12 December 2022
Oh Mama. How the hell did France’s Lissandro win the 2022 Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Yerevan on Sunday? While his song, Oh Maman!, was a lively entry, it felt messy and rushed, the vocals were awful, and only the strong finale saved it from becoming a train wreck. Was it that France stood out from the plethora of solo females with dance songs, or that Lissandro was bursting with charisma, or simply the kids of the world lost the plot and now the future of humanity is in jeopardy?
Whatever the force behind France winning their second JESC title in three years, they capitalised with a strong score from the juries, winning with 132 points, ahead of Georgia (114) and Armenia (110), Ireland (88) and United Kingdom (66). They then managed to score in the top echelon of a tight online public vote to secure the win with 203 points, followed by Armenia on 180, Georgia on 161, Ireland on 150 and United Kingdom on 146.
Unlike at senior Eurovision in recent years, there were no zero-point shenanigans from the public, with the lowest score being 33 for Malta. Every country was then receiving points ranging from 42 to 80 as the results were read, meaning that, mathematically, one or two of the top 3 countries would score low. That, sadly, proved to be Georgia – clearly the best entry on the night – with just 47 points. Armenia scored 70 points to jump to the lead and temporarily give them hope of a win before France were confirmed the winners with 71 points.
To emphasise the closeness of the public vote, Netherlands and Portugal scored 70 points along with Armenia, then it was Ukraine on 64 and Ireland on 62. United Kingdom won the public vote with 80 points, with Spain second on 78. The public vote was conducted online and there were the usual complaints of technical problems with the page not loading. Quite simply, with Junior Eurovision, voting is open over a day in advance, so vote early, and vote often.
01 France (6) Lissandro – Oh Maman! – 203 pts
France got a plum position, performing 6th, which came after a run of five dance songs by female artists and a weak ballad from Kazakhstan. The bouncy energy even grabbed my attention… until the singing started. It can only be that France was such a distinctive entry this year that saw them win. The only real competition in the “cute boy with a bouncy song” category was Spain, whereas there were eight options in the “cute girl with a dance song” category. Count that as another Junior Eurovision where the winner was among my least liked. 3/10
02 Armenia (15) Nare – Dance! – 180 pts
Second last of 16 to perform, and it looked like a possible second successive win for Armenia. A classy performance with solid vocals and great staging. The song probably needed a bit more to spin some more votes away from the likes of United Kingdom and Netherlands. 7/10
03 Georgia (8) Mariam Bigvava – I Believe – 161 pts
The class entry on the night. Unique, original choreography, and a super song. While Mariam’s voice didn’t seem strong in the early stages, she left us withering with a powerful finale. Unbelievable stuff. Uaaa! 9/10
04 Ireland (9) Sophie Lennon – Solas – 150 pts
Ireland represents the pitfalls of voting just on the rehearsal snippets. Sophie didn’t seem that strong there; in the competition she was stunning. Excellent vocally, strong voice and a super presentation. Very well deserved fourth place. 8/10
05 United Kingdom (12) Freya Skye – Lose My Head – 146 pts
Flatter than expected. Freya did have some sort of medical problem earlier in the week, and whether that affected her now, who knows. Still a great song and it was presented well. Credit for winning the public vote. 8/10
06 Spain (11) Carlos Higes – Senorita – 137 pts
Elevated the song with vibrant colours and a strong presentation. Good job, Carlos. Good luck with the senoritas too. 6/10
07 Netherlands (1) Luna – La Festa – 128 pts
Opened the show with great energy and produced a strong finale. Voice on the weak side, otherwise, did Luna well. 7/10
08 Portugal (13) Nicolas Alves – Anos 70 – 121 pts
Impressive vocal mix and loved the guitar solo. The weakness was always the song. Sorry for misgendering you for two weeks. I really thought you were a girl. 6/10
09 Ukraine (16) Zlata Dziunka – Nezlamna (Unbreakable) – 111 pts
