Le (Petit) Aire d’Autoroute 2 et Une Surprise

Et bonjour to the next mile/kilometer marker! No time for a long intro so let’s get to it!

Country Averages 2

Just when I ditch the pelican seagull avatar for an autumn Pantone wreath, Monaco shoots to the top of my leaderboard. I’m slightly annoyed that I couldn’t find a Monégasque translator online but I’ll just have to deal with it. Back to the countries, Monaco’s place is fully unsurprising, as the country has finished in the top five every time they’ve competed. However, Lithuania’s place is the complete opposite. In fact, I’m sort of ashamed that they’re so high up but, imo, the years in which they’ve been present have been two of their best, so whatever. Bratty Turkey wraps up the top three, which are far apart from the rest of the pack. All the way at the bottom are Bulgaria and Belarus, who have only had one go up to this point. Finally, sad Slovakia trails behind everyone with a pithy average in two tries. No wonder they don’t want to come back, yet I still dream of seeing Bratislava 20XX, for some reason.

Best Songs 2

Right, about the songs, the songs, it’s time for the songs! The Hall of Fame has a little more than doubled in size from 12 members to 27. If this is any indication of what’s to come, there will be about 216 members in the end, with 12 perfect songs. The former seems a bit high while the latter a bit low but it’s only a guess. Although just on preference, “Warum nur warum” should be fairly safe at its perch for quite a while. And now, here’s a new feature.

Revised Scores 1

Since Jostein and his ballad were the only change in the last cycle, I didn’t bother making anything but this time, four songs have changed their totals and two have shifted places. For “Monts et merveilles” and “Liefde is een kaartspiel,” I found new love and for Nora Nova’s song (I’m not typing that title), I found a new message in the lyrics (Thanks, Toggie!). Still, it wasn’t enough to change too much. And for “Legenda,” I realized that I undercut the artistic merits of the song because I found it detestable. However, that was wrong of me and the two scores in question have been appropriately changed. I’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Medal Table 2

Finally, the medal table for this cycle proves the power of … no one, actually. The Dutch made up for their lackluster songs from the first five years with two top three finishes. France also is still chasing a win, with two strong showings in the last two years but it just hasn’t been enough yet. Speaking of la grande nation, if everyone else’s rankings are anything to go by, they should be in contention for a victory in our next year.

But now, it’s time for something different.

Autumn tends to be a dead time for ESC, as the national finals haven’t really spooled up (except for the Swiss flop fest and some dodgy internal choices) but there’s something to keep some of us occupied, Junior Eurovision! Regardless of how you feel about the contest’s existence, it’s here for now and I, for one, enjoy it. Compared to 2012, this year’s field seems a bit weaker. Let’s (probably I’ll) take a look at all 12 songs.

Here’s a playlist I made so it would be easier to follow along. Lyric translations are on ESCKaz.com.

Armenia

“Choco-fabric” – Monika

I’m so sorry for any diabetes or cavities this might’ve caused. Even for JESC this is pretty terrible. The lyrics are, predictably, an ode to chocolate and the music is high-pitched little drops of annoying. If it wasn’t so damn catchy, it’d be straight to hell with this one, but alas, it’s hard to condemn a song by a child, even if she can’t sing at all.

Live: 2 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 0 | Music: 2 | Preference: 3

Total: 2.1 pts.

Azerbaijan

“Me and My Guitar” – Rustam Karimov

He’s such a cute kid! I just want to give him a big hug. 🙂 And thankfully, his song isn’t too bad, either. The music, despite featuring some sort of percussion instrument more heavily than a guitar, moves along nicely and the chorus is quite memorable. It also, surprisingly commonly for Junior Eurovision songs, eschewes a key change in exchange for a language change. This can either work well (e.g. Ukraine’s winner, “Nebo”) or terribly. Here, it’s pretty bad, with a pointless line about “the new generation” and “so celebration.” The rest of the lyrics are fine, talking about Rustam’s desire to sing and only sing. I’m not aware of any live performance, so this’ll be calculated based on lyrics and music alone. Hopefully he’s strong because I enjoy this song.

Lyrics: 4 | Music: 7 | Preference: 13

Total: 7.4 pts.

Belarus

“Poy s mnoy” – Ilya Volkov

Aw. Poor Ilya’s trying to belt this little pop song out of the park but he just can’t do it. That roar-like sound toward the end is proof. Aside from that, the staging was pretty generic but fine. Lyrically, it’s like Azerbaijan, except much more intelligent. He’ll sing all the time and doesn’t care “if it’s strange.” They’re pretty solid, just like the music, which backs the song quite well. All in all, it’s sort of forgettable but enjoyable, nonetheless.

Live: 7 | Staging: 5 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 6 | Preference: 12

Total: 7.2 pts.

