Ten years. 149 songs. One more number needed to make this intro work. Junior Eurovision could have come and gone as quickly as the Eurovision Dance Contest (remember that?) but thankfully, it has stuck around for a whole decade – and in a few weeks’ time, the Eurovision family will welcome edition eleven into the world.
Along with JESC 2013 will come another batch of songs from 11-15-year-olds Europe-wide. But before I lavish love, and maybe a little hate on those (without being too cruel…somebody has to think of the children!) I’d like to introduce something that celebrates the best of the music up until now. In my opinion, that is.
Recently, I thought I’d attempt to rank my favourite Junior entries since forever, a.k.a. 2003. I’d done it before for adult Eurovision (a ranking which is already outdated, but if you’d like you can see it here) which had to be harder, right? After all, there’s a much bigger pool of songs to pick from. But it turns out that choosing your favourite third of the Junior entries is just as torturous.
Still, I’ve managed it (I think…) and I hope the result is entertaining, or at least not Would-You-by-Iris-level boring. Let me know once you’ve checked out this first installment of my JESC Top 50, featuring #50-#31.
PS – I haven’t justified my love for every song, so if you’re mystified as to why I’m enamoured with one I haven’t talked about, ask and you shall receive.
#50 | Vesinniy Jazz by the Tolmachevy Twins (Russia 2006)
They may not be the only twins to have won Junior Eurovision (this comment will make sense if the Netherlands win this year. If they don’t, forget I said anything) but it’s the TTs who give me the fondest memories. Yes, they just squeezed into this top 50 by the hems of their identical dresses, but they deserve this placing because they made JESC jazz enjoyable. Vesinniy Jazz is one of the few in this genre that I actually like. Plus, it will always be special to me as the song that won the year I discovered Eurovision, junior and senior.
#49 | Sinnsykt Gal Forelsket by 2U (Norway 2003)
#48 | Ĭţi Mulţumesc by Noni Răzvan Ene (Romania 2004)
In many ways, this early effort from Romania is like Malta’s entry for Kyiv. Small child with massive voice? Check. Big ballad that requires emotional depth? Check. Melodrama by the bucketload? You better believe it. But whilst The Start has this way of making me want to hit ‘mute’ just to save me from that note of Gaia’s that may NEVER EVER END, Ĭţi Mulţumesc just feels like less of a moan. And because I don’t know a word of Romanian (in fact, I know about three) and I can’t say I’ve Googled the translation, I can’t tell if Noni’s singing lyrics as clichéd as Gaia’s or not. Ignorance is bliss.
#47 | Varför Jag? by Limelights (Sweden 2004)
#46 | Piši Mi by Nevena Božović (Serbia 2007)
Ah, Nevena. What an angel! Oh wait…that was Mirna. Well, Nevena is definitely angelic, and this beautiful ballad about being away from a loved one and asking them to write to you (although in this day and age, I think she’d have better luck asking for a Facebook message) is equally so. It’s quite a simple song, but it’s pretty and it has a bit of drama in it as well to keep things interesting. Just talking about it makes me want Serbia back in JESC like crazy.
#45 | The Best Is Yet To Come by Cory Spedding (UK 2004)
#44 | My Vmeste by Ksenia Sitnik (Belarus 2005)
She gave what I believe to be the worst vocal performance of any winner – seriously, I would use the term ‘singing’ loosely in this case – but damn, Ksenia’s song was catchy! It has a summery vibe that, strangely, considering the season in Europe at the time, was shared by quite a few other songs that year. When I’m listening to it, I can’t be in a bad mood, unlike Ksenia who’s probably crying into her trophy right now because I bagged her vocals. If it’s any consolation, I think she proved she could sing during the winner’s medley of 2010.
