24
November
2019

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Christmas Market Cast From Gliwice, Sunday 24th November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Christmas Market Cast From Gliwice, Sunday 24th November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20191124_658_jesc2019_Sun/escinsight_20191124_658_jesc2019_Sun.mp3

There are no buses to cast from, but there is a handy Christmas Market close to the Gliwice Arena and Junior Eurovision 2019. So we recorded our preview there…

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Saturday 24th November

Ewan Spence, Ben Robertson, Kurtis Carter, and Nicklas Sahl preview the Junior Eurovision Song Contest from the Gliwice Christmas Market.

Remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2019

The Greta Effect at Junior Eurovision

The Greta Effect at Junior Eurovision

Who is Greta Thunberg?

Greta Thunberg is probably the most recognised climate activist in the world today. Her activism first made headlines in August 2018, when each Friday the then 15-year-old would skip school, instead taking her ’School Strike for Climate’ banner to the steps of the Swedish parliament for her solo protest.

The simplicity of the message resonated, and Greta inspired young people from Sweden to Europe and soon enough the entire globe. Within a year, thousands of school children have protested the impacts of climate change in cities across the globe. Greta became the media-fronting face of the movement, with her diminutive stature at odds with powerful rhetoric aimed squarely at the face of politicians across the globe.

As Greta puts it, ”we are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not”.

Greta is now one of the most prominent influencers of young people in our modern society. Behind her is a movement of passionate young people. Passionate because they have grown up in a system that has seen our Earth’s climate crisis getting more desperate, despite governments being aware of it throughout their entire life.

The Two Influences of Greta

This year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest features many songs of an environmental nature. Kicking off with the Portuguese entry ’Ven Conmigo (Stay With Me)’, Joana Almeida sings of how young people today know the ways to save us from the climate crisis.

”I am young but I know what to do
Time is running out to save the Earth”

Furthermore, the lyrics directly tackle the concept of climate change denial. Using the user-generated translation available on lyricstranslate.com, here is the second verse.

“I hear that everything is normal
That global warming is false alarm
But I am afraid, I live in a sea of green
That can be destroyed by fire and drought”

Fires and drought have become more often and more severe in Portugal, with the summer of 2017 a particularly impactful year with 120 people dying in wildfires. This is no coincidence, and Joana herself was forced to flee her home during that terrible heatwave. The 10-year-old has been spreading news of that herself on Junior Eurovision fan groups via social media.

Joana Almedia posting on the Facebook group “Junior Eurovision Song Contest – Fans Club”

Similarly, the Italian entry in this year’s competition is another cry for help for planet Earth. ’La Voce Della Terra’, translating as ’The Voice of the Earth’ is a song describing the beauty of our planet, but that it is us humans that need to come together to save it from destruction.

“Now
The voice of the earth
Is calling for your help
In every wave of the ocean
Listen
Wake up, it’s not a dream
We can become a team
To heal and save the planet”

That same concept is one shared by the Spanish composition ’Marte’. 12-year-old Melani Garcia is looking at the damage humans have done to our planet, and how our planet is calling for us to help.

” Sorry, I have plastic in the waves
and secrets that I can’t tell.
I don’t have blue water anymore,
If you don’t want to see the world end like this,
you must defend the life in me”

Marte’ is the Spanish name for the planet Mars. In the chorus of the song comes a call to use your voice as the tool to make a difference – with the idea that you send your voice as far as Mars so that everybody can hear your message.

This brings us into the second way that Greta Thunberg has influenced this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest. It’s one thing for young people to care about the environment, and both the Eurovision Song Contest and Junior Eurovision have had their fair share of environmental songs. What Greta has directly changed is the idea that young people have the power to use their voice to make a difference. Greta Thunberg has commanded audiences with politicians across the globe. Wanting to save the planet is no longer enough for this generation. They demand to be heard.

Serbia’s composition ’Podigni Glas (Raise Your Voice)’ is a prime example of this. The balkan ballad has an environmental theme like the others, but is a call to action for this generation to make a stand against the destruction, and the lack of attention this has from our political system.

Most striking is the music video, with the ending a particularly powerful piece of cinematography. Behind the artist Darija Vračević is a choir of children who dramatically collapse to the ground while the message ’We don’t have a planet B’ pops us. It’s incredibly powerful imagery.

Ending shot from the music video of the Serbian entry

Lyrically, this song also has more power in the message given to young people.

“Now raise your voice
and make a choice
Earth is hurting now and that’s our only home
Now raise your voice
and make some noise
time is running out the future can not hold.”

I note particularly hear the lyric about making some noise – it is not just the action that is important, but the idea that young people need to change and challenge society to make a difference. This isn’t just about being listened to, this is forcing people to listen.

