Unbelievably, it’s nearly JESC time again. The 12 delegations have arrived in Amsterdam (it took Fabian nearly two hours on a bus to get there!), the opening party has been had (where all the kids would have been sizing each other up on the pretense of making friends), the postcards have been shot (the contestants are back in!) and rehearsals have begun (I have nothing to put in these brackets!) and it all comes down to this weekend. You’ll be pleased to learn that I have purchased my show snacks and brought my flags out of retirement, and those items are now crossed off my list. To get to the point of this intro, also crossed off is part II of my 2012 reviews, featuring Israel, Moldova, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine…because you’re reading it right now.
Kids.il | Let The Music Win
The good: In the competition entitled ‘Best of the Newbies’ that’s currently running in my head, Israel is kicking Albania to the curb and firmly elbowing Azerbaijan out of the way. Basically, they’re winning, so I guess the music really does win it all (although whether it wins JESC remains to be seen). It’s so good to have Israel in the mix, not only with a bunch of rather talented kids but with a rousing, anthemic song that seems to take inspiration from the current and the retro. With decent staging and a great vocal performance – which I’m expecting – this could be a dark horse (keeping in mind that any country that isn’t Russia is a dark horse).
Everything else: If this song were a sandwich, not only would Junior Eurovision be less entertaining, but it would be a sandwich with a layer of cheese (albeit very finely sliced). Don’t get me wrong; it’s not in the same league of cheesiness as, say, If We All Give A Little by Six4One, which it keeps getting compared to – but after super-now Lerika (why does her name come up in all my reviews?) Kids.il may look a bit behind the times. Then again, the similarities between the two songs – e.g. the high energy and language switching – may lead to them canceling each other out.
The verdict: I’d say douze points but it’s just under, which in Eurovision-land equates to 10.
How it will do: 2nd-4th
Denis Midone | Toate Vor Fi
The good: There’s something endearing about this that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s kind of cutesy and grown-up at the same time, or that Denis tries so so hard in the video to get those kids in the classroom aiming for the stars and believing in themselves. I don’t know, but that mysterious charm makes it impossible to be mean about this entry in any way. It’s harmless more than anything – not too sweet, quite catchy, and performed pretty well. That won’t get him the Plexiglas trophy, but it should save him from the dreaded 12th position.
Everything else: The English translation of this makes me very glad of the JESC language stipulations. For all I know, the lyrics are just as cliché in Romanian, but ignorance is bliss (ironic cliché intended), so I can deal with a quick burst of questionable English in the last twenty seconds. Also, I know I said Denis was pretty much guaranteed 11th place or higher, but if he’s gone and brought the backing singer from his original video to Amsterdam, that may change. I’m sorry, but that girl is the worst vocal supporter I’ve ever heard.
The verdict: It couldn’t be less than 6 points from me.
How it will do: 9th-11th
Femke Meines | Tik Tak Tik
The good: The Netherlands, like Belgium, rarely fail to impress me in Junior Eurovision. This latest effort isn’t the best they’ve ever sent, but they should be proud to have it represent them on home soil. For the second year in a row there’s a Femke performing last, and like Een Kusje Meer, Tik Tak Tik is in the retro mould favoured by Dutch and Belgian JESC entrants. What I like about it is that none of it is a letdown, the verses being as punchy as the choruses. I also really like Femke’s NF jacket and hope she’ll be wearing it on Saturday night/posting it to me to wear on Saturday night.
Everything else: This girl as a singer = one who tends to yell more than actually produce notes if she’s not careful. So I’ll be crossing my fingers for her to rein that in, because nobody likes to be yelled at for three minutes straight. There’s no doubt the Netherlands will end the show with a bang (the home crowd will be in a frenzy by song 12, so they’ll go off) but I do think this song lacks that extra something which would put it into winning contention – that ‘oomph’ that’s hard to label but was seen in entries like the similar Click Clack.
The verdict: Not amazing, but a solid effort from the reliable host country. 7 points.
