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?
So most people have moved on from Junior Eurovision already. As you can see by the screen you are looking at right now, I have not (although the continuation of the Yerevan theme is mainly due to laziness). Before I do, I wanted to ask a question. It’s been a few days since Candy pivoted and uhwohuhwohyeaaahahuayeahhhhheyaaahed their way to the top of the 13-strong leaderboard, and in that time I wonder if some of their haters have cooled off, and/or if those indifferent to the win are leaning one way or another. Let’s see, as you answer me this:
Just in case you need a refresher, here’s one I prepared earlier. For everyone else, Rachel’s performance can also be found on Youtube…
Another year, another Junior Eurovision Song Contest over, and another shock victory. Anyone following me on Twitter last night (or anyone ON Twitter last night) would be aware of how flabbergasted the majority of fans were by Candy’s 5-point win over the Netherlands’ Rachel – Georgia’s second win in four years. There’s a ton of stuff to discuss and dissect re: Last Night, and as I have finally become fully awake after watching the contest which for me was This Morning, I’m chomping at the bit to do so. So, let’s talk about a brilliant but baffling JESC…
WARNING: This may be the longest post I have ever written here at EBJ. In fact, I could probably bind it and submit it as my uni PHD. But if you, like me, are suffering from Post-Eurovision Depression right now, I hope the sheer size of it will aid you in your recovery. Feel free to print it off and make it into a book yourself. Ha ha.
- RUSSIA: What a great number to kick off the show with! I can see why those lucky people-on-the-ground-in-Yerevan-whom-I-am-insanely-jealous-of thought rehearsals, for Katya, were a little pointless. I wasn’t sure about the all-white theme going on when BAM! the backing dancers turned around to reveal a rather clever heart motif on their backs. Does that count as a costume reveal? Well, whether it does or doesn’t, it added some extra interest to an already polished and professionally performed act.
- LATVIA: I was pleasantly surprised by Amanda’s performance, even though it featured her lonesome self and nothing else (a.k.a. no frolicking puppies) as I’d expected. I found myself spellbound for the almost-three minutes. And no, I was not by her mouth gear (although she and Dorijan Dlaka should consider getting together sometime). Apart from one wobble, Amanda was in control of her high notes – i.e. the entire song. It’s ironic that Meness Suns is so high that dogs would probably bolt away at the sound of it.
- MOLDOVA: I would say this was the most perfectly packaged performance of the night. Everything was there – the voice, the costume, the props, the charisma, the scooter Lerica must have borrowed off Katya when she decided not to use it for her own stage show…Moldova had it all. Still, I feel they would have benefited from a couple of backing dancers (maybe also borrowed from Katya) as Lerica looked a bit odd leaping around the stage by herself. She also looked a bit odd pulling handkerchiefs out of a bag, but then she’s not a magician, so I’ll let her off on that one.
- ARMENIA: Dalita got the biggest round of applause of the night, being the Armenian representative and all, but she deserved it simply for her vocals which were infinitely better last night than in the national final. Despite the throwback to Scooch, I enjoyed the aeronautical shebang. I mean, at least nobody held up a giant lollipop and asked ‘Would you like something to suck on for landing, sir?’ which would have both been blatant plagiarism and an inappropriate allusion for an under-16 to make.
- BULGARIA: No leathers? Ah, such disappointment! But when it came to the important things, like, I don’t know, the song and the vocals, I wasn’t left disappointed at all. Supergeroy was an early favourite of mine and I thought it worked great on the big stage. I take it Bulgaria drew choreography inspiration from the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man. Before he’d been oiled up by Dorothy, of course.
- LITHUANIA: Gorgeous. It’s not a word that crops up often in my vocabulary, but it’s so fitting for what Paulina did last night. I can’t believe she’s only 10 years old! It makes me hate her talented self a little bit, but then she smiles and she’s so cute and I can’t hate her anymore. It’s very confusing.
- UKRAINE: Speaking of all things confusing, I know a lot of people were confused as to how Ukraine ended up so low in the table again, especially since Evropa had been backed by bookies and fans (including me) to be a contender for the trophy in a way that Mii Litak never was. But I have to say that Kristall’s vocals were the worst of the night, and unfortunately she can’t excuse that by saying her voice was breaking, unlike the artist who followed her. Kudos for the outfits and her song-writing abilities though.
