The Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007
|The JESC2007 logo|
Starting with the EBU logo and the familiar theme, twice for some reason, we begin the start of the 2007 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The provider this year is the Portuguese channel RTP Internacional. This channel used a fairly low bitrate, so please accept my apologies for any blockies in the pictures. In addition, RTPi broadcast the contest in full-frame style centred on the middle of the picture. Many thanks to my good friend for recording this to DVD-R for me.
As always, I write my reviews 'as live' with no previous knowledge of the winning song. Because the disc was sent to me on DVD, I have afforded myself the luxury of periodically pausing in order that I may write a more lucid review. But, this aside, I am watching it fresh, as if I had a PVR unit and could 'pause' a live broadcast. ☺
Perhaps the first noticable change, and one which could guarantee a place for the JESC in future years, is that the EBU has teamed up with UNICEF.
The opening sequence is a girl in orange and loads in white jumping in puddles, as if to try to re-enforce the idea that Holland is a soggy place, for this year's contest comes from Rotterdam. Not the most scenic part of The Netherlands, but perhaps the idea of a few thousand kids loose in Amsterdam was a worry, even to the usually-liberal Dutch!
|This year's theme - wellies and water|
The 2007 (5th) Junior Eurovision Song Contest was held in December in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The kids danced on the stage to same rather insipid music while we got to see the auditorum. Oh look, wellies and raindrops.
Then, as is usual for the junior competition, the kids pass by for an introduction, holding umbrellas. It is interesting to see some of the groups dress nicely while some dress in the colour clash that you can only attribute to eight-year-olds. Perhaps the most interesting of this short introduction was Greece - they looked like they were wearing wedding gowns! In all, seventeen different countries are participating this year.
|They sure get married young in Greece!|
The two hosts descended from the ceiling on an upturned umbrella (!).
A man with a suit jacket that looks to be decorated with an assortment of wine stains, and a woman with an incredible generic American accent, hair to match his jacket, and one very fluffy dress.
There was no on-screen caption giving the names of these two, and I was battling with them shouting in English and the voiceover shouting in Portuguese, so sorry - no names.
As is usual, the children are all aged between ten and fifteen, and have written their own lyrics and music. As was the case last year, the phone vote lines will open at the start of the contest, and you can vote up to twenty times from the same phone number (yikes!). The profits of the televoting will be donated to UNICEF to help children in need across the world.
Also, as is usual, the songs must be performed in the language of the country participating - so the Georgian song will be sung in Georgian. There is more flexibility in countries with multiple languages (Belgium, for example) in that they can choose. Or maybe like last year's Serbian entry, bend the rules to squeeze in lots of languages. The only English you're likely to hear are the announcements and the Maltese entry.
The countries taking part this year are:
Georgia, Belgium, Armenia, Cyprus, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, The Netherlands, FYR Macedonia, Ukraine, Sweden, Malta, Greece, Lithuania, and Belarus.
In the main (adult) contest there has been a lot of talk about "bloc voting" and the fact that this contest is being hijacked by the East of Europe. Funny... Here it looks like The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Sweden are the only western European countries. Where's Ireland? The UK? France? Spain? Come on guys!
Robbie Williams pops up briefly as an ambassador of UNICEF.
|Robbie Williams looking happy...|
Orange wellies and pictures of a sea port signal that it is time for the contest to begin.
#1 Georgia "Odelia Ranuni" Mariam Romelashvili
The first dose of hyperactivity of the night. A young girl in a red dress looking a bit like a gift-wrapped doll, supported by a number of kids in white with furry hats. Perhaps a a nod to the Sisters Tolmachevy, there is a sort of nonsensical scat in the chorus.
And then suddenly, the pace of the song changes. Three of the backing dancers start to play their drums while Mariam sort-of yodels. And, as quickly as that came, it went and we're back to the song.
Nice way to start.
#2 Belgium "Anders" Trust
Now to an older group, playing their own instruments - including a vaguely guitar-shaped keyboard (how '90s!). The girl was the lead singer, and she performed her song in whatever language in Belgium sounds a bit like German - Flemish?
Impressed by the pianist, but I'm afraid I wasn't that taken by the lead singer. The girl held tightly onto the mic stand as if it might have fallen over (or maybe she might have fallen over). It was a poppy song, had a good rhythm, but her stage presence needed a little bit of work. She wiggled a bit, I assume wiggling rather than squirming, but that's about it. Still, at the end she seemed happy. Happy with her performance or perhaps glad it was over?
