The next two performers for next years Australia Decides has been announced. Like last year SBS want to showcase the diverse music and culture that Australia has to offer as well as celebrating it First Nations performers.
After the excitement of the first two performers being announced for next years National Final, the Australian broadcaster, SBS have kept momentum up, with their next two choices.
Mitch Tambo is hot footing it over from an amazing stint on this years Australia’s Got Talent series, known for marrying traditional musical elements with contemporary beats made Mitch a fan favourite on the show.
A favourite to win the whole series, when Mitch left during the Grand Finale without the main prize, it had many fans taking to twitter demanding he represent the country at Eurovision. His dramatic and stirring performances on the show really would stand out at the contest. His beautiful bi-lingual rendition of John Farnham’s You’re the Voice had everyone on their feet and provided him with his second Golden Buzzer of the season.
A performer haling from Pinjarra, Western Australia with an English mother and a Maori father, has been performing for over 20 years both as a solo singer as well as in musical theatre. In the past he has been nominated for both ARIA Awards and Helpmann Awards the highest accolades in their fields in Australia, he went on to win four of the latter awards for his work in productions such as Hedwig & the Angry Inch and Smoke & Mirrors.
iOTA has also been seen in some big Hollywood films such as The Great Gatsby (2013) as the Orchestra conductor and in Mad Max: Fury Road as Coma The Doof Warrior with his flamethrowing guitar.
SBS Australia continue to bring high class performers to the helm and we are excited to see who is next to be announced as we get excited for Australia Decideds 2020.
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‘Love City Groove’ by ‘Love City Groove’ (United Kingdom 1996)
Writing for eurovisionireland.net – @eurovisionirela on Twitter
Love City Groove may seem an odd choice as a favourite entry from my childhood, but it was the first time I was allowed to stay up and watch the Eurovision Song Contest (well up until the end of the UK performance anyway). Previous memories of the Eurovision Song Contest is solely of ‘A Song For Europe’ on a Sunday afternoon. From that moment on in 1995, the Eurovision Song Contest was an annual viewing fixture for me. At the age of 11 nineties rap and dance was all the rage, so Love City Groove was always going to be an entry to stick with me (well for that period in my life anyway). While it was something I approved of back then, it also proved that that specific genre clearly didn’t work in the Contest and wouldn’t do for a long time!
Why did I like the Contest back then? For me that is a very good question. I was never a fan of things like Geography or Language at school, however the Eurovision Song Contest, as well as the Junior Eurovision Song Contest now-a-days, have widened my knowledge in these subject fields – something I’ll be forever grateful for. Never did little old me back in 1995 suspect I’d ever visit places such as Baku, Tbilisi, Minsk or Gliwice. My musical tastes have certainly grown since the Eurovision Song Contest has expanded over the last couple of decades. Nineties dance music is out of the window and you will generally hear Scandinavian or Baltic tunes been played around my house or in the car.
The Concept of No Riverdance (Ireland hosting in 1995)
We’d always watched the contest together as a family with sweets and fizzy drinks, but because watching started before I could really remember, the first thing that really stuck with me was when in 1995 there wasn’t any Riverdance. I don’t remember watching it the first time round, but I definitely do remember being absolutely furious that we didn’t get it again.
‘Miss Kiss Kiss Bang’ by ‘Alex Swings Oscar Sings’ (Germany 2009)
Writing for ogaeaustralia.com – @ogaeaustralia on Twitter
As my childhood was not so long ago, some of my first Eurovision memories are quite recent. My first kind of Eurovision memories involve watching bits and pieces from the late 2000s. My mum grew up watching Eurovision on the BBC in New Zealand, and continued that tradition in Australia. One vivid memory was when I was 13, because my dance teacher was a dancer for Germany (the blonde one) in ‘Miss Kiss Kiss Bang’, Alex Swings Oscar Sings feat. Dita Von Teese.
Again, I only remember bits and pieces of 2010 and 2011, but it was the 2012 contest that made me go wow! I am a Eurovision fan! My brother and I would watch the pre-recorded show after school for semi 1, 2 and the final. 2012 was also the year where I picked the winner. I haven’t been able to pick a winner since. From then on, I was addicted to Eurovision, getting up to watch it live at 5 a.m. every year after. My favourite Eurovision songs from when I watched the 2012 contest at the age of 16 have not changed since. I still am in love with Loreen, Pastora Soler and Ivi Adamou.
Aka Eurovision royalty.
