Junior Eurovision 2014 Malta – Review

17 November 2014

Junior Eurovision was almost a throwback to senior Eurovision of old. Sixteen countries, fairly standard or traditional songs of marginal appeal, and an annoying winner. Then it could also be said to replicate modern day Eurovision in which a gimmick can often do well. At Junior Eurovision this year, the gimmick was simply to be a boy. Vincenzo from Italy was the only boy in the entire show and delivered Italy the win in their first ever attempt.

At these ages of around 12 to 15 it is understandable that it would be mostly girls interested in singing their little hearts out in front of large audience. Boys are more keen on sports, videogames, burning ants under a magnifying glass and blowing stuff up. They are also interested in girls, which does make you curious about the lack of boys at JESC. During the voting, Italy couldn’t keep his grubby little mitts off Malta, and seemed to have his eye on Netherlands, and maybe even the adult host, given his confidence. It was difficult to tell whether his grin from each 12 points received was about a step closer to victory or gaining another opportunity to grope.

Most boys won’t risk having their coolness vapourised by prancing around on a stage, no matter how many cute, adorable princesses and mini divas abound. After watching Italy’s performance, that’s probably justified. While Vincenzo could sing OK, the song was less a song and more a monologue of glorified drivel. The kid was also annoying as hell, especially the sleazy grin and his stunted theatrical delivery style.

Personal favourite was the bubbly girl from Armenia. A high quality up-tempo song with a performance to match and a glorious mop of hair being a cross between Diana Ross and Don King. I’ll also never feel guilty about simply naming a daughter Betty. I can just say: “It’s Armenian!”. Betty was in the race to win from the start before finishing third, just a point off second.

Georgia was really good too, especially the performance and the engaging personality. The song was not strong enough. Bulgaria finished second and rounded out my top 3. A really classy ballad and performance, and only really limited by Krisia’s young age making her sound a bit whiny. In a year or two, with some maturation in her voice, wow. In contrast, Cyprus and Serbia, being older, did have that maturation and sounded really good. Serbia was the personal favourite on voice alone, while Cyprus arguably was the most professional of the night.

Other notables were Malta and Netherlands. Malta kept her amazing operatic voice in stunning control, while Netherlands had potentially a great dance song if it had more to the verses. At the foot of the table, I enjoyed Croatia and “Game Over”. I could imagine that becoming a favourite song after several listens. Unfortunately it fell a bit flat for Josie, and that is one of the issues with JESC.

Just like Eurovision of old, watching JESC was done cold. Other than a snippet of Bulgaria and Netherlands, none of the songs were familiar. It really does make it difficult to appraise these acts, and definitely reduces the enjoyment level of the show itself. Next year I’ll try check them – especially now that the Australian broadcaster has also got wise.

Thanks to SBS, the Australian broadcaster, it was the first year I really watched JESC. Previously they threw it on a random afternoon weeks after the event, or even just before senior ESC if I recall right. It was a matter of luck that I’d stumble across it. This year, it was a Sunday evening, about 15 hours after the event (as is the delay for senior ESC) so that made it more an event and appealing to watch.

SBS used their own commentators, who were much more professional than the two clowns used for senior ESC. The only gripe would be their audio being way too loud and they spoke over the sole recap. Otherwise they never spoke over the songs proper, were suitably enthusiastic and informative, and even provided the occasional technical critique of the artists rather than absorb themselves with their own personal narcissism and lame jokes. It just shows that a bit of respect can go along way and that the Eurovision Song Contest – both senior and junior – really is about the songs.

01 Italy 159
02 Bulgaria 147
03 Armenia 146
04 Malta 116
05 Russia 96
06 Ukraine 74
07 Belarus 71
08 Netherlands 70
09 Cyprus 69
10 Serbia 61
11 Georgia 54
12 Slovenia 29
13 Sweden 28
14 Montenegro 24
15 San Marino 21
16 Croatia 13

Note: Every nation starts with 12 points.


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