Georgia

“Give Me Your Smile” – The Smile Shop

Georgian entries of recent seem to follow this formula of sticking some kids together in a group, giving them a song in Georgian save one line or phrase, and make it kitschy as hell. Sometimes it works but this time it might not. The song is actually a fun jazzy pastiche with a few well-timed key changes but the lyrics are cheesier than all else. There’s no live performance…again but the video’s big-band styling will be the source of the staging score. Besides those few endearing qualities, there’s not too much to love here.

Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 1 | Music: 5 | Preference: 8

Total: 4.8 pts.

Macedonia

“Ohrid i muzika” – Babara Popović

Aah, now it’s time for kiddie turbo-folk. The somewhat naff opening instrumental and chorus are both stuck in my head like a fly in a spider’s web. Nicely enough, that’s something Barbara sings about, as she recounts how she fell in love with a Dutch boy on a vacation to Ohrid. “His eyes spin a tender web” that she just can’t escape from, so she serenades him with this song. They work well and the “join me in my homeland” message in the chorus goes well with the music. The choreography is beyond ridiculous, though, so they need to brush up on that but, pending the live performance, this one is a favorite of mine. Well done, Macedonia.

Staging: 1 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 5 | Preference: 17

Total: 8.06 pts.

Moldova

“Cum să fim” – Rafael Bobeica

There’s actually some pretty powerful imagery here, if Google Translate and ESCKaz are to be trusted. If he goes with the full Romanian version like fabulous Aliona Moon, did, we’ll get a song about how hard it is to get along with one another until there are “ruins” from which humanity must emerge. It’s quite nice. Everything else is pretty tacky, from the music to his outfit. However, the Moldovan participation this year seems to be quite disastrous, as the results of the NF were challenged. That failed but then it was revealed that TRM hadn’t set aside any money to actually send a delegation to Ukraine, so a fundraising concert had to be organized at the last minute. It’s quite unfortunate and I hope that Rafael makes it to Kyiv. Along with a vocal coach, preferably.

Live: 5 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 9 | Music: 3 | Preference: 13

Total: 6.9 pts.

Malta

“The Start” – Gaia Cauchi

While this might sound like another big ballad, this is actually the first of its kind for Junior Eurovision. And as far as these songs go, this isn’t necessarily the best start. Sure, Gaia’s probably the best singer of the contest but her voice gets strange at the chorus and it’s just too shouty. The staging’s fine but the Azeri shower on the big screens behind her was totally laughable. Lyrically, it makes no sense, as she switches from talking about love to accomplishing goals. And when it’s all set to a dated euro-ballad melody, it just gets depressing. Oh and it gets fan favorite status. Why? I don’t know.

Live: 9 | Staging: 3 | Lyrics: 2 | Music: 2 | Preference: 9

Total: 5.1 pts.

The Netherlands

“Double Me” – Mylène & Rosanne

As far as Dutch entries go, this is pretty par for the course, although it is more gimmicky than most. Also, Mylène and Rosanne aren’t the strongest singers, so the whole thing seems a bit more amateur than it should, because the production values are highly evident. It’s quite slick and the lyrics have a little bite, talking about life’s differences when you have a twin. It’s all pretty average, but I really like it, despite my best intentions.

Live: 4 | Staging: 6 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 7 | Preference: 15

Total: 7.95 pts.

San Marino

“O-o-O Sole intorno a me” – Michele Perinola

The debutant of the contest actually is bringing one of the strongest songs and, in my opinion, has the best shot at winning. Lyrically, it’s smart and simple, talking about how inspired Michele is “to make it” somewhere above the sun, “higher than Icarus at supersonic speed.” It’s impressive stuff for a 15 year old (I don’t know about you, but Junior Eurovision is frequently a time for immense self-loathing for me). The music is surprisingly peppy and fun and the chorus is absolutely infectious. All this needs is some simple staging and a strong vocal performance and it might just be JESC in Serravalle. Even if they did win, it probably wouldn’t happen (the reference group picks the location) but it would be an interesting experiment.

Lyrics: 9 | Music: 9 | Preference: 18

Total: 10.8 pts.

Russia

“Mechtay” – Dayana Kirillova

This is just too much. So much so that it becomes boring. She’s shouting about how her love can be and do anything with her by his side, all he has to do is “dream on.” The pulsing electro-pop beat is intensely grating after a while and her voice, while strong, is off-putting as well. And the staging with the ship was stupid. This should do fine but it doesn’t deserve to do so. I really don’t care for this one at all.

Live: 7 | Staging: 2 | Lyrics: 4 | Music: 2 | Preference: 5

Total: 3.75 pts.

