Once more, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest is tweaking its voting system. With a mix of testing new technology and an eye on the different audience demographic the Contest has, Junior Eurovision has never been afraid to try new ideas. For Tbilisi 2017, the EBU has opened up the voting to the widest possible audience, but not without controversy and risk.
Announced on the official website, 2017’s voting system returns to a 50/50 split between juries based at the TV studios of each active broadcaster, and the engaged public. But rather than set up phone lines in each country, collate these votes, and then combine the vote with the public, the public vote at Junior Eurovision is going to be powered by online voting, with no geographical restrictions.
Here’s how the EBU are explaining the process.
As you can see, the video explains the process for casting a vote. Voting starts Fri 24th November. temporarily closes as Junior Eurovision 2017 starts, and then opens again for fifteen minutes after all the songs have been performed live. You’ll also be asked to vote for 3, 4, or 5 songs, and in a change to decades of expectations, you can vote for your own country,
Presumably by forcing you to vote for multiple countries it means people will vote for their own country and at least two more. It’s a hack to get around the ease of avoid geo-blocking controls online, but it’s an ugly hack.
What the video does not explain is how the votes from around the internet will be combined to create to 50% public voting block.
The Online Vote Problem
With an online vote, the issue of discriminating genuine votes from those designed to pollute the final result is a significant one. But it’s also the concern of the EBU’s voting partner, not this article.
There has been an official online vote for Junior Eurovision organised by the EBU once before. Although it did not impact on the scores on the night, Malta 2014 saw an online poll to decide the ‘Online Song’ which ran live alongside the Contest. Unfortunately this crashed within minutes of the system opening:
”We apologise for not being able to count your votes,” [Executive Supervisor Vladislav] Yakovlev said today. “We were absolutely amazed at the huge increase in interest – we are sorry that the system did not work, but are also delighted that interest in Junior Eurovision from all over the world is so high.”
Technology has moved on in the intervening three years, so the lessons learned from Malta 2014 should ensure a smooth vote Tbilisi 2017. Of course if voting does crash during the live show, the votes cast before the show opened can be used as a fall back (before having to double up the jury vote).
But opening the vote before the show starts is a much bigger, and perhaps much more destabilising, proposition.
It’s No Longer Three Minutes On Stage
The change to online voting that starts two days before Junior Eurovision diminishes the value of the Contest, it increases the power of PR, and larger countries have an automatic advantage.
By detaching the voting from the live show, you weaken the live elements of Junior Eurovision. Voting will happen not on the strength of the three minute performance with live vocals where every competitor is on the same stage with broadly the same equipment. Instead people will be deciding how to cast their votes by looking at the official videos, artist profiles on YouTube, interviews on community websites, and online interactions. Arguably a strong social media game will be worth far more public votes than the ability to sing the song.
When your PR and marketing machine can offer you more votes than a spine-chilling performance, that can’t be the right approach for a song contest.
As an example, compare two of last year’s promotional videos. Georgia’s Mariam Mamadashvili (the eventual winner) goes for a ‘stand in the studio’ approach, while Malta’s Christina goes all out on the production values and a studio-tweaked vocal track. Which would gather more votes? Given Mamadashvili won on the strength of surprisingly strong live vocal, the 2016 result under the new voting system would have been different.
The Competition Is No Longer Balanced
As contests go, Eurovision and Junior Eurovision have relatively level playing fields. Although the introduction of producer led running orders and a move towards a more visual style of presentation in the last five years has upset the balance, every performer had the same three minutes on stage, with the same cameras, sound, and lighting rigs as the competition. All performers were judged as equals – even if half of the votes were earned on the dress rehearsal, conditions were the same for every performer.
That’s not the case in this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
With the voting window opening on Friday 24th November, the voting public will now be largely guided by the promotional videos available through YouTube. That offers a clear advantage to a delegation willing to invest heavily in the video and the promotion of the video.
Naturally, the voting platform will not have clips from the live performances. Expect clips from the second rehearsal to be used instead… which means the second rehearsal is not a rehearsal, it’s a performance that will directly impact the public vote. So no pressure, kids.
Vote For Yourself, Vote Often, And Win
Then there’s the ability to vote for your own country – something that has never been the case at any Eurovision Song Contest or Junior Eurovision. That’s going to skew the voting numbers. I like that you will be asked to vote for at least 3 countries in the system, but the assumption has to be made that everyone is going to cast at least one vote for their country. And that guarantees an advantage to certain countries.
