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