Amber to represent Malta at ESC!

Well ladies and gentlemen… we now know another song heading to Vienna next May! After a lengthy show of music, adverts and one hell of a long interval, staged at Malta Shipbuilding in Marsa on the very same stage used for Junior Eurovision a week ago, it was Amber who triumphed, with her song ‘Warrior.’

Congratulations to Amber!
Congratulations to Amber!

Malta, of course, has never won the competition, but upwards of 90% of the population tune in each year to root for their own entry. Tonight we saw a cluster of familiar faces take to the stage, including Daniel Testa, Amber, and Glen Vella.

It was Glen who opened the show with his song ‘Breakaway’, an upbeat but somewhat forgettable pop song in which he tells us to ‘drop it like it’s hot’ – a bit early in proceedings for that maybe? Despite a solid performance including a man spinning in a hula-hoop, it wasn’t enough to send him to Eurovision again. Karen DeBattista’s song ’12, Baker Street’ had emerged as a bit of a dark horse in the past few days. A simple tune, Karen was accompanied by four men playing instruments, and it had a very mellow feel, but it was difficult to see if it could succeed in a strong field.

Dominic took the stage next. This was a catchy number performed confidently with nice summery visuals, but lacking enough oomph to make it stand out among the rest. ‘Chasing A Dream’ by Trilogy (including Ludwig from 2004… remember him?) swiftly followed – a bland ballad but packing a fair dollop of emotion and power made the song stand out as a good bet for victory – cue a few pyrotechnics, smashing vocals, and it certainly ticked a few boxes. Chris Grech, becoming a regular in MESC, sang ‘Closed Doors’. What a voice! He looked rather dapper, and was clearly brimming with confidence, but the tune let him down just a smidge. In front of stormy clouds and packing bundles of passion, it wasn’t to be Grech’s year… but maybe in the near future?

And now, the Ekklesia Sisters. The group of ladies were garnering a lot of attention across Europe with ‘Love And Let Go’. It may be a wishy-washy number, with a good few clichés thrown in, but the crowd loved every second. Perhaps too slow to impress enough voters however. Fair play to the Sisters though -it was rousing, albeit lacklustre at the same time.

The entries were coming thick and fast now. Deborah C sang ‘It’s OK’, and it was exactly that – a toe-tapping sing-a-long ditty.  Jessika was back for another stab at victory, but ‘Fandango’ didn’t really go anywhere, but was a significant improvement on ‘Hypnotica’ (joint eighth last year). I also liked the harp on stage – a nice touch. Next was Amber, a big fan favourite. The song has certainly grown on me, but the vocals seemed not as strong as expected… saying that, it was still a very good performance, perhaps the best of the night, and there’s no doubt her voice could fill the venue – no need for backing vocalists here. A large round of applause too was a promising sign.

L-Aħwa saw a return for Gianluca Bezzina (2013), with a song that sounded like the B-side to ‘Tomorrow’. Colourful, catchy, joyful and infectious. Franklin stepped up to the plate with a beautiful ballad written by Alexander Rybak, and immediately impressed with his crisp, clear, formidable voice. Alongside Grech, the best male vocals of the show. No gimmicks, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a decent thing! In contrast, Christabelle brought sass and a dazzling array of colour to the stage. A surprisingly good performance, which surely made more than one fan consider it a little more strongly.

Then came the last two songs. Lawrence Gray with ‘The One That You Love’ was first. Another ballad played on piano by a handsome man as stars and planets floated past on the big screens behind him. While not as impressive as some other ballads here, it was a solid showing. Lastly was ‘Mr. Junior Swing’ himself, Daniel Testa. A jazzy-pop melody, Daniel may well be back every year until he succeeds – this was fine, but was lacking something stand-out. As it was the final song of the evening, I’m sure most fans and the jury had made up their mind by now.