Let’s be really generous and say that two percent of the audience at home votes, and that is distributed equally according to viewing figures. Last year the Junior Eurovision website reported 3.9 million people watched the show. If this were replicated this year, that would be 78,000 voters, and 78,000 votes for a home country. But more than half of the audience came from Poland – 2.2 million to be exact – so Poland get an automatic 44,000 votes out of the gate. Compare that to Italy, where the 49,000 audience would translate to a mere 980 votes.
If this happened this year, Italy and Poland would not be singing on a level playing field as the show started. Poland would have a huge lead in the votes, and Italy could forget about climbing the televote chart.
Even though each voter will be casting more votes, the example of the Melodifestivalen online voting that the vote stays clumped together without any huge variation. Assuming a regular spread of votes, there is every chance that a country with supporters heavily engaged in Junior Eurovision is going to be at a significant advantage in the televote.
Finally, pay attention to how these individual votes are going to be aggregated together. There will be no attempt to allocate them to the sixteen countries taking part (and a ‘rest of the world’ pile). All of the votes will be counted as one constituency, and the 928 points will be split on the gross percentage of valid votes from around the world.
It’s Good, But It’s Not Right
Since the first televote test at the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest, the public had always been involved with the result of the Song Contests at Adult and Junior level until last year’s Junior Eurovision in Malta. The smaller audience and occasional delayed broadcast time for Junior Eurovision have made the reintroduction of audience voting a tricky proposition, and I am in broad agreement that using an online component to voting is the way forward. But the approach used for Junior Eurovision 2017 is unfair to smaller countries, distorts the results of the Contest, and puts too much emphasis on PR and Promotional videos than live performances and genuine singing talent.
Georgia is rightly proud of its wine industry, and today we have been invited to experience a variety of Georgian Wines by 8000vintages.ge. Lisa-Jayne’s knowledge of wine comes to the surface, Ewan speaks to Macedonia composer Alexsander Masevski, and Steef van Gorkum joins us to talk about the first rehearsals.
Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Wednesday 22nd November
Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis explore Georgian wine with 8000vintages.ge, Macedonian songwriting, and the first technical rehearsals at the Olympic Palace, 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.
Welcome to the liveblog of Day 2 in Tbilisi. The Junior Eurovision Song Contest really kicks off with rehearsals today, including Isabella Clarke from Australia up on stage for the first time! ESCDaily covers everything live for you.
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).
14:41 – End of the liveblog
Thanks for following us this morning. Stay tuned to ESCDaily.com for more videos and updates throughout the evening!
14:22 Last video for today online
14:02 – Video for Georgia online
Check out Grigol’s first rehearsal HERE.
13:50 – Australia and Belarus mentioned by everyone
While many people at the press center have different favorites, Australia and Belarus are the two names that seem to come back everytime.
13:46 – End of rehearsals
Ireland is done, we’re just waiting for EBU-videos now.
13:28 – Double sound
We are now getting both the synchronized and the non-synchronized sound in the press center – so we hear everything double. Be sure to check EBU’s official rehearsal videos to check for yourself how everyone sounded today… Our apologies for the inconvenience.
13:20 – Turquoise
The backdrop’s main colour is turquoise greenish. Muireann is not wearing her official outfit yet – she’s dressed in a plain black t-shirt. Later runthroughs are slightly better, vocally. Over-all we’ve not heard any real off-key performances today.
13:12 – Planning to pack up
It may still be early in CET timezone, but in Georgia it is already after 4PM. Ireland is the last country to rehearse, and because there are no press conferences today, the day will finish early for us. We plan to pack our things, go back to the hotel and work on some more videos for you.
13:07 – Ireland goes for Paradise Oskar style
Muireann is – again – alone on stage, playing the guitar. It fits this performance. Ireland goes for the atmosphere of Paradise Oskar, although there is no globe in the backdrop (but green stars instead). Vocals are somewhat shaky still, especially in the lower areas.
13:04 – Video for Macedonia online
Check out Mina Blazev’s first rehearsal HERE.
