Rehearsals continue today in Tbilis’s Sports Place as we finished the first round of delegations taking to the stage. Who has a tree, who has an Ikea bedroom, and who is reminds Ewan of ‘The Wizard of Oz’?
Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Thursday 23rd November
Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis look back at a day of rehearsals at Junior Eurovision, and chat to Ireland’s Muireann McDonnell and Australia’s Isabella Clarke in today’s coverage of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
Remember to stay up to date with all the Junior Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast for our daily podcasts. 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.
Steef and his team are working hard in the press center in Georgia, but still it is hard. Sometimes at Eurovision, you’d hope that could split yourself in half and be in two places at the same time.
In the video below, you will see the moment when Gianluca from Malta, who has fond memories of our reporter Ani, was rehearsing. While at the same time, we had the chance to interview Alicja from Poland. Tough choices!
Check out episode 5 of the Eurovision Experience:
In The Eurovision Experience, members of Team ESCDaily give you a view from behind the scenes. We show you what it is like to travel to & work at all the Eurovision events!
For the third and last time for Junior Eurovison 2017, it’s time for Junior Juke Box Jury and another collection of hits, misses, and maybes.
Eurovision Insight Podcast: Junior Juke Box Jury #3 with Lisa-Jayne Lewis and Luke Giles
Cyprus: I Wanna Be A Star by Nicole Nicolaou.
Malta: Dawra Tond, by Gianluca Cilia.
Ireland: Súile Glasa, by Muireann McDonnell.
Armenia: Boomerang, by Misha.
Italy: Scelgo (My Choice), by Maria Iside Fiore.
Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.
Isabella Clarke from Australia is happy with the first rehearsal of yesterday. In an interview with ESCDaily, she stated that some things need to be improved, however: “The biggest thing that we’re still working on, is smiling.”
“We’re performing with a lot of energy and want to give everything. That’s important for our performance,” Isabella adds. “My backings and myself we try everything, we do many different things, to see what works. Trying different things is good, it’s good to experiment. That’s what rehearsals are for.”
Check out the full interview below:
Last year, Isabella’s predecessor Alexa Curtis proved the importance of staying healthy throughout the physically demanding week of Junior Eurovision. Isabella knows what she needs to do to stay in good shape: “I try to sleep as much as possible. I take vitamins to keep me going, and I drink heaps of water. When we’re rehearsing I will take a break whenever I can, just to take a break and be fresh.”
Welcome to the liveblog of Day 3 in Tbilisi. After today, we will have seen all countries on stage for the first time! ESCDaily covers this rehearsal day live for you from the Olympic Palace in Tbilisi.
In the following blog, you can find the latest JESC news from Tbilisi with the newest update appearing on top. For in-depth rehearsal coverage, check our rehearsal blog.
Times are displayed in CET. Photocredits belong to EBU (Thomas Hanses).
16:11 – End of the liveblog
We’ll go back to the hotel to edit our materials. Join us later today and tomorrow for more JESC content!
16:08 – We’ve spoken to Izzy!
She’s doing fine, she healthy, she just wants to work on her smiles a little bit. Full interview will be up soon!
14:04 – Video for Anastasiya Baginska
Ukraine’s first rehearsal is up right HERE. We’ll talk to you later!
13:47 – Leaving for interview with Isabella
The team is leaving the press center to go for an interview with Isabella Clarke from Australia. Rehearsals are almost over, but do check in with us again in about an hour for the latest videos, and interviews with Isabella and Gianluca from Malta!
13:38 – Fource’s video released
EBU is quick with their videos today. Check out the first Dutch rehearsal HERE.
13:29 – Lot of time before second runthrough
But after long deliberation, Anastasiya tries again. She is consistently struggling with the thrilling high notes at the beginning, but recovers later on in the performance.
13:19 – Anastasiya & guitar player, sitting in a tree…
No, they’re not k-i-s-s-i-n-g, but they stare in eachothers eyes at the beginning of the song. And yes, there really is a tree on stage that they’re sitting on.
13:14 – One more to go
After Ukraine’s rehearsal, this day will already be over again. Just to remind you all one more time: no press conferences today, only rehearsals. Tomorrow will be much busier, we’ll also have access to the arena then!
13:06 – Check out the Serbian rehearsal
Irina & Jana performed for the first time in the Olympic Palace today.
12:48 – Confident Dutch guys
The boys look happy and confident into the cameras. Vocals are obviously not the stronghold of this performance, but they’re not distracting either.
