According to my mathematical calculations, there are eight days to go until Ukraine hosts Junior Eurovision for the second time. If that’s incorrect, you can either blame the time difference between us or my terrible math skills. Either way, the 11th contest is close, and there’s no time to waste for those of us trying to cram as much coverage in as possible. So, following on from my last two posts, this is the third and final part of my all-time JESC ranking, and the most important one of all at that: the top 10. *dramatic music*
Three entries from Spain, two from Denmark, Sweden and Macedonia and one from Croatia have made the cut. Want to know which? Read on and all will be revealed…
Pigen Er Min by Cool Kids
I never thought I’d be a fan of kid rap, but then again, I never knew the youth of Denmark could rap so well (to generalise). Sure, Cool Kids rapped and sang, and they did it to an awesome beat, but this song is as ghetto as JESC has ever gotten and I freaking love it! It’s got a simple and repetitive chorus, but that chorus is one of the catchiest choruses of all JESC time, and it has the added bonus of being easy to sing along to. If you know me at all, you’ll know I like to ruin songs on a regular basis by adding in my own woeful vocals.
Something else I like to do is highlight the occasions on which a Junior song was clearly superior to its adult counterpart. Denmark definitely sent a better song to Lillehammer than they did to Istanbul (that song was the derivative and dated Shame On You. It didn’t qualify for the final, which should be law for any song performed by a guy with wheels on his shoes). The Cool Kids were responsible for a cool song, proving that age is just a number when it comes to songwriting.
Antes Muerta Que Sencilla by María Isabel
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Spain kicked butt at JESC. Their time in the contest was short but extra sweet, and peaked on attempt number two when pocket rocket María Isabel topped the scoreboard with Antes Muerta. For me, this song has stood the test of time. I rate it as highly now as I did way back when I first discovered it. It has that winning package that proves successful time and time again – it’s infectious, unique, a little bit ethnic, repetitive by just the right amount, and was well-presented and performed.
Something else I like is that it seems to be quite adult in some respects, but was still more than appropriate for Junior Eurovision. Maybe that’s why I’ve never stopped enjoying it when a lot of other JESC entries have found and then fallen out of favour with me over the years.
Desde El Cielo by Sergio
Oh, hai there, Spain. Fancy seeing you here, in this list, amidst ALL OF THE OTHER SPANISH STUFF!
Yes, I’ve gone straight from Spain’s second bash at JESC to their first. What can I say? It’s not my fault they were so darn good. They debuted with the soft, dreamy ballad that is Desde El Cielo, and it makes me want to go and fall asleep in a cloud (strange but true). I assume it doesn’t have the same effect on everyone, because nobody would have been conscious in order to vote Sergio into second place. I feel that was a position deserved because the song is just so pretty, and spoke for itself without the need for flashy costumes or props (if he’d had Christmas lights stapled to his shirt or a man in a glass box, things wouldn’t have been the same).
I must also compliment the Spanish language for lending itself so well to a song of this nature. I swear it’s never sounded so beautiful. Just talking about it has me eager to dust off the ‘Learn Spanish!’ CD I bought five years ago, and actually learn some Spanish.
FYR Macedonia 2008
Prati Mi SMS by Bobi Andonov
I give you permission to call me biased on this one. We Australians have to take any opportunity that comes to cheer on a fellow countryperson at a Eurovision event, no matter how silly the reason (I’m thinking of how I was rooting for Sakis Rouvas in 2009 because his songwriters were Aussies). But know this: I genuinely think Australian-Macedonian Bobi’s song was a cracker, nationality aside. I’m at least 97% sure I’d still love it if he was Romanian, Dutch, or from outer space. It’s an earworm of epic proportions, and I dig the current sound, catchiness (of course), use of mobile phone alert noises, and danceability factor.
I do have a theory that the repetition of ‘prati mi SMS’ brainwashed people into voting FYROM, but my only problem with that is it didn’t work well enough. Making the top 5 was an excellent result for Australia Macedonia, but IMO, the Bobster should have broken the 100-point mark.
Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav by Dino Jelusić
Now for someone who did surpass the big 1-0-0 mark, and who couldn’t have hoped for a better result – JESC’s very first winner. Croatia hasn’t participated in the contest since 2006 (and at this point, they’re AWOL from the big ESC…sob) but boy, did they get off to a good start!