How it will do: 3rd-5th
Lerika | Sensatsiya
The good: Lerika’s back with a new sound and a new country backing her, and it’s safe to say she really wants the win this time. She was one of the best live performers in Yerevan – her voice and stage presence were faultless – and now she’s got the bookies’ favourite song to her name, she could be unstoppable. Sensatsiya isn’t groundbreaking, and it’s oh-so-repetitive, but let’s be honest: it’s a dancefloor anthem, and the only requirements a song needs to fulfill to make that grade is to be supremely catchy and high-energy. Tick and tick. And thank you, Russia, for pilfering this girl back from Moldova. If you hadn’t, we may not have seen her this year.
Everything else: I say Lerika ‘could’ be unstoppable because she ‘could’ also be to this year’s contest what the Netherlands’ Rachel was to last year’s. 12 months ago I was bopping along to Ik Ben Een Teenager, confident in Rachel’s ability to wipe the floor with the competition because her song was SOOOOO awesome. And what happened? She lost by a mere handful of points to a country I hadn’t even factored in as a winning possibility (d’oh!). Will we see an Armenian or Albanian victory with runner-up Lerika sobbing into her skater skirt?
The verdict: Douze points, by a glitter-coated whisker.
How it will do: 1st-3rd
Lova Sönnerbo | Mitt Mod
The good: I feel about this song how I felt about Finland’s entry for Baku – it’s a really beautiful, humble song with real meaning that’s unfortunately destined to go nowhere. I’ll admit, I didn’t love it this much the first time I heard it (and I may or may not have left a disparaging comment on Youtube about the ‘elusive chorus’) but it was the Grower of the Year. Lova’s voice is almost haunting – in a non-Halloween kind of way – and her falsetto in the last bit of the song gives it much–needed variety. The whole subdued, emotional feel of Sweden should contrast well against Belarus before and Azerbaijan after.
Everything else: The fact that Mitt Mod is a grower is bad for its chances at JESC. All of the people hearing it for the first or even second time on the night aren’t likely to vote for it, and who’s to say the kids’ jury will go for Lova? That, coupled with her performance position (both in terms of being early on and being tainted by the Curse of Number Two) means she could well follow in the footsteps of last year’s second performer, Amanda from Latvia. That would be a shame (especially if Sweden were beaten by Albania) but it could easily happen.
The verdict: I’ll give Lova 10 points, even if no one else does!
How it will do: 9th-12th
Anastasiya Petryk | Nebo
The good: I reckon if you played this to a Eurovision dunce and told them it was Ukraine’s entry for Junior, they wouldn’t believe you. I enjoy it when one of these out-there songs (e.g. Belarus 2009) makes it to the mini contest and shakes up the happy-clappy numbers that usually dominate. Strangely enough, Anastasiya ‘It’s My Turn To Bring The Crazy’ Petryk is the little sister of Victoria Petryk, who took a happy-clappy number to second place in 2008. This girl is so teeny but has the vocal chops of Christina Aguilera, so she doesn’t so much sing the song as attack it and throttle it to death, which suits the gritty intensity of the dubstep arrangement. This is by far the most original song of the Class of 2012, and for that I salute it.
Everything else: Going back to the miniscule, cutesy girl belting out an intense dubstep song thing, who knew kids could be so scary? I can say that because I haven’t seen Children of the Corn. I get the impression that one look from Anastasiya could turn you into a granite sculpture if you got on her bad side (so watch out if you out-score her, boys and girls) which perhaps is not what people want to pick up the phone for. Then again, she may also have Carrie-like telepathic powers which enable her to sense the foolish souls who fail to dial her number and enact long-distance revenge on them…oh God, save yourselves, my European friends! VOTE FOR YOUR LIVES! Whew, looks like I’m the intense one at the moment.
The verdict: 10 points, and not because I’m scared to give her any less.
How it will do: 6th-8th
Well, that’s that! With all 12 songs reviewed, my final pre-show ranking looks like this:
How does yours stack up? Will Russia storm to victory, or should Lerika start practicing her gracious loser face in the mirror? Let me know your thoughts below.
By the way, thanks for reading my reviews. Maybe I’ll see you in a few days for my 2011 recap and prediction special?