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No more Christmas markets for me...

This morning I went to a little Christmas Market near Châteaubriant. It was... not terribly exciting. It was then that I realised that the reason mom and I used to enjoy going is because we'd talk to each other about everything.
Doing it alone... it's just not the same.

Stopped by to see a friend from work, and then into the town where I work to pick up a pizza. First time in nearly 20 years I've thought "I feel like having pizza" and gone and got myself one. A medium sized sort of deep pan, because sort of deep pan is only available in medium size. Hmmm... Still, ate the lot. Yeah, I was hungry. So now I'm stuffed full of pepperoni, chicken bits, cheese, and other random slimy things one finds lurking in pizzas. Time, actually, I think, to go and put the kettle on.


Junior Eurovision 2019

Last weekend was the Eurovision Song Contest aimed at little people. Which means it's generally cuteness to the point of saccharine poisoning, and everybody wants to save the planet through song. Though, I suppose some of the children are too young to understand the irony of singing about the environment through the medium of a massive international televised performance. How many resources, do you suppose, were involved in the creation of the two-and-a-half hour (sort of) broadcast?

This year we are in Poland, following their win last year. And I am watching on S4C. Erin Mai, poor blockety (well, that's what it sounded like she said - I'm guessing that means good luck?).
The seventeenth edition, and one of the world's largest international performances aimed at young people. And, as always, there's a catchy (as in the back of the throat) slogan. This year's is "Share the joy". There will probably be a group song at the end.

The host city is Gliwice in Silesia, which is sort of the south west part of Poland. I'm not even going to attempt to pronounce any of that.
I must say, my impressions of eastern Europe were mostly based on movies and such. So creaky gothic castles and Soviet style highrises, all in shades of dark grey, as were the people.
Turns out, from the many (and often bizarre) inserts between songs, that Silesia is actually really pretty.

Lots of neon coloured people dancing with light sticks introduce us to an extraordinary stage, and the now traditional flag ceremony.

I'm watching the SD broadcast, because the S4C bitrate on HD is extraordinary. The SD contest had to be split into two parts - the songs (3.7GB) and the voting (about 1.7GB). On HD? It would have been BIG. Like 12-14GB style big.
For the technically minded among you, my satellite receiver simply dumps the entire transport stream to media, so I have the picture, two soundtracks (one in English, one in Welsh - and oddly enough they are labelled back to front), plus subtitles (DVB and teletext) in each language.

A cute young girl with flowers in her hair, called Marianna Jozefina, introduces the three hosts, after telling us that she would have been brilliant at hosting the show, only she's a bit too small. Shame, I think she was basically a one-scene wonder that... should have hosted the show.

Here are the hosts. Last year's winner is the girl dressed in tinfoil.


Australia - "We Will Rise", Jordan Anthony

Starting at a piano, and then taking the stage, this song is... okay. The arrangement is nice, I just didn't like the vocals much.
Still, Australia came on almost as a gag a few years ago and showed that they completely have what it takes to enter decent and serious performances. You will notice Wales is entering on its own, the UK as a whole gave up a long time ago. Maybe they ought to try and see how Australia enters songs, instead of entering something mediocre and then ridiculing everything mercilessly and wondering why the scores are bad?


France - "Bim Bam Toi", Carla

So, to Carla. This is a pretty young girl that is quirky sixties meets quirky French meets Björk, with the lovely line "mon petit cœur disjoncte"! Yeah, that's kind of how I felt on my first few days of driving. She... is either falling in love for the first time, or she's just passing too much current through her heart. Either way, click!

An energetic performance (even if the balloon pop didn't) but I wonder if the song is a bit too scattered to do well in the results? It'll hopefully be on the left side.

Oh dear, the commentator said this song was "Bim bam toy". You'd have thought a presenter might have checked up on how to pronounce the songs? That said, VLC is giving me the English audio and what appears to be a translation of the Welsh commentary as subtitles. The Welsh commentary is providing a lot more information on the performers and what's going on. The English commentary? Seems to be working on the principle of "it's S4C, everybody speaks Welsh, so minimal effort..."!

To give you an idea - Villa Caro is a beautiful 19th century mansion built in renaissance style. It once belonged to industrialist Oscar Caro. Today, it is a museum of arts, crafts, and ethnographic artefacts. according to the Welsh commentary. In English? Here we are enjoying more of the beauty of this fantastic country. Although I must admit, I thought that was the City Hall in Cardiff for a second. Jumpsuits are back, ladies and gents.
I rest my case.