‘Hora Din Moldova’ by ‘Nelly Ciobanu’ (Moldova 2009)
Writing for Eurovoix.com – @Eurovoix on Twitter
2009 was the year that Eurovision became the event of the year for me. It was the first year I discovered the semi-finals, and the first time that I was allowed to watch all of the shows. While a number of songs stand out from the contest in Moscow, 13 year-old me was intrigued and blown away by a burst of energy from a country I’d never even heard of. ‘Hora Din Moldova‘ was high energy, engaging and just so different from anything I’d ever heard before. It opened my eyes to a whole world of music that I’d never come across before and sparked an interest that still hasn’t faded. Looking back at the performance, I can still see why the 13 year old me, sat in front of the TV on a school night, loved every moment of it. I didn’t need to know what Nelly was singing about, all I needed to know was that it was an earworm that stuck in my head for days. While my tastes may have changed over the years ‘Hora Din Moldova‘ still sums up what I want from a song. It takes me back to a slice of my childhood and has left a lasting impression.
‘Fairytale’ by ‘Alexander Rybak’ (Norway 2009)
Writing for eurovoix.com – @eurovoix on Twitter
Like Anthony, 2009 was the year that I truly “got into” Eurovision. I was 11 years old at the time, watching the Final on the big family TV in the living room, eyes glued to the screen. A man dressed in a waistcoat and long brown hair, walked on stage holding a violin. This song was unlike anything I’d heard before – at the time I wasn’t really into listening to songs with violins, mainly just generic pop songs from the radio charts. The song, paired with the energetic backing dancers and the wide starry night backdrop, made for a memorable and winning performance for me. Turns out that I wasn’t the only one that thought this! The rest of Europe also fell in love with ‘Fairytale‘, as it won the contest with ease and broke the points records set in previous years.
It’s no surprise that it’s still my favourite Eurovision song, and arguably the one that made me fall in love with the contest from then onwards. And just imagine my surprise and excitement when he returned to the contest in 2018 with ‘That’s How You Write a Song‘! Looking back however, I’d say that my taste in music hasn’t changed too much. I still follow Rybak and listen to his latest releases, as well as listening to the aforementioned generic pop music (though probably not as much anymore).
‘Guildo Hat Euch Lieb!’ by ‘Guildo Horn’ (Germany 1998)
Every May as long as I can remember my parents would gather round the TV to watch Eurovision. I was only allowed to watch the songs and interval act as voting went on way past my bedtime. However my dad kindly taped the last 20 minutes of voting so I could watch it when I woke up! My earliest memory was also Riverdance as the interval act, when I was only 5. But my favourite childhood song was ‘Guildo Hat Euch Lieb!‘. I remember being astounded that he was allowed to climb all over the stage like that. On reflection he probably wasn’t… It was so different to the rest of the songs, and nine year old me loved how bonkers it was. Looking back it’s not really a song I would choose to listen to. But as a performance its hard to match those manic three minutes for their unscripted feel and sheer exuberance. It would be very hard to get away with that level of anarchy in the modern contest.
‘White and Black Blues’ by ‘Joëlle Ursull’ (France 1990)
Writing for Eurovision-fr.net – @Eurovisionfrnet on Twitter
When I was a child my first huge Eurovision moment was Joëlle Ursull’s performance of ‘White and Black Blues‘, composed by Serge Gainsbourg. I was only 8 when this song was released. I really loved the mix of cultures this contribution to the Song Contest offered, where West Indian, Caribbean and South American melodies melted together, sung with Joëlle’s delicate and clearful voice.
It was a smash hit in France in 1990, and it was one of the last songs written by Serge Gainsbourg before his death a year later. It also started a huge comeback from the French delegation after a lacklustre 1980s. It was the kind of success (at Eurovision and in the charts) that we also saw with Amir in 2016. Even today, Joëlle Ursull’s song is still successful in France and a sign of a great period for the French Eurovision fans. Personally, I still love listening to the Eurovision songs from the 90s, where live orchestra could give powerness and timeless contributions (like ‘Fiumi Di Parole‘, ‘Insieme: 1992‘ or ‘Mamma Corsica‘).
‘One Step Further’ by Bardo (United Kingdom 1982)
If there’s one thing I love today about the Eurovision Song Contest, it lies in the ten thousand songs that are submitted to broadcasters every year, hoping to win through internal selections and National Finals and get to the Song Contest stage in May. Looking back, that drive to discover new music started with my first Contest.
