It's the run up to Christmas so here is the extra (unwanted) present that is Junior Eurovision!
I am not one of the biggest lovers of jESC as I think they best years of the contest were long long ago and I find that the infiltration of the adult songwriters has made the contest something different to what I feel it should be. Anyway, here are my views of this year's songs (I use that term very VERY lightly). There are based partly on the official videos as well as the rehearsals video on the junior eurovision website
01 CYPRUS Nicole Nicolaou "I Wanna Be a Star"
A nice enough song, giving the contest an energetic start. The orangey stage outfits makes it feel like summer! However she seems very nervous and at times it almost looks likes she’s forgotten what she’s there for. The whole thing doesn’t have enough oomph to be remembered by the end.
02 POLAND Alicja Rega "Mój Dom"
She is alone on stage in a very simple but beautiful dress with a matching background. The ballad is quite a gear shift from the opening number. Its structure is quite complicated, and although it shows off her voice very well, I still cannot remember note of it. May do well in the web vote.
03 NETHERLANDS Fource "Love Me"
So, judging purely from a ‘junior’ POV this will most likely appeal to the young impressionable teenage girl audience. However knowing that most viewers for this show aren't teenage girls, most people will wonder if the children of NKOTB have re-imagined the brand. Yes, but also definitely no.
04 ARMENIA Misha "Boomerang"
Don’t make it too obvious you don’t want to win, right? In summary – a very small and young boy with long hair floating on a hoverboard singing about a hunting implement in the time signature of 6/8… Yeah, right that’s JUST what junior Eurovision needs right now… no.
05 BELARUS Helena Meraai"I Am the One"
Finally one of the big hitters. The performance of this is a little static and I would love to see her move off her podium but her voice carries off the song with ease. The pink piece of fabric she is wafting gets more and more annoying the more I watch it although its colour is outstanding.
06 PORTUGAL Mariana Venâncio "Youtuber"
After 10 years away they return with this… Really?!?!? On the plus side this is a very different song to anything in the show and the beat will get you moving along. The plot of the song is fairly obtuse and very repetitive. However props to Mariana for selling this song in front of a poo emoji.
07 IRELAND Muireann McDonnell "Súile Glasa"
This is such a sweet, sweet song, and for these reasons it'll be totally lost. The chorus and it’s ooh-oh-oooh-oh’ earworm is addictive but not annoying. She has a very distinctive rocky/pixie look and doesn’t look like a stage school produced thing. There are other colours apart from turquoise, Ireland….
08 FYR MACEDIONIA Mina Blažev "Dancing Through Life"
The structure of this song is not too far from the Belarus entry but Mina’s performance is more in your face and engaging. That said, I am not a big fan of the mini-skirt/plastic-mac combo as a stage costume. The chorus is very memorable but the rest of the song is just too weak.
09 GEORGIA Grigol Kipshidze "Voice of the Heart"
Erm, not sure I watched this one… *watches it again* Even though I have just watched it still cannot remember anything about it apart from the fact that those backing singers dresses are a bit too short for my liking and they need to stay still. I *think* there was a song *shrugs shoulders*. Not my thing.
10 ALBANIA Ana Kodra "Don't Touch My Tree"
Woah, that voice comes out of THAT tiny body?!?!? The song is fairly innocuous although the tune flows nicely. Ana roars through the higher notes and pulls some quite fierce facial expressions and hand gestures. Her dress is very pretty but also overwhelms her slightly too.
11 UKRAINE Anastasiya Baginska "Don't Stop"
All I have is questions - Why is there a boy in a tree? What is going on with her hair? What is she (not) wearing)? Like a few of the contests offerings I find myself too distracted to even concentrate… Oh hang on the song has finished and once again I don’t remember a jot of that at all.
12 MALTA Gianluca Cilia "Dawra Tond"
OK the song is earwormy but the fact it’s for Junior Eurovision means I can be a bit more lenient. However Gianluca’s performance does my head in. Yes, I can see he’s trying to be a the ‘cheeky chappy’ but his OTT mature screams ‘stage school’ BTW girls – the skirts are *FAR* too short. Urgh.
13 RUSSIA Polina Bogusevich "Wings"
This song is getting a lot of the love at the moment and I can see why. The whole performance, to my eyes, is confusing – thanks Sia (not) – and I found myself focusing on the dancing/performance behind Polina rather than her song. It may well be a serious topic but less is more sometimes.
14 SERBIA Irina Brodić & Jana Paunović "Ceo svet je naš"
Now *this* is proper jESC fayre with added gender bending! Electro Velvet Juniors! On the whole this is very sweet and inoffensive but the performance does look a little parochial compared with the production values gone before it. On the other side it is possibly the most relatable song of the show
15 AUSTRALIA Isabella Clarke "Speak Up"
This is a very straightforward, radio-friendly pop song and probably the most commercial song of the night. The performance is quite busy but has a steady stream of ideas which link to the song – yes it benefits from being entirely in English. Their best chance of a Eurovision win to date.
16 ITALY Maria Iside Fiore "Scelgo (My Choice)"
This is bog standard Italian balladeer stuff and if you are into this you are going to love it. If not it is going to sound like every other Italian ballad – but sung by a child. Not quite as strong as their winner a few years ago. It feels a bit of a non-descript ending, compared to the 2 songs previously.
If you visit vote.junioreurovision.tv you will see a short video containing clips from their rehearsal shoots. You can then vote for your favourites from any country in the world!!!
I voted, in no particular order… Belarus (the fave I would most like to win), Australia (if they are going to win an event, I’d rather it was this one), Ireland (this is by far my favourite song) and Portugal (if they do really badly they will never come back so a vote from the head rather than the heart)
This all said once they are all on stage and I see and hear the whole songs from start to finish there is a very good chance I might change my mind!