- MACEDONIA: As discussed in my prediction post, trouble had been afoot (or should I say, athroat) for Mr. Dlaka through no fault of his own. However there was only one part of the chorus that his vocal chords objected to; the rest sounded fine. The performance was also better than I’d thought it would be, thanks to some nice costumes and choreography. Another point of interest: was that umbrella the same one used for the JESC 2007 postcards? If so, there is some serious black market prop-swapping going on here that the EBU should be investigating…
- NETHERLANDS: What can I say? Uh-MAYZING! I have a whole list of highlights from this performance alone, including the jackets that rivaled those of Ralf Mackenbach & Co in the awesome department, and the always versatile scaffolding. Plus, Rachel’s hair stayed in position the whole time, just as I’d predicted. It really was a winning act. Well, it should have been.
- BELARUS: I guess there’s something about good ballads that gets me. I was as spellbound by Lidiya as I was with Amanda and Paulina. I think she has the best live voice of the three, and I can see why she was also a favourite to win. Her violinists reminded me of those people who paint themselves metallic and then stand around on the street hoping you’ll throw money at them.
- SWEDEN: Erik is another epic vocalist, and I loved his performance despite the presence of the most unnecessary guitarist ever seen on a Eurovision stage. It was definitely a lot more dynamic than last year, and deserved a top 5 finish in my (slightly biased as it was one of my favourites) opinion.
- GEORGIA: I have a confession to make. I had been a fully paid-up member of the ‘Candy Music = Crappy Music’ Club right up until last night. But I have to admit that when it came to the crunch, Candy impressed me, and I did have a dance to their disco number. The outfits were great, the wacky hair (no afro wigs in sight!) was, well, wacky, and the girls sang really well (particularly Mini Christina Aguilera on the left). Like Moldova, Georgia had it all. I still didn’t want them to/think they would win…but I’m starting to think they deserved to.
- BELGIUM: Lucky last! Femke is adorable, and the Valentine’s Day theme going on was equally cutesy. I can’t really fault any of it, mainly because I feel like insulting Femke would be akin making a fur coat out of a litter of kittens. You just can’t hurt something so sweet and innocent, can you?
What about the rest?
- The stage: It did bear more than a passing resemblance to the Sydney Opera House, but the incorporation of the logo made it more Armenian. I think the latter alone would have simplified the stage for the better.
- The hosts: Who knew Penelope Cruz had an identical Armenian twin sister? Or perhaps it was Kim Kardashian disguising herself as Penelope Cruz’s twin (she is Armenian, after all). Anyway, she and the other guy did pretty well at the whole hosting thing. And they only changed outfits twice, rather than the 6148 times viewers are accustomed to.
- The postcards: Sweet, but also sad. Burning houses with Chihuahuas inside? Broken bones? Not entirely festive, fun subjects, are they?
- The interval acts: Very impressive! Molly Sandén was as talentless and hideous as ever, and I don’t know what Eric Saade sees in her. Not. She was beautiful, and the remixed performances of Qele Qele and Mama were really well done also. I’m not a remix fan by any means, but those were good ones. Everyone’s already made the Riverdance comparison (I’m surprised it wasn’t trending on Twitter) so I won’t.
- The Australian douze points: What a cool way to introduce the whole ‘we don’t want any children to be upset by a lack of votes so we have to give them all some point to start with’ concept! I’m only annoyed that I wasn’t asked to do it instead of that random kid who was a bit too enthusiastic for my liking. There’s always next year…
All in all, Armenia did a great job, and I’d love to see what they would do with big Eurovision. If they revert back to sending genius songs like Anytime You Need and Qele Qele rather than Boom Boom types that are in a genre all of their own, hosting that could be a real possibility in the near future.
The voting and the results
- As usual, the voting was a nail-biting experience, and as Jill & Lauren were doing their bit at the end, I was frantically calculating the Netherlands’ final score, knowing they’d get 12 points from Belgium. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, but again the Dutch have proved their prowess in JESC with a silver medal.
- I had had a feeling that if Rachel didn’t win, something unexpected would happen – that is, for the second year in a row the host country would be the previous winning country, OR an underdog would take the whole thing out. Lo and behold…
- Poor Katya! Back in ’09 she tied for second place, and now she’s come back wanting to win, and instead tied for third place. Technically, she finished fourth, as Belarus got 3x douze to her 2. Please try your luck at Eurovision 2013, Katya – at least you’re less likely to tie there.
- Another tie that’s harder to break was that between Latvia and Macedonia. Maybe it’s better to come last with someone else, rather than on your own? I also must point out that I predicted these two to be at the bottom. As that’s about the only thing I got right, I plan to gloat a LOT.
- Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ukraine all managed to equal or better their 2010 results, whilst it was a slip down for Armenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia.
