It was written that this 36th Victoires de la Musique ceremony would not be an edition like the others. Months of mobilization against systemic sexism and sexual violence in music, thanks to the initiatives of the MusicToo and Diva collectives, also an unexpected awareness of the racism at work in the industry, echoing that, worldwide, triggered by the murder of George Floyd, finally the most serious and massive crisis suffered by the sector following the epidemic of Covid-19 and the intermittent shutdown – total in the sectors of the standing concert and the clubs – of all the professionals of the performing arts, had to tint the party in one way or another. What colors? Let’s say that the show, in addition to being disturbing – since we all watched it, without the slightest possible alternative, in full curfew, glued to the sofa – was dreary or absurd, often both at the same time.
Those who were astonished that the ceremony, held at the Seine Musicale in Boulogne-Billancourt, could only be held, were thus able to discover, instead of the concert-test for a time considered, a strange ersatz great mass of varieties with , instead of the usual VIP audience, a false audience of 200 extras in black masks, scattered every other chair, no doubt supported by sound effects in moments of jubilation at the end of the acts. Effect of falsehood and kitsch (the false is a moment of the true?) All the more strong as the production has gone all out to honor this art of live IRL which is lacking both in the public and in the profession, and of which we have almost forgot the oxygen it gave us.
From the first minute of the show, ejection in medias res and not necessarily solicited by the spectator in another world Telephone (or Insus, we don’t know anymore), sung by Honorary President Jean-Louis Aubert accompanied by a group of taikos and a horde of guitarists in t-shirts, we wanted to slide us into a parallel dimension where the live, alpha and omega of our current music, still exists. “Nothing replaces the stage”, swore in the preamble the presenters Laury Thilleman and Stéphane Bern, the latter as called in reinforcement for his aura of heritage guru, to reassure those who would be worried that French music could come to disappear for real.
Without dwelling on, and this is to the credit of the directors, on the painful over-played squared prize-giving, given by the presenters in front of anyone, as in a bad dream, these Victories 2021 will have especially put on the real false mini concerts as if to ward off fate, but without forgetting to underline, out of malice or spite, the oddity. We think of this choir of masked kids (to protect who?), As escaped from the clip ofIn the year 2001 by Pierre Bachelet, planted among green plants and all around Julien Doré, in homage to this vegetal concert given at the Barcelona Opera by the UceLi Quartet in June; to these endless “Digitick” sequences, concert trailers “Coming in 2021” (“we believe in!”), or the rounds in a carafe since the rooms were re-closed and the second confinement; especially to all these metaphors of the collapsed sector dotted around the decor, mirror balls lined up on the ground around Benjamin Biolay, Vianney with both feet in the smoke of a burning house, or Suzane confined in a tiny tub filled with cotton.
And besides that? Almost nothing, and especially not an overflow. As expected, a few tiny moments of art with the Corps d’Yseult, scenographed in half-darkness, the scene invested with moving sailors, and others abundant with emotion, when the same Yseult takes advantage of her Victory of the female revelation of the year to affirm that her fight is “legitimate”, or when Clara Luciani more than decently honors Juliette Gréco, who died on September 23, with a Undress me hoarse and alive. But pre-ceremony controversies over the glaring lack of parity in too many categories (five out of five men for the best album), from Apple’s testimony on February 11 on Mediapart on the sexual violence she has suffered since adolescence (she was elected best female artist), there will remain only a net of wishful thinking half-voiced. Everything is forgiven, there is nothing more to say, nothing to see. The Minister of Culture is not there? But yes, she greets from behind the scenes. Open letters appear in the newspapers asking the streaming platforms for less derisory remuneration for the vast majority who are not in the leading pack of artists who are more listened to? The Academy had the good idea to induct this year the Victory of the title “the most streamed”, which comes to honor a song already rewarded by its cash success and the moula that it generated. Besides Gradur, who won it for Do not come back, is categorical: “it is magnificent”.
That of Yseult aside, all political words, of Biolay denouncing in one sentence the “Silence of the public authorities and our line ministers” to the jazzman Thomas Savy recalling the mobilization of intermittents of the show for the extension of the white year, will have been expected, therefore benign and inoffensive. Who expected the opposite? We still hope so. How we would have liked to spare ourselves this slight feeling of indecency in front of this authorized ersatz spectacle, certainly exceptionally, on a pandemic evening, while the majority of musicians in the country, “Statistically the intermittents most affected by the drop in activity” according to an internal Unédic note made public on February 10, know that they will continue to be prevented from going on stage for a long time, so long still. This is nothing new – the Victoires de la Musique has always been a party for those at the top of the bill, who already have the most esteemed, success. But there was something unbearable extra this evening, which questions more than ever the usefulness of this bombance from another time.
Audiovisual creation: We by Julien Doré (directed by Brice Vdh)
Victory of Honor: Jane Birkin
Most streamed title: Do not come back by Gradur, feat. Heuss the Bastard
Male artist: Benjamin Biolay
Original song: But I love you by Camille Lellouche and Grands Corps Malade
Male revelation: Hervé
Female artist: Apple
Female revelation: Yseult
Song Album: Grand Prize by Benjamin Biolay