25 November 2019
Viki Gabor, and millions of Polish people that swamped the online voting, proved to be the real superheroes after Superhero won the 2019 Junior Eurovision Song Contest for Poland, held on home turf in Gliwice-Silesia. Perusing comment sections online, it was impossible not to notice the huge support for Poland, so Viki only needed to get close after the jury vote to almost guarantee victory. That she did by finishing only 36 points behind Kazakhstan in second place.
It’s the second win in a row for Poland after Roksana Wegiel won with Anyone I Want To Be in 2018, and it was a similar story during the result phase, if not as dramatic, when Poland’s huge online vote saw them leap to victory. Viki only had to jump from second place compared to Roksana from seventh place, meaning a big 51 point final margin. Poland certainly seem to have hit on a winning formula at Junior Eurovision by sending a popular, mature artist, and a contemporary, well polished song to mobilise strong latent support, and then bring it home with a strong presentation.
Kazakhstan did well for second and they certainly stood out mid-way through the show with a strong vocal performance, an excellent presentation, and a cute as hell little chubster. Unfortunately it was a kick in the stomach from the online vote with just 79 points (Poland got 166) after scoring the most 12 points and 148 points total from the juries. Spain excelled both with the juries (third) and online (second) to finished a deserved third. Melani certainly got one of the biggest applauses from an audience that otherwise seemed quite quiet and non-interactive. With JESC, you like to see the audience up close and kids dancing. The fun, up-tempo songs from Netherlands and France finished fourth and fifth.
Portugal (16th) deservedly languished near the bottom with a basic song, weak voice and lame lyrics. Only the online voting gave it points – an outcome no doubt helped by voters able to vote for their own country and possibly some strategic voting. Malta (19th) can’t complain either with a nondescript entry that only attempted to salvage something with vocal gymnastics at the end. Everyone was asleep by then. Wales (18th) was a similar situation – fairly drab until the dancing and forest drumbeats at the end. Australia (8th) was never my kind of song. Jordan Anthony would be pleased with the final result and can be proud of his polished vocals and display, and being one of the few artists to either entirely write or mostly write their entry. With Kazakhstan (2nd), there’s no denying Yerzhan created a memorable performance. It’s another that’s not my kind of song.
The big notes at the start by Armenia (9th) weren’t as confrontational as the preview video. Not sure switching them from the end of the song ultimately works. A song on the mellow side, albeit with an engaging rhythmic feel, needs a finale. Albania (17th) deserved a much better result and improved most for me from the preview video. The voice sounded much nicer, Isea sang well, and it was backed up with cute sailboat graphics. Georgia (14th) brought a fun, lively jazz-influenced 60s kind of song without elevating it enough vocally to win votes. Russia (13th) was always a standard cliche boy-girl ballad mostly made interesting through the aural and physical contrasts of Tatyana and Denberal.
I never felt Poland (1st) reached its potential. It was something I wanted to really like, I just couldn’t, feeling its main “na na na na” hook wasn’t used strongly or pervasively enough. France (5th) impressed in the one minute rehearsal videos, and that summed it up. Even though it was so catchy, and Carla was so charming and vivacious, Bim Bam Toi was too repetitive. Ireland (12th) got going too late; otherwise a lovely, evocative entry. Netherlands (4th) brought energy and a slick routine to stand out near the end. No doubt being one of the rare all male entries (like Kazakhstan) helped. Italy (7th) was another that improved for me from the preview video, thanks to a simple, stylish performance with excellent vocals. Marta just missed by top 5.
The Fab Five
05 Serbia (10th) – Darija Vracevic – Podigni Glas
Such a big sound coming from such a tiny girl. This was sung and presented really well. Great energy and feel. Deserved a higher result.
04 Belarus (11th) – Liza Misnikova – Pepelny (Ashen)
Lisa put everything into her song, especially her excellent vocals and a great dance routine. It just didn’t quite have that big hook or visual appeal to capture the audience, not to forget the unfashionable status Belarus is as a nation to win votes.
03 Ukraine (15th) – Sophia Ivanko – The Spirit Of Music
So disappointing to see Sophia add crazy, distracting lighting to help dramatise her song for a song that was dramatic enough of its own. I expected her to be at a piano, or at least in a subdued situation, to capture the audience. Instead it was a bit of a mess. It’s only that I love The Spirit Of Music so much that she stayed in my top 5.
02 North Macedonia (6th) – Mila Moskov – Fire
From the first note you sensed a superstar voice and presence, and Mila delivered. Probably the song itself didn’t reach the level deserving of Mila’s vocals.
01 Spain (3rd) – Melani Garcia – Marte
Obviously the most gifted performer of the night with her stunning operatic voice and, more than that, could sing in lower ranges, which can be problematic for such crossover artists. Of course, the song matched her stellar range as well, as did the performance.
The main change from my top 5 in the preview is Russia out, Serbia in. Ukraine and North Macedonia switched places.
It was a Junior Eurovision that didn’t quite hit the peak of a few recent ones (2015 my favourite), and inflated its number of entries with associate members Australia and Kazakhstan, Wales taking its opportunity for an international stage appearance as Britain’s entry, and some recent returning countries like Italy, France and Poland that have done exceedingly well so they don’t abandon after one year. Ireland has stuck around too, and you should be able to add Spain to that. Otherwise it’s just Netherlands and eastern European countries as the main bloc, and even some of those are quite transient.
Online voting is a plus and a minus. The restriction to between 3 and 5 songs is good rather than 20 votes to anyone as per the senior event. Of course, it still allows for targeted or strategic voting. Do you really think Portugal finished 12th on its own merit in the online voting? No! These were Polish fans forced to vote for at least two other songs, so picked the weakest ones. Remember, you could vote in the lead up to the show after viewing just a short recap rehearsal video. It’s the second contest (after Eurovision in May) to read the public vote by order of place after the jury vote. I’m still not convinced as it all seems so random. I’d rather know the country getting a score not the score that a country is about to get it. At least Kazakhstan weren’t humiliated like Sweden were in May.
Share The Joy
Whenever I hear this slogan, I can’t help recall an episode of Family Ties where the Keaton parents arranged a specific weekend with their children prior to the birth of their fourth child. Elyse took the daughters to a remote cabin while Steven planned a series of father-son events with Alex at home. Alex was more keen on seeing a girl named Suzie Farkas, so threw a chess game (to lose for the first time ever to his father) to get out of house. Trying to deal with her daughters’ incessant whinging, Elyse brought out a photo album she compiled called “Keaton Girls – How We’ve Grown”. The girls were dismissive of the photos, saying they’d seen them all before. Elyse replied, not in this context, not showing the joy and bond they’ve had all through the years. Then she yelled, “now sit down and share the joy”.
It would be remise not show Viki Gabor with Superhero. For the final time for this Junior Eurovision, now sit down and share the joy!