Russia - "A Time For Us" - Tatyana Mezhentseva and Denberel Oorzhak

The boy has a weirdly low voice, and a voice that isn't particularly strong sounding when he's singing that low. The girl? Much better. Probably should have just been her, and due to unspecified health problems with the boy, it very nearly was.

I've just noticed that the subtitles are finally giving a translation of the songs rather than a literal transcription. Sometimes. The bits the subtitler can understand... ☺


North Macedonia - "Fire" Mila Moskov

Watching this, it's hard to believe that she's fourteen. What you can believe is that she has an extremely expressive face, the picture above is her "what the hell" response to difficulty replacing the microphone in the holder.
A strong entry, this one.


Spain - "Marte" Melani Garcia

That voice. Best vocal performance by far. All over the higher registers. Including outright screaming, and modulating it so she's actually singing the scream.
Amazing control of that voice. Nice song (but I guess that it helps that I could understand much of it).


Georgia - "We Need Love" Giorgi Rostiashvili

Both of the presenters describe him as a mini Peter André. This... this sounds like something that would be the soundtrack of the end credits of a children's movie from the seventies. It's probably good that this boy exudes charisma, along with a really strange jacket that looks like a parachute pack, because the song is... the weak point here.


Belarus - "Pepelny (Ashen)" Liza Misnikova

Okay, what this seems like to me is an adult's idea of how teenagers dress and act, which is a sort of bad impression of "gangsta".
Something I have noticed is the number of songs this year with the chorus in English.


Malta - "We Are More" Eliana Gomez Blanco

Nice hat. Gotta like a girl with a big hat. There's a sort of Kirsty MacColl meets Maggie Reilly vibe here. Not the best vocal performance, but a powerful one to make up for it, and hitting the high notes too.
Maltese is weird - Ahna qalbna ma naqtghux, Lilna ma jiffastidjawx according to the subtitles. And I thought Polish was hard!


Wales - "Calon yn Curo (Heart Beating)" Erin Mai

Before this plays, I must comment on the arrangement. I've already heard this one (there was a "this is our performer" programme on S4C just before the contest) and, it's a nice gentle song that has a rather minimal arrangement, her voice may swell in the big parts but the instruments...don't. And then there's a rather odd tapdance part in the middle that, okay, it's kitschy, but it seems to me to detract from the song.
Another thing that might count against this is that she's no 12 year old. She looks like an adult, and is considerably taller than her backing dancers.
Oh, my. As if that tap dancing wasn't enough gimmick, her dress opens up as if butterfly wings or something.

Vocally good, but let down - I feel - by the gimmicks, repetitions, and the orchestration.


Kazakhstan - "Yerzhan Maxim" Armanynnan Qalma

Now here's a gimmick done well. It's a boy in a suit singing against a backdrop of blue with stars, and there's a shadow of him from a powerful stage light. With a bird landing on his arm in the shadow (yup, playing with the projection). But just to take this up to eleven, the shadow starts to move around behind him before breaking into a flock of doves. It wasn't a real shadow, he was just acting along with the projection. Nicely done.
A quick outfit change, putting a blingy Chinese style jacket on and equipping himself with four fairies as backing dancers, he effortlessly holds a long note for 9.76 seconds (yes, I timed it). Fairies make this one visually interesting.
Spanish girl has some serious competition in the vocal stakes. Maybe they ought to get these two to duet?

It'll be criminal if this doesn't do extremely well.


Poland - "Superhero" Viki Gabor

She's a giant disco ball. We're supposed to believe this girl is 12. Nice touch having two of the backing singers signing the song. Another nice touch having a counter counting down to zero, which is the end of the song.
I didn't think much of the song. Not after something like Kazakhstan. Commentators in both languages talking about the glitterball jacket.


Ireland - "Banshee" Anna Kearney

The English commentator said "This is an unusual choice of look and an unusual song. It's a little bit edgy."

Oh my. This is like the entire personality of the Irish distilled into one tiny person. I mean, there's no way in hell this would be anything other than Irish. Another incredible voice, and... I really liked this one. Also interesting to hear the massive difference between Welsh and Irish. Not to mention playing the game of reading the subtitles and trying to mach it up with what she's singing. Anybody who has ever known a girl with an Irish name will know exactly what I'm talking about.
This, actually, is my favourite so far.


Ukraine - "The Spirit of Music" Sophia Ivanko

A strange song - shouldn't the spirit of music be a happy song? Consider Juan Pardo's "Bravo Pour La Musica" (ignore the robot bit in the middle, it was trendy back then!), performed by a girl in a pink satin suit.
Well, that was... odd.


