Mr Phil reviews the Junior Eurovision – Well the first 8 songs…

Now, I want to make something very clear before the off here – I’m fully aware that some of you don’t like the Junior contest – and that’s fine – I’d stop reading before I got any further if I were you and I know I’m not a child between 9 and 14 BUT no matter how much you slice it, this is a competitive singing contest.  There are votes handed out by people who will be judging these songs, either in a room at a broadcaster , at home with their children Or gay men on the sofa that love a contest.   I will pull my punches slightly but as a televiewer I’ll still tell you what I think I see.  Also these reviews were done the first time I saw them, just like a televiewer, and they are based on the official music videos. 

Albania – Viola Gjyzeli – Bota Ime

Well starting the preview video in a Yurt is…. Interesting I guess.  No matter what the contest is, Albania seem not to know any other style than a big loud song sung by a big loud singer and that’s precisely what you have here.   I’m guessing without looking at the lyrics, its about lights in the sky or lighting up life because the video is very neon heavy with Viola waving about those cheap lights you get from Lidl that you stick in the garage!

I don’t know – I just can’t get into it.  Musically it doesn’t do a great deal of anything and ends rather suddenly without building at all.  It’s rather like a blank verse poem without a defined structure and I’m not sure who this is going to be aimed at.  It just seems to be the same phrases of music stretched out to fill 3 minutes.  It’s not very exciting and if I was a child watching this, I’d be asking for the next one.  As an adult, I’m exactly the same.  NEXT

Phil’s score – 4/10

Armenia – Yan Girls – Do it my way

In complete contrast – this grabs my attention from the first note.  Armenia really get the Junior contest.  It’s visually interesting with the girls dancing and pouting around the screen in bright neon colours, it sounds modern and lyrically it sounds like its about female empowerment which is a great life lesson o teach any young woman. It’s also not, like it would be in the adult contest, in your face and shouting “GIRL POWER” which is also another plus.

The negatives, though, are there in this song.  It’s 25 seconds too short which sounds like I am nitpicking, but it does feel truncated.  There is no big moment or key change or statement note or drop or any of those things that make it stand out because, frankly, you can only do so much with the staging and, musically, it does just seem to be one idea (which is the first minute of the song) repeated a couple more times.  I just wish the songwriters had done more with what they had.  That’s not saying it’s bad – it’s just repetitive.

Phil’s Score – 6/10

Estonia – ARHANNA – Hoiame Kokku

Estonia’s first foray into the contest is unsurprisingly late considering their history of childrens song contests.  So what have they given us?

A Slickly produced preview video, that’s what! I reckon ERR have raided the coffers for this one.  As for Arhanna?  She’s singing a moody ballad which, by the looks of it, is about her life and friends and emotions and stuff which seems to be a theme.  It’s a strong song which diverts into English only at the very end ( remember that Juniors rules are different).

They are going to have to compliment the vocal and the songwriting with some visuals to ensure kids around Europe get what the song is about.   If they can do that then it’s a strong ballad with potential.

Phil’s Score – 5/10

France – Zoé Clauzure – Cœur

After France’s win last year, what have they done this year?

This is more like it! – A proper pop song sung by a singer that clearly looks natural on screen.  Translated as “Heart” It has a familiar feeling about it, probably because it’s the one in the first four that sounds like it could have been entered into the adult contest on its own merits.

In the preview video my only worry is the high notes that are written in the song.  The track makes them sound a little bit thin and it takes something away from the song.  It could do with taking down a semitone or even a full tone in order for the song to show off Zoe’s undoubted talent and ease at performing.   This doesn’t need overdoing from the styling och consulting standpoint France 2 – the preview video is almost spot on.

A combination of a good song and a performer with a twinkle in her eye could be almost irresistible.

Phil’s Score – 8/10

Georgia – Anastasia & Ranina – Over The Sky

My first thoughts on watching this video are “ Why are they singing in Kew Gardens” and “ Why are they dressed like they are out of Space 1999” but then again I am old.    You know they aren’t going to recreate this on stage in Nice because it involves getting a horse on stage for starters!.

It’s as though GPB have gone into the dressing up box and pulled out ALL THE TOYS when they were thinking about a concept for this one and it makes for a ridiculous video which is taking the focus away from Anastasia and the boys who are trying to sing a heartfelt song about you being their hero but I just can’t get enthused about the song because it looks so ridiculous on the preview.

Phil’s Score – 3/10

Germany – FIA – Ohne Warte

Calling your song “Without words” is a very bold choice but it immediately makes sense as FIA is  signing the song as well as singing it.

It’s a German song of the old school, talking about social change but this time through the fact that you can connect with people without words and this seems to revolve around the fact that a sibling seems to have learning and living challenges of unspecified origin.  It’s clearly a very personal song and entering that into this contest is great.  I just don’t think that, at the end of the day, the message will resonate with anyone.  It is, as I said right at the beginning, a contest where votes are cast.  Musically it is, like so many, one idea repeated three times and the phrase “ Ohne Warte” is repeated way too often for my ears and FIA’s voice seems aa little on the irritating side and that will count against her.

Phil’s Score – 4/10

Ireland – Jessica McKean – Aisling

This is a weird one because at time of writing, the official organ of this contest doesn’t have any lyrics of this song so I really am blind.  Sophie Lennon has been roped into to help perennial JESC and Eurovision songwriter Niall Money and his family here so I wasn’t too shocked when I heard the song and I thought “ Isn’t this a bit like last year’s song?”

It’s as Irish as shamrocks and Dublin which also should come as no surprise as TG4 is a Gaelic language broadcaster but I still feel that they are basking in the afterglow of last years performance (Which I still don’t understand why it finished so high) and are trying to repeat the dose.   They are portraying, in the preview, Jessica as some sort of celtic princess and I expect more of the same when it gets to Nice. In the same vein that Sophie reminded me of a stage school prodigy, Jessica also does the same.   This will be performed note perfectly, if somewhat coldly, but it builds nicely and the choir kicks in at the end and the whole thing builds to a great crescendo by the end.  It’s a Celtic song for Celtic kids… I just wish TG4 realised that European kids liked “pop” too..

Phil’s Score – 6/10

Italy – Melissa & Ranya – Un Mondo Giusto

TOO MANY WORDS – it’s an Italian Eurovision affliction, seemingly, and these two have caught a particularly nasty case of it.   It’s yet another song about Friendship and music and how everything is going to be OK with Friends…

All lovely.  The tune, though, Reminds me of Sense Tu from Andorra from a few years back in the Adult contest.  I loved that song and Jenny did her best stripper impression to go with her soulful performance.  Thankfully that would be just inappropriate here, but I think that this song suits one of the girls voices more than the other one ( I think it might be Rayna) as she has the deeper timbre that the verses need and she seems to be carrying Melissa. It has great potential as a song, I just don’t think these two are upto it.

Phil’s Score – 5/10

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