This is the thing I have said in the reviews of the previous junior contests, that the lil'uns don't seem to suffer from nerves like the older kids. I suppose the younger ones treat it as a big adventure while the older ones worry about their result and if their peer group will mock them for the rest of their schooldays.
My concession to Belgium? As I watch this I am eating rather too many delightful Belgian chocolates. Yum yum!
#3 Armenia "Erazanq" Arevik
A nautical theme for Armenia. Am I the only person who thought her outfit was disturbingly Elton Johnish?
This was a soft-pop number (with a few 'ethnic' elements) but by and large it didn't make much of an impression, other than the outfits. What I did notice, that I thought was quite nice, was the competitors from other countries had a special area to the right of the stage, and it seems as if they were singing along with each other's songs.
|Everybody joins in with everybody else's songs!|
#4 Cyprus "I Mousiki Dinei Ftera" Yiorgos Ioannides
Co-ordinated outfits, always a good thing, and a synth-pop number with a pretty good tune and a nice energetic dance. I liked this performance, though I do concede that it could get annoying rather more quickly then, say, Georgia's entry.
It's just a shame about the "oh oh whoa" bits. This must actually mean something in Greek as Chloe Boleti (Greece, 2006) dropped in the same sort of thing in her song last year.
Best song so far for me, helped a lot by the backing dancers. That poor girl at the end... yikes, looks painful! (right picture)
#5 Portugal "Só Quero É Centar" Jorge Leiria
I quite liked the shirt he was wearing in the introduction (see picture), but what the heck is he wearing in the performance. A more acoustic (guitar) and relaxed song than previous. If you want an idea, think of Enrique Inglecias (sp?) when he is being 'serious'.
#6 Russia "Otlichnitsa" Alexandra Golovchenko
Hahaha! Check out what they're wearing! Despite the frills and fluffy hair, Alexandra herself has quite a presence. The style of the performance is perhaps a bit adult for them - it reminds me of performances in clubs frequented by Chicago gangsters in the '40s - but I'll tell you what, they make it look quite effortless. The backing dancers are not so much dancing as performing floor acrobatics.
At the start of this song, I was stuck between bemused and "oh my God". By the end, I think this one could perhaps give Russia their second consecutive win.
#7 Romania "Sha-La-La" 4 kids
Not the most inspiring title nor group name... This one has Alina Eremia (Romania, 2005) all over it, from the dress themed on red and white to the perkiness.
The vocals remind me a lot of school assemblies where there is a sort of a tune to the hymn being sung, but noone is singing, exactly. However these "4 kids" carry it with their enthusiastic performance.
#8 Bulgaria "BonBolandia" Bon-Bon
Well, that's new... Bulgarian calypso. The song was a performed somewhat messily, but with great aplomb.
#9 Serbia "Piši Mi" Nevena Božović
Nice outfits, a sort of lilac butterfly ballerina thing going on, and nice vocals. Will this be Serbia's year at Eurovision, having won the main contest?
A great performance by Nevena here of this quieter softer melodic number which has all the appearances of a love song... I did catch "ljubavi" in it too!
We are now a little over half-way through, with the host country coming up next.
#10 The Netherlands "Adem in, Adem uit" Lisa, Amy & Shelley
It's a sort of a cross between singing and rapping as was popular at the end of the '80s (think Salt'n'Peppa). I don't know Dutch so I don't know if it was repeating itself a lot. It certainly sounded like it.
Uhhh, no. I'd be very surprised if this one wins...
#11 FYR Macedonia "Ding Ding Dong" Rosica & Dimitar
A drummer, a violinist with a weird not-all-there violin, two backing dancers... Then, down the stairs, the two leads make their entrance. A bit of a Sonny & Cher going on here as her voice is lower pitched then his! This song had a touch of the Arabian in it, if somebody could have played the oboe...?
During the song, the dancers held up a big piece of paper that said "Our dream Eurovision".
#12 Ukraine "Urok Glamuru" Ilona Galitska
Well, this certainly should win the prize for the most eccentric performance of the night, along with being the first song of the night to feature a costume change. The lead singer starts off resembling the pianist in High School Musical and ends up like Charlotte Church in her younger cuter more wholesome days.
I've backed up and watched this one again. Don't have a clue what she's on about - it sounds as if she is saying "goodbye" a lot. But, yeah, I like this on weird points.
#13 Sweden "Nu Eller Aldrig" Frida Sandén
Frida and her band (drums and two electric guitars) put in a good soft-rock number, with emotion and stage presence. Cross Molly (2006) with Roxette, you might get an idea of what this was like.
