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Shocks, frocks and missing reprises: a wrap-up of Amsterdam 2012

Bonjour! Here we are, approximately a million days after Junior Eurovision, and I’m finally ready to recap the show. You know how you have nothing on for weeks and then suddenly, BAM – your calendar for the next few days is packed? Well, that was my weekend and week-beginning. And that’s my excuse for not producing a post-show dissection until now.

I hope you’re up for a challenge, because this may be the longest post I’ve ever written. Seriously, you might want to call in sick for work/school, and get some food and water for the journey. This is my epic recap of the 10th (but hopefully not final) JESC. May it not bore you to tears, and help cure any Post-Eurovision Depression you may have.

 2012

The performances

Here are my thoughts on the twelve acts who took to the architecturally magnificent stage:

Belarus got things going, but with less of a ‘bang’ and more of a ‘pfft’ if you know what I mean. No? Well, I mean they fell a bit flat. Egor sounded pretty good but not the best I’ve heard him, the costumes were good but not spectacular, and the song was a slower version than I’d heard before (which meant he didn’t have to race his way through) but the repetitiveness seemed more obvious than ever. It definitely didn’t end on a high, what with that voice-breaker of a note, unless you count the glass-shattering scream that came after it. I still like the song, but after that performance it was clear Egor wouldn’t be following in Lidiya Zablotskaya’s top 5 footsteps.

– Sweden sang second, with Lova making a better impression. She looked stunning (I assume she borrowed the hair crimper from Igzidora Gjeta) and her voice, unlike Egor’s, sounded the best I’ve heard it. She gave me goosebumps with her rendition of a song that nobody thought would go anywhere, but that I love (and actually did go somewhere in the end).

Azerbaijan brought Azeri to a Eurovision stage for the first time, not including Ell and co’s ubiquitous multilingual greetings in Baku. Girls and Boys is so much better in Azeri than English, so that was an entry that made me super glad about the 75% rule. Omar and Suada aren’t the best live singers, but they managed to cover up each other’s weaknesses pretty well, and the performance was energetic. I can’t deny or confirm if any tinfoil was harmed in the making of their outfits.

Omar waits for Suada to come out of the oven

Omar waits for Suada to come out of the oven

– Next up was Belgium, and they did pretty much what I expected – a decent, inoffensive performance of decent, inoffensive Abracadabra (I love it, but even I know it’s vanilla). I liked the magic tricks which made Fabian’s musos appear, but they were distracting. I’m wondering now if his top 5 finish was mostly due to the tricks, not the song.

– Big favourite Russia was fifth, and the only reason Lerika didn’t knock my socks off was because she was always going to be awesome. Next to the performances that had come before she looked extra polished, and her prior JESC experience showed. I do really dislike the English bits that were thrown in to the song and would much preferred the whole thing in Russian.

– I loved Israel’s performance. They were the debutants I was most excited to see on stage, and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved their costumes, choreography and vocals (if the boy doesn’t appear in an Israeli stage adaptation of Phantom of the Opera in the future, I’ll be very surprised). Following Russia was never going to be easy, but they did a great job.

Albania’s Igzidora did win something on Saturday: the award for Most Improved From NF To Now (as I predicted). The revised arrangement of her song and her stronger vocals – as well as the lack of hideous gray stockings – made for a much better performance than we saw at the Albanian selection. I do think it was a mistake to give her a Madonna mike and no backup activity, but this entry was destined for last place anyway. Fingers crossed they still give it another go, if there is a JESC to have another go at.

Igzidora attempting to put a curse on the people who made her change her dress

Igzidora attempting to put a curse on the people who made her change her dress

– Armenia’s Compass Band did exactly what they did at their national final, minus Teeny McScaryson (my nickname for the littlest member who was apparently too young to come to Amsterdam, but did appear without warning to announce the Armenian votes). The song really stood out, something you can’t deny even if you’re president of the I Hate Sweetie Baby fan club. I was pleased to see them looking dapper in suits as opposed to sloppy in unironed shirts, which I suppose is more rock ‘n’ roll but comes off so apathetic.