Solid vocals and voice and a passionate display. The word “freedom” was displayed in huge letters on the back screen if you were unsure about the song’s message. Where’s the sympathy vote for Ukraine when you need it? I would have preferred they win JESC with this quality entry than senior ESC with that Kalush Orchestra nonsense in May. 7/10
10 Poland (2) Laura – To The Moon – 95 pts
Got a bit lost among all the other girl, dance songs, and felt flat compared to the opening by Netherlands. Voice surprisingly good live compared to expectations from the preview video, and impressive stage visuals. 7/10
11 Italy (5) Chanel Dilecta – Bla Bla Bla – 95 pts
My favourite song heading into JESC and still my favourite song. It was let down by a rather generic and uninteresting presentation, Chanel didn’t have the zing in her delivery as hoped, and the super long note in the preview video was super truncated on stage. It was still fun, with some novel dance moves, and it finished well. Italy got 12 points in succession from Albania and Georgia, who both obviously recognise quality and briefly raised my hopes that she was still in with a chance. 8/10
12 Albania (7) Kejtlin Gjata – Pakëz Diell – 94 pts
Stunning voice and a superb delivery. Easily the best vocals on the night. Perhaps the song needed to be that touch stronger to really leave a legacy in the viewers’ minds and win more hearts. Twelfth is an embarrassment to humanity. 8/10
13 Serbia (14) Katarina Savic – Svet Bez Granica – 92 pts
The most interesting, sweetest and easily the best presentation of the night: a ballerina, a strip, a trombone and, finally, a little ballet duet. It, along with the excellent vocals, certainly covered any weakness in the song. Note that Katarina had a medical concern and didn’t perform live on Sunday evening, nor was she seen in green room or involved in the show’s opening and flag parade. This performance was recorded during Saturday’s second dress rehearsal. 8/10
14 North Macedonia (10) Lara feat. Jovan & Irina – Zivotot E Pred Mene – 54 pts
Immediately noticed the lovely tone of Lara’s voice and her strong projection. It was easily my favourite of the competition. She was effortless in her delivery and confident on stage. The performance was fun, well constructed, and they did well to provide a good interpretation of the song’s message. A bit puzzled that they only finished 14th. Probably got buried by all the other female solo acts, particularly the many dance songs. Hey, Lara, careful about that Jovan. He’s definitely a mischief maker. 8/10
15 Kazakhstan (3) David Charlin – Jer-Ana (Mother Earth) – 47 pts
Not sure what happened here. Stage visuals were excellent. Beyond that, all a bit meh. Voice surprisingly below standard and song didn’t resonate as expected. 4/10
16 Malta (4) Gaia Gambuzza – Diamonds In The Skies – 43 pts
Definitely a victim of being overlooked in favour of the many other solo female dance acts. Offered a space theme like Poland, the choreography was great, and Gaia, surprisingly, had a strong voice. She felt much more alive than in the preview video. Perhaps that it followed Poland, which is a stronger song, that it scored so poorly. 7/10
My Top 10
01 Georgia (9)
02 Italy (8)
03 Albania (8)
04 United Kingdom (8)
05 Ireland (8)
06 North Macedonia (8)
07 Serbia (8)
08 Armenia (7)
09 Poland (7)
10 Ukraine (7)
Next would be Malta and Netherlands. It’s actually quite difficult to split those songs that scored 7.
I voted twice and gave two votes to Italy, and one each to Georgia, Albania, United Kingdom and North Macedonia.
These are the position changes from my preview:
01 Georgia (+1)
02 Italy (-1)
03 Albania (+2)
04 United Kingdom (-1)
05 Ireland (+6)
06 North Macedonia (-2)
07 Serbia (+6)
08 Armenia (-1)
09 Poland (-3)
10 Ukraine (-1)
The average score of the show is 6.9, which places it as one of the best. Higher than 6.3 of last year, and just short of the 7.3 of the abbreviated contest in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Overall, Yerevan 2022 did spin the magic. A solid production, plenty of quality performances, and there were the nice additions of Rosa Linn (finished 20th at ESC this year) performing her viral hit, Snap, live, and the medley celebrating 20 years of Junior Eurovision that brought most of previous winners together (that kid, Vincenzo, who won for Italy in 2014 is still as annoying now as he was then). Junior Eurovision actually feels older than 20 years. Or I’m just getting old. Whatever. Bla Bla Bla!