2011 Junior Eurovision Round-Up!
For some, the idea of “Eurovision” simply refers to an event in May, where veteran singers of varying levels of quality duke it out for supremacy. For others, the passion extends to the National Finals, where networks from all over the Eurovision sphere pick the song that will represent their nation. For the most devoted, however, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest gives young, up-and-coming talent the chance to shine. These performers, all of whom are between the ages of ten and fifteen, will perform their self-penned numbers in front of a live audience and jury, all for the chance at a bit of glory (not to mention a week of skipping school back home!). Now in its ninth year, Junior Eurovision (or “JESC”) will be held in Yerevan, Armenia this Saturday, December 3rd. Multitalented kids from thirteen nations will take the stage, with musical styles ranging from teen pop to ballads to disco to ’50’s throwback. Let’s take a quick look at what’s in store for the weekend:
1) Russia – Katya Ryabova – “Kak Romeo i Dzhulyetta (Like Romeo and Juliet)”: For the first time in JESC history, a singer is actually returning to the competition for a second chance at the contest. Katya represented Russia in 2009 with the song “Malenkiy prints“, and ended up coming in second place to the Netherlands’ Ralf Mackenbach. Can 14-year-old Katya pull a Dima Bilan?
2) Latvia – Amanda Bašmakova – “Mēness suns (Moondog)”: Amanda, 14, will be representing her homeland with a sweet ballad about her dog, as faithful as the moon itself. I’m not going to lie…I got a little weepy when I heard this for the first time…
3) Moldova – Lerika – “No, No”: This is only Moldova’s second trip to the JESC, and they’ll be represented by 12-year-old Lerika. (A point of trivia: Moldova is sending this year’s smallest delegation to the JESC…it’s just Lerika, her mother, and her vocal coach!)
4) Armenia – Dalita – “Welcome to Armenia”: For the first time in JESC history, a nation will be hosting the event the year after winning the competition (hosting is determined via a bidding process, rather than by awarding it to the previous year’s victor). That means the attention is doubled for 12-year-old Dalita, who seems to be channeling Scooch in her entry this year…
5) Bulgaria – Ivan Ivanov – “Supergeroy (Superhero)“: Eleven-year-old Ivan is Bulgaria’s first JESC representative since 2008. Previous Bulgarian representatives include Bon-Bon, the group that launched the career of 2011 Eurovision representative Poli Genova and her backing singers (however, much like Menudo, Bon-Bon’s membership changes often as the singers age).
6) Lithuania – Paulina Skrabytė – “Debesys (The Clouds)”: At only ten years old, Paulina is one of this year’s youngest contestants, but she’s already competed in contests across the region.
7) Ukraine – Kristall – “Evropa (Europe)”: Like Moldova’s Lerika, Kristall will be singing the highly-caffeinated “Evropa” bilingually.
8 ) (FYR) Macedonia –Dorijan Dlaka – “Zimi Ovoj Frak (I Swear by this Tailcoat)”: Dorijan is already familiar with the JESC; he was one of last year’s backup dancers. Supposedly, however, there have been a few issues with the performance of this jazzy number during rehearsals: the 14-year-old’s voice is breaking!
9) The Netherlands – Rachel – “Ik ben een teenager (I’m a Teenager)”: Rachel, age 13, may be a complete newcomer to the world of entertainment, but she has been working as a special ambassador for a foundation benefiting children with disabilities (she was born with nerve damage in her left arm).
10) Belarus – Lidiya Zablotskaya – “Angely Dobra (Angels of Goodness)“: Lidiya, age 13, will have more than a little pressure on her shoulders; Belarus is the only nation to have won the JESC more than once. Ksenia Sitnik took 2005’s title with “My Vmeste (We are Together)“, and two years later Alexey Zhigalkovich won with the equally-upbeat “S druz’yami (With Friends)”. “Angely Dobra” is a much more toned-down number, but Lidiya’s voice shines, rather than the production itself. Will it be enough to win?
11) Sweden – Erik Rapp – “Faller (Falling)”: Fifteen-year-old Erik is the oldest contestant this year, and the first male singer to represent Sweden at JESC. (In fact, 2006’s JESC performer, Molly Sandén, is currently dating Eric Saade and is scheduled to compete in 2012’s Melodifestivalen. They grow up so fast, don’t they?)
12) Georgia – Candy – “Candy Music”: Ranging in ages from eleven to fifteen, Georgia has brought us this year’s only group. They’ve won the contest once before, with 2008’s equally-hyperactive “Bzzz…” by Bzikebi (The Wasps). (And while it seems that the grown-up version of Eurovision sees a trend towards Georgian singers named Sopho, Junior Eurovision veers towards young performers named Mariam; there has been at least one Mariam on stage during every one of Georgia’s five JESC participation, seven in all!)
13) Belgium – Femke – “Een kusje meer (One More Kiss)“: Closing out the show for this year is eleven-year-old Femke, singing a sweet ’50’s-inspired number about one’s first kiss. Even though Belgium is one of only four nations that has competed in every JESC (the others being the Netherlands, Macedonia, and Belarus), they have never cracked into the event’s Top Three. Will Femke get them onto the medal podium this time around?
I wasn’t able to make it out to JESC this year, although I’m keeping my hopes up that I’ll make it out to next year’s event in the Netherlands. However, the crews from ESC Insight, ESCXtra, and Radio International have all been working overtime from the press center in snowy Yerevan, recording daily podcasts, interviews, and exclusive footage of the rehearsals. ESC Insight has even put together a comprehensive guide to the event, including more information about the artists, the songs, and each country’s history in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Check it out!
(Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2011 logo Copyright EBU, AMPTV)