#14 Malta "Music" Cute
In 2006, Sophie was "Extra Cute". This time the group is called Cute.
"Come and join in our song, let your friends come tag along", the performers were not cute in a Yuri Ebihara way, more in a CBeebies kind of way, with a simple dance routine that a five year old can pick up in minutes and annoy you for hours!
I guess this shows the huge difference between younger performers targetting their song at younger kids, and the older performers (such as Serbia) putting on a much more mature performance.
Sadly, and I kick myself for writing this, the song is surprisingly addictive. Come and join in our no! no! stop! next song! ☺
#15 Greece "Kapou Bertheftika" Made in Greece
I was right about the wedding gowns, one girl even has a bouquet of flowers to throw. I bet there's some worried parents in the audience, a bunch of girls in white wedding dress on stage!
However I can see jeans under the dresses, so I wonder how soon it will be until there's a costume change?
Not long, as it turns out. Oh, and note the guitars placed on the floor to the front of the stage. Black guitar, white floor. So that's not too inconspicuous then! It's just a shame the guitar solo kicked in before the girls had picked up their guitars.
I think the problem with this song is that it never seemed to work out what it was.
#16 Lithuania "Kai Miestas Snaudzia" Lina Joy
Britney (when she was sane) meets Avril. Hey-hey-hey. This is one of those that came, went, didn't leave so much of an impression.
#17 Belarus "S Druz'yami" Aliaksei Zhyhalkovich
A boy with gelled hair sings a soft-rock number while his backing performers throw themselves around. Quite acrobatic, but I'm afraid it isn't as impressive as Russia's antics.
As the songs are played again for the benefit of those with short memories, I shall assign my points as follows (Eurovision style):
It was a hard call, as Russia and Serbia were both very good for entirely different reasons. For vocal talent Serbia wins no question. For the entire package, Russia just has the edge, in my opinion. A close third is Ukraine.
Following the recap, some of the children explain what UNICEF is all about (looks like the Belgian girl in the picture), all speaking in remarkably good English.
Born in Georgia (the country, not the state) and has a string of smash hits, performing in English? Why, it is Katie Melua of course!
Again, followed by the children talking about UNICEF some more, and about what it means.
Now the voting can start, with the female presenter actually saying "I am nearly wetting myself with excitement". Well, we'd better get on to it then, hadn't we!
But wait, more time filling!
After counting down to the closing of the phone lines, it will take time to collate the votes, so we see, in rapid-motion, the stage being built, interspersed with shots of the children making a studio version of a song.
Then a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff of a lot of kids singing, skating, and having fun.
Along the way, a girl (one of the Dutch girls?) wearing a life jacket, goggles and snorkel... and carrying a big camera. Is this some sort of in-joke?
In a first, all of the contestants join together to sing a UNICEF inspired song written for the contest. Performed in English, it is a bit syrupy, but the message is a good one nonetheless.
As is expected, perhaps a greater Eurovision institution than mid-song-costume-changes, is Mr. Svante Stockselius. All present and accounted for, including Svante's Little Helper.
Voting - finally!
As the first five votes are automatically added to the scoreboard, the voting can progress quite quickly. All of the children presenting the votes from their country did so in quite comprehensible English. Unlike the grown-up contest, there is no necessity to repeat everything in French.
The first 12 of the night, from Georgia, is to Armenia.
Belgium next, giving their 12 to Armenia again.
Am I missing something about that song?
Armenia now, they can't give themselves 12 so I wonder who they'll give their maximum to?
Georgia. Are we entirely surprised?
Cyprus only give 2 to Greece (!), with 12 to Armenia, again. Yikes!
Portugal offer an annoying brat and 12 points to... Belarus! And no, not 20 points. I can understand that mistake, I always get 15 and 50 mixed up in French.
Russia's turn, offering their 12 to Armenia.
Romania offer their 12 to... say it with me... Armenia.
Bulgaria - waah! Only 8 to Armenia, their 12 being reserved for Macedonia.
It's currently Armenia with 80, Belarus with 68, and Macedonia with 67. Possible that somebody will overtake Armenia, but given the pattern of voting so far, that doesn't seem very likely.
Serbia. Armenia only gets 5 from Serbia, their 12 for FYR Macedonia. Armenia is still in the lead, but it is a smaller lead, with Macedonia and Belarus close behind.
A quick chat with some of the contestants.
There is no picture for The Netherlands presenter, as we cut away to adverts for much of the vote. But, hey, Armenia 12.