- Here’s the final scoreboard, in case you missed it:
- 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
And now, for some awards…
Best vocals: Belarus, Georgia, Moldova
Worst vocals: Ukraine
Best performances: Georgia, Moldova, Netherlands
Best costumes: Armenia, Belgium, Georgia
Best choreography: Belgium, Macedonia
Strangest choreography: Bulgaria
Best props: Macedonia, Netherlands
Most pleasant surprises: Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova
Biggest letdown: Ukraine
Deserved to do better: Sweden
Biggest heart-melters: Belgium, Lithuania
Most likely to win Eurovision: Russia, Sweden
Hello. If you’re reading this, you made it to the end of this obnoxiously long post and are still (semi) conscious. I hope you laughed, cried and found it life-changing – but as there is a 99.9% chance you did not, all I really hope is that you’ve enjoyed JESC month here at EBJ. From now on, the focus shifts to Baku; after all, the Swiss final is next weekend! I’ll be keeping my eye and delivering my verdict on that, the other NF’s, developing news and all else concerned with the 2012 contest, as well as bringing you some thrilling (ahem) top 10 lists and editorials. Before that, I suppose I’d better think about reverting the blog back to the standard design. But, always reluctant to let things go, I think I might leave it for now and go and watch Junior Eurovision 2011 once more.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Eurovision is only a few short hours away!
I suppose the reason I can’t believe it is because it isn’t technically true – Junior Eurovision is this evening, and it’s more like 12 hours away. But you get the point. Anyway, the closeness of the event means it is well and truly time for a prediction post, and this year I’m going further than ever! Let’s just say it’s not just the winner I’m taking a (semi-educated) guess at, but a whole lot more.
Having banned myself from watching the rehearsals because I love a surprise, my guesses are based on my own thoughts, as well as what fans have been saying AND the backstage gossip from the team at ESC Insight (www.escinsight.com) who have made me very jealous with their presence in Armenia, but a little happier with their podcasts (you can access them at the site or on iTunes).
Of course, all of this may just mean more chances of me being wrong, but I hope it mainly means more chances of you enjoying (and laughing with me/at my expense at) this: EBJ’s 2011 JESC prediction special!
Who will win?
The Netherlands, Russia or Ukraine. They may be in alphabetical order, but they are also in the order that I would rank them as chances to win.
Rachel and Ik Ben Een Teenager have been my favourite from the beginning, but also the song that I heard for the first time and thought, ‘that’s The One’. Of course, with my track record of naming ‘The One’ in past years this prediction is not exactly 100% reliable…but I’m trusting my instincts. It’s one of a few Top 40-sounding entries, but it’s by far the best and it stands out. The Dutch send brilliant songs to JESC, and this is a prime example.
If anyone is going to knock Rachel from her glitzy scaffold perch it will be Katya from Russia. It’s her second attempt at the JESC crown (a.k.a. the fibreglass trophy) as we all know, and I’m betting she wants it for her display cabinet badly. A great performer back in 2009, she’s even more polished now, much like Lena ML became in the Oslo-Düsseldorf period; and from what I’ve been hearing from Yerevan she’s been putting in amazing rehearsals of a song that many, including me, are big fans of.
I think Ukraine are a more outside chance, but could still do it. Evropa has that infectious singalong quality and international-ness (great word, Jaz. Sigh.) that makes a successful entry. If Kristall can pull off a dynamic and vocally polished performance tonight, with her slap-bang-in-the-middle draw, the points could flood in on a continental scale (both an accurate and terrible pun).
If I have to pick just one winner, it’s the Netherlands for me over Russia – but not on an Alexander Rybak-type scale. As they often are in JESC, I reckon it will be a narrow victory.
Who will come last?
FYR Macedonia or Latvia. I have an appreciation of some kind for both of these songs, but I just can’t see them going anywhere. Dorijan has had a lot against him from the get-go, with his song being negatively received by the majority of fandom, and now the news that his voice is breaking as we speak, and no longer matches up to the backing track recorded for the final. I feel very sorry for him, but I think he’s destined to end up at the bottom end of the table – especially with no Serbia to support him in a neighbourly way.
Meness Suns has grown on me a great deal, but I still think it’s the type of quirky song that could not so much be disliked into last place, but forgotten there – especially since I can’t imagine too interesting a stage show going on. But perhaps I’ll be surprised. A Labrador in a sequined beret and bow tie frolicking around Amanda wouldn’t go astray (although it may breach some EBU and animal ethics laws). The song does remind me of a Christmas carol which could work in its favour, being the festive season and all.
What will happen in between?
Here’s my guess at what the final scoreboard will look like:
- FYR Macedonia
And here’s what it would look like in my dreams:
- Lithuania (=)
- Belgium (=)
- Moldova (=)
- Belarus (=)
- FYR Macedonia
Fat chance of either of these becoming reality!
Moving on, which performances are most likely to:
…be unchanged from the national finals?