#43 | Girls and Boys by Omar & Suada (Azerbaijan 2012)
#42 | Shut Up by Oliver (Belgium 2008)
Part of me wants to be all like ‘Hey, don’t you tell me what to do, Oliver!’. Then the rest of me remembers that this song is awesome and I would probably do whatever he asked me to…except shut up, because I need to write about it. I loved Belgium in JESC, whether they did rock, yodeling or ballads. This particular entry is a ballad, but it has rockier elements as well, mixed in with the kick-ass piano riff. I like the fact that, while it added a more grown-up flavour to the Limassol proceedings, it could also fly at the ESC, sound-wise. If we’re being realistic (and a little bitchy) it’s actually better than most of what Belgium has sent to adult Eurovision recently…
#41 | Povestea Mea by New Star Music (Romania 2006)
#40 | Een Kusje Meer by Femke (Belgium 2011)
Belgium again, so soon? You betcha. Femke clearly won the title of Most Adorable Child Competing in Yerevan (if nothing else) in her spotty dress and shoes that were a little too big for her, and Een Kusje Meer was just as cutesy. I love the retro vibe of the song, mainly because it isn’t retro in a jazzy way (my name may be Jaz, but as you will have noticed already, JESC jazz irritates me) but rather in a ‘we’re on holiday in the 1950s’ kind of way. And the sing-along chorus, once you learn enough Dutch to be able to sing along, is lovely.
#39 | Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta by Katya Ryabova (Russia 2011)
#38 | Mijn Ogen Zeggen Alles by Roel (Netherlands 2003)
Does anybody else like this/remember this? It’s a cruisy number that slipped through the cracks a bit back in the first contest, but I’ve always had a fondness for it. Roel was one of the oldest kids in the mix that year, and his song reflected that. It was maybe too vanilla to get anywhere in a song competition, but just as a song to listen to, I find it really laid-back and enjoyable. I also like the lyrics – his eyes say everything, people! He even writes a novel with them, or something like that. Man, if he can still do that, he should audition for Holland’s Got Talent.
#37 | Junior Swing by Daniel Testa (Malta 2008)
#36 | Faller by Erik Rapp (Sweden 2011)
Here’s another song that wouldn’t be out of place in adult Eurovision – somewhat unsurprisingly, as Sweden has a tendency of sending more adult-sounding entries to JESC. Sometime it works for them, and sometimes it doesn’t, and in Erik’s case, it didn’t really (he finished 9th out of 13). But here’s a belated consolation prize: being my 36th most-loved Junior entry of all time! Yay! I love this song because it’s contemporary and catchy, but also has this unmistakable Swedishness about it. As someone who’ll readily admit to being obsessed with Sweden, how could I pass it by?
#35 | Power of a Song by Young Talent Team (Malta 2004)
#34 | Nu Eller Aldrig by Frida Sandén (Sweden 2007)
Speaking of The Country That Brought Us IKEA, here’s the first appearance on my list of a Sandén sister. Frida was the second sibling to warble her way onto the JESC stage, and she did it with a rocking good time of a song. Nu Eller Aldrig is fairly formulaic, and kind of sounds like a guitar-drenched version of Carola’s Fångad Av En Stormvind, but since when did either of those things = bad? I think you’ll find it’s never (or aldrig, as Frida would say). I challenge you to listen to this song without tapping your foot, head-banging or even, heaven forbid, twerking. In my experience, it’s not possible.
#33 | Ik Ben Een Teenager by Rachel (Netherlands 2011)
#32 | Sweetie Baby by Compass Band (Armenia 2012)
“I can’t believe this is ranked so low!” said nobody ever. “I can’t believe you like Compass Band more than Rachel! What is WRONG with you?!?” said everybody. Yeah, I heard you. And I totally understand. I can’t even believe that this is how things have turned out. But right here, right now, Sweetie Baby does a tiny bit more for me than IBET. I’ve always liked this song, and shockingly, so did Europe when they voted in into 3rd place a year ago. I don’t know why, because it’s obviously depressing and creepy and weird and stuff…but sure, I’d give them my smile. So long as The Smile Shop didn’t grab it first.
#31 | Birichino by Demis Mirarchi (Switzerland 2004)
The final song of this first installment comes from a country you may have forgotten ever competed in JESC. That’s because they only competed once, but based on this entry, I want more Swiss cheese. Oui/si/ja, I will admit that there is a slight whiff of cheese about this (although it’s far from being the cheesiest Junior song ever to have existed) but how can you resist 2004 Demis, with his pinchable cheeks and snazzy cap and clap-along song? Birichino was also the most recent all-Italian song in the contest up ‘til now (grazie for bringing it back, San Marino) which also gives it points in my book.
So, what do you think? Are you too stunned to speak because my taste is so terrible, or could you not agree more (HA. HA.)? Whether you’re Team Yay or Team No Freaking Way, please come back for Part 2 – #30-#11. Maybe we’ll find some common ground there.
Got a soft spot for any of these Junior songs? Which entries would make the low end of your top 50?