Wiwi Jury: Ireland’s Zena Donnelly with “Brice ar Bhrice”

Today the Wiwi Jury – our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — travelled to Dublin to visit some leprechauns whilst Westlife serenaded us in the background. After we snapped out of that fantasy we decided to review Ireland’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2016. Did we find a pot of gold at the end of Zena Donnelly‘s “Brice ar Bhrice”? Read on to find out…

Ireland’s Junior Eurovision 2016 song

“Brice Ar Bhrice” reviews – Zena Donnelly

Bernardo: I’m in love with this song. The radio-friendly production is on point and Zena’s vocal control is astonishing. I feel like I’m inside Disney Pixar’s “Brave”. It’s magical, compelling and it puts a smile on my face from the very first verse. Folk meets Junior Eurovision. The combination is beyond good.

Score: 8.5/10

Chris: This might not be the most original song at Junior Eurovision 2016, but there’s a certain charm to it. After a fairly weak start the chorus hits. From there, the song becomes pleasant enough, with the ever-so-slight Celtic folk sounds carrying it along. Zena’s vocals soar too, without ever feeling like they might go out of control.

Score: 7/10

Dayana: Zena’s voice is pleasant and quite unique, and I’m loving her attitude during the performance. She looks really confident. It’s a very appealing performance on its own, but you’ll forget the tune after the next two or three participants.

Score: 7/10

Luis: This year’s Irish entry is like a well served Guinness pint: enjoyable from the beginning to the end. It might lack instant effect, but it’s indeed a song you’d play on repeat. It’s an endearing tune, and Zena’s vocals make it even better. This girl is a vocal powerhouse! Her voice has shade and texture, and it mixes well with the lovely sound of the Irish language. That makes “Bríce Ar Bhríce” memorable — and different from any other song this year.

Score: 8/10

Edd: Whilst it’s not an immediate wow, nor something that gets stuck in your head, Ireland’s entry is a little gem. It’s so refreshing to hear something organic at Eurovision that’s not overdramatic. Whilst I think it would gain memorability with a few added Celtic sounds, a fun, folky performance would do me just fine.

Score: 7.5/10

Deban: The Irish entry is in a time warp, and sounds noticeably out of date when compared to this year’s modern tracks. Charlotte Church ditched this type of music for a reason! However, Zena is not to be overlooked. She is brimming with vocal power and a range that puts most established artists to shame.

Score: 5.5/10


Jason: After last year’s solid debut with Aimee Banks and her classical ballad, my country has chosen Zena and “Brice ar Bhrice” as its sophomore effort. Zena’s voice never sounds strained — it soars and glides effortlessly throughout the track and is this entry’s saving grace. Whereas “Realta na Mara” embraced its ancient Irishness, for me “Brice ar Bhrice” sounds unintentionally dated. The competition is fiercely polished this year, so I hope clever staging can help this to stand out.

Score: 6/10

Josh: Ireland absolutely made the right decision in selecting Zena Donnelly for JESC this year, but I don’t think “Brice ar Bhrice” is the right song to showcase her vocals. She is a fierce and confident performer, and when she’s on stage forced to sing a dated pop ballad in a language that a lot of Irish people don’t speak on a day-to-day basis, it makes for a level of awkwardness that is a tad uncomfortable to watch.

Score: 4.5/10

Robyn: Ireland is going for a more contemporary sound than their 2015 debut, but “Brice Ar Bhrice” still harks back to Ireland’s golden age of Eurovision 20 years ago. Zena is an incredible vocalist and can easily handle the dynamics of the song, bringing a richness and sweetness to the performance.

Score: 7/10

William: Zena’s styling is on point, mixing the tenderness of youth with the edginess of a teenage rock princess. Her voice mirrors that mix, serving up a delightful grit that reminds me of a young Joss Stone. And while I love Zena, I feel like the song isn’t quite right for Junior Eurovision. The jurors in Ireland clearly wanted something with traditional flair, but I’m not sure that a European jury will embrace it as warmly. Either way Zena is fantastic and can look forward to a very bright future.

Score: 6/10

Our jury for 2016 consists of 21 jurors, but we only have room for ten reviews. The remaining 11 scores are listed below.

Andy: 7/10

Antony: 5/10

Antranig: 6.5/10

Jordi: 7.5/10

Marek: 6.5/10

Mario: 6.5/10

Matt: 8.5/10

Renske: 7/10

Rezo: 6/10

Stanislav: 8/10

Zakaria: 8/10

The highest and lowest scores are dropped prior to calculating the average score. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 4.5 and a high of 8.5.