Armenia, Belarus, Macedonia and the Netherlands. In some cases, why fix what isn’t broken? (I certainly hope Rachel’s scaffolding isn’t broken. A fractured collarbone would probably mar her act a bit). But with others, I wonder if some tweaks wouldn’t help them reach a bit higher for the top, because a domestic audience is vastly different to an international one. For example, is it possible to de-Scooch Armenia’s performance which at the NF was even Scoochier than Scooch themselves?
…feature ballet dancers?
Lithuania and Russia. Dancers en pointe are a staple at JESC, whether they actually complement the song or not (think last year’s entries from the Netherlands and Ukraine). I think a few girls in tutus could complement Paulina and Katya, perhaps with the more traditional for the former and some contemporary choreography going on for the latter.
…feature a costume reveal?
Bulgaria and Ukraine. Maybe this is wishful thinking because I adore costume reveals, but I can easily picture Ivan (or Alex Sparrow II as I like to call him) with a light-up jacket, or Superman costume hidden away underneath the ubiquitous leathers, and Kristall doing something similarly suitable involving European flags.
…have the artist leap out of a giant prop?
Bulgaria. Okay, so I may have heard this is actually happening – but it does seem appropriate. Let’s hope there is a cape/parachute handy to break Ivan’s fall should the prop be excessively high. He may be a superhero, but that stage is a death trap!
…win the Josefine Ridell Award for Least Movement During Song and Lack of Backing Dancers/Entertainment Leading to Most Boring Visual Performance?
Latvia. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a simple performance (and I have so much love for Miss Ridell) but what could Latvia do to create interest? Besides win us over with the ‘ahh’ brought on by the aforementioned Labrador, that is.
Which songs will work better live than on disc?
Georgia, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. I’m not a fan of Georgia, but I can’t help thinking that is a song is determined to be all stale (I mean, retro) in sound then the singers may as well ham it up completely with a disco-tastic stage show. I love watching Katya perform because she’s such a little pro, so I think this song will be great on the final stage. Erik’s Faller will lift the roof off with any luck (not literally. It’s such a lovely venue it’d be a shame for Sweden to destroy it in less than 3 minutes) with the schlager pumping out in a way that just couldn’t be at the “national final”. And Ukraine should get everyone on their feet in the live sphere.
What about vice versa?
Armenia and Latvia. Dalita’s vocals frighten me a bit. I don’t like having to wonder whether a singer will be able to cope vocally. In addition, the highly theatrical (read: cheesy) stage show may be too much. Amanda is not one to worry about in the vocal department, however I think her song is just a nice listening song, rather than one to be watched.
Well, that’s it – my last post pre-JESC 2011. Now to spend the rest of the day preparing for the show, by which I mean napping so that I can make it to 2.30am for the live stream, and deciding which variety of snack would be better suited to which part of the show. It’s a hard life being a Eurovision fan, isn’t it? Wherever you are and whatever you may be consuming, enjoy your mini contest, ladies and gents. And in the meantime, answer me this:
What do you think will happen tonight?
I don’t think this warrants an introduction! 13 songs, 13 HILARIOUS (cough) reviews. Here’s part one: A to L!!!
Dalita/ Welcome to Armenia
The good: Ah, Armenia. Or should that be, ah-menia? They are one reliable country when it comes to Eurovision, big and small (even if, occasionally, they can only be relied upon to use up Europe’s entire supply of red pleather on a giant boxing glove). This year, they have again gone with a novelty entry, but I think this one will actually work for them. Song-wise, I love it. It’s catchy, accessible (in sound and combination of Armenian and English), and has that nice ethnic edge that can lift a run-of-the-mill pop song to a douze point level. I know the ‘say yes, say no’ refrain is driving some fans crazy, but I’m into that too!
Everything else: Aside from the costumes that are suitable but still bring back frightening memories of Scooch? Well, there’s the issue of a live vocal that is less than impressive, judging by the footage I have seen. I don’t take pleasure in being mean to children (not always, anyway) but it has to be said that Dalita is dodgy live. Hopefully, with preparation pre-Yerevan and maybe some clever backing vocals (which can work wonders, can’t they Jedward?) she can pull off a performance that’s kinder on the ear than her national final one, and closer to the super studio version.
The verdict: It’s no Mama, but it still ticks all my boxes. I give it 10 points.
Lidiya Zabolotskaya/ Angely Dobra
The good: I like the way this song becomes something unexpected – from the first verse it sounds like it’s going to be a straight ballad, and then the beat kicks in. Lidiya’s quite the little vocalist, which is also nice, and it’s likely that she won’t appear onstage in a gold velvet smoking jacket á la Daniil Kozlov, which can only be good news. I also love the sound of Russian-family languages in ballads – it just works.
