Editorial: What do we think of this year’s JESC entries?

Happy Friday everyone! As of today, we have fifteen days left until the eleventh running of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Kyiv, Ukraine, hosted by none other than our Queen Zlata! So, we decided to mark the occasion by bringing you a short series of articles focused on Eurovision’s little brother, beginning today with a joint article where Rory and I will divulge our opinions on each of this year’s twelve entries!

Which of this year's 12 do we like most?
Which of this year’s 12 do we like most?

Now, we know the JESC has something of a stigma attached to it – for some, the international exposure of such young artists just doesn’t sit quite right, for others, the whole event comes across bland and uninteresting. However, at ESC Views, we always try and keep an open mind, and – mindful of the many hidden gems that have featured in past editions – we have decided to give you guys our coverage of this year’s contest – take it or leave it, up to you! Today, as all 12 entries have been confirmed by their respective broadcasters, we are going to give you a brief run-though of our opinion of each one, before finding out what you, the fans, think of this year’s cohort!

Rather than punctuating the entire post with videos, the recap video below will give you an overview of all the entries for quick reference. The individual entries are linked in the titles of each entry.

Ready to see what we think then?

ARMENIA: Monica Avanesyan – “Choco Fabric”

Rory: Armenia is one of the most catchy songs in the Contest this year. I’m normally not one to listen to pop/dubstep sorta music (I hated ‘Igranka’) but with ‘Choco Fabric’, it’s insanely catchy and you end up singing along with it. If it was up to me to decide the placings, I would definitely let it win or if not, definitely Top 3!
Score: 12 points

James: With Armenia, it’s one of those songs that I feel like I *should* like, but I just don’t, for some reason. Like, I do usually go for this genre, but the repeated references to chocolate in the lyrics just trivialise it too much for me. What’s more, her voice is one of the singular most irritating sounds I have ever had to hear. I know you’re not meant to say that about kids but yeah, sorry.
Score: 4 points

AZERBAIJAN: Rustam Karimov – “Me And My Guitar”

Rory: To be honest, I really do not like it. It sounds like Azerbaijan are trying too hard to get a good placing. The title has obviously been come up by someone with no imagination and it really would bore me. As for the positives, Rustam is a pretty good singer, but the song just lets him down.
Score: 3 points

James: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but here’s an Azerbaijani song that I actually don’t mind listening to! 😮 I mean yes, it’s very unadventurous, and rough around the edges, but the redeeming feature here is that he has stuck to his own language for the majority of the song, covering up the kind of cringeworthy English exhibited in many a Junior entry before now. Inoffensive, vaguely catchy. Quite like it actually.
Score: 6 points

BELARUS: Ilya Volkov – “Poy So Mnoy”

Rory: It’s actually not that bad, it reminds me of something that would be put out by Alexey Zhigalkovich. It’s a pretty catchy track and it does have a good chance of doing well in Kyiv, but we’ll see how it plays out on the night if his vocals are up to scratch.
Score: 7 points

James: Undoubtedly one of the catchiest offerings in the line-up this year, and again exhibiting the benefits of the national language, Ilya’s “Poy So Mnoy” is simple and effective. Toned-down child-friendly electro, with a chanty chorus and a Ruslana-esque helping of “hey-hey”s, I do hope this does well. Unfortunately, I can just as easily see this one falling flat on it’s face like Azerbaijan did last year.
Score: 7 points

GEORGIA: The Smile Shop – “Give Me Your Smile”

Rory: Whatever happened to the days of Mari Dari? I never like the forced retro kinda song (although Caroban was an exception) and ‘Give Me Your Smile’ has that feel to it. I think Georgia will be back to having horrible results again, but you never know on the night. I definitely know I wouldn’t vote for it I had the chance
Score: 1 point

James: Oh how I loathe things like this. Calculated, engineered, fake as hell. Three years in a row, Georgia sends something along these lines, and I sincerely hope it won’t be the third such entry to score a top 3 placing. I can’t go off on one of my venomous rants here, but suffice to say I hate this one.
Score: 1 point

MACEDONIA: Barbara Popovic – “Ohrid I Muzika”