12:56 – Traditional camerawork for Georgia
Georgia hits all the clichées for a ballad like this (but they’re a cliché for a reason). Long, slow pans and zoom in shots from the audience towards Grigol. There’s even a part shot in black & white.
12:49 – Disappointing afternoon
In the morning, a couple of strong performances, however now in the afternoon the quality is slightly dropping. Ireland will have the last chance today to make that change.
12:44 – And there is video: Cyprus
Check out the opening act for Sunday:
12:40 – Strong vocals from Georgia’s Grigol
One of the stronger vocalists of today is Grigol from Georgia. He makes something out of nothing, together with the four backing singers, giving the performance a strong black gospel vibe.
12:25 – Waiting for materials
Press is not allowed into the arena yet. So altogether all we can do is watch the limited rehearsal footage and write our commentary, while relying on EBU footage for visual materials. However, team EBU has not released anything since the lunch break.
12:11 – No press conferences
Just to remind you one more time: There are NO press conferences today, nor tomorrow. All delegations give only one press conference, which will be on Thursday or Friday.
12:02 – Projected backing dancers
The backdrop displays backing dancers during the choruses, but there are no “real” people on stage.
11:48 – Mina a true professional
She comes across very adult in her behavior both during and in between rehearsals. She has no trouble finding the camera.
11:36 – FYR Macedonia mixes dubstep with dance
Mina is wearing a thin white raincoat on the stage. She’s alone, playing with the camera, and the dizzy camera work in the chorus is nice. But dancers could have been a nice addition.
11:15 – Nicole the butterfly
Nicole goes with the second runthrough of her rehearsal. She has her three dancers with her on the stage. From the middle of her song some butterfly wings apper on the screen right behind where she is standing and this gives the impression that she owns the wings.
11:03 –Lunch break over!
Right after the lunch break Cyprus starts her first runthrough of her rehearsal.
10:40 – Helena’s First rehearsal
09:56 – Isabella’s first rehearsal
09:40 – Vocals unknown
Vocals still difficult to judge because of sound issues in the press center. But visually strong.
09:33 – Sascha Jean-Baptiste?
Belarus has styled its entry in a very dark setting with space planet backdrop. Pink spotlights and a pink cape for Helena, who stands on a small round prop while performing. Mysterious camera shots as if Sascha Jean-Baptiste has joined the Belarussian JESC team.
09:28 – Topfavorite Belarus takes stage
Belarus, a country much hinted in pre-polls, takes the stage right after Australia (thankfully this will not be the case on Sunday). The first runthrough is stopped after twenty seconds because of in-ear problems.
09:14 – Sixth runthrough for Isabella Clarke
And counting. Still different angles for every runthrough, but the opening shot stays the same.
09:01 – Australia gathering shots
The Australian delegation tries out new things every runthrough – just now, shots from below were added while Isabella walkes the catwalk. It appears as though the Aussies want to give themselves multiple options to choose from, when they go back to the viewing room.
08:55 – Recreating the video clip
In the second runthrough, Izzy’s backing vocals take the boards with them on stage, displaying the lyrics of the song (“What’s inside me, what defines me”). Just like in the videoclip.
08:51 – Meanwhile: video for Misha’s Boomerang
Check out the first Armenian rehearsal HERE.
08:49 – Isabella’s vocals not synchronized
Technical issues in the press center, making it difficult for us to judge on Isabella’s vocals today.
08:42 – There she is
The camera plan for Australia is really well thought out. Isabella starts with her back towards the audience, creating a nice angle. In the rest of the performance, focus is on the play between her & her backing vocals.
08:31 – Isabella delayed
Armenias rehearsal lasted longer than planned, so we’re still waiting for Izzy to come on stage.
08:27 – One more time with pyro
The last runthrough, Misha from Armenia uses fog cannons in the final chorus. Still some slight issues to be worked out with that one though.
08:23 – Don’t touch my tree (Video)
Check out Albania’s first rehearsal video HERE.
08:16 – Misha getting comfortable
During the third runthrough, Misha seems more comfortable on his hoverboard while singing at the same time.
08:09 – No press conferences
Only rehearsals today and tomorrow. Press conferences are scheduled on Thursday and Friday.
08:05 – Boomerang comes back
Two minutes into the song, Misha ditches the hoverboard, but – as the lyrics of the song say – the boomerang will come back. At the end of the performance he holds it in his hand.