Everything else: This is a ‘vanilla’ kind of song that could easily get lost among its contemporary competitors, like the Netherlandsand Sweden, unless it’s performed really well and something very interesting is done on stage. Maybe it’s time for Belarus to not succeed in JESC – they have an impressive history, with 2 wins and 3 top five finishes in 8 participations, so this could well be a year for them to take a break from doing well…as involuntary as that may be.
The verdict: I like it, but I can’t love it, so I’m giving it 6 points.
Femke/ Een Kujse Meer
The good: There have been plenty of good retro and bad retro songs at JESC over the years – strangely, mostly from the Netherlands and Belgium. Luckily for the latter, I am acknowledging this as one of the good. Whistling is popular in music at the moment and here it is used to maximum advantage. Combined with the beat, it makes for a charming 2-and-a-half minutes that makes me wonder (as I do for many of the countries) why Belgium can’t send songs like this to adult Eurovision. Last year, Russianearly won JESC with a cutesy retro number. Do I think Femke has the potential to do the same? Yeah yeah!
Everything else: Ever since I read on Femke’s contestant profile that this entry was inspired by Eliza Doolittle’s Pack Up, I can’t help but feel it’s a little too derivative. Sure, I didn’t notice the similarities as first – but now I can’t NOT notice. Although, I do enjoy Pack Up…so maybe I’m just being picky on this one. Would it be even pickier to say that her fringe needs a restyle, pronto?
The verdict: It’s déjà vu, but in a good way, so I’m giving it 10 points.
Ivan Ivanov/ Supergeroy
The good: Every year there’s a song that I think is awesome, but not many other people do – the most famous instance being in May with Mika Newton’s Angel. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bulgaria’s song hasn’t been too popular with fans so far, and as I think it is Fabulous with a capital F, it looks like I’ll be waving a solitary flag for Ivan. Yes, I think it’s a cracker! I accept that it’s very mainstream and American in sound, but I think that, combined with the native language lyrics, makes for a strong song that Bulgaria should be proud of (and should find a way to send to Baku with an older singer!).
Everything else: I don’t care what anyone else says, Ivan is totally Alex Sparrow Junior! Supergeroy has something in common with Get You as well; it’s the type of song you could do a backflip in the middle of. Not that I plan to, as excited as I will be on the night. But if your lounge room is big enough, then go ahead.
The verdict: Supergeroy is super to me! Douze points!
Candy/ Candy Music
The good: I had to think hard about this. Georgia are really hit-and-miss for me in ESC and JESC, and when I compare this to their hit songs like Odelia Ranuni, finding redeeming features is difficult. If Lady Gaga released a disco song, this could be it (having said that, even if Gaga released a seventeen-minute recording of herself snoring it would go straight to the top of the charts). Plus I’m sure this will get some people dancing. Somewhere.
Everything else: Please let Candy take inspiration from Katy Perry for their stage show, and dance their way around giant Styrofoam licorice and cupcakes! That would be heaven in comparison to ANYTHING resembling the music video to this song. Two words: AFRO WIGS.
The verdict: Hmm = 4 points.
Amanda Bašmakova/ Meness Suns
The good: I hated this the first time I heard it, but I have to say it’s turning out to be a grower. It’s certainly an unusual song, and in that it stands out from the other 12. Amanda’s another good live performer from what I’ve seen, so we won’t have to worry about that side of things.
Everything else: I still think this will be in the bottom two or three. It’s a risky song to take to Junior Eurovision, because it’s quite plodding, the chorus isn’t incredibly catchy and I’m not sure what can be done onstage to complement it, especially considering the subject matter. Do not, I repeat, do NOT dress up in a dog suit, Amanda!
The verdict: Weird, and a little bit wonderful. 5 points.
Paulina Skrabytē/ Debesys
The good: Sigh. Another song that I seem to be alone in my affection for. I’m a sucker for a good ballad and I think this is a prime example. It’s very floaty and summery, and I love the sound of her voice (I also love her national final dress. I wonder if it’s manufactured in me-size?). I don’t think this entry will do very well, but that won’t stop me from singing along…just as soon as I learn the words.
Everything else: Paulina’s performance position is almost slap-bang in the middle, and I don’t think that will help her. Also, I would consider a change of footwear before the final. Converse sneakers on blonde females (especially when paired with a dress) do not work well at Eurovision – just ask Anna Bergendahl.
The verdict: Lovely enough to deserve 10 points.
Whew! Seven down, six to go – but you’ll have to wait until next week for those. In the meantime, comment me, because I thrive on disagreement!
What do you think of songs A to L???
