One post. Two topics. No time for a rambling intro!
When: 3rd December 2011
Where: Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex, Yerevan, Armenia
Motto: ‘Reach for the top!’
Hosts: Gohar Gasparyan & Avet Barseghyan
Returnees: 1 – Bulgaria
Withdrawals: 2 – Malta and Serbia
Interval acts: Vladimir Arzumanyan with Mama, Sirusho with Qele Qele and Molly Sandén with Spread A Little Light
First place: Georgia
Last place: Latvia
Most douze points: 3 – Georgia and Belarus
Russia/ Romeo and Juliet by Katya Ryabova
Latvia/ Mēness Suns by Amanda Bašmakova
Moldova/ No No by Lerika
Armenia/ Welcome to Armenia by Dalita
Bulgaria/ Supergeroy by Ivan Ivanov
Lithuania/ Debesys by Paulina Skrabytė
Ukraine/ Evropa by Kristall
Macedonia/ Zhimi Ovoj Frak by Dorijan Dlaka
Netherlands/ Teenager by Rachel
Belarus/ Angely Dobra by Lidiya Zablotskaya
Sweden/ Faller by Erik Rapp
Georgia/ Candy Music by Candy
Belgium/ Een Kusje Meer by Femke
- Georgia – 108
- Netherlands – 103
- Belarus – 99
- Russia – 99
- Armenia – 85
- Moldova – 78
- Belgium – 64
- Bulgaria – 60
- Sweden – 57
- Lithuania – 53
- Ukraine – 42
- Macedonia – 31
- Latvia – 31
My top 5…
Netherlands – I really wish this had won. I certainly thought it was going to right up until the last of the points came in and I realised it wasn’t possible, at which point I started punching the wall and screaming ‘why, God, WHY?!?’ like any sensible person would.
Russia – I was never that sold on Malenkiy Prints, but Ekaterina-turned-Katya suited me better. This song is so damn catchy from start to finish, and fortunately does not end with a re-enactment of what happened to the “real” Romeo and Juliet.
Bulgaria – underrated, that’s all I can say…apart from a few more things. I love the electronic, Lady Gaga vibe of this one, and I think it was really well performed by Ivan, who looking back was the Anastasiya Petryk of 2011 (the teeny, intense-looking child who can belt out a song with the best of them).
Sweden – ever since the Year of Molly Sandén I have loved Sweden in JESC, and that didn’t change last year when they decided to shake things up by sending a boy (gasp!). Faller is danceable without being in-your-face, and I think it was mature enough to pass in the adult contest.
Latvia – I did not like this initially, thinking it sounded like a suicidal Christmas carol. It still reminds me of Christmas, but I no longer feel like crying when I hear it. It’s quite haunting at the beginning, and I may have gotten goosebumps once or twice as a result.
Georgia – sure, all the Candy girls sound good, but I’m sure you’ll know which one I’m referring to when I say WOW. I’m pretty sure her Christina Aguilera impression sealed Georgia’s victory (and pushed Rachel into second place *shakes fist threateningly*).
Moldova – it’s no wonder Lerika was recruited to sing again this year with a voice like that at her disposal. She sounds a lot better when she’s not singing in English, but even in Pig Latin she’d sound great.
Belarus – I really hope to see Lidiya trying out for the ESC in the future. She knew what she was doing with her voice, and with a song that strikes me as being hard to sing (it’s definitely been hard when I’ve tried it in the shower).
Bulgaria – as I said, his vocal is surprisingly powerful for someone of his age/size.
Sweden – unlike Dorijan Dlaka, it seems Erik’s voice had broken prior to his arriving in Yerevan. It’s a voice well suited to his teen idol, check-out-all-my-fangirls looks.
Georgia – anything would have been better than the gold lamé and afro wigs Candy were sporting in the rehearsals, but they did take a big sugar-coated step up with their pink-and-white confections. I MUST have an outfit like this before I die.
Armenia – everything about this entry made Scooch look just as cheap and tacky as they were, including the awesome hostess and pilot costumes. Great use of colour and asymmetry.