12:41 – Netherlands on stage
Fource has studied some slick dance moves for the beginning of the song, but as soon as they walk towards the catwalk, they look hesitant.
12:35 – Video for Russia (Polina – Wings) available:
12:28 – Screens broken
We have only seen one Serbian runthrough – after that, the screens broke down. There is little information available about their rehearsal unfortunately.
12:12 – Irina singing the Russian song
A very cute moment between runthroughs: Irina does not realize that her microphone is still on, and she starts singing the Russian song for the whole press center to hear!
12:00 – Serbian duet plays instruments
It does not yet look very natural though. I can understand the delegation wanting to do something to break up the show, but I’m not sure this is the way.
11:43 – More props
Serbia is preparing to go up on stage, and they will bring instruments with them, it seems.
11:27 – Russia picking up the pieces
In the third runthrough we see the backdrop change to a city skyline during the first chorus, then back to a living room for the second verse, and at the end there is a family picture projected of two parents with a baby.
One of the interpretive dancers also holds this family picture in her hand, and keeps it close to her while Polina walks up the catwalk.
11:20 – Video for Portugal
Check out Mariana’s first rehearsal with “Youtuber” HERE!
11:12 – Props
It’s not just the backdrop which portrays a living room – there’s props, too. A sofa, a closet, a chair and a lamp on stage. Camera angles still messy, vocals sloppy. Much like last year, Russia has a good concept but a lot of work to do to get it right.
11:06 – Messy start for Russia
The backdrop portrays a living room, much like in the beautiful videoclip, and there are interpretive dancers on stage. However, both cameras and sound are not working properly just yet and Russia decides to stop the runthrough halfway.
10:40 – We’re interviewing Gianluca from Malta
Check it out later today on ESCDaily!
10:16 – Lunch break
Four countries to go: Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Netherlands. After that, we will have heard all 16.
10:04 – Polish rehearsal online
09:49 – Simple concepts for Portugal
Much like her predecessor from Poland, Mariana from Portugal does the same performance every runthrough. Many close-up shots as she smiles to the camera. She gives some flavor to a rather flat song.
09:37 – Is this the winner of JESC 2017?
09:28 – Colourful backdrop for Portugal
Rainbow colours in the Portuguese backdrop, while Mariana plays with the camera. She’s alone on stage, not in her official outfit yet.
09:21 – Poland going through the motions
Poland knows what they want to do, and they just repeat it each runthrough again and again. It looks solid and sounds strong.
09:12 – Italy: Maria Iside Fiore’s first rehearsal
Check out the video HERE.
08:53 – Poland uses an arc of trees
The Polish backdrop displays two trees who together form an arc. Alicja relies on her vocals for this traditional ballad, and she indeed sounds good during the first runthrough.
08:46 – Alicja alone on stage
No backing singers. Dress is long and light pink/white, difficult to judge with the lighting.
08:22 – Top speed camerawork for Malta
The camera is spinning round very fast, changing shots quickly, shifting between audience and stage. Malta even tried out a shot where Gianluca is “throwing the camera away”, but it did not work out, and they removed it after one runthrough. We’re definitely looking at work in progress, but that is what rehearsals are for.
08:11 – Free SIM-cards
While the press receives free SIM-cards from the Georgian sponsor, Gianluca continues performing his act. The Maltese delegation takes its time between runthroughs to work on camera angles. In the opening 20 seconds, Gianluca now walks with his dancers from the catwalk to the main stage (instead of vice versa).
08:03 – White and orange
The main colours for Malta are white (clothes & backdrop during the first 20 seconds) and orange (bow-ties and backdrop during the rest of the song).
07:58 – Powerful act
We see Gianluca perform for the first time and it’s already quite impressive. Five backing dancers in white shirt/checked skirt-uniforms accompany him. There’s a lot of dancing going on. In the bridge, Gianluca shouts the chorus through a megaphone. Camerawork is not perfect yet, but you can see that this is going to be good.
07:52 – Sound tests for Malta
Another possible contender for the trophy is preparing for his first rehearsal: Gianluca from Malta. We hear him singing the chorus of the song however music nor act has started yet.
07:35 – First pictures of the day
07:29 – Big Maria on the backdrop
Towards the end, Maria herself is projected on the backdrop. Vocals have not improved so far.