Only a handful of countries left, FYR Macedonia now. SHOCK HORROR! NOTHING TO ARMENIA! Their 12 to... guess who... Serbia!
You can see the entrants from both countries are happy with this result.
Ukraine now, a presenter that looks like Hermione! For a tiny little moment Belarus was one point over Armenia, but Ukraine's 12 took care of that.
Sweden's turn, that's Molly isn't it? They give Armenia 10, not that it makes much difference with a lead of 13... and their 12 to Serbia.
Malta. Whoo! Nothing to Armenia, 12 to Belarus. I may have spoken to soon, there is now only one point in it.
Greece - Chloe Boleti? Belarus has 7, a brief spot in the lead with 10 to Armenia. On the other hand, Greece offers their 12 to Cyprus.
Lithuania. 12 to Belarus, nothing to Armenia! At the last moment, Belarus squeaks ahead to lead with 137 points to Armenia's 129.
Tense moment now as it is Belarussian vote. If they offer Armenia anything over 7 they've either tied or handed victory to Armenia. Still, they weren't to know this would happen, so let's see how this works out...
6 to Serbia, 7 to Armenia!!! They've won it BY ONE POINT! Talk about sneaking in the back!
As if it matters now, Russia got the Berarussian 12.
The top five placings are:
Belarus 137 (125)
Armenia 136 (124)
Serbia 120 (108)
Georgia 116 (104)
FYR Mac 111 ( 99)
The last five placings are:
Lithuania 33 ( 21)
Cyprus 29 ( 17)
Belgium 19 ( 7)
Portugal 15 ( 3)
Greece 14 ( 2)
Remember, everybody started with an automatic 12. The number in brackets is what they would have scored starting from zero. This is, obviously, the point where you figure the Greek entry must have been misunderstood...
As Belarus take to the stage, the female presenter now wearing something different (maybe she did wet herself after all? must be hell to be that excited and have a water theme!), the previous winners Sisters Tolmachevy - somehow managing to be even cuter than last year - present the award to the boy with the gelled hair.
The winning act is performed again. I'm sorry, I didn't get the attraction of the Armenian song, and really the Belarus song didn't even make my top ten (out of 17).
As is common in the junior contest, all of the performers take to the stage and bop about to the winner, all the movement giving the low bandwidth transmission a bit of a hard job as you can see from the blockies in the picture.
And now to the UNICEF song one last time.
Aaah, isn't that sweet? That's the Ukrainian girl.
And with an abrupt cut by RTPi to the EBU theme (even before the credits!), it is over. Well, we know who won...
The final song, again?
It has escaped nobody that the final performance of the night has won three years running: Ksenia's bizarre dress and oingy-boingy keyboard in 2005, the Tolmachevy's in 2006, and Belarus this year. All three have been performed in the Russian language. Furthermore, this is the second Belarussian win.
There have been calls for the EBU to sort out the play order. Well, thanks to Moray I can say that the EBU have already gone ridiculously OTT in the draws to determine how things work out in the competition:
The junior contest: they have about 8 different draws to determine the running
It might just as well be that they put all the countries in a hat and pull them out to determine the order. I wonder if a non-Russian-language country is last, if they will win, or not?
Then the EBU decides which order they will sing (so this year, Armenia, Belgium, Cyprus and Portugal were drawn in the 2-3-4-5 cluster, and the EBU decided that it would be: 2-Belgium, 3-Armenia, 4-Cyprus and 5-Portugal).
- a draw to decide which position the host country will sing at,
- a draw to decide who will open the contest,
- a draw to decide who will close the contest
- draws to decide which songs will sing in clusters (i.e. 2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9, 11-12-13, 14-15-16)
Winners and losers
I cannot say I'm overly surprised by the last five entries. It's a shame to see Cyprus there. It is a bigger shame to see Greece lurking at the end of the list. Perhaps nobody understood the song? Or maybe girls in wedding gowns was scary?
The top five is more of a shock. Belarus? Armenia? I've watched the songs again and I don't see the attraction. Serbia, a decent singer, comes in third.
Russia's performance deserved a top five placement. They made it to sixth position.
If you have any Eurovision-related material,
please scan it (200dpi max) and send it to me,
along with a translation if not in English.
Well, that's it. See y'all next year!
Originally written 2008/01/14.
Converted to HTML 2008/01/14 and 2008/01/15.
Back to the Eurovision 2007 index
Back to the Eurovision main index
Copyright © 2008 Rick Murray
Images copyright © 2007 EBU-UER
Recorded from a 4:3 aspect broadcast by RTPi