Malena for Armenia wins Junior Eurovision with Qami Qami – Paris 2021 Review

20 December 2021

Armenia’s Maléna won the 2021 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Paris with the song Qami Qami after it surged to victory with a strong combined vote from the jury and the public online vote. Third after the jury vote at just 5 points behind France, the 109 points from the public was enough for the win after Armenia’s closest competitor, France, only garnered 67 points. The jury vote was exceedingly close with 5 countries all in close striking range of a win: France 120, Poland 116, Armenia, 115, Azerbaijan 109 and Georgia 104.

Maléna with Qami Qami wins Junior Eurovision 2021 for Armenia - Paris 2021 Review
Maléna with Qami Qami wins Junior Eurovision 2021 for Armenia – Image: Andres Putting/EBU

Reminiscent of senior Eurovision in May, where Italy had to fend off France and Switzerland to win, Armenia did so against Poland and France. Despite Poland’s excellent score from the public of 102 points, they fell just short to finish second 6 points adrift. With a lot of countries receiving solid public votes (the lowest vote was a decent 34 points for Netherlands), it looked likely there wouldn’t be enough left for France, and so it proved. The top 5 as voted by the public were: Armenia 109, Poland 102, Portugal 92, France 67 and Ukraine 63.

In a year where many of the vocals were flat or simply lacking, it was the older kids or those acts with more flamboyant performances that did well. Maléna is right on the upper age limit of 14 for JESC and turns 15 in only a few weeks. Poland (2nd), Azerbaijan (5th) and Ukraine (6th) were all older girls just like Maléna. France and Georgia, 3rd and 4th respectively, were the most flamboyant performances.

Review

01 Armenia (9) – Maléna – Qami Qami [224 points]

My notes read “flat, soulless, hollow” and that feeling remains. In fact, the more I listen to the song the more I see nothing in it. Visually it looks good, and it’s contemporary, and there’s an immediate hypnotic feel. Perhaps everyone was quickly hypnotised into psychosis while I stayed awake. 4/10

02 Poland (3) – Sara James – Somebody [218]

Great voice and a natural singer gave Sara an immediate edge. A contemporary song and a polished performance rounded out the package. I was hoping Poland would win once the top 3 became clear. 7/10

03 France (13) – Enzo – Tic Tac [187]

France has hit on an excellent formula with their fun, engaging songs that clearly appeal to much of the demographic. Flipping to the charismatic and charming Enzo after a succession of cute girls looked like the differentiation France needed to win two years straight. After winning the jury vote, the public vote let them down so perhaps the audience wanted another girl, or found the Portugese guy cuter. Personally, I found Tic Tac a weak song and the performance didn’t elevate it much. 5/10

04 Georgia (2) – Niko Kajaia – Let’s Count The Smiles [163]

As groovy as it tries to be, it ultimately goes nowhere. After 30 seconds, you’ve seen it all. It was distinctive enough to get fourth so they’ll be happy with that. 4/10

05 Azerbaijan (14) – Sona Azizova – One Of Those Days [151]

As lovely as she sounded and as beautifully she performed, Sona didn’t soar to the heights I hoped. Then I got excited as she was well in it after the jury vote on 109 points, just 11 points from France. The public crushed her with 42 points. Just was one of those days. 8/10

06 Ukraine (12) – Olena Usenko – Vazhil [125]

As much as Olena was clearly the best vocally on the night, the song wasn’t quite good enough to obtain a higher place. 8/10

07 Russia (7) – Tanya Mezhentseva – Mon Ami [124]

Well presented with the bike riding at the start and then floating on a ring at the end. The song didn’t have enough juice in it to stand out, nor did Tanya have the vocals to compensate. 7/10

08 Kazakhstan (10) – Alinur Khazim & Beknur Zhanibekuly – Fairy World [121]

Another entry hurt by really flat vocals. Otherwise, it was quite intoxicating, at least for a little while. 6/10

09 North Macedonia (18) – Datje Muzika – Green Forces [114]

Good visuals and energy helped save yet another vocally flat song. 6/10

10 Italy (5) – Elisabetta Lizza – Specchio [107]

As good as the song was, Elisabetta’s voice wasn’t strong enough. After immediately grabbing our attention, it went a bit flat before she saved it at the end with an epic finale. I was hoping for a better overall result to encourage future artists to explore this style. Oh well, Italy is my pick as winner of Junior Eurovision 2021. Screw the millions that say otherwise. 9/10

