Preview: Junior Eurovision 2012 (Part 1)

It appears that December 2012 is going to be a busy month in the Eurovision Sphere.  We are expecting National Finals from Belarus, Switzerland, Belgium, Ukraine, Albania, and Lithuania, alongside further details from myriad other countries from across the EBU’s auspices.  We already have two names confirmed (Anouk and Roberto Bellarossa), and there’s much more to come as the holiday season approaches.

But before Preseason really kicks into high gear, there’s event that has sort of become the final full-stop on the bleak annual period of Post-Eurovision Depression: the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.  The tenth annual edition of this event, geared at performers aged 10 to 15, will be held at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam on Saturday, December 1st.  With a dozen acts competing (including a trio of debuting nations), the youth of Europe is getting ready to shine.  Let’s take a look at the first half of this year’s Junior Eurovision Contestants (in running order):

1) Belarus: Egor Zheshko – “A More-More (Oh Sea-Sea)”

  • Number of JESC Participations: 10
  • Number of JESC Victories: 2 (2005, 2007)
  • Placement at the 2011 JESC: 3
  • Age of 2012 Participant: 12

Egor will be kicking off the show with his retro-styled ode to the sea and world unity (you’ll find this is a running theme in JESC songs).  Belarus has won Junior Eurovision twice before (in 2005 and 2007), a feat that they have yet to mimic at Eurovision proper.  Old-school swing-insipred entries have done relatively well in the past; in 2008, Daniel Testa’s similar “Junior Swing” gave Malta a 4th-place position, their highest entry ever.  Egor will be opening the show, however…will this affect his eventual placement on the scoreboard?

2) Sweden: Lova Sönnerbo – “Mitt Mod (My Courage)”

  • Number of JESC Participations: 9
  • Number of JESC Victories: 0
  • Placement at the 2011 JESC: 9
  • Age of 2012 Participant: 14

Despite currently reigning over Eurovision, Sweden has yet to claim a win at the Junior level.  Their best result was a third-place position in 2006 by Molly Sandén, who has grown up quite a bit since then (she entered Melodifestivalen in 2012 and came in a very respectable fifth place with “Why Am I Crying?“).  Anyway, back to Lova.  Entering with an emotional ballad (which seems to be right in the wheelhouse of Sweden’s past JESC entries), the 14-year old singer-songwriter brings a message of courage and confidence to the stage.  It might be overpowered by other entries this year (so far, the victory has never gone to a ballad), but Lova should be proud of what she’ll be bringing to Amsterdam.

3) Azerbaijan: Omar Sultanov & Suada Alekberova – “Girls and Boys (Dünya Sənindir)”

  • Number of JESC Participations: 1
  • Number of JESC Victories: n/a
  • Placement at the 2011 JESC: n/a
  • Age of 2012 Participant: ? (Omar) and 11 (Suada)

The first of 2012’s three debuting entries, Azerbaijan dips their toe into the JESC pool with Omar and Suada’s bouncy, kid-friendly ode to going out and having fun.  (It’s Junior Eurovision…I never said it had to be deep.)  With plenty of sweeping shots of the duo playing around on Baku’s seaside Bulvar (including a shot of the Crystal Arena in the distance at 2:00 into the video) and a final chorus in English, this might be the first high-energy number to get the audience up onto their feet the night of the show.  Will it translate into votes?

4) Belgium: Fabian – “Abracadabra”

  • Number of JESC Participations: 10
  • Number of JESC Victories: 0
  • Placement at the 2011 JESC: 7
  • Age of 2012 Participant: 14

Belgium, like their alphabetical neighbor Belarus, is one of only a few nations to have taken part in every edition of JESC.  However, unlike Belarus, Belgium has yet to claim a title, only coming as high as 4th place with 2009’s adorable “Zo Verlieft“.  (Granted, Belgium has also brought the world my personal favorite JESC entry of all time, 2008’s “Shut Up!“)  As the 2012 event is being held in the Netherlands, and Fabian will be performing in Flemish, it’s possible that a swell of home audience support for a linguistic ally might translate into votes, but Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden are the only singers from Western Europe performing, the three have an uphill battle against seven former Soviet states (Israel and Albania are the two geographical wildcards in the equation).

5) Russia: Lerika – “Sensatsiya (Sensation)”

  • Number of JESC Participations: 8
  • Number of JESC Victories: 1 (2006)
  • Placement at the 2011 JESC: 4
  • Age of 2012 Participant: 13

Eagle-eyed JESC fans might see a familiar face in Valeriya “Lerika” Engalycheva; she had the honor of representing Moldova in the 2011 contest, coming in 6th place with “No, No” (a record high for the nation).  This makes Lerika one of only two returning artists in JESC history (the other being Katya Ryabova, who sang for Russia in 2009 and 2011).  Moldova’s delegation was miniscule last year; only Lerika, her mum, and the Head of Delegation were present on behalf of the nation.  She had no backing dancers, no press assistants, and no promotional materials.  During rehearsals, Lerika herself took the reins on arranging camera angles, prop placement, and sound levels.  She’s got the experience that all other contestants this year lack, a much larger and more organized delegation supporting her, and a strong, energetic song.  This will be one to beat.

6) Israel: Kids.il – “Let the Music Win”

  • Number of JESC Participations: 1
  • Number of JESC Victories: n/a
  • Placement at the 2011 JESC: n/a
  • Age of 2012 Participant: Ranging from 10 to 14

The second of the three nations making their debut at Junior Eurovision, Israel has sent a supergroup of young talent from all over Israel.  Many of the kids have participated in musical competition before: some with the Israeli television show “Music School”, others at the international level at the Slavianski Bazaar in Belarus.  This is their first time performing as a unit, however, and they’re presenting a song mostly in Hebrew, with smatterings of English, French, and Russian in the lyrics.  Among many Junior Eurovision followers, Israel’s entry is considered a dark horse for the win, but with no precedent for bloc voting and no shared linguistic partners, it might be tough to predict.  Either way, it’s a great way to introduce Israel to the JESC family.

In our next entry, we’ll take a look at the second half of the running order, including the debut entry from Albania.  Stay tuned!

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Posted on November 25, '12, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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