Ukraine was the first (and last) act to blow me away, both in terms of Anastasiya’s talent and the intensity of the wind machine. Everything came together for her: the vocals (which I now deem to be impressive not just for a ten-year-old, but for anyone), the costume, the backdrop, the slow-mo Loreen close-ups, and the fountains of dry ice which probably asphyxiated everyone in the front row. Having heard people predict her as a dark horse, I could see why by the time she bolted off stage.  

Anastasiya summoning up the gods of dry ice with her almighty powers

Anastasiya summoning up the gods of dry ice with her almighty powers

– I was pumped to watch Georgia’s Funkids in action. Their vocals could have been slicker, but all in all they met the standard we’re accustomed to in Georgian entries. The energy, costuming and choreography were all top-notch.  

– Moldova came next, and I quite enjoyed them. Like Azerbaijan’s song, Toate Vor Fi is a million times better when it isn’t in English, so it was nice to hear the bilingual version. The flag-waving reminded me of Carola in Athens, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

– Last but not least was the Netherlands. Femke was the only act who managed to get a half-decent cheer from the crowd which at least meant they weren’t asleep (they may as well have been up to that point). It was all very similar to the Dutch final, staging-wise, but she put in a performance she should be proud of. If the Netherlands sent Femke senior to the ESC with that song, it would probably do better than the 3js and Joan Frankas of late.

 

The before, after and in-between

– The opener of the show was Rachel, runner-up of Yerevan 2011 and the Netherland’s sweetheart (I totally made that up) singing Euphoria. She may have been a disappointment to all the press who heard the song being rehearsed and assumed it was Loreen, but I think she was amazing! I’m not 100% sure if she was miming or not (we’ll get to those who clearly were and were not in a minute) but if not props to her, because she sounded spot on.

– Later on, all the contestants took to the stage to blatantly mime We Can Be Heroes, the 2012 group song. In the brief moments when I managed to ignore the inexplicable lip-syncing, I thought to myself ‘this sounds a lot like Abrabadabra’, but believe me, those were very brief moments. I will never understand the miming thing. Dima Bilan did it for his winner’s reprise in Moscow, Ani Lorak did it during JESC 2009, and now this. You’ve got twelve acts who can hold a tune, and you make them come out and mouth the words to a song that’s supposed to be meaningful. I don’t care if they all came down with golden staph immediately after their performances, I’d rather have heard them sing live.

– Ralf Mackenbach popped in to possibly mime a catchy number about partying and stuff. It’s been three years since he won Junior, and in that time he’s gone from the Dutch version of Justin Bieber to…well, a more mature Dutch version of Justin Bieber. I actually think he may be the Netherlands’ sweetheart (sorry Rachel).

Someone who definitely sung live was co-host Kim-Lian, whose hairdo could only have been caused by sticking a knife into a toaster and whose Katy Perry brand PVC dress was nothing short of hideous…but whose voice sounded fine. Considering what she came after, I have to applaud her for choosing not to mime. *insert applause here*

Nope, it's not a chimney sweeper - it's Kim-Lian!

Nope, it’s not a chimney sweeper – it’s Kim-Lian!

– A quick word about the postcards: it was a relief to have the kids involved again so we could learn, for example, that Anastasiya Petryk is ‘small Ukrainian girl’ (I never would have seen that coming) but overall they were a bit boring. There’s only so much ice-breaking imagery a girl can take at 3am on a Sunday morning.

– Another quick word re: the host chats with the contestants. These are always a little uncomfortable to watch, but this year they reached a whole new level of ‘MAKE IT STOP!’. First Ewout asked Lova if she’d eat ‘moos’, then he tried to force Fabian and Femke to confess their undying (nonexistent) love for each other, and then he attempted to have a discussion with the kids who speak little or no English and make them touch the trophy that they clearly would not be receiving, bar Ukraine. Oh dear.

