The third of five shows reviewing the songs competing in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. In this episode, we look at the songs in the first half of Semi 2.
Здравей! That’s “hello” in Bulgarian for those who don’t know. The jury rehearsal has come and gone, Kylie was there to witness it while Nicolas and Sara had to rely on videos and blogs from home. Will that show a difference in opinions and predictions between the three of us? Let’s find out…
Kylie: First of all, I just want to say that everyone has one hell of a show to look to, very well produced, no spoilers of course! If only you guys (Nicolas and Sara) were here, you would’ve had a blast here in Sofia, we’ve been treated well here and the food is cheap!
Nicolas: Oh great, Kylie, rub it in even more! We really wish we could’ve been there with you, but at least we’ve got a good reason to stay at home this time! We’re breeding our own little Junior artist… 😉 Anyway, from what I’ve seen from the show, the stage, the lighting, it’s all pretty impressive!
Sara: Well, I probably wouldn’t like any of the food anyway… But other than that, I’ve been pretty disappointed this year, mostly by the songs, the performances and the lack of interest coming from the fans. The stage on the other hand is really pretty! I can’t wait for the postcards either. As Vlad said before: (cue heavy Russian accent) ‘Sofia good host!’
Kylie: Very classic Balkan performance of being simple yet very very effective. Lena has great stage presence which prevents it looking empty. She properly gave it some welly in the jury rehearsal. If it was later in the draw it would’ve been a possible winner, but being on first, they’re going to have to settle for 3rd once again.
Nicolas: At first, I was disappointed that we didn’t get the very pretty staging we saw on RTS’s presentation show. Based on the videos we’ve seen, the stage looks so empty and it just feels like it’s lacking something. However, what the press have been writing is really reassuring me in that she fills the stage with her movements etc. once you see it on screen. I hope this will do really well! I love the ‘Care’ and ‘Empathy’ bits on the screen as well. 🙂 I’ll go with 3rd as well!
Sara: The performance is pretty boring… I’m really disappointed that she’s by herself and I don’t find her to be charismatic at all. She’s just kind of stands there with her arm up the whole time. I just don’t like it. It’ll get 2nd anyway because people are stupid. And God, please do something with her hair, she looks like she just rolled out of bed!
Kylie: Certainly a big palate cleanser after Serbia. I feel like the boy’s facial expressions are too much, but they certainly bring an element of crazy fun, their jury rehearsal was very energetic. I think about 9th or 10th would be fair enough.
Nicolas: First video I saw of this, I was cringing all throughout the performance. The girls are amazing, they have good voices and a lot of charisma. However, the boy’s performance just doesn’t feel right… In the first part, his singing doesn’t seem on point, in the chorus his dancing is really out of sync with the girls and then the worst is yet to come: that shouting. There’s nothing wrong with rousing the crowd a bit, but the way he does is just feels so wrong. I fear juries and the draw will sink this one: 14th.
Sara: Getting past the fact that the boy is obnoxious with his screaming and yelling, the performance is surprisingly surprising. I expected a mess, but it’s actually well done and the girls sing well. Their outfits are decent too. I thought at first they were going to get last, but I think they saved themselves and will get 13th.
Kylie: Coming after such a crazy song like Georgia is going to hurt this, it feels like a party-pooper after the craziness. She had a strong jury performance, but there’s something missing I feel. I can’t see it cracking top 5 this early.
Nicolas: There’s literally nothing wrong with this song. Lina gives a perfect performance, she’s very confident, the staging is pretty, the song is so well produced. But somehow, there’s just something missing to give it a top spot in this year’s competition. I’m guessing 7th for this one.
Sara: Well then, this is pretty and very Disney-like! Lina is beautiful, has a beautiful voice which always sounds perfect. I think both juries and televoting will like it, so congratulations on winning, Slovenia!
Kylie: Nice strong performance, simple but effective staging, not much else to say. They should do OK here, juries will be kind to them after that performance, definitely lower top 10.
Nicolas: I hope I’m wrong, but I think this will actually fail to make the top 10. It’s not a bad song, not a bad performance either, but it lacks a bit of oomph, I feel. That, paired with a forgettable draw, means I’ll put it 12th for now.
Sara: Sadly, it’s a pretty mediocre performance. It’ll be forgotten even though I really enjoy the song. It’ll get 15th.
05) The Netherlands
Kylie: Eh. It’s just nice, had a safe jury rehearsal, nothing more. It’s just not outstanding or memorable enough to encourage a lot of votes, I still stand by my earlier prediction of this doing badly in the end.
Nicolas: Ah, isn’t this nice? Nice is really the key word here. Everyone watching, especially adults will say something like ‘oh, this sounds really nice, I like this’ on their way to the kitchen to get a new drink. And they’ll have forgotten it completely by the end of the show. I’m sorry, neighbours, but this time I feel you’ll get 15th…
Sara: Yesh, well the Netherlandsh have a performance that jusht doeshn’t make shenshe. I don’t understand why they have hiphop dancers dancing to a ballad that has nothing to do with hiphop. The outfits are ugly, but then again, it’s the Netherlands. They could’ve at least had pretty ballet dancers and an actual backdrop instead of a live video that is delayed by a second. They’ll get 12th and the delegation will be pissed again… Sorry, not sorry.