Ukraine – I’m kind of obsessed with flags, so Kristall making me realise that you can wear them and still look relatively normal was an epic moment. Plus, her backing group’s tracksuits were so cool! Again, I want.
Belgium – cute overload. Red and white, polka dots, skater skirts and matching bangs…it doesn’t get much more adorable than that. I like how they made Femke stand out as the lead and match at the same time.
Netherlands – I am 110% sure there is a Dutch factory that exists only to mass-produce amazing jackets for their JESC contestants.
My bottom 5…
Macedonia – I actually don’t mind this, Macedonia being one of my favourite JESC countries (as you’d know if you read my recent list, hint hint). But there is a sleazy quality to it that seems inappropriate for a competition between 10-15 year olds.
Lithuania – again, I do like this and I loved it at the time…but a year later I am bored of it. Once something loses its magic it’s hard to get it back.
Ukraine – before I heard her perform live, I thought Kristall had a good chance of propelling Ukraine to the top of the scoreboard. And really, if you watch her performance back with the mute button on you can still see why. Un-mute, and it all becomes clear.
Armenia – Dalita pulled off a much better vocal on the night than she did at the Armenian final, but it was touch-and-go all the way.
Lithuania – I think Paulina has the potential to be a great singer when she and her voice have matured more.
Macedonia – ah, the notorious voice-breaking incident of 2011. I know it wasn’t Dorijan’s fault (and under the circumstances he did well) but his is an uncomfortable few minutes to listen to.
Latvia – Amanda did look pretty, but the dress was miles too big for her. Also, I was expecting her to wear a dog suit in lieu of the fact that real animals are not allowed on stage, so to see her in this was so disappointing.
Amsterdam 2012: My predictions
I’m sorry to tack this on to the end of a random post, but there has been so much Junior material to cover the past month and only…well, a month, to do it in. With only twelve countries competing, there are only so many predictions one can make anyway. Here are a few of mine.
Who will win?
If you put a party popper to my head and demanded that I name the most likely winners, these are the countries I’d pick: Georgia, Israel and Russia.
As usual, Georgia has come to Junior armed with a unique and catchy number to be performed by charismatic kids with great voices, and probably great outfits. Add that to their previous two wins and good performance position, and we could be looking at a repeat of last year – i.e. the song that everyone thinks will win is pipped by polished Georgia, Masters of JESC. Don’t count it out.
I’d love debutants Israel to win, but if the music does win it all then anyone could win (yes, I do classify Albania’s song as ‘music’). Like Georgia, they’ve sent a group of very talented singers along to represent them, and if the voters respond as I suspect the juries would have, it could well pay off. LTMW is high-energy and infectious, and the multilingual lyrics work well.
Last but not least, it’s the favourite – Russia/Moldova’s Lerika. This girl knows what she’s doing on stage, yellow moped or no yellow moped, and despite her early slot, she’s sure to leave an impression. Her song is very current and only needs one listen to be remembered, unlike quite a few others. She wants the win, and she has a high chance of getting it.
Who will lose?
This time last year, I said ‘it’s GOT to be Latvia or Macedonia’, and I was right (for what felt like the first time ever) and now I’m saying it’s GOT to be Albania. I don’t want Igzidora to fail, but the fact is somebody will be at the bottom when the night is over…and for me, it’ll be her. Challengers should come in the form of Belarus and Armenia.
What will the scoreboard look like?
- Georgia – I feel like I should put Russia here, but my instincts are telling me not to. Feel free to laugh if I turn out to be spectacularly wrong.
- Israel – 3rd would be more than respectable for a first shot.
- Netherlands – home country advantage and performing 12th of 12 should bump Femke up.
- Ukraine – she’s nothing if not memorable.
- Armenia – unique enough to miss out on last, IMO.
The underrated act that will surprise us all
I do think Albania’s performance could be a lot better than those of us who dislike the entry are expecting. Sweden, in all its humble beauty, could provide us with a real moment and Ukraine’s Li’l Demon Child may pull an Alyosha and make the intensity appealing.