During my younger years, the Eurovision Song Contest was a chance to listen to music that wasn’t just from the UK Charts or my Dad’s collection of albums by ‘The Shadows’ (side note, I quite liked ‘Specs Appeal’ and the one track where they allowed Hank Marvin to sing, but none of my school friends had ever heard of ‘Let Me Be The One’).
Actually… I know in my heart that my first Contest was Harrogate 1982, but I don’t have a distinct memory of watching it live. What I do remember is that one of the few 7” singles that I purchased when I was young was Bardo’s ‘One Step Further’ after watching my first Eurovision. That was the one I wanted to listen to again. And again. And again.
The single joined Dollar’s ‘Shooting Star’, Dudley Simpson’s ‘Blakes Seven’, and Tight Fit’s ‘Fantasy Island’… even then I was collecting National Final songs without knowing it!
‘Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit’ by ‘Gina G’ (United Kingdom 1996)
Growing up in the United States, precious few songs from Eurovision ever really entered the American pop musical landscape, and even fewer were marketed as contest entries. It took me years to realize that “Ooh, Aah…Just a Little Bit” had its origins at a musical festival on the other side of the world. But before I knew what Eurovision was, and how much of an effect it would eventually have on my life, Gina G’s bouncy, infectious slice of mid-90s Europop confectionery was one of the nearly unavoidable songs of my tweenhood. I was almost twelve when it was released into the US market, and it would have fit in beautifully next to Amber’s ‘This Is Your Night‘ and Quad City DJ’s ‘C’mon and Ride It‘ on my local radio station and on all the cool kids’ B’nei Mitzvah playlists. With age, of course my tastes have evolved and shifted, but I’ll always be a little wistful for the hypercaffeinated soundtrack of my youth.
‘Diva’ by ‘Dana International’ (Israel 1998)
It’s hard to overstate today just how revolutionary Dana International was back in 1998. At the time I was a mere twelve years old, and in the very early, predictably painful stages of discovering that in some quite important ways, I wasn’t like the other boys in my class. They all loved Oasis, South Park and WWF. I loved the Spice Girls, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the Eurovision Song Contest. The latter was an early stage love affair, but already something I keenly anticipated every year. In those less enlightened times, I genuinely had no idea what it meant to be a trans woman – not that anybody was using terminology anywhere near as sensitive as that at the time anyway. But I did know that Dana’s participation was a big deal. She was a huge tabloid story and the source of frenzied debate long before she actually landed in Birmingham. When the night itself finally came, I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but the divinely glamorous creature who strutted onto the stage that night made an indelible impression. The song was, of course, an instant anthem. I was hooked, and in a small but not insignificant way, my horizons were forever broadened. Viva la diva!
‘Jugarem a Estimar-nos’ by ‘Marta Roure’ (Andorra 2004)
I wasn’t brought up in a Eurovision following household, and my first exposure I remember was the Spanish entry ‘Dime’ being played for us in Spanish class. A year later the BBC website (which I usually frequented for sport news) had the Eurovision songs highlighted. I listened to each one with the volume turned down upstairs while everybody thought I was just a studious 13-year-old. When I had the house to myself would belt out ‘If My World Stopped Turning’ and absolutely murdered Jonsi’s ‘Heaven’, such was my taste as a musical theatre kid, but the Andorran entry was my one that went into Istanbul as my first ever pre-contest favourite. It’s a little ditty of a song which I could pretend to understand with my Spanish knowledge. I loved the way the chorus melody kind of ‘slides’ as it tells this story of pretend romance, which resonated with puberty-ridden me. Also, as a sport fan, I do love an underdog, and Andorra’s debut was prime example of a Goliathan task just to reach the Grand Final.
On the Semi Final night I was mightily disappointed when I snuck upstairs to watch the live stream. Gone was the band and the ‘real’ feel for a cheap dance routine that left Marta breathless, haggard and struggling. There was never to be an Andorran qualification to Saturday night. My tastes have changed dramatically from my youth. At the time Athena’s ‘For Real’ was the opposite of my music, but now I realise that even uncool me could buy into that cool. One of my favourite artists on the planet is now Mr. Zeljko Joksimovic, but at the time I had ‘Lane Moje’ as one of the worst of the competition. 13 year old me judged 2004 very wrongly.
And now it’s over to you. What Eurovision songs did you like as children? How have your tastes changed as you’ve grown up? Comment below and let’s see if any of our childhood memories have rekindled yours.
Once more ESC Insight is on the ground to cover the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, this year in Poland. Before rehearsals open up the press, there’s the official opening ceremony to cover, discussions over the running order, and a question about getting the whole team in the same country, let alone the same room.
Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Gliwice, Thursday 21st November
The opening ceremony, the running order, and a missing team member. Ben Robertson and some friends of the parish preview this year’s Junior Eurovision.
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.
At Junior Eurovision’s Opening Ceremony on Monday afternoon, 20 artists from 19 countries waltzed down the red carpet and smiled to the camera and journalists.
One of them caught my eye. Sporting naturally wild frizzy hair, a brace on her right knee, a leather jacket around her tartan patterned dress and Doc Martins on her feet, Mila stood out from the crowd by being herself, natural and proud.
Mila Moskov with host Mateusz Szymkowiak at the Opening Ceremony (Photo: Thomas Hanses, EBU)
Music Is My Passion It’s My Life
Of course, we start with music. The chorus of Mila’s Junior Eurovision entry ‘Fire’ has the line “Music is my passion it’s my life”, one of the lines Mila wrote herself in the composition. So how does music influences Mila’s life?
“I have grown up with music. My dad plays the piano and I grew up listening to blues, jazz, pop, RnB, hip hop – every genre you can imagine.
“When I wake up, before I do anything else, I put on my music, put on my headphones. Whether I’m in the bathroom, in bed, or on the way to school.”
If Mila was allowed she’d love to have headphones on even inside the school building. Like many teenagers, music helps her to zone out from the world around her, to create her own little bubble. Her current tastes include jazz but plenty of hip hop and rap, listing The Weeknd, Drake and JayZ are those currently on her playlist.
‘Fire’ itself is a particularly bombastic song for Junior Eurovision. Yes, it is a pop song, but the production gives it much more of a powerful edge than that would suggest. That should be of little surprise when you note the music was made by Lazar Cvetkoski. He was one of the names behind North Macedonia’s record result in Eurovision history with Tamara Todevska’s ‘Proud’.
The “I’m like a fire” hook of the chorus is something where Mila took the song to the next level however. Note on the second repetition of that line in each chorus, where a glimmer of a rock star-esque voice pours out on the inflection. That’s Mila’s own interpretation and the unleashing of her soul and passion in one note. It’s a reminder that our young performers are not puppets-on-strings when it comes to their performances, but really capable of making mature musical decisions.
In fact on the day of our interview Mila had spent tons of time discussing plans for the future with her producer, and they have plans to keep working together in the future. It was an ‘inspirational’ day, and Mila feels that, for what reason he is ‘motivated’ by her, she ‘impacted’ him and ‘made him feel something.’
Mila Moskov in her music video for ‘Fire‘
Talking Fashion, Style and Image
Her style of outfit throughout her Eurovision experience has always shown somebody very mature. And very individual. The music video has her in a checked shirt over a t-shirt with the words ‘Make It Happen’. It was in particular the I-don’t-care about her Opening Ceremony outfit that made her stand out, especially with the leg brace on full show.
How would Mila describe her own image?
“I want to have an edge. I don’t really know where it comes from, but I’ve always had it. People notice that. I edge them out, I intimidate people.
“One of my very close friends, we met in the 6th grade. At first, she was almost scared of me, didn’t want to take to me. We had to sit together in class because we sat alphabetically ordered by seats and then we started talking.
“After a week she said to me, I thought you were a mean girl. She was surprised that I was nice to her and friendly.”
It’s a perplexing interview experience to have a sweet and chill 14-year-old tell you that they intimidate people while sipping on raspberry milkshake in a comfy hotel. Mila just seems so far from intimidating to me. This is not the game plan for what she wants the audience to feel come Sunday afternoon.
That said, Mila’s not holding back on Sunday’s show and is making a bold statement. There’s no surprise it is styled for maximum impact. It’s a two-piece design with the tight black underbody she’s sewn into covered by a dramatic orange sweeping asymmetrical coat. The single fingerless leather glove adds that necessary bit of Mila attitude.
Rising like a phoenix (Photo: Thomas Hanses, EBU)
What does Mila want the audience to feel when she walks out on the stage?
“Confident, confidence, fire. I want people to feel that in the room. When I come on stage, and I sing the first line, I want people to feel my confidence – feel that I can do anything.
“I’m trying to tell them I’m happy about what I’m doing. I’m genuinely happy about doing the thing that I’ve wanted to do since I was 9. I’m trying to tell you that anything is possible and you can do it. I come from such a small place in such a small town in such a small country.”