Kylie: I apologise for saying this will flop, I’ve changed my mind this past week seeing how it looks on TV. Although in the jury rehearsal she was too screamy in my opinion. They can get top 10 but I can’t see them cracking top 5 at all.
Nicolas: I think after all the fuss about this song and performance, I feel like not getting top 5 IS kind of a flop for Australia… But I think it’ll definitely make it there, just short of winning because of the weak jury rehearsal. It’s still a strong performance with a very jury friendly song and by a country no one will forget: 2nd.
Sara: Well, I’m glad she bombed the jury rehearsal because I was really scared that she was a contender for the win. It looks good, she sounds good in rehearsal videos, the dancers are a bit off, but that’s their own fault for wanting to break the rules (Nic.: the Australian dancers were over 20 years old, so they had to go with locals instead…). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they’ll get 11th. Hahahahahaha!
Kylie: Really classically Irish-looking, it looks very pretty. I do kinda worry about it following an ad break, but I think juries will really like this and will push it up the scoreboard. The Irish delegation who watched it in the press room were very happy with that jury rehearsal.
Nicolas: I really hope so much this cracks into the top 5, but I think it’ll end up just outside of that, sadly. It just doesn’t have enough appeal, but I hope I’ll be proven wrong. They fixed everything about their performance and it’s just completely perfect! I say 6th.
Sara: Thank you for fixing the backdrop, but I find her kind of boring on stage. She has a really pretty voice but the song just kind of stays flat for three minutes. Because of this, I think televoters will get bored unless they’re old grannies (ciao Italia!). The fog is beautiful, though, and so is she! She’ll get 8th and I think Ireland will be happy with that!
Kylie: This one grew on me over the week, I think the whole performance has a very dreamy feel (see what I did there), jury performance was very good, they will safely get another top 5 but I don’t think they have enough to crack top 3.
Nicolas: I think it’s a really pretty performance, but I don’t like his very Bilan-like mannerisms after each sentence sung. He’s obviously a great singer and the song is gorgeous, so I think it’ll have the usual Russian JESC result: 5th.
Sara: He’s cute, he’s a good singer, he’s got a nice performance, nice stage, nice hair and a nice song. And with that he’ll get 9th. 🙂
09) FYR Macedonia
Kylie: The performance does the job done on being a simple kiddie pop song. They had to perform their jury rehearsal again after their mics failed and did fine, technically being the last to perform for the juries might help them a little, although not much.
Nicolas: It starts of so well! It looks cool, fun, pretty and then they start singing, you get to the chorus and it all falls flat in my opinion. It’s the usual Messydonian staging we’re used to. It has a lot of friends in the contest, but they’ve got better things to vote for. I still think this will be our last placer: 17th.
Sara: Pletenka! They’re kind of awkward on stage, but the song is pretty fun and really ‘Junior-like’. I hope they get some points from the Kids Jury at least, but I don’t think juries will like this. I also think televoting will overlook it since it’s between Russia and Belarus. Sadly, I predict 14th. Pletenka!
Kylie: In my opinion it seems to be an ESC 1991-esque scrapfight between two totally different songs running back-to-back, and Belarus is the Amina in this equation due to it having more “artistic” merits. Hopefully it won’t get to the stage where we need a tie-break unlike back then. Jury rehearsal was near perfect, so they will definitely score very high with them.
Nicolas: What an amazing live voice! He just delivers perfectly, but I can see this one being forgotten, sadly… I hope I’m wrong, as it’s one of my favourites. The backdrop is by far the best of the year. I think it’ll come 8th.
Sara: Ruslan has the voice of a winner, but not the song. I mean, I wouldn’t mind if this wins, but I just can’t see that happening. Then again, I said that last year with Vincenzo, and look what happened… Great performer and my favorite backdrop of the year. Coming before Armenia it might get lost. So I’ll say 10th.
Kylie: They are the Carola of my 1991 equation as being the big well-performed happy pop song, although Armenia certainly don’t have any big wind machines here! Another strong jury performance here, although I think Armenia will have a stronger televote score which could push them over the line.
Nicolas: I still think we’ve got the winner here! Perfect draw, great performance that could be liked by kids and adults alike and a country that has enough friends in this contest. 1st!
Sara: I like pink and sparkles and it seems like Armenia has a lot of those this year! He is one of the best performers of the year, never missing a note, very professional. It’s a fun upbeat song, so he’ll get 3rd!
Kylie: I still cannot get over how ugly the backdrop is (for those who have followed this site’s Twitter feed), and I find it quite an achievement that you can have a performance that throws everything in the kitchen sink and still be rather forgettable. She was fine in the jury rehearsal but I don’t think it’s enough.
Nicolas: I really like the backdrop, and I don’t think it’s that gimmicky. It’s a really pretty intro and the song is really good too. It just has a weird ending and coming after Armenia might make it forgettable. I’m sadly saying 10th for now.
Sara: I like Ukraine. She looks beautiful on stage with her flower and dress thing. I’m not a huge fan of the backdrop but I think it’ll look good on screen. But sadly, this isn’t getting many points from anybody: 16th.
