Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 15:00 UK

Eurovision song sparks French row


The French song is one of 43 Eurovision entries this year

A French MP has said he is outraged that the song chosen to represent the nation in the Eurovision song contest has English lyrics.

Jacques Myard, of the UMP party, has urged the company that runs most of France's TV networks to reconsider.

Sebastien Tellier's entry, entitled Divine, combines both English and French lyrics with electro music.

France's culture minister has defended the song, saying the country should fully support his bid for victory.

I'm looking for a band today/ I see the Chivers anyway/ Through my eyes/ Oh oh oh I'm/ I'm alone in life to say/ I love the Chivers anyway/ 'Cause Chivers look divine/ Look away/ They try to find the Milky Way/ They love to drink it every day/ No no no you/ You and I, it's like you said/ I'm not a Chivers anyway/ You look fine

A total of 43 countries are taking part in a contest that draws some 200 million viewers from Europe and beyond.

"Sebastien Tellier has great talent, he has a real international dimension," Christine Albanel told Agence France Presse.

But she also admitted: "I do think it is a shame that it isn't a French song."

Mr Myard told the BBC that allowing an English song to represent France was a fiasco: "The French language is the tool of a huge industry in terms of cultural influence and if we French give up our language, what do you think the others will say?"

I think the French politician's reaction is way too much. It is only a song contest, not an attack on French culture
Jess, Paris

Mr Myard, himself a fluent English speaker, said it was not appropriate that, in a European contest, France should "monkey another's culture".

"I think that even in a song, especially in this Euro contest, we have to sing in French," he added.

Mr Tellier, whose album is called Sexuality, defended his choice, saying he needed to use the English language to achieve his artistic goals.

"To explain the vision of French people of sexuality and of life and so, to be understood, I need to sing in English," he said.

According to the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation, which is hosting this year's event, countries taking part are completely free to choose the language of their lyrics.

One of the longest-established TV shows, first broadcast in 1956
Most winning songs are performed in English
Abba are the most successful winners
Norway has come last 10 times
Ireland has won seven times
Last year's entry from Cyprus, an official added, was sung in French.

Statistically, however, entries sung in English are more likely to go on to win the competition, according to Eurovision.

BBC television presenter and Eurovision veteran, Terry Wogan, said he thought Mr Tellier's technique might just pay off.

"Abba had this little-known song called Waterloo, they sung it in Swedish and lost the Swedish Song Contest," he said.

"And the following year they sung it in English and got into the final. And they won hands down - and it was the greatest ever Eurovision song!"

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