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EBJ’s top 10…Junior Eurovision countries

This time next week, JESC 2012 will be over (sad face) and I will be attempting to stay awake at a Christmas party having gone to bed at 6am after watching the contest live (I bet you’ve missed me complaining about being an Australian Eurovision fan. It really can be traumatising). There are still a few things to take care of between now and then, and I’m not just referring to painstakingly selecting my show snacks. The second half of my reviews is yet to come, as is the final recap of Yerevan and a prediction or two of what will go down in Amsterdam. But right now, it’s time for a top 10.

I’m always labeling one country or another as one of my favourite ESC or JESC participants – and now we’re in the thick of Junior month I figured it was about time I made the mini-Eurovision list official. It’s not exactly easy to narrow down which of the 31 nations who have ever competed are your most-loved, but a lot of nostalgia, countless calculations of percentages (#eurovisionmathsisthebestmaths) and several hours later, I’ve cracked it. The list is based on the countries that have sent amazing songs time and time again – in my opinion, of course – and in doing so given me high expectations of them the next contest approaches. Quite a few of them have less than impressive records in the ESC, but have found their rhythm (and a factory that produces supremely talented singer-songwriters aged 10-15) in Junior. Let’s hope they figure out how to do both in style sometime soon.

In the meantime, check out my favourite JESC countries and let me know which ones would be on your list.

 

#1 | Belgium

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 4th in 2009

My top 3:

Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (2009)

Anders by Trust (2007)

De Vriendschapsband by X!NK (2003)

 

#2 | Spain

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 1st in 2004

My top 3:

Te Traigo Flores by Antonio José (2005)

Antes Muerta Que Sencilla by Marìa Isabel (2004)

Te Doy Mi Voz by Dani (2006)

 

#3 | Armenia

Debut: Rotterdam 2007

Best result: 1st in 2010

My top 3:

Erazanq by Arevik (2007)

Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (2010)

Welcome To Armenia by Dalita (2011)

 

#4 | Georgia

Debut: Rotterdam 2007

Best result: 1st in 2008/2011

My top 3:

Odelia Ranuni by Mariam Romelashvili (2007)

Candy Music by Candy (2011)

Mari Dari by Mariam Khakelishvili (2010)

 

#5 | the Netherlands

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 1st in 2009

My top 3:

Ik Ben Een Teenager by Rachel (2011)

Click Clack by Ralf Mackenbach (2009)

Stupid by Tess (2005)

 

#6 | Ukraine

Debut: Bucharest 2006

Best result: 2nd in 2008

My top 3:

Evropa by Kristall (2011)

Matrosy by Victoria Petryk (2008)

Urok Hlamuru by Ilona Galytska (2007)

 

#7 | Serbia

Debut: Bucharest 2006

Best result: 3rd in 2007/2010

My top 3:

Učimo Strane Jezike by Neustrašivi Učitelji Stranih Jezika (2006)

Čarobna Noć by Sonja Skorić (2010)

Piši Mi by Nevena Bozović (2007)

 

#8 | Belarus

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 1st in 2005/2007

My top 3:

My Vmeste by Ksenia Sitnik (2005)

S Druz’yami by Alexey Zhigalkovich (2007)

Tantsui by Volha Satsuk (2003)

 

#9 | Sweden

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 3rd in 2006

My top 3:

Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandén (2006)

Du by Mimmi Sandén (2009)

Varför Jag? by Limelights (2004)

 

#10 | Macedonia

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 5th in 2007/2008

My top 3:

Prati Mi SMS by Bobi Andonov (2008)

Rodendeski Baknež by Denis Dimoski (2005)

Ding Ding Dong by Rosica & Dimitar (2007)

So, which countries have you fallen in love with based on their Junior entries? 

Counting down to JESC: Kyiv 2009

Another day, another step closer to the next contest and, you guessed it, another EBJ JESC recap! We’re on the home stretch now with three more editions to cover, so let’s get straight into the 7th. It was hosted by the Ukraine and took place under the same roof as big Eurovision had four years earlier, but in the end it was all about a country unaccustomed to topping the scoreboard…

 

The stats

Edition: 7th

When: 21st November, 2009

Where: Palace of Sports, Kyiv, Ukraine

Motto: ‘For the joy of people’

Hosts: Ani Lorak, Timur Miroshnichenko & Dmytro Borodin 

Broadcaster: NTU

Entries: 13

Debutants: 0

Returnees: 1 – Sweden

Withdrawals: 3 – Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania

Interval acts: Ani Lorak performing Shady Lady and I’m Alive,  Art Studio Rizoma performing ‘Tree of Life’

First place: Netherlands

Last place: Romania

Most douze points: 4 – Belgium

 