The Eurovision world is a very busy one, and so whenever one is occupied with other things (things they would rather not be occupied by…unimportant things like university assignments) and is out of the loop for a few days, there is a LOT of developments to wade through. Luckily, I am more than willing to wade through them, if you are willing to excuse the miscellaneous massiveness of this post!
First on the agenda is the…
OGAE Second Chance Contest 2011
The results of this were announced last week. If you’re not familiar with the OGAESCC (as I affectionately call it) then get yourself over to Wikipedia pronto and bone up! It’s a fab-tastic annual event that gives the national final songs that missed out a chance to win something. Or just lose all over again. Either way, I’m always excited to see what went down.
This year’s winner – prepare to be surprised in no way – was the lovely Yohanna from Iceland with Nótt, a song that many thought was robbed of winning the Icelandic final this year. I wonder if this makes up at all for her narrow 169-point defeat in Moscow? It at least has to be a decent birthday present for her, as she turns 21 on Sunday. On behalf of everyone here at EBJ (i.e. me) I’d like to wish her a Happy Birthday. If you don’t come back to Eurovision soon, Yohanna, you’ll be dragging yourself onstage in a zimmer frame. I, of course, am allowed to say that, being a whole year younger than she is.
A-hem. ANYWAY, here is the Top 10 of the 2011 OGAESCC. Check out the full results at the official site, or my old favourite free encyclopaedia that rhymes with ‘Sikivedia’.
- ICELAND/ Yohanna/ Nótt
- SWEDEN/ Jenny Silver/ Something In Your Eyes
- ITALY/ Modà feat. Emma/ Arriverà
- DENMARK/ Le Freak/ 25 Hours A Day
- ISRAEL/ Chen Aharoni/ Or
- GREECE/ Nikki Ponte/ I Don’t Wanna Dance
- NORWAY/ Helene Bøksle/ Vardlokk
- SPAIN/ Lucia Pérez/ Abrázame
- GERMANY/ Lena/ Push Forward
- SLOVENIA/ April/ Ladadidej
Not bad, not bad…but if I were the judge, my Top 10 would have looked a little more like this:
- ISRAEL/ Chen Aharoni/ Or
- GREECE/ Nikki Ponte/ I Don’t Wanna Dance
- ICELAND/ Yohanna/ Nótt
- POLAND/ Anna Gogola/ Ktos Taki Jak Ty
- IRELAND/ Nikki Kavanagh/ Falling
- NORWAY/ Helene Bøksle/ Vardlokk
- FYR MACEDONIA/ Martin Srbinoski/ Ram Tam Tam
- AUSTRIA/ Trackshittaz/ Oida Taunz!
- SWEDEN/ Jenny Silver/ Something In Your Eyes
- SLOVENIA/ April/ Ladadidej
This is where it’s all happening, with just over 7 weeks until the show in Armenia. So what’s ‘it all’?
– San Marino has withdrawn, taking the number of participants down to 13. Personally, I am crushed by this development. Let’s hope, as is rumoured, they’ll be sending a kid along to the 2012 JESC.
– The 2012 JESC which will be in the Netherlands? Yep, that’s the one! For the second time, the Dutch have won the right to host mini-Eurovision. Congratulations to them, but I was kind of hoping for somewhere new, like Malta (a bit out the question since Malta aren’t even participating at the moment).
– 2012 may be the second year in a row that the winning country has hosted the contest the following year, if my ‘THAT’S THE ONE’ radar is working properly. I reckon Rachel and Ik Ben Een Teenager can take it all the way! With all the songs selected and only 1 unheard, I think a lot of JESC fans will begin to make their predictions. Look out for my prediction special in November to see if I change my mind…
– Speaking of a full house of entries, Latvia, Moldova, and Sweden finalised the list earlier in the week, choosing Moondog by Amanda Bašmakova, No-No by Lerica, and Faller by Erik Rapp respectively. All I will say about those at this point (sans Latvia) is that the level is pretty darn high this year, a fact that both pleases me and irritates me (how many kids in Europe can sing and write songs anyway….pfft).
– Lastly, the draw for the running order has taken place, and Russia will open the show whilst Belgium will close it. In between them is Latvia, Moldova, Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ukraine, Macedonia, Netherlands, Belarus, Sweden, and Georgia.
Believe it or not, some selections are already underway, and you can check out all the details at your portal of choice – ESC Daily, the official site…etc. I won’t rehash it all. However, I will take a look at the bigger picture, so far.
To everybody’s amusement, Slovakia have once again decided to not decide on their 2012 participation. I suspect they won’t be able to help themselves in the end – and by end, I mean the minute before the confirmation time. There are some countries that just thrive on torturing us fans who want to see enough for two semi finals so we don’t have to go back to one measly prelim.