This theme of youth uprising appears even without the environmental backdrop. Malta’s entry ’We Are More’ by Eliana Gomez Blanco takes on this idea that the young people of today no longer want to be silenced and want to set a new agenda for the planet.

“They can try to bring us down
But we’ll never hit the ground
We are more, we are more
They can try to mute our sound
But they never down us out
We are more, we are more”

While not explicit in the text, the song leads us to believe that ’they’ refers to those in power currently, and the ’we’ refers to the movement of young people across the planet.

The final song I want to draw attention to in this review is the smash hit ’Superhero’ from Viki Gabor representing the host nation Poland.

”Do you know what we’re fighting for?” the song begins – with a story that unfolds about how the fight is for love and Viki wishes to take you ’far away’ to build a new world where one can ’be free’.

A fair enough and empowering topic, for sure, but it’s what happens after the song in the music video that is most notable. A voice, presumeably Viki’s, gives a one line piece of spoken word.

”Save the world. Planet is my home”

This is no environmental song (if there’s any message here, it’s a message to fight for the right to love freely), but the use of the word ‘planet’ rather than ‘world’ gives off a vibe that there is also a demand to save our Earth from destruction. This is the style of the time – a prime example of how the movement and media attention giving to the cause that Greta Thunberg has been championing is impacting our young people. There was a small window to make a message in this song, and it was taken. Whoever made that decision to include that line didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

This Is All Far More Than Politics

The aim of Greta Thunberg’s ’School Strike For Climate’ action was to deliver climate change to the top agenda point across the politics of the planet, and to demand for far more ambitious change than we currently are.

In that sense climate change, or at least limiting its devastating effects, is a political issue.

However school curricula from Lisadell to Latvia have been teaching about climate change, its impacts and how we can solve the crisis for far longer than our young artists have been alive. And it’s taught not in politics class, but in science class, geography, technology. Italy is soon dedicating a separate subject to climate change for one hour per week.

In an education context climate change isn’t any more of a political issue than the French Revolution or Pythagoras’ Theorum. Young people are being taught at school about how terrible our rising greenhouse gas emissions are, and are being taught about ways these can be reduced. These are facts, but facts about their future. Facts that need action.

If all this climate talk is too political for you, then point your finger at school curricula around the world. We teach our young people that dramatic change is needed to make the changes necessary. They are putting that into song.

Example of a GCSE geography question from the AQA exam board in 2018

Or are they? Many of the songs in Junior Eurovision are written nowadays by adults with minimal influence from children. As I see it, the campaign that Greta Thunberg has inspired has also inspired these adult lyricists, who have channeled that into their music. Adults, using a young person’s voice, to influence the script given to another young person. It’s almost as such that Greta could be a co-lyricist on each of these songs.

Digging deeper, I note that five of those six songs I have highlighted for this article have been internal selections (only Poland had a National Final, but as discussed the song itself doesn’t follow the general theme). Even above the level of a composer, is there a wish from broadcasters that themes of environmentalism and empowerment are the right messages to have young people sing about in the current climate?

We should also note that the furthest east we reach in our environmental song countdown are the fringes of the Danube river. As much as we talk about this as a global movement, the microcosm of Junior Eurovision suggests there’s been less interest in this topic from the former Soviet states. Many of them used National Finals, but even within those contests there’s nothing of the same conviction and message that is featured in this selection of songs.

To me that speaks more about where the ’School Strike For Climate’ campaign has gathered attention. German broadcaster DW reports on how Artsak Makichyan often protests alone in Moscow, unable to get permission to organise larger protests. The Russian artists themselves were asked to comment on Greta’s campaign. 9-year-old Tatyana Mezhentseva believes that skipping school is a ‘strange’ way to protest, and questions if the world is getting any better through the action’s of Greta Thunberg and others. Her duet partnert Denberel Oorzhak agrees, saying ‘I think that people need to study, but protest by other means.’

It’s easy to see how the issue hasn’t hit the mainstream in some cultures compared to others.

Nothing New For Our Song Contest

Environmental songs are nothing new for Junior Eurovision or the Eurovision Song Contest, and that’s not going to be any different in the future.

What is notable with the 2019 edition of Junior Eurovision however is not just the quantity, but the powerful language about being part of the movement for change and demanding better. It is the message of this era and they are saying it loud and proud.

Climate change is to 2019 what uniting the continent was to 1990. The 1990 Eurovision Song Contest was packed full of songs about knocking down walls, bringing people together and living in a world of hope and love.

The songs in that contest were just as ’political’ as the ones in Junior Eurovision today. They are reflections of the current climate, reflections of the facts of the day, and not one of the statements in any song sparked controversy.

It’s great to see songs with meaning and passion in any Song Contest, Junior or otherwise. It’s great to see acts that believe in this message too. Melani Garcia, the Spanish representative, is quoted on the Spanish broadcaster RTVE’s website as saying.