Sweden

“Det är dit vi ska” – Elias Elffors Elfström

I so hope he’ll do a Bellarosa and sing better than he did at Lilla Melodifestivalen because that was god-awful and this is my favorite song. The anthemic qualities here are so wonderfully epic and, at least in studio, he sounds like the perfect guy for the job. Lyrically, it’s not anything groundbreaking, as it talks about “moving forward together,” but exactly where is open to interpretation. It’s interesting. The music, with lots of light touches like piano and bells, sounds perfect for the message and Elias (should) tie it all together. He said that he was working on the staging so I won’t score that but all I can say is, it would’ve helped heal the damage from the live score. I so hope that this is Sweden’s year and that he sings well.

Live: 0 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 7 | Preference: 20

Total: 9.09 pts.

Ukraine

“We Are One” – Sofia Tarasova

Thievery, much? If you thought the 2013 slogan was hollow, than just wait until you hear the song. It’s lyrical nothingness set to a beat that was almost good and then ruined itself in the chorus. Unlike the Russian singer, Sofia sounds great and pleasant and has a nice a capella section to shine. The staging was bare bones but should be changed for the actual show. Overall, this is pretty boring and a total shadow of the superb “Nebo” that won for Ukraine last year.

Live: 8 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 1 | Music: 4 | Preference: 7

Total: 4.65 pts.

JESC 2013 Ranks

I’m not using the actual logo because I think it’s cheesy and ugly. There, I finally got that off my chest.

Like I said, this field is pretty weaker than last year’s. Oddly enough, though, last year was considered to be the worst ever in the fandom, so I don’t know what that says about me. 😛 Anyhow, I hope this was enjoyable and a little deviation from normal proceedings. Talking of, ESC 1991 will be ready… soon. Best wishes to all.

Peace,

-Nick

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Posted in Eurovision History
10 comments on “Le (Petit) Aire d’Autoroute 2 et Une Surprise
  1. Jaz says:

    Okay, let’s talk JESC.
    I will admit, I haven’t listened to all the songs multiple times (I wanted to save that for right before I review them, for freshness et cetera). I agree that it’s a pretty weak year song-wise, but I’m just grateful we are having a contest! And I’m excited for all the new stuff that’s happening (on-stage spokespersons, Zlata…). And I love the logo!! Cheesy and ugly?? That puzzle man is adorable, dammit!!
    Ahem.

    Armenia – hmm. It’s no ‘Sweetie Baby’, that’s for sure (which will be a massive relief for some people). I like the violin bit. I’m just not sure if the whole thing is a grower or not.

    Azerbaijan – the song is…middling. They just don’t seem to have the knack in Junior that they have in adult Eurovision. I do love the sound of Azerbaijani though, and I think it sounds great in this. Which in turn makes those crappy English bits sound worse, but you win some, you lose some.

    Belarus – LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!! Hey hey!! This is so catchy. Ilya does have one of those ‘yelly’ voices you hear often in JESC, but the song is so good (IMO) that I don’t care.

    Georgia – I like this more than I want to. It’s actually the only one I can imagine winning at this point (don’t hold me to that for long). We can probably bet on a good live vocal from these kids, being from Georgia and all. It’s not as strong as the last few years, but it’s good.

    Macedonia – This is manic!! It feels like it has about 500bpm or something. I like the story of it, and it is fairly infectious, but I was expecting something more ethnic and now I’m disappointed. Also, is it just me, or did Barbara look super unenthused about doing the live performance? Girl, you going to Junior Eurovision! Get your act together! Literally!

    Malta – I don’t really get why this is a fan favourite either. Her voice is pretty full on, and the song is so melodramatic and full of that ‘believing/achieving’ stuff that it makes me want to jump off a cliff, not pick up a phone and vote for it (not that I could even I wanted to =’[ ). Having said that, welcome back, Malta!

    Moldova – This is my favourite at the moment. *audible gasps* There’s just something about it that gets me. It reminds me a little of Zlata’s Gravity, just because it’s quite majestic and wouldn’t be out of place on the Lion King soundtrack. I know the NF performance was dodgy (I actually LOLd at your ‘vocal coach’ comment) but the studio version is amazing. I just hope he’s been working hard and can pull off something more like the studio for the show. PS – I will cry if he doesn’t make it to Kyiv!

    Netherlands – catchy but gets irritating fast. I really wanted Giorgio.

    Russia – I like this, but it’s so dated in sound, and not in a purposely retro way like Georgia’s song. There are only a couple of entries this year that sound contemporary, which is disappointing after such a ‘now’ song won last year.

    San Marino – Not bad. Not great. May be a grower! I’m mostly just excited to have SM on board. It does make me happy that someone has it as their favourite, though.