07:22 – Yesterday: Isabella impressed
Isabella Clarke gave one of the strongest performances of yesterday. Or at least, that’s what a panel of Eurovision experts concludes on ESCDaily. Belarus was the other winner of the day.
07:14 – Shaky start for Italy
To a colourful orange and green backdrop, much similar to previous Italian entries, Maria gives a shaky first performance. Vocals sound a bit hoarse – although this could be due to early morning syndrom. However, she also looks quite uncomfortable with the cameras as she walks down the catwalk at the end of the song.
07:05 – Italy kicks off after in-ear problems
After some initial problems with Maria’s in-ear microphones, Italy starts their rehearsal.
06:56 – Welcome to the blog
Our team has set up in the press center, eagerly awaiting Italy’s rehearsal.
Ellie: Ok Ross. Neither you nor I have given JESC much serious thought before, but now we find ourselves giving it a serious go for the first time. What’s your level of experience with it?
Ross: That’s quite right, barring the appearance of the winner in the main Contest in May my experience is zero. I tried to watch some 2015 Contest earlier and had to turn it off.
Ellie: I almost went to JESC in 2012 when it was in Amsterdam, but chickened out. I still don’t really know why.
Ross: I think if Ireland were to win I might go based purely on ease of getting there.
Ellie: Maybe we can talk through what is stopping us appreciating this perfect scale model of the grownup contest?
Ellie: I think for me, there was some discomfort that these under 15s might not be very good, and that I would feel really bad for them. I wouldn’t want to see some really young people fail hard on a big stage.
Ross: I can entirely relate to that view. One would like to think that those performers in May who may not deliver a pitch perfect performance can deal with it. Manel Navarro seemed to embrace his failure to hit the high note during Do It For Your Lover. If you had an 11/12 year old doing the same thing on the big stage they may not be able to deal with it in quite the same fashion.
Ellie: Some of these kids are really young too – last year’s winner Miriam from Georgia only had her tenth birthday the month that she performed. I think I might be underestimating some of them though – certainly a lot of the Georgian kids are stage schooled and might even have more performance experience than our pal Manel.
Ross: To be fair to Miriam I think we actually got to see just how talented she is when she appeared on stage at Kyiv. As a child I could barely muster a few words in French about what I do at the weekends and what my Dad did for a living. There she was presenting a link a show being watched by millions right around the world in perfect English. It says a lot when she showed up the actual professional television host.
Ellie: Yes, clearly we need to watch out for Miriam and her colleague Lizi Pop when they’re old enough to do the main show in May. They’re total pros. That seems to be the case for most of the young competitors, but I would want to know that the contest and delegations have some thorough safeguarding and support services for any of the young people competing.
Ross: You’d surely have to assume each delegation should be providing some kind of support network to these young ‘uns. Again, casting back to the Adult Contest in May we saw exactly what can happen when a young performer doesn’t have that level of support behind them. Poor Blanche ending up pulling out one of the performances of the night given just how much she’d had to go through. Thanks heavens for Henric von Zweigbergk. It would certainly feel exploitative of these kids if there wasn’t a proper team behind them to ensure they can handle it.
Ellie: I think the emotional risk level inherent in the situation might be part of our woolly Western European liberal problem with JESC. We’re used to kids participating in TV in a different way. I can’t think of any UK TV programs that put individual children under as much pressure as representing their country on live TV. Junior Bake Off? The Voice Kids? Maybe?
Ross: No, there do seem to be some safeguards in place in the UK TV system. I bemoaned the over 16 limit to be a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire as a child, but as an adult I can make sense of it now. We do see very young contestants competing in shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent though. I believe there is a very low age limit on X Factor but you do get kids on BGT. I can recall one or two young contestants in tears trying to perform live on Got Talent, it is perhaps these performers that have influenced me swerving JESC in the past.
Ellie: That’s certainly a troubling aspect. But maybe our JESC apprehension is less sinister than that. Maybe we don’t expect the songs to be very good?
Ross: There is that. I tried to watch the 2015 Contest earlier (picked that one for Poli, obviously) and had to turn it off after five songs. I was tiring of wincing at these poor bairns struggling to hit high notes and stretch their voices beyond what they could reasonably manage. People struggle in the adult Contest too, of course. The difference being I have no qualms with criticising them. If I were to sit there and be frank with my opinions on Junior if feel like a cruel old bully.
Ellie: I think I am worried that the songs are either going to be maudlin Disney ballads or variations upon hideous advertising jingles. But again, I’m not giving the kids enough credit here. They’re working with professional composers & producers on their songs and I just don’t think anything truly embarrassing can make it to the stage. Hopefully?