I have the feeling Italy will be another torturer. They were welcomed back in Düsseldorf with open arms, so I think they will be in Baku, but they’re bound to keep us waiting. If you follow me on Twitter, you would already know this. Hint hint.
As of now, 31 countries have confirmed, including the Big Five minus France, as well as this year’s returning countries Austria and Hungary, who are obviously pepped up after both managing to qualify. Tentative selection dates are also coming through, and amazingly, February is not looking as manic as usual at the moment. Albania and Switzerland will pick in December, as normal – just why they feel the need to beat everyone else, I don’t know (I mean, Albania, Christmas Day? Really?) with the Bulgarian, Danish, Maltese and Slovenian finals set for January.
I want to draw special attention to the absence of Serbia from the list of confirmed participants. Having withdrawn from JESC, they better not be considering doing the same for big Eurovision, because if they did I would…I would…well, I would be very upset. Serbia’s one of my favourite ESC countries, always bringing something interesting to the table.
Well, I think that’s all there is to ramble on relentlessly about. Next week, there’ll be another Time-Warp Tuesday for you (who will I pick? Not even I know yet) as well as my first ever album review! Yay! It’s a pretty spectacular CD from someone who did pretty well in Eurovision a few years back….
See you then!
Howdy pardners! It’s been a while since I’ve wrangled the stats of the 2011/2012 season into submission (by a while I of course mean a few weeks – a lot can happen in a short time here in Eurovision-land). So here they are, not exactly hot off the press, but hopefully still warm enough for y’all to be interested. And trust me, it is going to be an interesting 10 months…
(NB: Things have changed since I wrote this, mainly in relation to the confimed countries in Baku…let’s hope Italy, the Czech Republic etc DO confirm!)
– 1 revised logo: A rainbow (not in completely logical ROYGBIV order, as the OCD part of me would prefer, but a rainbow nonetheless) and a demand to reach for the top.
– 12 participants confirmed: They are Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Russia, San Marino, Sweden and Ukraine. 2 down on last year isn’t half bad. Obviously. It’s 2-down bad. Ha ha.
– 3 withdrawals confirmed: Sadly, neither Latvia, Malta, or Serbia will not be competing. Sigh. I have to say, I’ll particularly miss Serbia, who are always in my top 5 for JESC. Come back soon and teach us foreign languages on a magical night while writing letters, and such!
– 3 songs chosen: I reiterate – Candy Music by Candy from Georgia; Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta by Ekaterina Ryabova from Russia, and Evropa by Kristall from Ukraine. If you haven’t already, please vote on my poll (the previous post) for your favourite of the three. Russia is in the lead so far, so if 8 of the other countries get stranded at the airport (we can only assume that won’t happen to Armenia, unless they have an especially roundabout way of getting to their own stadium), The Artist Formerly Known as Katya could be in with a good chance!
– 4 tentative preselection dates: Lithuania could be next, choosing their entry as an early birthday present to me on the 18th of September (it’d better be good or I’m taking it back and getting a refund!), followed by hosts Armenia on the 20th and Belarus at some point during the month. The Netherlands will make their choice on October the 1st.
– 2 possible stadiums: Azerbaijan’s leaving nothing (e.g. having somewhere to hold Eurovision) to chance, with the 37 000-seat Tofiq Bahramov complex waiting in the wings as understudy to the Baku Concert Arena. The latter doesn’t actually exist at the moment, but construction has begun on the monumentally massive structure, which will seat 50 000, making the TB stadium look as accommodating as a teacup.
– 24 participants confirmed: For the semi finals, we have Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, as well as the Czech Republic who are back for their first go since a disastrous cape-clad fail in Moscow. Azerbaijan, Germany and Italy are loosely locked in for the final (I knew you’d be back, Italy…you couldn’t resist. Mwahahahaha!).
– 2 possible participants: Morocco could return for the first time since 1980, whilst Portugal may have to pull out thanks to broadcaster privatisation. Sounds painful.
– 1 artist chosen: There is an approximately 95.7% chance that 17-year-old Greek X Factor finalist Ivi Adamou will sing for Cyprus, and I’m expecting something Lena-like (i.e. catchy and contemporary) from her if she does. Perhaps Cyprus feels that enlisting a success from the hit reality show (I’m about to get sucked in to the Australian version…again) is the ticket to a top 10 finish, as it was for Greece in Düsseldorf?
– 4 equally-as-tentative preselection dates: When will Switzerland learn that the early bird doesn’t always catch the worm? It’s the well choreographed one in the short skirt that usually does. Regardless, they’ve decided yet again to get their national final over and done with before Christmas (unlike Albania, whose competitors usually have to forgo the turkey and Yorkshire puddings in favor of vying for the golden ticket ON Christmas) – that is, on the 10th of December. Meanwhile, the Dutch and the Slovenians should pick in January, with Finland booking the first place in what is sure to be February Madness.