The hyped-up act who will fail to succeed
Azerbaijan may be riding on their Eurovision success (after success, after success) coming into JESC for the first time, but I don’t think they have what it takes to win this time.
The vocalist/s who will blow us away
We already know Lerika is an über-singer, so she won’t shock us with her talent. JESC newbies Funkids, Kids.il, Anastasiya Petryk and Egor Zheshko are likely to put in the most impressive vocals.
The act likely to have the best costume/s
Georgia, as always, Russia, the Netherlands and Moldova should be looking stylish. I may be basing that partly on the dress rehearsal photos I accidentally saw yesterday (that dress from Albania…yowser!).
The act most improved from NF to now
Albania, in look and sound. It won’t be enough to save her from tailing the group, but it will be commendable.
Well, Junior Eurovision 2012 is less than twelve hours away, so I’ll leave you to organise yourselves. If you’re lucky enough to live in a country that is broadcasting the show on TV at a reasonable hour, I hate you and please don’t ever speak to me again. Just kidding (but I am jealous). If you’re watching online like me, I hope you enjoy the show and that your stream runs smoothly. It would be awful listening to Lerika belt out ‘sensa-a-a-a-tsi-i-i-ya-a’. And don’t even get me started on ‘tik-tik, ta-a-ak, tik taktaktaktaktak…’
What did you think of last year’s show in Yerevan? How do your predictions for Amsterdam stack up against mine?
Nine days. Twelve songs. One winner.
And apparently one opening line that sounds like an introductory voiceover for The X Factor. I’m sorry about that. Sometimes it’s hard to think of what to say at the start of a post, and when that happens you’ve pretty much got to launch straight into it. So here goes – this is the first half of my 2012 JESC reviews, featuring Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium and Georgia. Read, enjoy and comment! Please?
Igzidora Gjeta | Kam Një Këngë Vetëm Për Ju
The good: Well, it’s definitely a plus to have Albania in Junior for the first time. If it wasn’t for them the line-up could have been even more pathetic than it is now (don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful the contest is even happening. But we are talking about the smallest field EVER here). Igzidora has the most interesting name of 2012, and I am a fan of the crimped hairdo she rocked at the national final.
Everything else: The reason I didn’t say anything about her song just then was because I think it’s a shocker. It’s dated, it doesn’t have any particular hook to latch on to, and it basically just plods along for two-and-a-half minutes, ending right where it began. Her singing voice is less than impressive – in fact, it’s more of a screech. That (combined with the dodgy song) makes for a noisy entry in no danger of beating the odds to succeed, a la Rona Nishliu’s Suus. I’m not Satan reincarnate so I do feel mean being mean to this poor girl, but honesty is the best policy. And hey, maybe in the arena, with a fancy costume and nifty light show, she’ll make it work? Just maybe…
The verdict: A letdown. It’s 2 points from me.
How it will do: 11th-12th
Compass Band | Sweetie Baby
The good: Hello, and welcome to The Ubiquitous Entry That I Really Like But Nobody Else Does. Actually I have noticed some more love emerging for this diamond in the rough recently, which is good because I think it’s great! It’s not a typical JESC song – there’s a bit of darkness, a bit of grunge there – which works in its favour. It’s down-tempo but catchy, and the Compass Band perform it very well live. I also think the Armenian and English parts go nicely together.
Everything else: Okay, so the ‘baby, sweetie baby’ refrain is a bit nauseating, and as for ‘give me smile’…well, I don’t even know how to react to that. But I’m not too fussed about those things. I don’t expect Armenia to score well this year, but you never know what might happen when a ton of kids get access to mobile phones. I do expect the boys to iron their shirts before the show, something they didn’t do before the NF if the grainy video is any indication.
The verdict: 10 points for originality and my (slightly) guilty pleasure.