The entries

Sweden/ Du by Mimmi Sandén

Russia/ Malenkiy Prints by Ekaterina Ryabova

Armenia/ Barcelona by Luara Hayrapetyan

Romania/ Ai Puterea în Mâna Ta by Ioana Anuţa

Serbia/ Onaj Pravi by Ništa Lično

Georgia/ Lurji Prinveli by Group Princesses

Netherlands/ Click Clack by Ralf

Cyprus/ Thalassa, Ilios, Aeras, Fotia by Rafaella Kosta

Malta/ Double Trouble by Francesca & Mikaela

Ukraine/ Tri Topoli, Tri Surmy by Andranik Alexanyan

Belgium/ Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura

Belarus/ Volshebniy Krolik by Yuriy Demidovich

Macedonia/ Za Ljubovta by Sara Markovska

 

The scoreboard

  1. Netherlands – 121

  

  1. Armenia – 116
  2. Russia – 116
  3. Belgium – 113
  4. Ukraine – 89
  5. Georgia – 68
  6. (= 6) Sweden – 68
  7. Malta – 55
  8. Belarus – 48
  9. Serbia – 34
  10. Cyprus – 32
  11. Macedonia – 31
  12. Romania – 19

 

My top 5…

…songs

Belgium – as you may have noted in my last post, this is only my FAVOURITE JUNIOR SONG OF ALL TIME! Ahem. I’m rarely averse to a song that starts out as a ballad and then transforms into something else, a la Donny Montell’s Love Is Blind, and this is a wonderful example. Catchy, fun pop music with infectious yodeling.

Sweden – I’m beginning to think ’09 was epic, since this is another of my absolute favourites. I missed Sweden so much when they withdrew from JESC 2008, but I couldn’t have asked for a better comeback. Those Sandén sisters know how it’s done, and Mimmi opened the show in style with her sophisticated but not too grown-up electro-pop-r-and-b number (or whatever you’d call it).

Netherlands – after the great ‘WTF?’ winner debacle of the previous year, it was good to have someone come out on top who, in my mind, deserved to be there. Click Clack has that retro vibe the Netherlands seem to favour, but with a little something extra – namely a singing, tap-dancing, awesome jacket-wearing dude called Ralf.

Armenia – I love a sports anthem at Eurovision, and this is no exception. It may be shouty, but that doesn’t matter when you’re right there shouting along with Luara. Go Barcelona indeed!

Belarus – I’m not even joking. You can abuse me all you want, but I’ll still like this song. It’s pure musical madness and I’m pretty sure Yuriy was possessed by Krassimir Avramov, but that makes it stand out.

…voices

Romania – I can understand Ioana’s song coming last (it’s nice, but gets boring) but her voice was too good to be in that position. Then again, it’s not called the Junior Eurovision Voice Contest…

Sweden – what is with this family? How is it possible to have so many talented children? It’s so unfair. They could at leastbe ugly so the rest of us don’t feel so inadequate.

Belarus – his prowess is not so evident when he’s yelling ‘volshebniy KROLIK!’ (a.k.a. for most of the song) but once he goes all opera, it’s on. I bet you couldn’t shatter glasses with your high notes. No matter how tight your underpants are.

Georgia – the song is not up my alley, but I think the group sound really good together, as all the Georgian groups tend to.

Ukraine – Andranik has a really strong voice which comes unexpected from someone of his stature.

…costumes

Armenia – now here are some sport-inspired outfits I can get behind! Luara was in danger of being upstaged by her backup dancers in their super-cute soccer uniforms, complete with the Eurovision logo emblazoned on their shirts.

Netherlands – I want every single one of those jackets. Ralf, if you’re reading this while wondering what to get me for Christmas, there’s your answer.

Sweden – simple but eye-catching. Sequins aren’t a Eurovision calling card for no reason.

Belgium – yellow and flowers, two of my favourite things. This look was young, fun, and totally song-appropriate.

Ukraine – traditional costume never looked so good. Again, they’re bright and floral, but I’m not complaining. 

Luara, Ralf, Mimmi, Laura, Andranik and his dancers

 

My bottom 5…

…songs

Cyprus – I like the opening/closing riff, but apart from that I’d class this as one of my least favourite JESC entries. I find it quite whiny and monotonous. I also feel really mean right now, but I have to be honest.

Serbia – not dreadful, just ‘meh’.

Macedonia – let’s face it, anything was bound to be a letdown after the few minutes of perfection that was Macedonia’s 2008 entry.

Georgia – this takes a while to get going, and once it does, it doesn’t go very far.