Dino was second out on stage in Copenhagen, which as we all know is a dreaded position to perform in. But his charisma, eye-catching choice of jacket and (obviously) his song couldn’t be beaten by any of the fourteen acts that followed. Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav is a masterpiece of child songwriting as far as I’m concerned. It’s got that slow piano beginning to attract attention and make you wonder where the song’s going; then, just when you’ve decided it’s going straight to Balladsville, the drums start up and it transforms into a pop-rock number worthy of the finest karaoke bar in town (that is a compliment, by the way). Croatia set the winning bar high with this one.
Arabiens Drøm by Anne Gadegaard
The response a host country performance gets from the audience – before, during and after – has long been one of my favourite parts of ESC and JESC. The response Anne received on home ground ten years ago was particularly epic (I guess the novelty of a brand new contest had people even more excited than usual) but if you don’t think her song was good enough for such cheers and applause anyway, then I suggest a brain scan stat!
Anne, who was barely big enough to lift her microphone, brought an Arabian flavour to Scandinavia with her drøm, and such a flavour always gets a big tick from me when it’s combined with an uptempo dance beat and some suitably exotic choreography. Again, we have a chorus that is simple and repetitive, but it gets stuck in your head instantly. Well, my head, at least. With the catchiness of the Arabian riff and the verses, the whole thing is like musical super-glue.
FYR Macedonia 2005
Rodendeski Baknež by Denis Dimoski
It’s not possible to over-emphasise the power of good ethnopop, is it? If you think it is, then you best step away now.
I’m happy to have FYROM back in Junior this year, because I thought when they did it in the past, they did it well. Rodendeski Baknež is my favourite entry of theirs, although Bobi isn’t far behind. It’s majestic, ethnic pop…in fact, it’s what I was expecting to hear from Barbara Popović. Her song is kind of a turbocharged version of this, but I prefer the more laid-back option, which is still energetic, but doesn’t launch straight into a manic dance beat that has the potential to knock you out if you’re unprepared.
I love the way the verses blend in to the choruses so seamlessly. I also love the instruments that back the whole thing, putting the ethno into the pop. There’s nothing I don’t love about this, actually.
Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandén
Eurovision ballads seem to fall into one of two categories: the clichéd, sickly-sweet and unoriginal kind, and the soaring, goosebump-inducing “moment” kind. Obviously, I’d place Molly’s firmly in the second category. Granted, anything would have sounded great compared to the noise-fest Sweden had sent to JESC the year before (one of only a few Swedish slipups) but I really think Det Finaste is a stunning example of balladry.
Molly was one of the oldest artists competing in ’06, which worked in her favour because she had the vocal chops and maturity to carry off the song, which has that big moment (‘big moment’ here being code for ‘mahusive note requiring maximum lung capacity’) as well as softer, more emotional parts. It’s not inconsistent though – it builds to a crescendo, and has a lot of impact as a result.
Te Traigo Flores by Antonio José
Okay, okay, I promise this is the last you’ll hear of Spain for a while. I have exhausted every single one of their entries, after all. Last but not least (because he’s ranked the highest, duh) is Antonio’s Te Traigo Flores. This song almost clinched a second consecutive victory for Spain, and was clearly my personal best of the year. It makes the most of both traditional and modern sounds to create something that is very Spanish, but at the same time accessible to everyone. Put simply, it’s awesome, and I think I’ll let it do the rest of the talking.
Finished your conversation with Te Traigo Flores? Well, prepare to be shocked and/or horrified, because here is my number one JE—wait a second. I just remembered I wanted to tell you a very long and boring story before I revealed the top ranker.
Just kidding. Here it is!
Du by Mimmi Sandén
I feel a little guilty having such a sophisticated song as my #1, since we’re talking Junior Eurovision. But Mimmi’s entry, the last from the Sandén sisters, outranks all the other 100+ entries at this precise moment, and that’s what matters here.
Like most of Sweden’s offerings in JESC, this could fit in at the ESC no problem. It’s slick – and yes, sophisticated – electro-pop with high production values and a hook that is so easy to latch on to (‘oh-uh-oh, oh-uh-oh’, et cetera). I’ve loved it ever since my first listen, and no matter how many times I hear it or how many times I butcher it by singing it in the shower/car/library (the staff do not appreciate that for some reason) it still gives me this feeling of appreciation. It’s appreciation for the Sandén sisters, for Swedish pop, and for JESC for bringing it to my attention.