How it will do: 9th-11th
Omar & Suada | Girls and Boys
The good: This year’s ESC host country was the second debutant to save JESC from total embarrassment, and for that I thank them. The prospect of having Azerbaijan in Junior was exciting for one main reason: because of the rules, we’d get to hear Azeri in a Eurovision entry for the first time. Girls and Boys was originally released entirely in English, but now the bilingual version has come out, I’m liking this entry more and more (or as the Belarussian contestant would say, a more-more). It’s current and accessible, with the Azeri giving it a decent ethnic touch and the English parts making it a good sing-along song.
Everything else: Concern #1 – this is repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. Not to quite the same extent as Russia, but repetitive nonetheless. Concern #2 – I haven’t heard Omar & Suada perform live, so whether they can sing or not is unknown…and that scares me. Concern #3 – I don’t think this deserves to win, but because it’s a decent pop song from Azerbaijan it just might.
The verdict: Not absolutely brilliant, but I like. 8 points.
How it will do: 4th-6th
Egor Zheshko | A More-More
The good: If nothing else, this song will win the award for ‘Most Choruses Crammed Into A Single Entry’. And doesn’t Egor sing those choruses like a champ? His voice is pretty amazing, so on that note (pun intended) we’ll be starting the show on a high. A More-More is a jazz number that we’ve been hearing less manic versions of for years at JESC, and whilst it’s not my favourite of the genre, it has its merits. It’s even easier to sing along to than Girls and Boys since the chorus is made up of about five words, and it does get stuck in your head which could bode well for vote-getting.
Everything else: Jazz is very rarely a douze-pointer in my eyes, and there’s no denying this is lacking what would push it into winning contention. It’s a step down from their last entry. There are also moments in Egor’s live performance when he seems to lag behind the track, then has to speed up his already rapid mor-ays to get back in time, which is a bit uncomfortable to hear. Hopefully he gets his timing right on the night.
The verdict: A closer-to-5-than-7 6 points.
How it will do: 9th-11th
Fabian | Abracadabra
The good: How do I love thee, Belgium? Let me count the ways. Where JESC is concerned there are about 1094637299 ways, because I always, always love what they send, and you can judge me for that however you like. Fabian’s song is a cruisy, pop-rock ballad that I can only assume is about magical young love since I haven’t had a chance to check out the English translation yet. It’s not a super exciting entry, that’s for sure, but sandwiched between high-energy Azerbaijan and even higher-energy Russia, it should make for a nice interlude.
Everything else: Fabian is trés adorable, but I have doubts about his live abilities. The NF performance I saw wasn’t bad, but his voice certainly isn’t in the league of say, Lerika’s – and she’s on straight after him. I just hope he pulls off a good vocal and doesn’t get completely obliterated by her performance, which will inevitably be louder and flashier. I also hope there’ll be something going on to up the interest – a few dancers maybe, or a sword-swallowing acrobat with a flamethrower. Something simple.
The verdict: An unashamed 10 points.
How it will do: 5th-8th
Funkids | Funky Lemonade
The good: This song is all over the place, but I have to say, I think Georgia may have done it again. Having won twice and placed well on every other occasion, they’ve proven they’ve got the knack when it comes to Junior. This song is a bit strange (in a mostly good way) and incredibly infectious, and it’s likely to have a show-stopping performance. The audience in HMH is going to love it.
Everything else: I am a little worried that these kids are out there tearing up the Georgian highways when they aren’t even old enough to have a part-time job. What was that? That was a fantasy created for the music video? Well, never mind then. I am genuinely worried that they could be the first Georgian contestants in Eurovision history that can’t sing live, but the odds of that are low. I swear there is something in the water over there. The boy’s part in this does annoy me, so maybe someone could switch off his mike on the night.
The verdict: 8 points
How it will do: 1st-3rd
That’s it for Part 1, and at this point it’s Armenia and Belgium topping my rankings. No douze points have been handed out yet, so will another country knock Compass Band and Fabian off their perch? You’ll have to wait and see. Israel, Moldova, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine – you’ll get your turn soon enough…
I hope you liked all of the above. Let me know which of the six is you’re loving and hating!