Kylie: The consensus here is that this is going to do badly. It’s nicely staged but it doesn’t peak interest and the two clearly don’t want to be on the same stage together. Gabriela also messed up big time during her part in the jury rehearsal. It will go big in the hall though for obvious reasons, but in terms of the voting it could suffer from what I like to call “Host Entry Voter’s Apathy”.
Nicolas: I actually think it won’t do so badly. I see a midtable result for this one, and I think Bulgaria would be happy with that. The staging is really pretty and I think having her on the satellite stage works. I’m saying 9th.
Sara: I’m glad she’s wearing a dress! It’s a very pretty dress, too! It looks really classy and it’s also one of my favourite overall performances. I like the ribbon dancers and rhythmic gymnasts, but I still don’t really like the song. I feel like they scream instead of sing, especially in parts that should be sung more quietly. In the end, they’ll do well for their country and get 5th!
14) San Marino
Kylie: Oh dear god, it’s a good thing Sara wasn’t here because she might have gone into labor from laughing so much at the dress jokes in the press room. It is a rather special dress to say the least… Her makeup also looks a bit harsh. She was fine in the jury rehearsal until the final chorus where her voice cracked badly. I still don’t think it will come last, but it’s not doing well on the scoreboard at all.
Nicolas: The staging is absolutely genius, and I won’t expand on the gory things some ESCInsight members are spreading. :p The main problem is Kamilla herself. She’s obviously a sweet girl, but she lacks a lot of charisma and voice. Her not knowing Italian also makes her lose confidence, I feel. 11th.
Sara: Everybody is underestimating San Marino this year! I don’t care what anybody says, this is the most professional performance this year. She may not have the greatest voice and she may make weird facial expressions, but she’ll get 6th, you’ll see!
Kylie: It’s looking much much better after that underwhelming first rehearsal, and having finally seen all the songs in order, it does stand out, Malta really have got a plum draw here (sorry Sara). She absolutely killed it for her jury rehearsal and had the charm turned up to 11, that’s top 5 locked for them after that.
Nicolas: Malta must be so happy with this draw, one between four fairly hopeless songs. She has an amazing voice, but I’m not a fan of the backdrop. I’m not sure about her charisma and look either. I feel like she needs to wear something more colourful. Still, this will do well: 4th.
Sara: So, Destiny. She has a really strong voice that juries will wank over (note from Nicolas: this is Junior, Sara, keep it clean, please!!!!) and televoters will love her bubbly personality and her ridiculous facial expressions. Too bad she doesn’t have dancers. Also, the background is cheap. 4th.
Kylie: Here comes the winner of the Junior Barbara Dex Award! That dress really looks like a primary school art project. Her jury rehearsal was fine, but Albania is a bit of a dampener after Malta and are suffering a bad case of Empty Stage Syndrome. Despite the really late draw, this is going to do SO badly here.
Nicolas: The staging is comparable to Serbia. She’s alone and moving along a bit to the rhythm of the song. However, Lena has the charisma to pull this off. Mishela is sweet and is a good singer, but it just falls flat after about one minute of this song. I’m sorry, Albania, but at this point, I guess 16th.
Sara: I’m quite surprised by Albania this year, but I’m disappointed again by the lack of dancers and performance. She just kind of stands there and walks around, which makes it reminiscent of their 2012 entry… But I think the running order saves her and she’ll get 7th! Stop laughing at me, Nicolas.
Kylie: Well, certainly an interesting end to the show with their random yellow ribbons. Vocally she was fine in the jury rehearsal, but she is the most awkward performer of this year’s bunch and always looks so uncomfortable on stage. The pimp slot will not save this song from being bottom 5 in my opinion.
Nicolas: Oh Montenegro… Her voice just isn’t strong enough for this song. I think it’ll be helped a bit by the draw, but I can’t imagine a lot of people picking up the phone for this, except the closest neighbours. And as Croatia’s result in 2014 showed, even that’s not a given… 13th.
Sara: Last in the running order, last overall! 17th! There’s nothing that stands out here, she doesn’t perform well, doesn’t smile enough, the dancers are just bad and I don’t understand the backdrop.
Kylie: It’s gonna be a tough contest this year for sure, and I’m still not 100% sure of how it’s going to pan out outside of the top 4. If I’m going to stick my neck out and make a prediction, this would be it:
6th to 10th) Ireland, Slovenia, Australia, Italy and Georgia (in any order)
Keep an eye out for the Kid’s Jury votes on Saturday, ever since they were introduced in 2013 the eventual winner has been in their top 2.
Nicolas: Well, here we go then. I’ll probably be royally wrong yet again, but this is the top 17 I’m going for:
Sara: Nicolas thinks I’m joking, but I’m being serious with my predictions, okay?
So that’s it! We’ve made our final judgement on the possible outcome of this year’s Junior Eurovision. Will we be right? Will we be wrong? Who knows, be sure to watch the show and we’ll be back on the podcast shortly after we find out the winner. Enjoy your Saturday night Junior fans!
Photos courtesy of junioreurovision.tv
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