After a terribly drawn-out interval, consisting of Conchita Wurst (who also opened the show) and last year’s representatives Firelight (one fan on Twitter saying to forget the other participants, it should be back-to-back Firelight entries in Eurovision), it was down to the voting. Amber triumphed with the televote, narrowly edging out the Sisters, and when the jury’s votes came in, she smashed her way past the opposition with ease, leaving Vella, the Sisters, Franklin and Christbelle (her strongest challengers) in the lurch. It turned out to be quite a crushing victory, and one that fans had been predicating for days. As such, the 23 year-old will represent the Mediterranean island next May. But what do you think? The early reception on Twitter is very positive, but does she stand a chance of winning for Malta, or was it the wrong choice entirely? Let us know in the comments below!

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Editorial: Our review of the Junior Eurovision 2014

Hey guys! Sorry for the incredible delay in writing this, but hey – better late than never! So, on Saturday 15th of November, after a great night of entries and a great show by the Maltese, we saw the 14-year-old Italian Vincenzo Cantiello take the title on behalf of his country on its debut attempt at participation! Of course, Italy’s triumph wasn’t the highlight of the entire show, and that’s what we are going to review. Over the course of two and a half hours, we saw astronauts, children engulfed in pyrotechnics and so much more! So let’s get right to it!

Congratulations to Vincenzo!
Congratulations to Vincenzo!

There was a lot of hype leading up to this year’s Junior Eurovision in Malta – mostly due to the fact that this year was the first year we had a vast number of countries taking part, including three debuting countries and four returning nations, one of which hadn’t been seen since 2006. So you wouldn’t be blamed if you were a bit excited – the quality of songs was very good for the Contest.

The Junior Eurovision was held in the Malta Shipyard in Marsa, a concept that was quite obviously copied from the Danes earlier in the year…*were they thinking a young Conchita Wurst was going to win!?* However, the Maltese actually managed to turn quite a seemingly-shitty looking venue into a rather well-produced Eurovision arena, so I believe some proper commendation is deserved towards the production crew. The stage itself was – once again – based on the Copenhagen stage, with the two catwalks in place… in a way, you really could say that Junior Eurovision’s production makes it really look like it’s Eurovision little brother. The graphics from the show were absolutely magnificent from the show and especially the title graphics before each song were what I would deem to be phenomenal…it’s actually such a shame such graphics had to be limited to such a smaller audience than the adult Eurovision.

All in all, the production of the show was fantastic and, if it so please you, you can watch the show in its entirety by watching the Youtube video below:

Right, let’s actually get to the show now:

  • Right from the get go, you got the feeling that everything was quite….nationalistic. Everything was geared towards promoting Malta as a country. For an example, the entire opening sequence showed the logo of the Contest – one quarter of the Maltese cross – flying around the archipelago and all its desirable locations. The postcards also featured a plethora of Maltese attractions. Like, I know that when you host your first Eurovision event, you want to show off your country, but there’s no need to “go Azerbaijan” on it.
  • The show was commentated on the web livestream by JESC writer Luke Fisher and Maltese singer/former JESC entrant Daniel Testa. While Luke gave information of the countries taking part in the Contest, Daniel was providing information on what was being shown in the postcards. However, some of the information Daniel was giving…..was it entirely relevant? (e.g. “There are 365 churches in Malta”. Fascinating.)
  • For the first time in Junior Eurovision history, one presenter was hosting the show – our favourite Maltese person ever, Moira Delia. Once again, we heard her say the cheesy quote that our Queen Zlata said one year previously – ‘The Junior Eurovision is getting bigger and better every year!’….at least this year, what she was saying was true. Like her previous hosting experiences in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, she put those skills to use in her introduction of the various songs…it was quite funny to hear her attempt to try the different languages.. “From Serbia, Emilija Đonin with ‘Sveht oo moyum oCHEEma’!”
  • Getting onto the actual performances now, and Belarus maintained their use of those modern looking broomsticks that apparently could play music, despite being nowhere near the mouths of the dancers. And no matter whether you thought her singing was great or not, but Nadezhda looked a lot like a young, brunette Geri Halliwell.
  • I’m quite proud that Krisia could sing again after her illness and her lack of ability to sing during rehearsals. However, I’m also surprised that her live vocals aren’t as nasal as her studio vocals and I feel that her live vocals really outdo her studio vocals, as her live vocals are very operatic. Well done to her!
  • The Peppermints….at least they improved on their studio version, and the crowd sounded like they loved the group!
  • What can I really say about Josie? I loved her backstage charisma and character, especially with the “Disgusting Jelly Bean Challenge” but why couldn’t she bring that enthusiasm onstage? She really just looked like a tree while dancing…and when she did dance, she ruined her vocals. I’m really saddened to say that it was a car crash.
  • After the last songs that are presented in groups of four, certain countries went to ad breaks, but if you didn’t have that pleasure, you had to sit through the various random – and sometimes scary – interludes throughout the show. These interludes included light dancing to modern dancing to classical music to the random noises that make music….incredibly awkward…..and random.
  • Moira went all Valletta-happy and once again said the dreaded reference to Valletta being the European Capital of Culture 2018…Why does that have to be so important, eesh.
  • Sophia from Cyprus would be the one artist that interacted with the crowd the most…and after recovering from her injury a few hours before, I’m proud of her. Her vocals were on point, the crowd loved her and she actually gave a performance..well done Sophia!
  • Lizi Pop from Georgia WINS…….the Junior Barbara Dex Award of Junior Eurovision this year. That is all.
  • Was it just me, or did Julia from Sweden’s backing dancers look like they should have been in the 70s? Girls, leave ABBA to their own era, and don’t bring them into our own era…thank you!
  • I am absolutely overjoyed that Sympho-Nick got their high note spot on after struggling at it since their selection in June. But hey, at least they looked pretty….As a sidenote, Ukraine is still my #1.
  • Ula from Slovenia got a fantastic crowd reaction, as her country made their debut in Junior Eurovision. And did anyone hear that there was a bit of a lyric change? When she should be saying “As I look inside my head”, she says the Slovenian equivalent….why?!
  • Maša and Lejla from Montenegro….yeah, don’t call us, we’ll call you….ESPECIALLY because of that last pose you finish on.

    ".....yaaayy....."
    “…..yaaayy…..”
  • I really don’t know about you, but when Vincenzo from Italy sang his high notes, I really didn’t like seeing down his throat…A good point though I have to note are the sassy finger points he did….those points were well sexy though.. 😀
  • I think Armenia showed us how easy it can be to look like Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter…and it was in this point that I had started to realise how many tutu-skirts were being used..Betty gave a great performance, and actually – in my opinion, she had the most on-point vocals of the entire group. But seriously, why did her dancers have to look like a weird cross between an astronaut and an alien?
  • Alisa was really just pretty and could belt out the high notes…she was a tad sketchy on the low notes, but the rest of the song was fantastic….yeah, I don’t know what else I can say really.
  • Emilija actually gave a very intimate performance of her song and I actually feel like she was underrated quite a lot, because there wasn’t as much applause from the crowd as there had been for other contestants. The only thing I would note is her outfit…was she trying to look like a zebra or something with her black and white segments on that top?
  • As expected, Federica from Malta got the highest amount of applause from the crowd, seeming as she was on home soil..they literally started screaming before she even started singing…in a way, that proper patriotism. To be honest, the only other thing I can say about the performance without offending someone is that I could actually understand what she was singing about, compared to the studio version.
  • Julia from the Netherlands brought the songs to an explosive end with her uptempo song ‘Around’. Everything was really slick and sexy…and I did start to develop a bit of a crush on one of the dancers….is that a bad thing? We’re around the same age, so it’ll have had to be!
  •  For the common song ‘#together’, we saw all the competing artists take to the stage together… I’m surprised that Gaia – who recorded the song originally – wasn’t at all featured in the performance. However, my surprise was speedily quenched when the Helium Balloon premiered her new song ‘Children of the Future’ and what sounded like a remix of ‘The Start’….complete with MESC-entrant choir *yes Glen Vella, we saw you*…yeah, let’s just move on.
  • During the voting, we had some proper interesting characters. The Belorussian spokesperson gave the usual over-enthusiasm that Belarus continues to deliver when it comes to spokespersons. However, that’s about as enthusiastic as it got and it was really just went downhill from there. I think that everyone would be in agreement that Cyprus’ spokesperson was wayyyy too old to be taking part in a show for 10-15 year olds. The Georgian spokesperson named Mariam (as is everyone in Georgia) said possibly the funniest line in the entire show – ‘HERE ARE THE RESULTS OF AR CANTRY WOTE!‘ Oh, and there was Gal Fajon, the Slovenian spokesperson, who James and I deemed to be a great friend of ours, except just looking sooooooooo apathetic!