Whew! I think that’s all of the crucial info, and the not-so-crucial info, there is to cover. Of course, from the point of me writing this sentence to the second of postage, there’ll probably be more…and that’s the beauty of it. Bring on the contest season!
‘Tis the season to be keeping up to date with every last Eurovision-related development! You may not think there’s much happening at the moment, but planning the ESC is pretty close to being a year-round job – and don’t forget the fact that we’re not too far away from December, when the 9th Junior Eurovision will take place in Armenia. As such, there IS facts and figures about both events piling up already. In case you’ve not had the time or you just want a second opinion, here’s my role call of what we can expect…so far!
– It’ll be a trek to win JESC this year, what with the logo and the slogan (“Reach for the top!”) having been selected, both of which are musically mountainous.
– The show will take place on December 3, at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex in Yerevan, Armenia. The venue can seat 8000 – 11 000 people, and has previously had the likes of Eurovision representatives André (2006) and Hayko (2007) as well as Deep Purple (if all you know about them is Smoke on the Water, you are not alone) pass through its doors.
– It looks like there’ll be 12 countries stepping on the stage, 2 down from last year. They are: Armenia (I should hope so!), Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and…San Marino! Italy might not be in it to win it (or lose it, since they really are not in it in any way) but us fans will get to hear Italian after all. Let’s cross our fingers that SM can rake in a few more points than they did in Belgrade and Düsseldorf. Do you remember Düsseldorf? It was such a long time ago now…
– Unfortunately, neither Latvia, Malta nor Serbia will be participating. The lack of Serbia makes my face a particularly sad one as they always have me picking up the phone to vote in Junior Eurovision. Of course, I immediately put it back down again since I’m in Australia and can’t vote…but the mere fact Serbia makes me forget that says a lot! Come back in 2012, all three of you!
– 2 very strong songs have been selected so far: Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta (which translates to Like Romeo and Juliet) by Katya Ryabova for Russia; and Candy Music (which, believe it or not, translates to Candy Music) by Candy for Georgia. Russia is my favourite so far, but it cannot be denied how up-to-the-mainstream-minute both of the entries are. It’ll be a fab show if these are any indication of the standard.
– The next entry we’ll hear belongs to the Ukraine, who select on July 31, followed (at this point) by the hosts and Lithuania in September and the Netherlands in October.
– May 22, 24 and 26 are the preliminary dates set for the Baku show, which means that the EBU is making us all pay for having to wait less than a year between the 2010 and 2011 contests. We’ve now got a fortnight extra to wait, but remember: it’s July, which means there’s less than 45 weeks to go (I think…I don’t often check things twice, unlike Santa Claus). That must be a scary thought for the Azerbaijani organizers, who did promise a show to rival Moscow!
– Debates continue over where the contest will be held, which is a fairly important detail to determine. Rather than “to be or not to be?” the question seems to be “to use a stadium we already have or to build a brand spanking new one?”. If a 20 000 seat venue doesn’t get built especially for Eurovision (oh to have such power!) then it looks like the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, which seats a mere 35 700 people, could be the one.
– After just 2 years, voting during the show had been abandoned in favour of the previous voting window system. And just when I was warming to the new one! It definitely made voting for songs rather than performances more likely. Oh well, I should know by now that one of the ESC’s favourite things is change – not the Hotel FM kind either.
– 17 countries have confirmed their 2012 participation so far, which means we’ll have at least one semi final! They are: Austria, Azerbaijan (again, I should hope they’d make an appearance at their own show!), Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. I’m hoping the UK confirms soon and isn’t thinking, ‘If Blue couldn’t do it, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber couldn’t do it, what’s the bleeding point?’. It’d be nice to have the Czech Republic, Andorra and Montenegro back as well.
– The participation of Israel and Portugal is in jeopardy, with the preliminary final date clashing with a Jewish holiday for the former, and some serious broadcaster issues for the latter. NOOOOOOOO!
– On a happier note, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden have all begun their selection processes – albeit tentatively. Sweden is calling out for Melodifestivalen entrants, with one small requirement: NONE of the songs can feature the word popular. I am, of course, joking. But really, I think we’ve had enough repetitions of that word to last us a hundred years. Perhaps then Eric Saade can make a triumphant return to the contest via live satellite feed from his nursing home singing (I Used To Be) Popular.
So cheer up, because it is certainly not all quiet on the ESC front! If you’re not a JESC fan then keep your eyes on Baku, and if you are, enjoy the upcoming selections and the fact that I like you way better than those people who aren’t JESC fans! Ha ha. Eurovision can last 365 days a year if you really want it to…