Sadly, we’re not going to be getting the most full-on Mila on stage that Junior Eurovision deserves. While rehearsing before arriving in Poland, Mila’s knee popped out, popped back in, and resulted in a torn ligament. Mila tells me the plan was to have jumping, sliding, gliding and plenty of stage strutting. Instead Mila’s going to be static on the stage, and should be resting the knee as much as possible. For better or worse, Mila’s still been caught dancing around with the other contestants, clearly having the time of her life.
Small Town Girl In A Big Arcade
Growing up in a small town doesn’t leave people as isolated from the outside world as they once were, thanks mainly to social media.
For Mila and for many of the acts this year, Instagram is king. Unlike some of the other acts in the competition, Mila’s Instagram is 100 percent her own, with nobody else managing her account.
That’s not to say adults haven’t been influencing her in recent weeks, and she has had plenty of advice.
“First of all, be careful. Nowadays everybody sees it and everybody takes it from a different perspective. For example I might post a joke and somebody might take it as disrespect for something they care about. I don’t post anything that I want to. I have a platform now. Big enough to impact on somebody.
“There’s always going to be pressure on you being in that spotlight.”
It was about a month ago when Mila went, in social media terms, from zero to hero. The profile that Junior Eurovision offers has catapulted her followers numbers upwards, and gathered her fans from across the continent overnight.
“The numbers went up and it was shock, kinda. But I try not to focus on that. I try and use this platform to share a light. Share positivity. To be happy, positive. I want you to be happy! That’s the main thing.“
I would worry that this would change Mila, and put too much pressure on young shoulders. I’m reassured when a voice behind my shoulder reassures me that nothing has changed. It transpires that the person behind us watching our interview take place has been Mila’s very own mother. Describing her only child as ‘smart and wise’, Mila’s mother is ‘supportive’ to everything Mila wants to do.
One of the quirks about this social media age is that all the artists in the competition make contact with each other as soon as they are announced. Following them are little pockets of Junior Eurovision fans who love nothing more than seeing them become the best of friends.
Mila describes herself as having a ‘very different personality from anybody else here’, yet that hasn’t stopped her from finding a kindred spirit. Her name is Eliana Gomez Blanco, the representative this year from Malta.
“We connected immediately. We clicked. We are best friends right now. We depend on each other, look out for each other.”
Malta’s entry is one of many songs in this year’s competition that has a strong lyric about the power of young people. Mila highlights both the Maltese song and Serbia’s ‘Podigni Glas (Raise Your Voice)’ in this regard, loving the empowering messages and hoping they get noticed. Social activism is a big deal to Mila, in her press biography she expresses a wish that everybody is able to find opportunity to share the joy “no matter where you live or where you’re from or what colour your skin is.”
Mila also thinks it is great for so many young people who have striked across the globe to recognise our climate emergency. While Mila’s not been an active school striker, social media campaigns have kept her well aware of its movement and it has inspired her to take more care of trash, recycling, and consuming less.
The personality might be very different, but Mila’s got clear desire to be part of one world and to the right thing to make it a better place to live.
Going From Junior to Senior
Being 14 is no easy age. The pressure and expectations on you rise, physically, mentally and academically. I want to end our interview by know more about where Mila thinks her journey will end, and what kind of adult she will be become.
“I want to have class, discipline. In five years’ time I will be 19 to 20. By then I want to be someone who knows what to do in certain situations and knows how to handle stuff. Being part of a grown up, an adult. Being impactful, being positive.
“I might be too young to talk about this – but I want to become this classy, confident woman.”
As I bring my interview to a close, I could only think the opposite. Mila’s far from too young to talk about these things. If anything, she possesses a maturity beyond many adults I’ve had the pleasure to speak to. When I spotted Mila on the red carpet I knew there was a story worth telling, and I wasn’t wrong. There’s an attitude, an edge, a fire…but there’s also a heart in the right place.
I was fortunate enough to be in town for the Opening Ceremony in Katowice this afternoon. As press we were shepherded up to the gods of the Silesia Theatre to watch proceedings take place. We got to hear the Gromee written common song for the competition as well as local boy band 4Dreamers.
There was also the Gift Ceremony, where each act gave a gift from their home country to a randomly drawn artist. Imagine it as secret Santa, but without knowing who your present is for.
One of the other features of the Opening Ceremony was the draw for the running order. The running order is only partially random. The host country, opening song and closing song are drawn at random, otherwise the songs have their positions selected by the host broadcaster in combination with the EBU.
We now know that running order in full.
Australia opens and Serbia closes Junior Eurovision 2019
Does Running Order Matter Anymore?