The Netherlands - "Dans Met Jou" Matheu

Instant pop, Just add boy band.
I'm not fan of boy bands, but I can say one thing - these guys are every bit as good as the commercial adult offerings. It would be a surprise if these guys didn't soon feature in the Dutch charts.


Armenia - "Colours Of Your Dream" Karina Ignatyan

Okay, give her douze pwah for having the balls to come out on stage wearing such an utterly ridiculous bright pink dress. Amusingly performed... Uh, this was supposed to be funny, wasn't it?


Portugal - "Vem Comigo (Come With Me)" Joana Almeida

Here's the eco girl. Dressed like... I don't know what. And her voice... The commentator said that she "wanted to achieve a good score for Portugal", and then called her out on that by pointing out that all the other performers also have the same ambition. Thing is, many of the others could sing. And dance. And act. And had presence.
This girl... can't, can't, can't, and doesn't.
But one needs more than to sing about saving the earth to get a decent placement in the score chart. I predict this one will come last.


Italy - "La Voce Della Terra" Marta Viola

Doesn't take much to work out what the title means. Nor what the song is about. Difference is that she can sing. And has presence.
Just in case the message wasn't obvious, the second verse is in English.


Albania - "Mikja ime fëmijëri" Isea Çili

A dizzy-making (stage crabbing shots) power ballad about leaving childhood and becoming an adult. I dunno, I found becoming an adult a bit scary. I could make all my own decisions, but the flip side is that I'd have to take responsibility for those decisions. So, I'll let you know when I finally make it to adulthood. ☺


Serbia - "Podigni Glas (Raise Your Voice)" Darija Vracevic

Wow, this eleven year old is seriously channelling some Shakira here, and showing the others how you do a "save the planet" song, complete with holding the planet at the end, and pointing out "WE DON'T HAVE A PLANET B" (in capitals, in case you miss it).
See, Portugal? That's why you're going to come last.


Finally we reach the end, and it's time to vote. Since it is for children, it is a website for voting rather than phone/SMS charges like in the big contest.

I can vote for between three and five entries. So I'll vote for four. And I can't put them in order, only select them.

So (in running order)...

  • France - quirky and she's cute
  • Spain - amazing voice
  • Kazakhstan - a great performance
  • Ireland - loved this one
Those are the ones I voted for.

Honourable mention to:

  • The Netherlands - those guys will be famous beyond Eurovision

Who do I think will win? From the quality of the performances, it ought to be Kazakhstan. But we all know Eurovision can be... different.
Just so long as it's not Portugal. Because that was... just bad.


Interval 1

Last year's winner, Roksana, singing her winning song from last year, and they present that her single is now officially platinum.


Interval 2

Yup. There's the obligatory cheesy group song about "share the joy" where everybody gets a line to sing. In English. The last two are Malta and Kazakhstan, introducing each other and generally comically hamming it to hell and back.


Interval 3

Turns out that the female presenter is a ballerina. So to take up some more time, she gets a moment too.


A quick word with Gert Kark, the EBU Supervisor, who said that every single word in Polish was difficult.


Jury votes

I'll just skip writing about it all to say that once the jury votes were in, the top scores are as follows:

The juries ranked Kazakhstan first, by a comfortable margin. Then Poland (huh? did I miss something?). Then Spain. France is doing well in sixth. Ireland, not great but not terrible. Terrible is Portugal with zero, but then Malta only got two points.

So time to add in the online votes and shake everything up.

Portugal got 43 from online, Malta got 27 (to have a total of 29). Beaten by Portugal. Oh my.

The online voting isn't that far from jury voting to be honest. Spain got 104 to push it to 212 points. Poland in second place got 166 points for a score of 278. Now finally Kazakhstan who need 131 or more. They get...

...they give him... 79 points. What?


Here's the final scoreboard:


So the winner this year, is Poland. Again. I guess it's the jacket that did it.


And as the credits start, S4C breaks away to resume normal programming. That's it for another year.



Your comments:

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David Pilling, 2nd December 2019, 22:27
Careerisation of everything, like being a gymnast, don't worry about being in Eurovision unless you started at age 5.
Rick, 4th December 2019, 19:37
Well, that's kind of how it goes with most things. There are probably few people in their 30s and 40s who can become great piano players, or ballet dancers, or... anything. You need to start with that before you can walk, and practice loads and enjoy it enough to want to continue (or have really pushy parents). 

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