Junior Eurovision sounds like what it is – the Eurovision Song Contest designed for children. There is however more to it than that, as the this year’s contest, held yesterday at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, in Valletta, Malta showed.
With seventeen countries participating from around Europe and including Australia, who made their debut in the competition last year, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest was an exciting chance to see what lays ahead in terms of music in Europe, and what styles each country favoured.
In previous years, the final results had come from a combination of 50% televote and 50% national juries, as well as a final set of points from a “Kids Jury”. this year it was decided that points from 1-8, 10 and 12 would be awarded, based on a 50/50 combination of each country’s adult, and kids, juries, announced by a single spokesperson, seeing the end of televoting. In addition, a further set of votes were cast by an expert panel comprising members of the professional music industry, watching the show from the auditorium. This panel provided feedback on each of the artists’ performances, and each panellist was regarded as having the equivalent votes as if they were a separate country, so allocated their points from 1-8, 10 and 12.
This inaugural expert panel comprised Christer Björkman, the man behind Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, and the two most recent Swedish Eurovision Song Contests, held in Malmö, 2013, and Stockholm this year. Björkman also represented his country of Sweden at Eurovision in 1992. Mads Grimstad, from Denmark, is the Senior Product Leader and Head of Classical Live with Universal Music Group. The third member of the expert panel, judging as one person, was Jedward, themselves veterans of the Eurovision Song Contest, having performed twice for Ireland, in 2011 and 2012. Their eighth placing in 2011 saw them bring home the best result for their country in eleven years.
The competition was fierce, with each country sending in fantastic singing talent, making judging very difficult. It seemed very certain however from quite early on that the crown was going to go to Georgia, with Mariam Mamadashvili, a tiny vocal powerhouse as she sang, ‘Mzeo’. Mariam, who is ten years old and has been watching Junior Eurovision since she was six, was overcome with emotion when she was asked to sing her winning song again:
It was incredibly moving to see the other competitors (special mention must go to Zena Donnelly from Ireland, who was beautifully encouraging) gather around Mariam and spur her on. The participants of JESC, who have all been in Malta for the past two weeks, have become very close, which is a fitting and appropriate response to a competition which was initially set up – the adult competition at least – to promote peace and understanding between European nations.
There were three interval performers, Poli Genova, who represented Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 and 2016, sang ‘If Love Was A Crime’, which had been her Eurovision entry this year. Poli placed fourth in this year’s ESC – a record for Bulgaria and the first time they had qualified for the final since 2007:
Also performing was last year’s Junior ESC winner, from Malta – Destiny Chukunyere, who sang her winning song, ‘Not My Soul’. A beautiful singer with a big big voice, and clearly a huge future ahead of her, Destiny also sang her new single, ‘La Di Da’. Only 14 herself, Destiny is seeking a career in the US, and we certainly think she has the talent for it:
Third and final interval act was EP faves, Jedward, who sang their new single, ‘Hologram’. Accompanied by dancers from Redlands, a Maltese dance company, the Dublin duo put their new song to the test in front of a worldwide audience, singing live while dancing, doing high kicks and backflips – their performance was met with critical acclaim. ‘Hologram’, the eighth released track to be both written and produced by John and Edward, has charted around Europe, including peaking at number 3 in Finland and 5 in Sweden.
If you’ve not seen the entire show from yesterday, please be sure to check out Junior Eurovision Song Contest’s YouTube channel, where they have all the videos from the show, as well as interviews, rehearsals, introductions to the contestants, and lots of other information.