 

The voting

– Ralf had the honour of announcing the kids jury points, which awarded 8 to Russia, 10 to Ukraine and the douze to Georgia. At this early point I got excited, having foolishly predicted that Georgia would win again (but not-so-foolishly guessed that Russia wouldn’t). I was surprised by Ukraine’s 10, but that was only the start of their haul.

– The most pathetic points received by Ukraine were 4 from Azerbaijan and 6 from Albania. 10s and 12s were the only other denominations to be sent their way. How sad.

Surprisingly, Russia didn’t receive any sets of douze. Ukraine nabbed eight, Armenia two and Georgia, Sweden and Albania one. Albania’s from Azerbaijan must have been more of a message to Armenia than anything else. As in ‘look, we’d prefer to give a ton of points to the worst song in the field than give a single one to you.’ Unless…they actually liked it that much?

– Both Belgium and the Netherlands neglected to exchange top points in favour of giving them to Ukraine. Belgium gave Femke 10 and the hosts gave Fabian 8.

– Albania’s 12 to Sweden was unexpected, but made me (and probably Lova) very happy.

– Anastasiya’s top scores from Belarus, Sweden, Belgium, Russia, Israel, Armenia, Moldova and the Netherlands make her the winner to have received the highest number of douze points in JESC history, alongside Marìa Isabel, winner of 2004.

– My internet stream reverted back to the pre-show loop as soon as Ukraine was announced as the winner and never returned. I don’t know if this was a universal occurrence, but it kind of sucked to have gotten up so early and for it not to be totally worth it. I caught the reprise on Youtube the next day, so it obviously took place. Any thoughts?

 

The results

For the second year in a row, I was blindsided by the winner, only this year I was happily blindsided. Nebo is the most atypical JESC winner we’ve ever had, and a very deserving one in my opinion. To all those lamenting that Russia or Georgia should have won, I’m afraid the fact is that Ukraine beat them fair and square, nabbing big points from Eastern and Western Europe and triumphing over the runner-up with the largest point margin ever. Anastasiya is a real talent and was clearly thrilled every time she got a top score. And she’s so adorable!

Here’s the full scoreboard:

  1. Ukraine – 138 
  2. Georgia – 103
  3. Armenia – 98
  4. Russia – 88
  5. Belgium – 72
  6. Sweden – 70
  7. Netherlands – 69
  8. Israel – 68
  9. Belarus – 56
  10. Moldova – 52
  11. Azerbaijan – 49
  12. Albania – 35

The top three is fine by me, although I was as shocked as you (if you were shocked) to see Armenia claw their way so high. I guess ‘give me smile’ is synonymous with ‘give me truckloads of points’.

Lerika did top her 6th place from Yerevan, but she failed to meet expectations in equaling Russia’s last result. I hope she moves on and appears in adult Eurovision one day. I think it would be a more likely forum for her to do well in.

I was hoping Sweden would get bumped up into the top 5, but 6th is a stellar result for a humble ballad, and anyway, Belgium making it was a pleasant surprise.

Israel deserved better, but they must be happier with the outcome than Azerbaijan and Albania. I have to admit, it was satisfying to see Azerbaijan tank for the first time in any Eurovision event. It proves they aren’t bulletproof.

 

Are you still awake? Because I have some good news for you. This recap is over! If by chance you want even more JESC, you can relive the whole EBJ Junior Month (including my reviews) by clicking on the ‘Junior Eurovision’ category at the bottom of the page. 

If you’re still feeling low, don’t worry, because the Malmö preselection season kicks off on Friday, with Belarus’ Eurofest. I’ll be back at the end of the week to review it, and look at the exciting NF news I missed during Junior month. If I promise you that post won’t be ridiculously long like this one, will I see you there?

 

What were your personal highlights and lowlights of Amsterdam 2012?