Rory: I don’t really know what to think about this. On one hand, she’s a really good singer and she proves, she can lip-sync and dance (we need to prove that she can dance while actually singing), but on the other hand, what the hell is going on with the backing track?! The music sounds so messed up that it’s a remix of some weird Serbian traditional anthem or something. The two kinda cancel each other.. I don’t think it’ll do well, but I’ve been known to hate a song and then it wins.
Score: 3 points

James: Up-tempo Balkan number with a catchy chorus and an energetic performance. I should absolutely adore this. But, like Rory, my main problem is that backing track. It’s like a preset from a Casio keyboard circa 1995. I’m sure it was modern in 1995. But it sure as hell doesn’t sound modern in 2013, when it needs to appeal to a pan-European audience of very modern children. This is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, but this is my tip to finish last unfortunately.
Score: 6 points

MALTA: Gaia Cauchi – “The Start”

Rory: I can see why so many people like it, because it’s such a huge voice for such a little girl, but I just can’t see the song really going anywhere for the first-time listeners. Plus, the song does kinda drag on and it can be a little bit boring. So it’s pretty forgettable and I can see it inevitably coming on the bottom half of the scoreboard.
Score: 3 points

James: I can appreciate the power of her voice, of course, but for me the song just has no substance whatsoever. Completely forgettable and extremely dated, the cliché lyrics and the melodic structure just makes it come across as a desperate Whitney Houston tribute act, inexplicably performed by a screeching ten-year-old. Listening to this HURTS. Why, Malta, why?
Score: 2 points

MOLDOVA: Rafael Bobeica – “How To Be”

Rory: I’m indifferent to the song really. To me, it’s just like an interval act between the other songs; kinda like Lithuania 2011. When it comes to the lyrics, I think they’re kinda ‘out there’ and letting kids drink and be free is a GREAT message to send out! All in all, a boring song that I like to think of as a break between the other performers.
Score: 2 points

James: Pet hate time. Those songs – which feature in JESC so prominently each year owing to the “75% national language rule” – where English lyrics are interspersed with those in the national language just highlight how incongruous the translations often are. None more so than here, where Rafael apparently tells us “tailors have a bee” and we should “drink and be free” – what a message to send out to kids, ey? Aside from that, this is dated 90s film soundtrack stuff, which is somehow a lot more bearable than Malta, but still blending into the background. Could be better, could be worse.
Score: 5 points

NETHERLANDS: Mylène & Rosanne – “Double Me”

Rory: ‘Double Me’ is what I would dread to hear in a competition like JESC. The song is basically about the twins being like and unlike each other [i hope i’m right] and I just hate those songs that are supposed to make you happy like: “Look we’re so happy, so you have to be happy too!” Tik Tak Tik was sooooooo much better!! Why Netherlands?!
Score: 4 points

James: Okay, so I LOATHE the “double me, double you!” chanty thing that pops up at random intervals in this song, but aside from that, the Netherlands have sent one hell of a CHOON this year! I agree with Rory that these two most definitely look too happy, at times it borders on creepy! However, listening to this without looking at them, I really do like the song. Catchy and up-to-date, yet simultaneously child-friendly. Top 3 in the bag, I reckon.
Score: 8 points

RUSSIA: Dayana Kirilova – “Mechtay”

Rory: Russia has a really great song this year! Lerika was *amayzin* last year and this is a great successor that is a stand out song this year. I actually think this will do really really well on the night because she is a great singer and that song of hers is really good.
Score: 8 points

James: I maintain that “Sensatsiya“, last year’s Russian entry, was the best thing JESC has ever produced. Taking that into account, whatever they sent in 2013 was always going to have difficulty following in Lerika’s footsteps, and “Mechtay” is an inevitable anti-climax. I mean, yes, it’s nice. I like it. Interesting key changes, nice melody, decent vocals. I can see myself getting bored pretty quickly though.
Score: 7 points

SAN MARINO: Michele Perniola – “O-o-O Sole Intorno A Me”

Rory: Oh god, they’ve debuted with such a dated song. What irritates me with this song is that he sounds like he’s trying to be a young Sammarinese version of Michael Jackson and the beat is just so dated; like it’s a song from the 80s. They might as well have sent Facebook Uh Oh Oh instead.
Score: 3 points

