Excitedly we prepared ourselves for an evening of fun and frolics as we tuned into Junior Eurovision. Having never seen the show before, we were unsure what to expect. Junior Eurovision Song Contest (JESC) has been broadcast by the European Broadcasting Union since 2003. Unfortunately, here in U.K., Junior Eurovision does not receive very much attention. Perhaps the fact that the UK only participated for 3 years between 2003 – 2005, before withdrawing, explains why I was blissfully unaware of the show! In fact, participation seems to be less consistent than with its adult counterpart, with only 2 countries having participated every year since JESC started in 2003 – Belarus and The Netherlands. Some of the big players in Europe have never even joined the contest, such as Finland and Germany and many who have participated previously, no longer do so, for example France, Belgium, Spain and Sweden.
This year’s contest was held in the beautiful city of Valletta, Malta and in true Eurovision style we were treated with imagery from the country throughout the show. With snacks in one hand and anticipation seeping from our pores, we sat down to watch JESC. The prospect of a 2 hour 30 minute show did have us questioning if there was a more productive way to spend our evening! Our concern was raised further when it was revealed Jedward were on the judging panel! But what more could you ask for of an evening than a collection of European children screeching and squarbbling through catchy tunes and ballads you have never heard before and most likely will never hear again. I must take my hat off to these children – all of whom are talented and brave beyond measure!
The show kicked off with the longest set of inductions ever! The representatives for each country entered the stage in batches of 4, all attempting to sing the JESC song together before moving off stage to make way for the next 4 countries singers. Although only 16 countries participated, this seemed to last forever, the only thing this process added was a few extra minutes to judge the smugness of these pre-teens who were far too excited at their chance to compete in this international competition. The enthusiasm of the presenters, Valerie Vella and Ben Camille did little to speed up the proceedings. Everything appeared to be “beautiful” to Vella including last year’s host city, Sofia, and apparently everything in Malta! If her descriptions are anything to go by, along with our fish and chips, football hooligans and pensioners, we need to start exporting some more adjectives to the rest of Europe! The very attractive and accented Camille, with his dark slicked back hair (looking like he was paranoid the world might run out of wet look gel) is engaging and professional throughout, providing some eye candy which was unsurprisingly lacking elsewhere on the show!
Unfortunately the venue looked empty with only a few spectators, that I can only assume were either die-hard fans of JESC or randomers dragged in off the street at the last-minute. Throughout the links, the dancers on stage looked out-of-place, time and energy and distracted the viewer from the presenters.
Some of my highlights included,
1. Armenia ‘mean girls’ with all that attitude. I didn’t understand just how difficult it is for 6 girls to dance in time with the music all at once. However, the lyrics of the song “love is bigger than any difference” is a concept that we can all agree on within our modern and inclusive societies
2. Albania provided an honest and emotional performance….hold on one minute…was that a fake tear-wipe or is she over-tired?
3. The Russian representatives had great harmonies. One of only a handful of countries that were seemingly taking JESC as seriously as the adult counterpart.
4. Malta – Amazing voice but tight perms are never a good idea
5. Bulgaria – hit all the notes with a catchy tune. A bit of movement in the form of a nice long spin and some step-touch dancing to boot.
6. FYR – why did the lead singer look significantly older than the other contestants? Plus, pretty sure Brian Friedman had been involved with the choreography!
7. Belarus – had more attitude than…well something with lots of attitude…Justin Bieber?
8. Serbia – the sparkly disco jacket was a winner in my eyes but I think she may have stolen it from someone younger than her which cannot be condoned.
9. Israel – no Eurovision would be complete without a duet and this one did not disappoint with great harmonies and a beautiful melody
10. Netherlands – bright, colourful and youthful….felt like this is what JESC should be.
11. Cyprus – Brian Friedman definitely influenced the staging and choreography on this one!
12. Georgia – they could have given her a child sized microphone, that one looked bigger than her face!
13. Valerie Vella revealed the result prematurely (for any of those of us with basic maths skills) but then attempted to maintain the suspense! Fail!
You can view the whole thing by clicking on the link below. If you do decide to watch my advice would be to ensure that you have a bottle of wine and nothing better to do before devoting an evening to JESC. Whatever happens please don’t spend too long trying to figure out the voting system!