11 Portugal (19) – Simao Oliveira – O Rapaz [101]

Simao’s voice immediately resonated strongly, which showed the flatness of others wasn’t a technical problem. The song was always dreary so Portugal getting a whopping 92 points from the public, after only 9 from the jury, was a major surprise. Performing last probably helped, and they’ll be happy with eleventh. 4/10

12 Malta (4) – Ike & Kaya – My Home [97]

This was a mess at the start with Malta typically going overboard with their staging. Kaya was all awash and flat as a pancake before the two combined to rescue it by the end. Overall, I hoped for more. 6/10

13 Serbia (17) – Jovana & Dunja – Oci Deteta (Children’s Eyes) [86]

My favourite song entering Junior Eurovision proved flat and the staging was too elaborate. This was such a sweet song with a nice message that it could have been better conveyed simply in the delivery of the song and with perfunctory background graphics, rather than distract the audience with all the craziness and strange costumes. The second half showed there was potential there in the song, and 6th place from the public is some validation. It’s just a shame it never connected right from the start, and much of my score is simply my love for the song. 7/10

14 Albania (11) – Anna Gjebrea – Stand By You [84]

Brilliant presentation. Immediately explained the theme of the song with simple graphics and props. That’s all you need! Then the audience focuses on the song and absorbs the energy that Anna provided. Excellent. 8/10

15 Spain (16) – Levi Diaz – Reir [77]

Habala, habala, habala. Spanish can often present as a linguistic blur, and that was the result here. While Levi managed to inject some energy to the performance and finished off well, much of it was too flat. 5/10

16 Bulgaria (6) – Denislava & Martin – Voice Of Love [77]

Martin simply didn’t have a singing voice and this rather nice song would have done much better with Denislava by herself. 6/10

17 Germany (1) – Pauline – Imagine Us [61]

This was really good and could have been the actual opening of the show given its title and theme of the contest. Ultimately, it got forgotten, like most German entries do at Eurovision. 7/10

18 Ireland (8) – Maiu Levi Lawlor – Saor (Disappear) [44]

Solid without exciting. Disappeared from most viewers’ consciences quickly. 6/10

19 Netherlands (15) – Ayana – Mata Sugu Aō Ne [43]

Really nice girl and song, and I loved the Japanese theme. It was an uber lovely presentation and I was rooting for Ayana to really deliver. Unfortunately, her wafer thin, albeit pleasant, voice couldn’t realise the potential in the song. Ayana has Japanese and British ancestry, and the Japanese song title translates to “see you soon”. 7/10

My Top 10

01 Italy (9)
02 Albania (8)
03 Ukraine (8)
04 Azerbaijan (8)
05 Poland (7)
06 Serbia (7)
07 Russia (7)
08 Germany (7)
09 Netherlands (7)
10 Malta (6)

I voted twice online, and both times were for Italy, Serbia and Ukraine.

From my preview, these are the position changes:

01 Italy (+2)
02 Albania (+5)
03 Ukraine (-1)
04 Azerbaijan (-)
05 Poland (-)
06 Serbia (-5)
07 Russia (-1)
08 Germany (+2)
09 Netherlands (+3)
10 Malta (-)

Average score of 6.3 is a respectable Eurovision show, whether that’s junior or senior. The record average was 7.3 for last year’s condensed JESC of just 12 songs. I liked the idea of JESC scheduled so late in the year – about a month later than usual – right on the eve of Christmas. The hosts were good, especially Carla Lazzari, who performed at JESC 2019. She’s really developed a major “bim bam boom” in 2 years, being stunning in front of the camera, and excellent in the green room with the kids. The older hosts ensured the show moved swiftly along, while Valentina’s reprisal of her 2020 winner, J’imagine, during the interval was good. Although, I could have done without Barbara Pravi, France’s senior Eurovision entry this year, performing Voila. Just as I was beginning to accept it had artistic merit, now I hate it again. Anyway, as always, it was about the kids, and other than the flat vocals, it was an impressive JESC. They’re all winners.

Paris 2021 – Junior Eurovision Preview – Top 19

Watch the full show here

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