    "Oh my god, really...? I sooo don't want to be here."
    “Oh my god, really…? I sooo don’t want to be here.”

This more or less bring us to the results now,

Did the right song win? It’s really hard to say. James and I had split opinions on the song – while I quite enjoyed it, James thought it was like ‘Insieme: 1992’ but the 2014 version. Italy was always deemed to be a bit of a dark horse by some people, but did they expect Vincenzo to actually win the Contest? I cannot say for sure. However, one thing that cannot be denied that when it came to stage presence, Vincenzo outshined a lot of the other contestants. He delivered sass and wide-open-mouth aside, he made his song sound like it was an oldie he was covering, whereas Federica – for example – just stayed on that one spot and just sang – it’s like Ryan Dolan all over again. So when it comes to the actual staging and the singing itself, he definitely did deserve to win..whether he had the right song or not remains subject to your own personal opinion.

Moving away from the winner, it was quite surprising to see Armenia claiming the third spot. If you saw in our first article about this year’s Junior Eurovision entries, you’d see that James was quite a fan of ‘People of the Sun’, and in the predictions article, he had said that Armenia would come second, so congratulations to him in that respect! He also made a few near guesses, but nothing that was exactly the position any country finished in.

Personally, I am overjoyed that Ukraine’s Sympho-Nick managed to reach the sixth position at the end of the voting. The group were incredibly underrated by the fans, and also had gotten quite a bit of hate for some unknown reasons, so I believe that it was fantastic that they got their 74 points and once again proving that an underrated entry can do well.

Huge fan favourite Slovenia’s low placing was a shock to most fans for the few hours after the Contest. Putting it blatantly, everyone thought that Slovenia or Cyprus would walk it, but in coming 12th and 9th respectively, it really did shut a whole lot of us up.. I wonder why? There were a few times when Ula did hit a bum note, but the song itself was great (although James would beg to differ). And speaking of Cyprus, Sophia – what happened? At least you got some form of points, but why did people not vote for you?! It really is a shame..

Bottom three….yeah, was that really expected? ………………………………………………. Yes, it was.

If you cast your mind back to last Saturday afternoon, when we made our predictions for the results later that night, our combined predictions couldn’t be more wrong – we underrated the top 3 and overrated the 5th, 7th and 9th places! Individually, I managed to correctly predict Croatia would end up taking home the wooden spoon in this edition of the Junior Eurovision, but that’s as far as it went individually as well..as you can tell, we are really just diabolical in the field of predictions, but hey – that’s the fun of such stuff, it’s good to see how far off – or how spot on – you are afterwards!

So, what happens next? Already four countries have started preparations for next year’s Junior Eurovision – Belarus, Bulgaria, Malta and The Netherlands. Like we said last year, because Italy is a Western European country, could this bring more attention from countries that have never taken part before, or possibly some countries might return? Well, Ireland is in ‘advanced discussions’ between Irish broadcaster TG4 and the EBU. Plus, we have also seen countries like Hungary and more importantly, Germany start to take interest in joining the Contest. So this could possibly signal the return of several other former countries – especially seeming as the Contest may be hosted in a Big 5 country. And speaking of ‘a Big 5 country’, what does winning Junior Eurovision mean for Italy? One would ideally think that Italy has a newfound respect for the adult Contest after their disappointing result in May, and should RAI be granted the opportunity to put on their first Eurovision event since 1991, I have a feeling that the Italians would put on a great show….but if it happens, they might not actually go all Azerbaijan on it…but the question is, will this even happen? No one knows for sure..