“I am a big fan of Greta Thunberg and what he is doing to save the planet is very important.  Governments have to listen to us because although we are small we have a lot to say. I hope to contribute a grain of sand to this cause with this song,”

Eurovision is a platform for the greatest songs. The greatest songs should move you emotionally. Let’s not be scared of young people pouring emotion and their passions into their music. Let’s embrace it. The state of our planet is not something that young people are immune from, and neither should their music.

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2019

Your Junior Eurovision 2019 Guidebook Is Now Available

Your Junior Eurovision 2019 Guidebook Is Now Available

Junior Eurovision 2019’s Unofficial Guidebook is now on our proverbial digital shelf for you to download. Chock-full of information on this year’s artists, songs, National Selections, and each nation’s history at Junior Eurovision, this free, downloadable eBook (available in PDF formats) is a fantastic resource to have at your fingertips as we approach this year’s shows.

Still on the fence on whether to download a copy or not? Here are a few reasons to check it out:

  • Learn all about this year’s songs
  • Details on the history of each country at Junior Eurovision
  • It’s free, so you literally have nothing to lose!

Grab your copy of ESC Insight’s Guide to the Junior Eurovision 2019 Song Contest here. (If you’d like to share it online, we’d ask you to credit us here at ESC Insight and link back to this page, rather than pointing directly to the eBook.)

And, of course, let us know what you think! Feedback is always welcome.

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2019

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Saturday 23rd November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Saturday 23rd November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20191123_657_jesc2019_Sat/escinsight_20191123_657_jesc2019_Sat.mp3

Ben Robertson (ESC Insight), Belen Garcia (ESC Plus), and Neil Farren (Eurovoix) join Ewan Spence to talk over the second batch of rehearsals at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019. From North Macedonia to Ukraine, let’s look over the staging, listen to the songs , and discuss the activities in the Gliwice Arena?

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Saturday 23rd November

Ben Robertson, Belen Garcia, and Neil Farren join Ewan Spence to talk over the last ten artist rehearsals from the Gliwice Arena and JESC 2019.

Remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

22
November
2019

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Friday 22nd November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Friday 22nd November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20191122_656_jesc2019_Fri/escinsight_20191122_656_jesc2019_Fri.mp3

Joining Ewan Spence to talk over the first batch of rehearsals at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019 are Ben Robertson (ESC Insight) and Kurtis Carter (OGAE Australia). From Albania to Malta, what do we think of the songs, staging, artists, and visuals during their rehearsals in the Gliwice Arena?

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Friday 22nd November

Ewan Spence is joined by Ben Robertson and Kurtis Carter to talk over nine rehearsals from the Gliwice Arena. ESC Insight brings you all the news from backstage at Junior Eurovision 2019.

Now we are reporting from backstage at Junior Eurovision, remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

22
November
2019

Are Poland Unstoppable In The Online Vote?

Are Poland Unstoppable In The Online Vote?

How Roksana Won Junior Eurovision

Much was made of the online vote in the run up to the 2018 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. After the hiccups of the 2017 edition where online voting crashed during the live broadcast, the 2018 edition appeared to run smoothly.

I’ve written much about the strengths and weaknesses of using the online vote in Junior Eurovision last year. To summarise in short, one of the biggest challenges it has is the ability to vote for your own country, although you need to vote for a minimum of three songs with each vote. This method is unchanged for 2019.

In the run up to last year’s competition, I outlined the huge fanbase that Roksana Węgiel had compared to the other acts competing. She had become a huge star in Poland, and before last year’s competition commanded a whopping 242,000 Instagram followers (as of October 20th that’s now up to a staggering 829,000). This was one of the reasons Poland was expected to do well last year.

Furthermore, Poland was broadcasting the show on TVP2, one of the mainstream channels. Many other broadcasters now either broadcast on dedicated children’s channels or channels dedicated to a certain national language. That means less viewers. Poland secured 2.2 million viewers watching Roksana’s victory. This compares to 1.4 million in the host nation Belarus and 1.16 million for France, but also 35,000 in Italy and 20,000 in Wales. The magnitude of difference is staggering.

Furthermore, anybody reading ESC Insight will be familiar enough with the Eurovision Song Contest to know that Poland has a huge and active voting diaspora spread across the continent, meaning there’s plenty of additional viewers across the continent who might be voting for their home nation.

And you know, there’s also the fact that the song is a bop. As I had outlined after last year’s victory, ’Anyone I Want To Be’ was probably the slickest pop number in the competition truthfully probably the song that most matched the 13-16 target audience the EBU had for the show.

Roksana’s performance ranked her in seventh place out of twenty with the juries. However the online vote was a whopping 136 points, 19 more than France in second and enough to lift the crown by a margin of 12 points.