That’s my 50 favourite Junior songs ranked, believe it or not. I hope the top 10 didn’t prove to be a serious anticlimax, or make you wonder if I’m deaf because my picks are so woeful. Remember, we all have our own opinions, and pretending to respect the musical tastes of others whilst trashing them behind their back is one of the many perks of being a Eurovision fan. Having said that, feel free to trash mine openly in the comments. I don’t mind disagreement if it gets people talking (and it’s phrased politely).
For anyone who’s interested or who can’t be bothered looking back on the rest of the 50, here’s the list in full:
#1 | Du by Mimmi Sandén (Sweden 2009)
#2 | Te Traigo Flores by Antonio José (Spain 2005)
#3 | Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandén (Sweden 2006)
#4 | Rodendeski Baknež by Denis Dimoski (FYR Macedonia 2005)
#5 | Arabiens Drøm by Anne Gadegaard (Denmark 2003)
#6 | Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav by Dino Jelusić (Croatia 2003)
#7 | Prati Mi SMS by Bobi Andonov (FYR Macedonia 2008)
#8 | Desde El Cielo by Sergio (Spain 2003)
#9 | Antes Muerta Que Sencilla by María Isabel (Spain 2004)
#10 | Pigen Er Min by Cool Kids (Denmark 2004)
#11 | My Song For The World by Tom Morley (UK 2003)
#12 | Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (Belgium 2009)
#13 | Učimo Strane Jezike by Neustrašivi Učitelji Stranih Jezika (Serbia 2006)
#14 | Si On Voulait Bien by Thomas Pontier (France 2004)
#15 | Nebo by Anastasiya Petryk (Ukraine 2012)
#16 | Allt Jag Vill Ha by Josefine Ridell (Sweden 2010)
#17 | Supergeroy by Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria 2011)
#18 | Mitt Mod by Lova Sönnerbo (Sweden 2012)
#19 | Ti Ne Me Poznavaš by Marija & Viktorija (FYR Macedonia 2003)
#20 | S Druz’yami by Alexey Zhigalkovich (Belarus 2007)
#21 | Click Clack by Ralf (Netherlands 2009)
#22 | Edna Mechta by Krastyana Krasteva (Bulgaria 2008)
#23 | Te Doy Mi Voz by Dani (Spain 2006)
#24 | Erazanq by Arevik (Armenia 2007)
#25 | Stupid by Tess (Netherlands 2005)
#26 | Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (Armenia 2010)
#27 | Goed by Kimberley (Netherlands 2006)
#28 | De Vriendschapsband by X!NK (Belgium 2003)
#29 | Odelia Ranuni by Mariam Romelashvili (Georgia 2007)
#30 | Anders by Trust (Belgium 2007)
#31 | Birichino by Demis Mirarchi (Switzerland 2004)
#32 | Sweetie Baby by Compass Band (Armenia 2012)
#33 | Ik Ben Een Teenager by Rachel (Netherlands 2011)
#34 | Nu Eller Aldrig by Frida Sandén (Sweden 2007)
#35 | Power of a Song by Young Talent Team (Malta 2004)
#36 | Faller by Erik Rapp (Sweden 2011)
#37 | Junior Swing by Daniel Testa (Malta 2008)
#38 | Mijn Ogen Zeggen Alles by Roel (Netherlands 2003)
#39 | Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta by Katya Ryabova (Russia 2011)
#40 | Een Kusje Meer by Femke (Belgium 2011)
#41 | Povestea Mea by New Star Music (Romania 2006)
#42 | Shut Up by Oliver (Belgium 2008)
#43 | Girls and Boys by Omar & Suada (Azerbaijan 2012)
#44 | My Vmeste by Ksenia Sitnik (Belarus 2005)
#45 | The Best Is Yet To Come by Cory Spedding (UK 2004)
#46 | Piši Mi by Nevena Božović (Serbia 2007)
#47 | Varför Jag? by Limelights (Sweden 2004)
#48 | Ĭţi Mulţumesc by Noni Răzvan Ene (Romania 2004)
#49 | Sinnsykt Gal Forelsket by 2U (Norway 2003)
#50 | Vesinniy Jazz by Tolmachevy Twins (Russia 2006)
Thanks for reading, ladies and gents. Please drop by again if you want to know what I think of Kyiv’s twelve hopefuls, because my 2013 reviews are coming up next! I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s so far, and I can’t wait to do mine. That’s right; I haven’t started them yet. I guess I’d better get going. BRB.
You know, in a few days.
What do you think of my top 10 JESC songs of all time? Which entries would make your list of favourites?