15 November 2016
Children are our future, therefore the future of Eurovision is Junior Eurovision, right? Junior Eurovision seems to be in a flux, not sure whether it’s aimed at kids or to capture a broader audience. While initially children as young as 8 could compete, that was bumped to 10 over the years, before dropping to 9 this year. The upper limit is 14 compared to 15 of last year. JESC has also moved to a Sunday late afternoon time of 5pm, rather than at 7.30pm Saturday of traditional Eurovision contestst. Countering that is the “assistance” of adult writers introduced over the years, which often means a plethora of adult style songs, particular by mini divas (and divos) squawking their cute little lungs out. Plenty of those last year. The paradox is, without such songs, JESC songs could become so frivolous and annoying, like that damn buzzy buzz buzz song of Georgia that won in 2008. Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz. It was so ingrained in my head that it temporarily cured my bee phobia.
Australia is back, for the second year in a row. No great surprise there as it builds our overall Eurovision commitment – important if we were to get another go at senior ESC. Indeed, Australia got the approval for Kyiv 2017 only a few weeks after they were announced for JESC. Australia complete 17 countries for the 2016 edition in Malta, the same number as last year. The difference being Montenegro, Slovenia and San Marino are out, with Cyprus, Israel and Poland returning – the latter from an 11 year break. Cute little Olivia from Poland might never have seen her country in JESC before, so that should be an extra buzz for her.
The only problem with the change in time is it’s still not early enough. 2pm would be far better as it would allow for a more respectable 11pm eastern time broadcast in Australia, not 2am, and is still perfectly suitable for Europe. Or, if it’s to be 5pm, keep it on the Saturday, so Australia can watch a recording in the morning.
There’s a change to voting system too, where results will be decided 50/50 respectively by an adults and a kids jury. Two expert jurors, and one annoying attention-seeking set of narcissistic twins, will add their votes too. No televoting will be used.
This year is a decent bunch of songs, and they bend back towards more a kids style compared to 2015. It’s a difficult balance to get a kids-oriented song that also appeals to adults, so it’s pleasing to see several this year. Only one song achieved it well last year: FYR Macedonia. Such a sweet catchy song, and they sang about braids of all things. Sadly they finished last. Boo! Rigged!
Each song is rated between one and five stars, and I’ll add the Fab Five throughout the list. As usual with JESC, very few boys involved. This year it’s an epic 2 soloists and 1 in a duet.
One Star (Poor)
17) Albania – Klesta Qehaja – Besoj
Too whiny and repetitive. It will probably do well.
16) Cyprus – George Michaelides – Dance Floor
The dance floor will be empty, so take it.
15) Georgia – Mariam Mamadashvili – Mzeo
Sounds like a Disney song. It’s too big for a kid’s voice, to the point my ears want to explode.
5) Poland – Olivia Wieczorek – Nie zapomnij
Might be the best technical singer this year, and a superb ballad.
Two Stars (OK)
14) Australia – Alexa Curtis – We Are
Sorry, Alexa. Nice girl and talented singer, you are let down by a drab and formulaic song. Will need to rely on a great live performance to do well. I’ll be rooting for you!
4) Serbia – Dunja Jelicic – U La La La
I’d much prefer not to see the over-sexualised leering by Dunja in the video. Come on! This a family show, not spring break. It’s a great, fun song, and a mature sounding voice.
Three Stars (Good)
13) Malta – Christina Magrin – Parachute
Will need a parachute to soften the thud. No repeat victory for Malta this year.
12) Ukraine – Sofia Rol – Planet Craves For Love
This seems much the same as last year’s song from Ukraine, except not as good.
11) FYR Macedonia – Martija Stanojkovic – Love Will Lead Our Way (Ljubovta ne vodi)
Really love the vibe and the arrangement of this, particularly through the chorus. It’s a bit flat other than that.
3) Italy – Fiamma Boccia – Cara Mamma (Dear Mom)
Typically beautiful song from Italy, and sung just as beautifully.
Four Stars (Excellent)
10) Belarus – Alexander Minyonok – Musyka moikh pobed (Music Is My Only Way)
You can tell this kid as plenty of stage experience already. It’s very slick and polished, probably too much for JESC.
9) Israel – Shir & Tim – Follow My Heart
Plenty of instant appeal with nice music, vocals and harmonies. Doesn’t rise to any great heights, though.
8) Bulgaria – Lidia Ganeva – Magical Day (Valsheben den)
If you’re onto a good formula, stick with it. Bulgaria has done well with these sorts of cloyingly engaging and cliche ballads, and here’s another one.
7) Ireland – Zena Donnelly – Brice ar Bhrice
Really nice voice and equally nice, happy song. Is it only me, or does Gaelic sound a bit Hebrew?
2) Netherlands – Kisses – Kisses and Dancin’
This is real JESC and my clear second favourite of the year. A fun, energetic kids-oriented song, with a simple fun message. It’s superb. Kisses!
Five Stars (Outstanding)
6) Armenia – Anahit & Mary – Tarber
Just missed the Fab Five. Fun, infectious, bouncy type of song, much like the Dutch song. Reminiscent of the Spice Girls too.
1) Russia – The Water of Life Project – Water of Life
Could easily grace the senior Eurovision stage. Stunning song. Also stunning is Sofia herself. Such a beautiful square face, just like a Rubik’s Cube, dreamy eyes and a charming voice. Check out her crazy long hair too.
I’d like to see the Netherlands win. I suspect Armenia will do well, and probably Belarus. Being just about the only boy, and a heartthrob in progress, Alexander should attract votes from plenty of girls on the kids jury. Russia was not so great in the national final where Sofia presented as a solo artist. They added 3 girls for more life, so it will be interesting to see the results of that. As a fifth song, I’ll throw in Bulgaria. Be warned: My predictions are typically appalling. So much depends on the presentation anyway.