It was anticipated that with the requirement for the online vote being to vote for numerous countries that the online vote would be far less spread out than the jury vote. At the lower end of the scoreboard that is clear, Serbia, Wales and Portugal received a combined 2 points from the juries, yet three lowest online vote scores were 28, 29 and 30 respectively.

However Poland’s online vote of 136 points almost matched Australia’s runaway jury score of 148 points. The power of the Polish vote defied the equalising nature we expected the voting system to produce.

All eyes are now on Gliwice, and a chance for Poland to do the double.

Wiktoria’s Heading To Eurovision

This year the Polish broadcaster TVP used a reboot of their talent show Szanza na sukces to choose their representative, and the final three sang their prospective Junior Eurovision entries before a winner was selected.

Winning both jury and televote was Wiktoria Gabor, who is using the name Viki Gabor for Junior Eurovision purposes, performing the song ’Superhero’.

Superhero‘ is an evolution of last year’s success. This is in the same commercial pop style as ’Anyone I Want To Be’ and has the same lead songwriter in Lanberry. Lanberry herself took part in Poland’s National Final for Eurovision in 2017, finishing 6th. Notably, both songs make use of the 40% non-native language rule to start in English, before transitioning back into Polish. Often in Junior Eurovision the switch happens in the opposite direction.

A commercial success the song is already being. After just one week from the release of the official video on the Junior Eurovision channel the song bypassed the one million view mark. The closest comparison is with the French entry ‘Bim Bam Toi‘ that got just 1/3rd of the views in the same time period.  Part of the reason the song has been a YouTube hit is that Viki is part of Universal Music’s label, and the video oozes high-quality, professional production. The same can’t be said for all 19 competing entries. The music video is incredibly important in Junior Eurovision as many votes are cast online before the live performance.

Roksana’s mini-celebrity status (the recent winner of Best Polish Act in the MTV Awards) is still a little bit out of reach. Viki’s followers on Instagram number just under 60,000, far less than Roksana at a similar stage and comparable to the number that Melani Garcia representing Spain can command. Spain are showing the contest on their main channel, so also expect big Iberian support for their operatic artist.

What is in Viki’s favour though is the fact that Poland will be hosting the show this year. Not only will the host country be warmly cheered on in the hall, it also means there’ll be more interest from viewers at home. The 2.2 million viewers from last year would likely have been smashed even without the fact that Poland has decided to move the show from TVP2 to TVP1, the country’s main channel.

Realistically with more viewers and a popular song, I can’t see Poland not winning the onilne vote last year, this year, and probably most years to come.

Is Junior Eurovision Just A Popularity Contest?

Now I’m writing all of this not to say that ’Superhero’ would not be a worthy winner – it actually would be another great example of a catchy pop track that could launch another artist into the music industry. However I write all of this to note that Poland starts with such a huge advantage at Junior Eurovision that the competition could be seen as unblanaced.

You may say to me that the Eurovision Song Contest is also unfair, and Poland benefits from the televote similarly there. The difference though is that the magnitude of difference here is so much larger. The large Polish viewership at home dwarfs many of the other nations and the way Junior Eurovision voting works, that gulf in viewing figures justs adds to the impacts of diaspora voting all too well known.

I feel sorry for Wales, for Ireland, for Georgia. I see no chance for Italy, nor Albania or Macedonia. The odds of these countries winning a traditional televote is low, but possible. In an online vote scenario I find it difficult to imagine each of these nations gathering enough momentum within their spheres of influence to reach the level of support that acts from Poland will have. It got ten times harder for these nations to win.

I worry about the message this gives to our young performers. Instagram followers and where you come from matters far more in Junior Eurovision than in any other competition I can think of. Our children performing on stage will know how much of a popularity contest it is.

How will the Welsh delegation explain this to their artist this year? How do you explain how there’s less people watching at home than our national stadium, but the Polish act will have the equivalent of 20 Millennium Stadium’s as a minimum, and they will all be supporting her? How do you prepare an act for trying your best, but your best will not be good enough no matter what?

What’s hard in writing this is that I like the online vote. I like how it makes time difference not a huge issue (hello Australia), it’s free and voting for three to five entries should reduce the power of the bloc . However if viewing figures are so disparate between countries the bloc power is magnified, not reduced, and the system therefore isn’t fair enough and isn’t fit for purpose.

Whether Poland wins on Sunday or not we will have to wait to see. The questions about the best way to choose our winner though are likely to remain regardless while this system is still in place.

There are two voting windows open for Junior Eurovision 2019. The first voting window is open from 20:00 CET on Friday 22nd November and will close at 15:59 CET on Sunday 24th November. There will also be a fifteen minute voting window during the live show. 

The link to vote is here, and you can vote for between three to five performances. 

Categories: ESC Insight

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