With the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Warsaw come and gone, has ‘Post-Junior Eurovision- Depression’ kicked in yet? Well… let’s help you with that.
Picture this: Eurovision season begins, you follow many national selections, listen to all the songs for that year, form favourites, watch pre-parties, watch rehearsals, have an exciting and time watching the semi-finals and final and feel either happy or salty over the results. Does it sound familiar? It does to me. It seems like an annual routine for me, an average Eurovision fan, and may be a routine for many of Eurovision fans out there as well. Well, I wanted to try something new and break that routine. So a few months back I decided to do something that I haven’t done in several years: I have decided to go into the next Junior Eurovision edition without listening to ANY of the songs beforehand.
So some of you might be wondering why I have decided to do this. Well, in all honesty I just wanted to see if I can do it! I haven’t watched Eurovision or Junior Eurovision without taking a listen to the songs before the competition for a number of years now, so I thought “I like a challenge… Let’s try it!”
Also, I have noticed that the fan favourites and the public vote doesn’t always correlate, with fan favourites sometimes not doing as well as expected from the fans. So I thought that by doing this, maybe I can take a glimpse at the contest through the eyes of the casual viewer.
Now I could have done this for the adult edition of the contest. However, I don’t have the time, patience or will power to even attempt to do something as drastic as that. Imagine, FiK usually starts in December and the contest occurs in May… that is 6 months with no new Eurovision related songs, news and events. I don’t think I could handle that, so I thought Junior Eurovision would’ve been an easier pathway to do this little experiment.
Going into the show, I was really hoping that the wait was worth it. I mean, I ignored the songs, as well as many messages from fellow EuroVoxxers talking about the songs (sorry for ignoring you guys). But after all that, I was so glad that I did because for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was watching the contest more as a viewer rather than a fan. I was able to watch the show without the worry of wanting a song to do well or wanting a song that I didn’t like to not do well. I just sat back, relaxed (until the voting) and enjoyed what I felt was a fantastic, well executed and smoothly run show.
From watching as a viewer but also having the experience of watching it as a fan, it also opened my eyes to some noticeable differences in terms viewership experience. One difference I realised was the fact that I didn’t know how the studio versions of any of the songs sounded like, therefore I wouldn’t have noticed if there was any arrangement changes in the songs. In particular, I became aware after the show that the runner up Kazakhstan removed a hefty instrumental chunk of Karakat’s “Forever” from it’s final arrangement. Now, many people noticed this change and formed their own opinions about this new arrangement. However, since I had no idea, I couldn’t form that opinion on the change. It’s kind of like if I was at a restaurant that I have never went to and they removed a massive painting on the wall – I wouldn’t have noticed that because I never knew what was there before. I actually found it quite interesting how different I felt towards the song compared to those who knew the previous arrangement.
As a result of me waiting until a few Sundays ago to watch the performances, I ended up not watching any rehearsals beforehand. Now as a hardcore fan, I can’t help myself but take a look at the rehearsal clips as I am always curious on how progress is going on acts. The issue is that sometimes by doing so, I end up passing judgement on acts that haven’t had the smoothest of times in rehearsals and on some occasion write them off. Let us not forget Blanche’s turbulent rehearsal week in 2017, only for her to bring it on the Tuesday and Saturday night and come in 4th place. I always need to remind myself that this is only just a rehearsal. It is there for delegations to see if something works or not so I should know that it might not go right. Also, watching the rehearsal clips are like spoilers – it gives us an idea what is going to happen and sort of ruins the surprise. By not watching the rehearsals, I didn’t have any prejudgement on any of the performances nor did I have any worries about any songs needing to pull it together on the night. As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss.
I can’t talk about my thoughts about the show without talking about the songs! I’m not going into huge detail but I’ll give a summary of my thoughts of the top 3 and the rest of the songs of the night.
It seems fair to begin with the one that took the crown, France! For me, she’s a worthy winner. Valentina’s so talented and exceptionally adorable alongside a cute, upbeat song which absolutely belongs in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. On top of that, France had one of the most memorable staging of this year. With the bright colours, fun and unique choreography and of course the addition of a bendy Eiffel Tower, I am not surprised she came out on top this year. Well done!
I’d love to talk about this year’s 2nd placer, Kazakhstan. I have to admit, I did find out the story behind Karakat’s song from scrolling through social media, so I didn’t go into the contest 100% blind. However, even with that extra information, from watching her performance I didn’t need to know. She told HER story, very clearly on stage. Every movement, every note, every graphic, every facial expression displayed how deeply personal this beautiful song is to her. I honestly brought me to tears, it was that emotional. Karakat, your father would’ve been so proud of you.
Spain next and my goodness me this song right up my alley! It was full 180 from last year’s entry and they gave us something undeniably Spanish. It really stood out among the crowd with its ethnic charm, modern feel and not to mention that this song is an absolute earworm! Not to forget that despite her being very young, Soléa has shown herself to be a fantastic, polished performer as well. Without a shadow of a doubt a well-deserved top 3 finish.
I have to say, whilst the top 3 was extremely strong this year, the rest of the songs overall were very strong as well, with each having something special about them. From Susan, despite coming last, providing a respectable and sweet debuting entry for Germany, to Belarus’ Arina bringing a powerful vocal and performance for the country’s 18th consecutive performance.
With Russia’s Sofia giving us the flavour of Disney with her performance to Malta’s Chanel reminding us how beautiful it can be if you match a song, singer and LEDs amazingly.
Let’s not forget the young men of this year’s competition! With Ukraine’s Oleksandr providing a suave, sophisticated performance that really showcases his insane vocal abilities and Serbia’s Petar giving a gentle and heart warming ballad reminding us that love is important in our lives.
The little ladies from the Netherlands giving us some girl band greatness with their cutesy, kid friendly song which really got me nostalgic over my Nickelodeon watching years, whilst Georgia’s Sandra showing us that the Caucasian nation has a never ending list of young, talented, powerful vocalists to showcase to the world.
Finally, whilst the host nation of Poland couldn’t match the success from the past two years, they still provided a very credible pop-dance track that gets me on my feet and cleverly getting around the six people on stage rule by adding dancers on the LEDs.
First and foremost, I personally have to thank the everyone involved in this year’s contest for managing to provide us with a slick, well produced show despite the many restrictions imposed on us throughout the continent. Whilst Eurovision and Junior Eurovision are quite different shows, a Eurovision related show has been missing in our lives this year and this contest has definitely helped fill in that Eurovision-shaped void.
If I had to sum up this year’s Junior Eurovision experiment in one word, I would use the word Enlightening. I would use that word as it highlights many of the feelings and experiences I felt whilst watching this contest: a fresher feel, excitement of expecting the unknown and watching through the lenses of a regular viewer, with the latter being an experience I haven’t done in about 9 years. It’s these experiences in this year’s contest, alongside the year-long Eurovision deprivation, that really made this contest extra special.
Now, would I do this for adult Eurovision? No… for now. I’ve already cracked at Eesti Laul and Festivali i Këngës so it’s kind of too late for me to try it in 2021. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea in the future. The experience I had was so eye-opening and so intriguing, I would definitely try it again at some point for the adult edition. I would also definitely challenge you guys, just once, to try it out as well! Step out your comfort zone, experience new things and break that routine in Eurovision/Junior Eurovision season! Believe me, it is tough. However, it is an experience that a Eurovision fan should experience once in their life and it is an experience you will not forget!