I would argue that running order effects in Junior Eurovision should be less than at the main Eurovision Song Contest. The show is shorter at 19 songs (equivalent to a Eurovision Semi Final) and the concept of online voting means many votes are cast before the show itself. Therefore, votes are cast before running order bias kicks in.
I look at what happened last year as an example that running order may still have impact in who eventually wins the competition, with Poland winning from last place. In total five winners from the competition’s 16 edition history have come from the final slot. Arguably most striking is the statistic that only two songs have won from the first half of the Junior Eurovision running order, ‘Bzzz’ and the inaugural winner ‘Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav’.
Running Order Positions Of Junior Eurovision Winners
Running Order Position
‘Anyone I Want To Be’
20th from 20
13th from 16
17th from 17
‘Not My Soul’
15th from 17
‘Tu Primo Grande Amore’
11th from 16
11th from 12
9th from 12
12th from 13
10th from 14
7th from 13
6th from 15
17th from 17
15th from 15
16th from 16
‘Antes Muerta Que Sencilla’
15th from 18
‘Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav’
2nd from 16
If anything, this trend suggests that the winner of Junior Eurovision is more correlated to running order than even the larger Eurovision Song Contest. Most of the running order has been producer influenced from 2014, and since that time we only have one winner outside the last quarter of songs performing in the competition.
My Three Running Order Criteria
Absolute position, is the not the only impact of a running order, however the above stats suggest it is most important.
My model attributes two less obvious factors into consideration. The first is side-to-side comparison. The argument being if you want to win the competition, you need to be obviously better than the songs drawn either side of you. That’s easier if you have a song that has similar elements to those around you, but you do them better. Producer led running orders usually make this effect rarer, which is a shame as it can naturally overcome the running order bias.
The final attribute is what I call the crescendo effect. A producer planning a running order will create moods throughout the 19 songs and there will be peaks and troughs in excitement through the show. You want to be riding the wave of the peaks in crowd energy to get the most impact, rather than in the doldrums after the fires have burnt out.
My model from last year’s competition highlighted Poland as the big running order winner. The three others I highlighted were Malta, Australia and Georgia. The latter two were in a side-by-side battle where Jael’s great vocal stole the show and gave Australia a huge jury vote lead. Malta, drawn 19th out of 20 but also benefiting from side-by-side and crescendo effects after Wales, came in 2nd in that same jury vote.
The following table shows what I think of each of the songs and their boosts or drops depending on purely the running order. Based on the statistics above, I have doubled the weighting of absolute position as it appears to have a huge effect in the winner of Junior Eurovision through history.
Ben Robertson’s running order analysis using his three criteria
I do give Serbia the top running order boost after their draw last. The song has such huge potential to be an epic ending with the rousing feel and false ending. I also note that the final four songs are all sentimental ballads of different styles, a saw-tooth running order this does not appear to be. That means there is much competing for side-to-side judging here, so all score highly in that criteria. My expectation is that Serbia’s ‘Podigni Glas (Raise Your Voice)’ has the most powerful message and vocal and may appear an obvious winner after that run of songs. However all four have a chance if the performers can shine above and sound better than the rest.
Just before these tracks I’m seeing another side-by-side comparison between The Netherlands and Armenia. I’m expecting bombastic staging with backing dance ensembles from both, and even though they are different musically they will be similar in presentation. A clever gimmick here or a wink at the camera there might be enough to raise one against the other in the who-can-choreograph-my-way-to-charm game.
Poland and Kazakhstan in the middle of the running order should be happy. There’s a clear ramp up from Belarus to Malta to Wales that increases the tempo and energy in the hall. The Kazakh Disney-esque track has a huge production and if the live vocal matches I can expect one huge standing ovation for the 12-year-old. The audience will be primed ready to boogie down to Viki and the host crowd cheers will be just a few percentage points higher. I slightly edge Kazakhstan on the side-by-side for now, but Viki’s stage show is something of a secret at the moment.
In the top half of the draw, we see Spain as the only country who can take away positives from the running order placing. Mila Moskov and the track ‘Fire’ has a huge build to it and provides Melani from Spain a springboard for her operatic vocals to soar across the arena.
The Elephant In The Room
Yes, I can go through my analysis and pick out countries that may get a little relative boost because of the way the songs lie. However the story of this running order is not in those that have a boost, it’s in those that don’t.
Poland is going into this competition as one of the hottest favourites, with 3.5 million YouTube views and counting on the official video. Fan polls and top of top videos have been suggesting that France and Spain are the two countries also in the mix, and both are showing the show to multi-million audiences back home on their primary channels. The latter is key for scoring big in that online vote. Spain are drawn 5th while the French entry performs 2nd on the night.
