 2019, “Destination Eurovision” hosted the final in order to send the selected winner to represent France at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel.

Since the beginning, Bilal Hassani was a clear frontrunner as he scored the highest points at the semi-final round and went on to win the final also with an overwhelming majority with his song “Roi” (which is French for “king”). The track discusses the topic of embracing and accepting one’s self and was penned by Hassani together with Madame Monsieur, last year’s French representative in Eurovision 2018.

So far, “Roi” entered the charts at #23 but after a week it fell out the Top50. Hopefully, the single regains ground at the contest in May.

 

It is important to note that the country belongs to the “Big 5”, therefore qualifying automatically to perform in the final of the contest.

However, the triumphant Bilal was soon met with criticisms and controversy with regards to his persona. Born in the French capital to a Moroccan family that adheres to Islam, Hassani has announced his homosexuality to the media and has also been referred to as ‘queer’. Although coming from a Muslim background, the artists in the past have made controversial comments and criticisms towards the state of Israel and its military choices made back in 2014 and most recently, in 2018, was found to downplay the threat of terrorism in France. Although the singer defended himself and apologized, politicians in the French Senate are advocating for Hassani’s suspension from representing France at the Eurovision contest because of the disrespect shown towards the victims of terrorist attacks in France.

 

For artistic choices, the artist has adopted a trademark platinum blond wig for his performances and, thus, giving him a distinct look. Despite his look choices, Hassani has been a victim of over 1,000 messages and tweets of abuse, death threats and discrimination, not only criticizing his looks but also his religion and ethnic background. Urgency Homophobia and Stop Homophobia, advocacy groups that defend Hassani, have since stated that they would like to legally use the perpetrators and anyone else in future who bullies the singers either for their choice in style or of lifestyle.

The singer began his journey to fame when he partook in “The Voice Kids” 2015 edition at the age of 15 and performed former Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst’s “Rise Like a Phoenix”. Although he didn’t win, this inspired him to continue producing and releasing music and this led him to open his YouTube channel, where he delights his fans with not only music ensembles but also humorous skits.

 

We wish Bilal all the best for his Eurovision adventure!

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