James: I didn’t like this at first. Main problem being I was hoping for something a lot more mature from 15-year-old Michele, and I was somewhat taken aback by the pitch of his voice… It only took a second listen, however, before I really REALLY got this, and now, I am absolutely loving it. Catchy as hell, not taking itself too seriously without being all-out childish, and – dare I say the word – “funky”? It will be enough of a novelty to see San Marino in a final, wonder if they will challenge for the title?
Score: 10 points

SWEDEN: Elias – “Det Är Dit Vi Ska”

Rory: It’s a nice ballad with a really good singer, but Swedish isn’t the best language to sing in. Of course “En riktig javla schlager” is an amayzin song in Swedish, but with “Det ar dit vi ska” it probably would be better off being sung in English if the language rule didn’t exist. But it’s still a really good song and I expect great things of Elias 😀
Score: 7 points

James: Another one which took a while to grow on me, but now I’ve given it time, I can safely say that this is in my top three, perhaps even top two. I love how Sweden consistently focuses on sending a decent, deserving song to JESC, not a calculated or showy effort. This song would likely be successful in the adult contest, as well as the international music scene on the whole, yet Elias brings it to life in his own way too, really endearing, really enjoyable. Great choice Sweden!
Score: 10 points

UKRAINE: Sofia Tarasova – “We Are One”

Rory: Sofia has a really catchy song. Like Azerbaijan, the title of the song was come up by someone with very little imagination, but the song is quite modern. She looks like and she even could be the next Ani Lorak (can someone get a duet on with them?), so I’m well up for her doing well for the home country!
Score: 10 points

James: And here we are. For me, this is the one. My kind of music, full stop. Forget the fact it’s sung by a child, it’s just a great quality song, very modern, incorporating an interesting melody and a selection of more traditional influences to potentially appeal to the juries. Sofia is most certainly a girl who has grown up under the influence of Ani Lorak. Just look at the way she performs. It will definitely get the home crowd going, and if she can deliver a competent live vocal, I can see this getting at least top five, maybe even more. DAVAI UKRAINA!
Score: 12 points

Our overall rankings:

So, everyone seems to be doing this bit – if we add together the scores me and Rory awarded to each song, we end up with a ranking of our top 12. Since we disagreed on quite a few of this year’s JESC entries, this should prove to be an interesting list! Here is ESC Views’ combined rankings:

1 – Ukraine – 22 points
2 – Sweden – 17 points
3 – Armenia – 16 points
4 – Russia – 15 points
5 – Belarus – 14 points
6 – San Marino – 13 points
7 – Netherlands – 12 points
8 – Macedonia – 9 points
= – Azerbaijan – 9 points
10 – Moldova – 7 points
11 – Malta – 5 points
12 – Georgia – 2 points

From what I’ve heard online so far, our list seems to be dramatically different to that of many fans – favourites like Malta and the Netherlands didn’t impress us so much, whereas underdogs like Ukraine and Sweden emerged as the songs we liked most. So, over to you guys, what do you think of our ranking? And which songs from this year’s upcoming Junior Eurovision are you most enjoying?

Your Views:

Which JESC entries this year are your favourites and why?
Which JESC entries this year are your favourites and why?

Nick van Lith from the Netherlands: San Marino. It’s the song that I actually quite like, and could listen to in my free time. Love the Michael Jackson feel in Italian.

Stefan E. from Macedonia: Except Moldova, the other songs I could listen everyday. My Top.5 in different order is: Double me, Ohrid i muzika, Sole intorno a me, Give me your smile and The Start

Santiago Sosa from Denmark: I will watch the JESC 2013! 😀 My favorites are San Marino and Macedonia.

And as if to prove my last point, not a single one of the fans here mentioned Ukraine as a favourite – maybe Rory and I are on our own here, I don’t know! San Marino’s début entry does seem to be a popular choice, alongside Barbara’s song for Macedonia. Will they end up atop the leaderboard in two weeks’ time? Who knows? We will bring you more news, reviews and predictions on the JESC in the coming weeks, alongside our regular articles, so do stay tuned to keep up with everything! Until then… which songs from this year’s Junior contest do you like most? Feel free to leave us a comment below!

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6 thoughts on “Editorial: What do we think of this year’s JESC entries?”

    1. Thanks for the comment Euro76ce!

      Really? Well everyone has their own opinion, but we’ll see how things play out in Kyiv! There’ll definitely be a deserving winner!

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