Your views:

Did you like Junior Eurovision 2014?
What’s the one thing you’ll remember from Junior Eurovision 2014?

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I really did love the Netherlands this year. It was the best singing from any of the children..

Maria Romana from Italy: I am so proud that my country won Junior EuroContest. We are so proud of Vincenzo and I hope we can host this great Contest in Italy.

Harold McDonell from the United Kingdom: For me, it had to be when Krisia managed to sing on the night after not being able to during the week the rehearsals were on..it showed she could recover really quickly.

Ricky Calder from Australia:  Cyprus is standing out the most from the contestants…but I think oh oh eh ah ah together is going to be the thing I’ll remember the most.

Well it seems that everyone has their own favourite moment from the Contest. Personally, my own moment is when Moira was almost toppled over by all the contestants running to the stage to hug Vincenzo before he sang his winner’s reprise. So like  I said, we all have our own favourite moment…but what’s yours? What’s the one thing you’ll always remember from the Junior Eurovision? And are you looking forward to next year’s Contest? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!

The Czech Republic returns to Eurovision!

Well hello everyone! Hope you’re enjoying our new and rather snazzy design, and our new ideas we’ll be presenting to you – soon enough, with new people taking the reins! So, where do we go from there? Telling you that after 5 years of non-participation, the Czech Republic is returning to the Eurovision Song Contest! This bring the total number of competing countries to 39…so far! Woohoo!!

Welcome back Czech Republic! We've missed you!
Welcome back Czech Republic! We’ve missed you!

The Czech Republic is officially Eurovision’s Worst Country, having failed to reach the final in all three previous attempts, and collecting only 10 points in their history. Of course, Gipsy.cz – the Czech’s latest representative – managed to score the dreaded ‘nul points’ in 2009. Since then, the Czech broadcaster, ČT, has been very hesitant about the Contest and withdrew from Europe’s favourite TV show in 2010, citing bad viewing ratings as the reason and that reason was the same for each year they missed thereafter. This year, the Central European nation had originally declined from taking part in the upcoming Eurovision…..but, luckily for us, ČT managed to change their minds and have now decided to take part in Austria for the 60th edition of the Contest! The Manager of the International Content Project Centre at ČT, Marketa Stinglova said:

Czech Television is happy to be back again in that wonderful competition. After three entries in the previous years we hope to offer Europe a top quality Czech song.

The way that the Czech Republic will select the song is different to its three previous attempts. The broadcaster will have an internal selection in which an expert jury will come in and select their entry to the show. As regards to how the song will be selected, five songs will be sent to the aforementioned expert jury after they were commissioned from well-known composers. Let’s hope that this time, the Czech Republic will be able to make its way up the leaderboard and possibly to the final! Maybe they could send one of our recommendations? 😀

Your views:

Are you happy to see the Czech Republic back at Eurovision?
Are you happy to see the Czech Republic back at Eurovision?

Derrick Schiff from the United States: Whoa! I didn’t see that one coming, but a VERY welcome return!!!

Mateusz Połętek from Poland: I’m reserved to this news. So far they have sent average songs. Everything depends on songs. But it’s true that’s the news I have least expected.

Steinar Morgen from Norway: Great and surprising news! I hope they can come up with something as good as “Mala Dama”.

Reinhard Flimmers from Germany: Good news! I hope they return with a good song that brings them to the final; and they have good quality music from national artists!!

Well it seems that nearly everyone is happy that the Czech Republic is back at Eurovision again….does this mean some other withdrawn countries might reconsider *ahem* Ukraine *ahem*? We’ll have to wait and see…so what do you think? Are you happy to see the Czechs back in the Contest? Who would you like for them to send? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!