Producer led running orders over recent years we have seen a trend towards placing favourites later in the show. This running order is very much the opposite, with much of the favoured big hitters in the first half of the show.
Running orders are more complex than putting favourites at the end of the show. One must also consider the logistics of staging each act and their props, colours, lighting, gimmicks and so on. There has been a backlash online to the running order, and this outcry – justified or not – is a fundamental issue with any producer-led running order. Somebody, somewhere, will accuse you of bias for just doing your job.
Going into rehearsals I will say this. The general consensus is that Junior Eurovision this year is far stronger in its first half than its last half. If that appears true with the live performances, we may have a show that feels very similar to the Grand Final of Eurovision 2015…which had much of the mid-table dragging out in the second half.
It is the random draw elements I want to finish on. There is something beautiful about them. Jordan Anthony representing Australia is head and shoulders taller than most of the adult press, never mind the young artists. His huge height difference will unlikely be noticed if he’s not being compared to other entrants before him. Some say his song is a bit slow to open, but actually I think it grows warmly and set a great positive mood to kick start the competitive. Likewise ending on a Balkan ballad isn’t typical for a producer led running order, but the false ending and powerful message may create the most iconic moment of the night. In a Junior Eurovision year full of youth empowerment messages, it seems poignant to end with one of its most dramatic.
Sometimes randomness does things no human would ever do…this show is far better for that.
Good morning all, welcome to the first day of the artists’ Junior Eurovision journey on the Gliwice stage. Today we’ll be seeing ten countries working through their routines for the first time… Except we won’t.
New for Junior Eurovision 2019 is the fact that the first dress rehearsals will be held behind closed doors, with only the delegations and technical staff able to be in the arena.
The EBU will, via their social media channels, be revealing short clips from on stage and backstage. As press we will get the same visuals as the public during Tuesday and Wednesday. If I took my press accreditation to the arena today I wouldn’t even be welcomed in. The Press Centre will only be opening on Thursday when second rehearsals begin.
I asked the EBU to give a statement regarding this change.
”The EBU continually reviews the organisation of its Live Events to ensure that Member broadcasters and their artists are given the best experience both on and off stage.
With this in mind it was decided that, in order to safeguard the well-being of the young artists taking part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, it was in the interests of all participants that they be allowed to rehearse privately during their first experience on stage.
As these rehearsals are not open to press, a decision was also made to open the press centre for the event later than in previous years. Highlights from these rehearsals will continue to be shared on our official YouTube channel.”
Safeguarding The Wellbeing Of Young Artists
First rehearsal is a big and scary proposition. It’s the first time for many of the artists on a stage of that size and scale, combined with their lights cues and medium-sized props. For many acts, the most difficult thing will be picking out the little red dot above the camera lens to follow as it zooms from steadycam to crane to fixed camera and back again.
It should be a learning process, not the demand for perfection it so often is. One example would be from Junior Eurovision in 2015. I saw Malta’s Destiny Chukunyere rehearse, and was underwhelmed. I wrote an article on the running order where I assumed it would be a Belarus/Armenia battle for victory. But Destiny was just getting started, and come the Jury Final her vocal fireworks blasted off and she was on her way. In hindsight, Destiny was using that first rehearsal to walk through how to perform her song. Myself, and I assume others in the press centre, were too quick to judge.
When You Witness A First Rehearsal
I’m a bit of an old hack at the Eurovision press circuit now, having been to five Eurovision Song Contests and five Junior Eurovisions. First rehearsals are one of my favourite parts. There’s the obvious, the fact that you are seeing the songs on stage for the first time, and you get to be one of the first to see the crazy gimmicks and props before the excitement is spoilt by the blogs and betting sites.
I remember one particular first rehearsal from Vienna in 2015, that from Spain represented by Edurne with ’Amanecer’.
If you saw the three minutes on stage, you’ll note there were plenty of Eurovision classic moments; the appearing dancer, the costume reveal, a stage turning from darkness to light. It was a complex performance, and the first two or three run throughs were comedy gold, and everything that could go wrong on camera did. The highlight I remember is Edurne’s dancer being caught in the background of one camera shot running off stage carrying her long red dress trailing behind him.
The press room was in stitches.
Hilarious as it was, it was at that point I realised that we were seeing something we shouldn’t. The first time an artist goes on stage should be one where they get time to make things fit together, time to feel comfortable on the stage. A first rehearsal shouldn’t be for our twisted pleasure where one slip because you wore the wrong shoes doesn’t lead to the bloggers getting their claws out.
