Armen it, Armenia – it’s a win deserved

Well, Junior Eurovision is over for twenty-ten, and what an amazing show it was! Congratulations to Armenia =D

I’d been more excited than usual about it this year. I don’t know why, I’ve just always thought ‘Yay!’ about JESC and ‘YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!’

about ESC. But this year I was neck-deep in it. I even waited up until 3.15am – yes, you read that correctly – to watch the live streaming on I’ve never even done that for Eurovision, only because I want to be alert so I can enjoy it. But there is something to be said a) for experiencing things AS THEY HAPPEN (=D) and b) for finding out the winner alongside the rest of Europe instead of having to wait and painstakingly avoid emails/RSS feeds/Facebook updates that may give it away before you see the delayed broadcast.

Anyway, on to the show itself. I was expecting to see Alexander Rybak and Ksenia Sitnik open the show with ‘Hello Eurovision’, but the presence of Alexey Zhigalkovich instead of the former will teach me not to believe everything on Wikipedia (like I needed to be taught!). How manly is Alexey? It’s only been three years since his win and already he’s married with kids and a mortgage. That was a joke. It was good to have those two singing together anyway, since they are the two Belarusian winners, and Rybak did win Eurovision for Norway. Plus the song wasn’t half as cheesy as I’d anticipated.

We got the standard banter between the hosts, Eastern Europe’s answer to Barbie and Ken, before the first act of fourteen kicked off the proceedings to a packed arena (this is the biggest JESC I remember).

Lithuania was first, and although I didn’t love the song (see my reviews if you haven’t yet) I had to admit that Bartas sang well and was very charismatic onstage. Oki Doki (shudder) came across well and certainly made for a good opening number. Singing in the dreaded no. 2 slot was Moldova, in its first Junior Eurovision. They pulled out all the stops with their costumes, props and choreography, into which there was obviously a lot of thought, but what really stood out for me here was the vocals of Stefan. He was awesome. I no longer think that I could successfully audition for Australian Idol based on my in-shower belt-outs.

Number three (my favourite number) was the Netherlands (not my favourite song). The whole performance was overly cutsey which suited the song but the two together made my eyes water. The performance made Serbia, who followed it, look even better, with its simple and yet still-eye catching visual. Sonja’s got some serious pipes on her, that’s for sure. As does Yulia from Ukraine, who put in an energetic performance that also came across very well live. As we now know, she came last, a fate I don’t think was deserved…but hey, someone had to.

Performing 6th was my favourite Sweden, who ended up exactly where I thought they would – floundering at the lower end of the scoreboard. Josefine’s vocals were quite good, but the whole performance reminded me of a funeral. She wore black and basically stayed in the same position the whole time, and there were no props or dancers or colours. This may have worked to her advantage at Eurovision (as it did with Tom Dice this year) but at Junior, it won’t cut the mustard. The smiley rainbow mustard.

Russia came next. I never would have imagined that they would be pipped at the post in the voting by a measly point, instead thinking to myself ‘It’ll be last. Or near enough. Who in their right mind would vote for that?’. Well, I ate my words last night and they did not taste good (there goes another food reference!). I can understand why Liza and Sasha came second – they are a talented twosome, the costumes were great, the performance was there and they did pull off the vocals. But in my opinion there were other songs that deserved that silver medal more.

Latvia followed with a good performance, but I thought it was lacking that X-factor that could have lifted it to the top. It wasn’t in a desired position either, halfway through. I wasn’t crazy about the costumes either, as Sarlote looked like she was going to attend a golf tournament shortly after the show. Luckily Belgium compensated for the slight underwhelm-ment with a very happy performance of another of my favourites, which seemed to get the audience going. Jill & Lauren didn’t end up accruing as many points as I’d predicted, but I still think they should have been top 5.

Up next was the last of my favourites to perform and a song, if you remember, that I had predicted as one to win (I have a smug look on my face at the moment) – Armenia. This country have done no wrong in Eurovision or Junior, having made the top 10 in the former every year since there debut in 2006, and having come second in last year’s JESC. I loved Vladimir’s performance (he is adorable!) with the giant storybook which was at least some clue as to what he was singing about. The more I think about it the happier I am with his win! And I have been thinking about it a lot as the song’s been stuck in my head for the last 48 or so hours.

Moving on – Malta’s Nicole also won me over with her voice…darn these kids for making me feel like a total non-achiever! I swear it was impossible to stop myself from mouthing the knock knocks along with her every chorus (it’s like the Maltese equivalent of the clappy bits in the Friends theme). The home country brought the house down as was expected, after Nicole, but I still stand by my statement that Daniil could kick the song’s bottom in a few years when his voice has matured. I also must draw your attention to his outfit, an outfit that initially made me think ‘Why is there a 1970s porn star on the JESC stage for Belarus?’ and then when I realised it wasn’t, made me think ‘WTF?’. Turtlenecks, gold velvet jackets and gaudy medallions are debatable as items of fashion on their own, but together….I was this close to calling the Fashion Police, until I realised I didn’t have their international dialing code.

Georgia’s Mariam wore something equally frightening but somehow on her, it worked. In the lead-up to the contest, comparisons to Lady Gaga had oft been drawn for obvious reasons, and the second the performance began this idea was reinforced. I was only surprised that she didn’t go so far as to wear some of those nifty lobster claw shoes á la Gaga. Nonetheless she is Georgia’s Gaga; just as Ralf Mackenbach is the Dutch Justin Beiber. Anyway, she provided everything you could ask for in a performance, and I (correctly – I can’t stress that enough) predicted Georgia, if not to win, to make top 5.

Lucky last was FYR Macedonia (oh when will the day come that we can drop those three initials?) and Anja Petrova. I must say that I was harsh on this entry and that literally in the hours that followed I listened to it again and totally changed my mind. But it turned out I was right when I said it wouldn’t go anywhere. You would think, since it was last and got a great reception and seemed to be quite popular among fans it would have done better. But a lot of the results in Eurovision are nothing if not predictable.

Are you still awake? Sorry, I know this a bit long but I’m almost finished. Maybe.

The interval acts really amped up the star power, first with Koldun (looking as much like Princess Diana as ever and possibly miming) then HRH Alexander Rybak and his violin, and of course all seven previous winners of the contest. I would have thought they’d leave a reunion like that for the tenth JESC, but I wasn’t complaining because I relish any chance I get to have a good squiz at Dino Jelusic, I say, sounding like a pathetic old hag. Well I’m still a teenager (just) so I may as well go the whole way and say: Dino, if you’re reading this, which is highly likely, I invite you to come to Australia, stay in my house, fall deliriously in love with me and whisk me back to Croatia.

A-hem. MOVING ON AGAIN, the voting happened without any notable stuff-ups aside from the Macedonian girl’s mic trouble, Armenia won by a POINT (exciting!), reprised (minus giant storybook) and it was all over for another year. But not before I noticed a few things:

–          Every year, ballet dancers invade the JESC stage and 2010 was no different. The Netherlands, Serbia, Ukraine were just a few acts that pulled out the point shoes…whether they were appropriate or not. Methinks the Dutch should have tossed a few Sweden’s way. It would have benefited both parties.

–          Another thing that was seen time and time again, or rather heard, was impassioned cries of ‘EH-OH!’, from the mouths of Belgium, Georgia and Anja, the queen of eooo.

–          Yeah…that was about it. When I said a few I meant a few!

So that’s my post-show wrap-up. I hope it wasn’t too arduous and that you laughed and cried. I’m so into media content now that I’ll finish with the winning performance from Armenia….MAMA!!!

Enjoy. X.

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