As an experiment, I’ve just put Portugal’s ‘Youtuber’ on. This is the only one this year I’ve seen a lot of complaining about on social media.
Wow. I was expecting it to be The Social Network Song pt 2, but it’s actually quite a nice summery inoffensive number.
Ross: You could say the exact same thing about Adult and well, less said the better. This is probably one of the key reason why Junior Eurovision has never really caught my imagination, it’s not meant. When we get down to basics, this is a children’s show for children. The television programmes and indeed the pop music made to appeal to children and early teens isn’t meant to appeal to people who are one or two decades further. Unsurprisingly music made to appeal to a younger market would very rarely find it’s way onto my Spotify.
Ellie: Children’s musical tastes are much closer to adults these days though – tweens, teens and thirty somethings can all appreciate Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Zara Larsson, etc.
Ross: That’s true, in theory they can. In practice though I’m afraid I don’t.
Ellie: This is where we might get different end results in this experiment.
Ross: It would seem so, it’ll take something fairly special to get me on side. Saying though I’d never thought I’d break down in tears to Portuguese jazz. Never say never!
Ellie: Also with the homogenisation of the child and adult pop markets, we get to another of my worries about Junior. I really don’t want to see pre-teen girls dressed like fully grown popstars. The fear of Minipops runs deep.
Ross: Here we hit another reservation we share. Something like Minipops should be consigned to the past. Another one of our shared passions also occasionally crosses this line. I have a real love for Strictly Come Dancing but once in a while for Children in Need or when they have time to fill on a results show out come the little mini ballroom dancers in full dance regalia and full fake tan. There is something inherently creepy about children dressed like adults. Many would think it cute in a schmaltzy way but I find it nothing but uncomfortable and unsettling.
Ellie: It’s just not nice, is it? I know that when you’re a kid you can’t wait to be an adult, but I hadn’t realised when I was a kid prancing around in heels and mum’s lipstick was how horrifying it looks to adults.
Ross: But, of course because they’re your parents they have to humour you. Same as paintings on the fridge or homemade calendars with painted pieces of pasta stuck to them.
Ellie: I wouldn’t want to stop young people exploring how they want to express themselves, but I would certainly want to protect them from having that recorded for TV or having it pushed on them by a delegation head.
Ross: Very much so, it’s not about stifling young creativity but it’s doing so in a safe, non-exploitative fashion.
Ellie: So how about we make an agreement that we can stop watching and go and make a cup of tea if one of the performances triggers that creeped out response?
Ross: I’ve got another issue with Junior. Adult is a party for me. When I don’t like a song it’s time for a prosecco or a beer. Junior it would be a tea and a biscuit.
Ellie: I reckon that JESC calls for proper party food. Cheese and pineapple onna stick, party rings, iced gems, pickled onion monster munch. Plus lots of candy for the Candy Music.
Ross: Also cocktail sausages, hula hoops and a Colin the Caterpillar cake. Oh and squash, lots of orange squash.
Ellie: What do you expect to get out of this experiment of giving JESC a serious go?
Ross: I would like to feel the same excitement I feel for Adult. I can accept that the music may not be to my taste and I can accept that these talented young things may not be not perfect but I want it go to the voting and feel that same slightly sick to the stomach level of excitement I feel in May.
Ellie: I wish I knew some kids that I could host that JESC party I was talking about for. I mean, I can invite you round for a cheesy pineapple hedgehog, but there would be something slightly sad about that without any kids to enjoy the show.
Ross: That could well be a fairly haunting tableau.
Ellie: Regardless of the surroundings, I think we’ll have to go in to the show with open minds. I’ll certainly find that easier to do after a couple of years backstage at the grownup contest. I find that I can’t even be particularly harsh to the most lacklustre of ESC contestants – everyone is putting so much of themselves into putting on this show, and there’s almost always something to appreciate in every routine.
Ross: And if I’m truthful with myself I am being somewhat hypocritical. Especially somewhere like the UK we spend so much time have to convince family and friends to take the Adult Contest seriously and give it a chance so they can see it the way we see it. For me to then get to November and never give JESC the same credence there is a certain duplicity at work.
Ellie: That’s so right. If I can decide to not go out on a Saturday night between January and March so that I can watch every heat of the Lithuanian national final, I can give these talented young people an afternoon of my time.