I’m actually taken here to think about a story that appeared from this year’s Eurobash, the OGAE UK convention. Michael Rice, the UK’s Eurovision entrant in Tel Aviv, was present and spoke to the audience about his experience. One of the most revealing moments was Michael revealing how some of the nasty comments were getting to him, and the BBC encouraged him to put his phone away. There’s a delegation’s duty of care to protect their artist from all the comments, the feedback and the general bad blood the over-analysis of every step he made on that stage did.
You know what, I’m going to go further than this is a good thing for Junior Eurovision. First rehearsals at the Eurovision Song Contest in May should also be behind closed doors.
Saving Time, Saving Money
There’s far more benefit to this than just the idea of safeguarding artists. Firstly you have the fact that there’s less time needed for much of the periphery of the Song Contest. The press centre is open for two days less at Junior Eurovision, and that would be four days less at the Eurovision Song Contest. The associated security, cleaning and catering staff for the hundreds of journalists can be reduced therefore too.
Ah, you say, but that means less press and less coverage for the artists. In terms of quantity that may be true. However the quality of the journalism will not be weakened. Having been in the press room each day for two weeks, in all honesty I must say we rarely learn anything from the second rehearsals. Camera shots are tightened up, sometimes a few are changed ever so slightly, but its so rare that anything is noteworthy. That means in the first week of Eurovision fortnight that the Monday to Thursday are filled with suspense and what ifs, but the long Friday and Saturday second rehearsals are a drag. The EBU’s coverage, where they drip feed more snippets and reveals from first rehearsal to second rehearsal, helps to generate more excitement from content that is essentially the same.
Wouldn’t it be better for Eurovision press excitement to start up on that Friday and Saturday and ramp up all the way to the Grand Final the week after?
Another potential problem to sort out with this is to with artist interviews. You see after each rehearsal the acts come through into the press centre, attend some sort of press conference answering safe questions, and then most delegations take the artist through to interview after interview after interview. If the press centre is open less, surely then will there be less chance for interviews?
The EBU already have got a solution for this, at least for Junior Eurovision.
”To ensure the artists are allowed sufficient time to rest between rehearsals, it was also decided to create one joint opportunity to meet the press on the Saturday afternoon in a relaxed, informal environment. Accredited press can also arrange with individual delegations a suitable time to interview their artists.”
Relaxed and informal is no bad thing. Delegations can sometimes be stuck in interview rooms at Eurovision after a rehearsal all day answering interview questions, most of which aren’t adding anything new. It is tiring for the adults, never mind the children.
This sounds like a set-up more like how Eurovision in Concert or the London Preview Party operates, as does SVT’s Melodifestivalen. Nobody can claim that Sweden’s biggest TV show doesn’t get enough media coverage.
The idea of one joint opportunity too makes meeting the press a far less stressful environment. Let’s not be locked up in a small 6 ft by 6 ft box or on a raised platform waiting for questions from the floor. Instead let’s mingle in a huge open area where everybody is having a good time. It is a positive experience.
You know what. Extend this to the Eurovision Song Contest as well. We don’t need all the interview rooms in the press centre, or press conferences duller than ditchwater. We don’t need the same list of websites doing the same list of questions to the same bunch of artists. We don’t need long boring days at the press centre for each delegation. You want to interview an artist in depth – no problem – let’s organise a session early in the Eurovision fortnight for press to ’meet the Heads of Press’ to co-ordinate interviews at dates, times and locations of the artist’s choosing.
Junior Eurovision Is Where We Try New Ideas
Junior Eurovision has a history of trying new ideas. Juries were introduced here in 2008. The running order was mainly selected by the broadcaster in 2012, before the Eurovision Song Contest started with producer-led running orders. This can be another idea that becomes a success and jumps to the adult edition.
Starting the open rehearsal period later will be a cost-saver for the EBU and for the press, with no reduction in the quality of their journalism. Artists will get a calmer rehearsal experience where they can experiment on stage without being judged, and without fear of every mistake being critiqued. It’s simply sensible that the official requirements for press conferences are reduced, and delegations can pick and choose the interview schedule that is most comfortable for them.
It is correct therefore that rather than be in the press centre today I have instead been typing and editing this piece from the comfort of my hotel room. I hope artists and delegations see the benefits of this freedom, and that it inspires them to insist Rotterdam 2020 follows suit from Gliwice’s lead.