Bilal Hassani, meeting with the prince of French pop
Bilal Hassani, meeting with the prince of French pop
After a triumph that surprised and destabilized him, the artist returns with a new album.
He was not born when the tube “Disenchanted” monopolized the Top 50. Mylène Farmer is not his generation. However, Bilal Hassani seems the worthy heir of the interpreter of “Without counterfeiting”, who, in the 1980s, upset the standards. A compliment for this young singer who admits to being, since very recently, a fan of the Empress of French pop: “I came across videos of her Mylenium Tour by chance and, at the moment, I listen to it on repeat . »
I’m the artistic director of my destiny, but the boss is mom
On the cover of his next album, “Theorem”, he wears a look that Mylène herself would not have denied: leather perfecto, chains around the neck, vermilion lips and flamboyant red hair styled in spades. His sense of fashion is sharp, the great designers were not mistaken. With her supermodel size and her fabulous lean but muscular body, everything suits her. Perched on platform boots, dressed in the latest candy pink creations by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, he looks like a Barbie doll, too unreal to be true.
We find him at the Crazy Horse where, on September 28, he gave a concert reserved for a handful of privileged people to launch his new album, to be released on October 7. The places for this unique date sold out in a few minutes: the “habibies” – nickname given to his community of fans – ignite at the slightest of his actions. “What a legendary place! Beyoncé shot a music video here! It’s as if I had robbed the Crazy Horse for a day, ”he marveled again. Only twenty-three years old, but already the attitude of a professional.
As far back as he can remember, Bilal Hassani has always wanted to be famous
For the photo shoot, you don’t need multiple shots. Bilal Hassani immediately adopts the right poses. And when it comes to answering questions, he is equally at ease. “You know, I wasn’t 10 when, in front of the mirror, I practiced giving interviews to Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres or Michel Drucker. The remark could seem megalomaniac, on the contrary it reflects an incredible determination.
As far back as he can remember, Bilal Hassani has always wanted to be famous. His relatives claim that “pop star” was one of his first words! At 3, he only spoke while humming: “I was living in my own musical comedy, he laughs. It didn’t worry my parents. They saw a certain precocity there. Pampered, the divine child is indeed brilliant. He is diagnosed HPI (high intellectual potential), multiplies the good results and illustrates himself at the conservatory by learning singing, piano, guitar. When his parents divorced and his father moved to Singapore, he fell back on the family nucleus made up of his mother and his older brother: “Mom brought us up in an ideal world where we could be whoever we wanted. we wanted and do what we wanted. That her son plays with dolls? Amina doesn’t care. And when he tells her he prefers men, she asks him in return to go do the dishes, as if nothing had happened.
Janet Jackson praised him on Twitter in 2018 after he released a cover of his track ‘Made For Now’
Outside this cocoon, all is not so rosy. It’s never easy to be a different little boy. So, Bilal Hassani takes refuge in a school of musical comedy where he learns to become a beast of the stage: “I had the impression of living my “Fame”. “In the playground, he makes his comrades dream by describing his future career in the spotlight: “They thought I was joking, while I was serious. Raised on music videos, he is inspired by pop stars. In front of us, he mimes his holy trinity: “On the right is Beyoncé. On the left, Lady Gaga. Above, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury. And also, in the heart, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton and Janet Jackson. The sister of the great Michael also congratulated him on Twitter, in 2018, after he had published a cover of his title “Made For Now”. A first consecration.
At the time, he had already made a name for himself with a YouTube channel, followed by several thousand subscribers, and participation in the telecrochet “The Voice Kids”. He caused a sensation there by performing “Rise Like a Phoenix”, by Conchita Wurst, Austrian winner of Eurovision in 2014 and spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ cause. A choice of song far from being a coincidence as it seems premonitory. In 2019, Bilal Hassani is in turn chosen to represent France in the European song contest. The evening when he was designated by the viewers of “Destination Eurovision”, on France 2, he understood that his life was changing: “I went home, I took off my make-up badly, I took off my wig, then I slept in my bunk bed, because I still shared my room with my brother. Four hours later, mom came to wake me up to tell me that I had plenty of rehearsals, filming and interviews. I wondered what was going on, but I had stars in my eyes. »
The shy teenager turns into French Lady Gaga
Glory and glitter, he had dreamed of it so much. But this sudden notoriety is accompanied by a flood of hatred: he then estimates that he receives a malicious message every six seconds on social networks. Never seen. “I thought I was prepared for it, because I had suffered many insults. But the ultra-mediatization had increased everything tenfold. » He blows then finally breaks the armour: « Yes, I must admit that sometimes I was discouraged. I had the impression of being seen only as a caricature, a monster… And not as an artist. »
Bilal Hassani does not give up. He did not win Eurovision – the bookmakers nevertheless gave him the favorite –, but released a first album in 2019, “Kingdom”, then a second the following year, “Contre soir”. The shy teenager turns into French Lady Gaga, all in extravagances, mascara and false nails. “When I started, I had a very demure look: I wore oversized suits, sneakers and a short wig. I wanted the public to get used to me little by little. And if, in the first years, he claimed to feel “totally masculine with a part of femininity”, in order not to rush the backward spirits, he confides that his gender identity is much more vague: “I’m in the mood changing. I love being a chameleon. In fact, to sum up: Bilal Hassani is Bilal Hassani. Thus he elucidates it in a piece of his “Theorem”: “Tonight, it’s he or it’s her, way, it’s all the same.” »
At “Dance with the Stars” he made an impression by being the first candidate of the French version to compete with a same-sex partner
But who is the real Bilal Hassani? The fabulous creature perched on heels? The one who collects wigs and gives them nicknames (“today, he tells us, I’m wearing Lola”)? Or this young man with short hair and wide glasses, eternal Peter Pan? “There is no duality,” he replies confidently. I am equally both. More than being the simple actor of my destiny, I am also its artistic director. A life like great entertainment, so he imagines it.
In 2021, he agrees to participate in “Dance with the Stars” and makes an impression by being the first candidate of the French version to compete with a partner of the same sex. “Something magical happened with this show. At the beginning, people came to laugh and, from my first performance, they were moved, impressed, and swallowed their mockery. Finalist, he returns to it this year, in the jury chair.
Hassani finds comfort with his mother, who has become his manager and the president of the label he founded.
Bilal Hassani knew how to impose his singularity. He assures that the insults and threats have decreased. But fame hasn’t erased all the wounds. In the title “What time is it? from his new album, he says he was raped by a friend in 2019. An attack he did not want to publicize and for which he did not wish to file a complaint, for fear of feeding the gall of his detractors .
Hassani finds comfort with his mother, who has become his manager and the president of the label he founded. “Mom, he smiles, it’s the boss. We had an excellent filial relationship, which turned – and that’s rarer – into a good professional relationship. Three steps behind him, Amina watches. She is part of this incredible armada that follows the singer everywhere: two stylists, a hairdresser, a make-up artist and a press officer. Queen bee in the middle of this swarm, Bilal Hassani seems to be in constant turmoil. From morning to evening, he writes, composes, supervises the editing of his clips, continues filming programs. He knows it: to become the “biggest French pop star”, you need little sleep. ￼