07:53 – Boomerang hoverboard
What would JESC be without hoverboards on stage? We had two acts driving those bad boys last year, and this year Misha takes a boomerang shaped board with him. He’s alone on stage, with a lot of fog surrounding him. Vocally not yet convincing in first runthrough.
07:50 – Preparations?
There is no live feed in the press center yet, Armenia’s timer is running for 10 minutes. Question is, are we running late or does Misha need some extra preparation time?
07:40 – Armenia next up
Colleague Ani Shahoyan is getting nervous for the next rehearsal: Armenia. Misha is one of only four acts with boys. There are no male-female duets this year.
07:29 – How we picked up our accreditations
07:23 – Less close-ups
Throughout the runthroughs, Albania is slowly switching from close-ups to more wide-shots. Ana is handling the close-ups better as we proceed, smiling more.
07:09 – Rehearsals not in running order
The rehearsals today are in alphabetical order, which means Isabella Clarke will be up as nr. 3 for Australia. In the running order, however, she took a marvellous fifteenth place.
07:03 – Tree in the backdrop
Ana is on stage now, alone, and there is a big tree in the backdrop to portray the meaning of the song. Vocals alright during first runthrough, Ana cringes during some of the close-ups.
06:56 – Starting well in time
Albania will rehearse at 10:00 o’clock and even though singer Ana Kodra is not on stage yet, we hear the music starting to play already minutes before.
Steef and his team take to the opening ceremony in Tbilisi, where they meet the Australian delegation for the first time. Together they discuss the particularities of their trips to Georgia. And Isabella Clarke takes a photograph with the ABC-presenter Grace Koh.
In the video below, you will also see other participants prepare for and walk over the red carpet. So do not miss this fourth episode of the Eurovision Experience!
Check out episode 4 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!
In this article you can find in-depth analysis of the rehearsals of the third day of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017, from Italy to Ukraine. If you want live updates of everything going on at the press center, please follow our Live-Blog with all the other news as well!
In the second set of the rehearsals eight more countries take the stage of Tbilisi’s Olympic Palace. The countries sing on alphabetical order and not according to the running order. Press is not allowed in the Arena until Thursday. However, we will provide you with the official footage from the EBU + our commentary.
Maria is the first to take the stage. Her song depicts a young girl’s dilemma who eventually makes up her mind, having no more fears but ready to express herself and her feelings freely. However, she seems to be a bit modest on the stage. She is alone in red trousers and leather jacket, and she herself is featured on the backdrops.
Gianluca brings a very much positive energy on stage with his song about unity. The show starts with the screen in black and white which becomes colorful just a few seconds after. The staging is mainly in retro style. There are old TVs featured on the backdrops. Gianluca has five active dancers who are wearing checked skirts. In the middle of the song, the little artist sings through the speaker. All in all he seems quite confident on the stage.
Alicja’s stagings is a simple one. She is in a long light pink dress appearing alone on stage. However, the main effect of her show seems to be the simplicity itself, giving the main importance to the good vocals. Trees are featured on her backdrops and the cameras work the same way during the runthroughs.
The stage turns colorful during the Portuguese performance. Mariana appears alone wearing a black skirt along with a black jacket with smileys patched on it. On the colorful backdrops we can see also some smileys. Vocals are solid, however the song does not seem difficult one to sing.
Belarus and Australia gave the strongest performances on Day 2 at Junior Eurovision in Tbilisi. Thus concludes a panel of Eurovision experts, including ESCDaily’s chief editor Steef van Gorkum.
“It was almost of adult quality, the first couple of shots looked as if Sascha Jean-Baptiste had directed them,” Van Gorkum says, and Ewan Spence from ESCInsight agrees. “Belarus could have just turned up for the liveshow on Sunday, without rehearsing, and still would have been great.”
While Belarus gave the same performances runthrough after runthrough, Isabella Clarke from Australia was still experimenting and trying out different camera angles. “They’ve now got many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle,” Lisa Jayne-Lewis points out. “And it’ll just be a matter of putting them together in the viewing room.
Jayne-Lewis particularly likes the shots on the catwalk towards the end. “It’s as if the audience looks up to her,” she states. Van Gorkum prefers the opening shot. “It’s classic Melodifestivalen, you see her, you see the audience right behind her, it looks great.”