    Sweden – I would like to reserve judgment on this until I’ve had a few more listens. Right now, I feel let down, but I distinctly remember ragging on Mitt Mod the first time I heard it, thinking it was boring. By the time JESC came around, I was in love with it. I may grow to love this yet. But you’re not kidding – he needs to work on those vocal chops.

    Ukraine – Yeah, it’s kind of disjointed, but I really like it. She has a great voice and stage presence, and it is one of those few aforementioned modern-sounding songs in the field. I think we can safely say that she won’t be responsible for keeping the victory in Ukraine.

    My top 12 (as of this very second, as I am highly fickle):

    1. Moldova
    2. Belarus
    3. Ukraine
    4. Georgia
    5. Netherlands
    6. San Marino
    7. Russia
    8. Macedonia
    9. Azerbaijan
    10. Sweden
    11. Armenia
    12. Malta

    So we don’t technically agree on anything. Ah, the beauty of vastly different opinions! I’m hoping if a lot of people have different feelings (I haven’t had time to gauge that yet) we’ll get a tense vote.

    • Nick P. says:

      Already, I’m thinking that was a bit harsh. I think it has something to do with my background as a yearbook designer. So frequently, schools would use puzzle pieces for silly themes (“Be Creative” is actually one of the strongest things I’ve seen puzzle pieces attached to.) and it would look crappy. That being said, they really did do a good job at illustrating their concept, I just don’t like it. Puzzle man is cute, though. Smart idea and execution. I want a little plush doll of him!

      Moldova gets so close to that place for me. The unexpected depth of the lyrics makes it feel like this year’s “Mitt mod,” since it’s so mature. It would just be great if everything else sounded as amazing.

      Manic Macedonia, huh? I love that! 😉 It definitely manages its craziness better than other entries. Armenia, the spotlight’s on you.

      Yes, we don’t actually agree on anything but I’m willing to call Armenia and the Netherlands “close enough,” if you are.

      I’m reserving (awful) predictions until later. Right now, I think it could be San Marino, Belarus, or even Sweden, at this point. I’m almost certainly wrong, though. I totally missed out on “Nebo” last year and had Italy as the winner amongst the big kids. 🙂

  2. marcpanozzo says:

    Just taking a moment to absorb the fact that you score seven (7!) JESC 2013 songs higher than my beloved “Siren”.

    … and moving on ;).

    • Nick P. says:

      It’s all about perspective, my friend. 🙂 Anyone who’s looking for a “Siren” or “Suus” at JESC is going to be sorely disappointed. However if you’re looking for something fun that doesn’t necessarily follow a traditional ESC-pop formula, it’s perfect.

  3. togravus says:

    I thought about the lyrics of “Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne” again and I think that I found the reason why I love them so much. Once Nora has to face the disappointment of love, she knows absolutely no transcendence and doesn’t venture beyond the feeling of “disappointment”. In fact, the narrative of her unlucky love affair stops on this word without compromise time and again. There is no sublimation (imagery), no hope for a new love, no emotion beyond the end of love, not even a “S’il fallait le faire”. That is precisely the reason for the repetitive lyrics too. Just like a high jumper facing a insurmountable height, Nora makes one attempt after the other to get beyond that one uncompromising word (“Enttäuschung”, which literally means the end of deception or deceit in German) but every attempt sees her bringing the bar down. She never ends on the alluring mat on the other side of the bar. The immanence of the modern world … “Il n’y a pas d’ailleurs” … every failed attempt adds another brick to the wall … Boom! Boom! And Boom again! And the music tells us that Nora leaves the illusion of romantic love (the schmaltzy beginning) for the rushed illusion of the modern world which has no use for any concept of love (except for marketing reasons of course …)

    Pretty radical and quite singular for a 60s song imo, in particular within the context of ESC.

    • Nick P. says:

      Just to be clear, this song got 10 points and was a “random winner?” 😉 You’ve made it sound like the most amazing thing ever! I just wish I could listen to it once more to absorb this new view (I’m on my phone as of writing this conment). 🙂

      • togravus says:

        Perhaps she would have got 12/12 if we knew a live performance and if that live performance was great …

        And the difference between 10/12 and 12/12 is a very subjective thing anyway. I consider all songs that get either 10 or 12 from me masterpieces but the ones that get 12/12 are the ones that touch sth very deep inside of me … I guess that (like most people) I long for Romantic love to be true as well … and thus my 12/12 normally go to people beating their chests, biting their nails and tearing out their hair while singing about lost love … 😉 🙂

        • Nick P. says:

          I guess it’d be the same for me. The 12 pointer for 2013 (I’ve preliminarily determined that there is one) is incredibly deep for me. The odd thing is that it broke into my soul in such a different way than the song would seen to.
          Speaking of love, I too would rather see idyllic love come true. 🙂

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