28 November 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Eurovision events this year, cancelling Rotterdam 2020 and reducing Junior Eurovision 2020 to mostly a pre-recorded event of just participating 12 countries. Out go Albania, Armenia, Australia, Ireland, Italy, North Macedonia, Portugal and Wales, while Germany make their debut “appearance”.
While the event will be broadcast live from Telewizja Polska’s studios in Warsaw, all performances will be recordings from studios in the participants’ own countries. It’s a good trial for Rotterdam 2021 if worst comes to worst with COVID-19. The event will definitely proceed and range between a normal Eurovision and a closed event with recorded performances. With vaccines soon to arrive, chances are Rotterdam will host a fully live event, complete with at least a partial audience. In fact, the only situation that would prevent any live performances and any audience is Netherlands in lockdown. Since such a scenario would come at short notice, or sudden travel restrictions could prevent a delegation from arriving, all participants will record a performance in their home countries on a set stage design that would be used as a substitute. We’ll see how this concept works in Warsaw.
Quality over quantity, as they say, and it’s true for the 12 songs for Poland 2020. It was very difficult to find a top 5, and even more difficult to sort the entire lot from least favourite to most favourite.
View all songs in ranked order here
Every year there’s a slower songs that sort of merge into one another, and this year it’s Georgia, Ukraine and Malta. All good, they just don’t stand out. For a song not in a style I typically like, Spain‘s is quite pleasant with an infectious rhythm, not to mention fun. We often forget JESC is a kids show and should be more about fun than mini divas belting out a big ballad. While Serbia has an engaging hook and a dramatic feel and a male voice to dial down the volume, Kazakhstan restores it with the precocious Karakat Bashanova, albeit with a quite beautiful song. For a country more known for dreary and drab Eurovision entries, Germany doesn’t disappoint – in a nice way. Stronger With You is highly listenable, and ably helped by Susan’s soft, soulful voice.
The Fab Five
05 France – Valentina – J’imagine
France’s formula since their return has been solely about fun, and Valentina doesn’t disappoint with J’imagine. Compared to her lookalike, Angelina, from two years ago, it’s not quite as good, so will rely on a memorable performance to go one better than Angelina’s second place.
04 Russia – Sofia Feskova – My New Day
Russia are a perennial favourite of mine at junior level, and again they don’t disappoint. A big, classy ballad, and one that has often been stuck in my head. Probably that it’s a bit formulaic holds it back from a higher position.
03 Poland – Ala Tracz – I’ll Be Standing
Could it be a three-peat for Poland? It just might. I’ll Be Standing straddles the pop and power ballad genres with its engaging feel and soaring vocals. It’s another that’s been stuck in my head at times. That “ooo oooo ooo” hook borrows from the “nah nah nah” from last year’s Superhero, and there’s even a hint of Anyone I Want To Be from 2018. Ala is just 10 so kudos for the strong vocals from such a young voice. Possibly that the song is not quite as contemporary as the previous two entries will stop it giving Poland a third victory in a row, even if I regard it as superior to both.
02 Netherlands – Unity – Best Friends
If the DNA of JESC could manifest itself in one country, it would be Netherlands. They nearly always bring a fun song, even in the rare years it’s a ballad. Best Friends typifies the joie de vie of JESC with its catchy, boppy vibe and four cute girls dancing around. It’s so infectious I could see Donald Trump and Joe Biden dancing to it together at next’s years presidential inauguration as new best friends. That would be real unity!
01 Belarus – Arina Pehtereva – Aliens
The great juxtaposition of JESC is kids’ voices competing with mature voices, and sometimes, there’s no competition. That presents itself this year most starkly with Belarus. That Arina is only 12 and a half makes her vocal prowess even more startling. In terms of song and artist, this is the class entry this year. Aliens is an epic tour de force of vocal dexterity, drama and raw power. Looking forward to Arina leaving it all out on the stage and winning.
Voting is open now!
As with recent years, you can vote online at junioreurovision.tv after watching snippets of the recorded performances.
I’ve watched and voted now, and stuck with my top three for my three votes.
JESC starts at 1700 Central European Time on Sunday 29 November, which is 0300 east coast time on 30 November in Australia. The best place to watch will be the live stream on the official Junior Eurovision youtube channel.