Malta – I know this is Junior Eurovision (as if I haven’t mentioned it enough already) but this is just too kiddish for me, as catchy as it is. The lyrics are ridiculous.

…voices

Serbia – I’m sure Anica is a lovely girl, and excels in other areas of life in general…but my god, her voice is terrible.

Cyprus – it may be the song that makes Rafaella’s vocal sound worse than it is.

…costumes

Cyprus – this look just doesn’t appeal to me.

Romania – it’s not so much the costumes that are bad (but I had to bring this up) than the creepy cardboard cut-outs which are apparently there to give the illusion of more people on stage. Just like the Swiss mannequins of ESC 2007, this trick wasn’t fooling anyone.

Georgia – they’re sweet, but they make the girls look like they should be going to bed, not performing in front of a crowd of thousands and a TV audience of many more.

Rafaella, Ioana and the Group Princesses

 

 

Did you get a kick out of Kyiv, or was Ukraine’s show a fizzler?

 

Most-Played…JESC entries

By my reckoning, there are 296 days until Junior Eurovision 2012 – but I always was rubbish at maths.

Now that I’ve gotten that bad joke off my chest, I can tell you that there are in fact 22 days until the show, and that I don’t feel one of my usual rambling introductions is necessary for this post. Here’s a playlist of my most listened to entries from the last nine years of mini Eurovision, which surprised even me in its lack of resemblance to my list of all-time favourites…

 

#1 | Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (Belgium 2009)

“I’m SO much cuter than Ralf…it should’ve been me!”

This list may not go hand in hand with my top 20 Junior songs of all time, but it does have my absolute most-loved right where it should be. Belgium is one of my favourite JESC countries (as opposed to being one of my most maligned ESC countries) and of all the gems they’ve sent over the last nine years, Laura’s is my personal best. Who’d have thought yodeling could a) not bring up unpleasant memories of being forced to watch all 56 and ½ hours of The Sound of Music when I was a kid and b) be so enjoyable? Prior to 2009 (and Gwen Stefani’s Wind It Up aside) not moi. 

#2 | Erazanq by Arevik (Armenia 2007)

#3 | Antes Muerta Que Sencilla by Maria Isabel (Spain 2004)

#4 | Arabiens Drøm by Anne Gadegaard (Denmark 2003)

#5 | Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (Armenia 2010)

“The power of my finger compels you! To vote for me, that is.”

Two years on and I’m still loving it! This is the most recent winner I was 100% happy with, and didn’t have to spend a fortnight or so coming to terms with. Vlad (who I suspect will grow up to be quite the ladies’ man) deserved the victory with this ethno-pop plea for his mother’s love advice, which I can’t believe he wrote and composed himself at the tender age of twelve. 

#6 | Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandèn (Sweden 2006)

#7 | Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav by Dino Jelusic (Croatia 2003)

#8 | Allt Jag Vill Ha by Josefine Ridell (Sweden 2010)

#9 | Eooo, Eooo by Anja Veterova (FYR Macedonia 2010)

Little does Anja know her backup dancers are laughing at the ‘KICK ME’ sign on her back

I’m sorry to say this, but Anja’s singing – and unfortunately, speaking – voice is one of the most irritating I’ve ever heard. Luckily her entry for Macedonia in Minsk was so damn catchy it overshadowed that. I find this such a good sing-along song, and I think it could stand up in big Eurovision with a few tweaks. 

#10 | Knock Knock!…Boom Boom! by Nicole (Malta 2010)

#11 | Mijn Ogen Zeggen Alles by Roel (Netherlands 2003)

#12 | Anders by Trust (Belgium 2007)

#13 | Oki Doki by Bartas (Lithuania 2010)

Bartas’ reaction on discovering he’d be opening the 2010 contest

I distinctly remember disliking this in the lead-up to Minsk, something I could say about quite a few of the songs on this list. Apparently I’ve come around. It does have a way of getting into your head – particularly the ‘oki doki’ parts, which are kind of annoying but so easy to sing along with. 

#14 | Muzyki Svet by Daniil Kozlov (Belarus 2010)

#15 | Shut Up by Oliver (Belgium 2008)

#16 | Click Clack by Ralf (Netherlands 2009)

‘Click-Clack’ is actually Dutch for ‘stop that, you’re pulling my arms out of their sockets!’

Who doesn’t love this song? Okay, so it’s likely not everyone loves it, but come on – it’s so hard to resist those ba-da-bi-di-do’s! All in all it’s one of my favourite JESC winners, and despite the strong competition from Russia, Armenia and Belgium, I think it was the right choice. Anytime the Netherlands win anything ESC-related, there should be widespread celebration. 

#17 | Čarobna Noč by Sonja Skoric (Serbia 2010)

#18 | Moondog by Amanda Bašmakova (Latvia 2011)

#19 | Get Up! by Jill & Lauren (Belgium 2010)

#20 | Sommer og Skolefri by Malin (Norway 2005)

‘Yes! I managed to hold up this giant mike the whole time!’

I’ve already sung the praises of this entry in my JESC ’05 recap (not literally, but if I had it would’ve gone something like this: ‘IIIII looooo-uhhh-ooooove thiiis SOOOOOOONG!!’, followed by riotous applause) but you can never say too many good things about it – it’s not like it’s going to get a big head. Malin was so teeny and adorable back then, and her super-cute song that implied how much school sucks was just the cherry on top.

 

Which Junior songs make your most-played list?? 

 

COMING UP: As the countdown to Amsterdam continues, I put JESC 2009 under the microscope. Then, it’s the exposé you’ve all been waiting for: who are the JESC doppelgangers? All will be revealed very soon…  

 

JESC Challenge: #4, #5, #6 and #7!

Day 4: Favourite song by a female soloist

Almost there:

Arabiens Drøm by Anne Gadegaard (Denmark 2003)

Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandèn (Sweden 2006)

Odelia Ranuni by Mariam Romelashvili (Georgia 2007)

Du by Mimmi Sandèn (Sweden 2009)

But my favourite is:

Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (Belgium 2009)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii9R5ULTrlI&feature=related

The Sound of Music has nothing on this, a yodel-pop-fest that I think was robbed of second place – two times over – in Kyiv. If it wasn’t for that darned wonderful Ralf guy I would have gone as far as to say this should have won. I love everything about it – especially the way it starts out all ballad-like before unexpectedly launching into one of the catchiest choruses ever heard on a Junior Eurovision stage (well, it’s unexpected if you’re hearing the song for the first time. You kind of know what’s coming on subsequent listens). The yodeling makes it memorable; the up-tempo makes it fun; and the little choreographed jumps and bends make me nostalgic for other songs-with-dances…ah, how I miss you, Macarena.

 

Day 5: Favourite song by a male soloist

Almost there:

Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav by Dino Jelusić (Croatia 2003)

Een Tocht Door Het Donker by Thor! (Belgium 2006)

Shut Up by Oliver (Belgium 2008)

Prati Mi SMS by Bobi Andonov (FYR Macedonia 2008)

Junior Swing by Daniel Testa (Malta 2008)

Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (Armenia 2010)

But my favourite is:

My Song for the World by Tom Morley (United Kingdom 2003)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuw7t5ovjb0&feature=related

Ireland spent a great deal of the 1990s and early 2000s sending message-ballads to big Eurovision. Unfortunately for them, I think the UK beat them at their own game at JESC in Copenhagen– by sending a 10-year-old boy. For me, this song is a classic of the contest: a really good ballad with a message that doesn’t make me want to shoot myself.

 

Day 6: Favourite song by a duo

Almost there:

Sinnsykt Gal Forelsket by 2U (Norway 2003)

Vesenniy Jazz by the Tolmachevy Twins (Russia 2006)

Get Up! by Jill & Lauren (Belgium 2010)

But my favourite is:

Ding Ding Dong by Rosica & Dimitar (FYR Macedonia 2007)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sQuWFwiWHE

I don’t know whether it’s the relative lack of duos in comparison to soloists and groups, or just my taste, but I found it hard to come up with more than a few duets that I like. Ding Ding Dong is the one I like most, which is odd as I usually stay as far away from the boom and bang and tiddly diddly doo songs as I can. I swear I like the song itself too, and not just the fact that Dimitar totally looks like Draco Malfoy.

 

Day 7: Favourite song by a group

Almost there:

Pigen Er Min by Cool Kids (Denmark 2004)

Erazanq by Arevik (Armenia 2007)

Anders by Trust (Belgium 2007)

Bonbolandiya by Bon-Bon (Bulgaria 2007)

But my favourite is:

Učimo Strane Jezike by Neustrašivi Učitelji Stranih Jezika (Serbia 2006)

If Serbia has their own version of Sesame Street then they would surely have adopted this song as their theme. I get pretty into the regular Sesame theme song (What? It’s catchy!) so naturally I love this song to pieces. It may be the kind of ‘childish’ effort that those not in the know would expect from Junior Eurovision, especially lyrics-wise, but who wants to see a kid in a tux/ball dress belting out a heart-wrencher umpteen times over? Sometimes we need to hear a bunch of kids count in umpteen different languages instead.

 

NEXT WEEK: Time-Warp Tuesday, JESC style; the challenge continues with days 8 to 12; and Part 2 of my 2011 reviews will be posted for your viewing pleasure….