Six things that Junior Eurovision 2016 got right

Change is hard. And Junior Eurovision fans know that more than most.

Last Sunday, we saw months of format tweaking and rule changes come to fruition as Malta hosted the Junior Eurovision 2016 final. To say the end results were divisive would be the understatement of the year.

These, combined with a television production that left much to be desired, sent viewers into a spin. The contest’s former Executive Supervisor Vladislav Yakovlev was one of the most high profile critics.

Taking to Facebook, he wrote “WTF have you done with this Event?..”.

“If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”

The dust may have settled somewhat, but Sunday’s show remains a hot topic of conversation. And we at wiwibloggs are not in the business of saying nothing at all.

So, we’ve put our heads together to work out what elements actually worked. Of course, we also have lots of opinions on what went wrong, but that’s for another post later in the week.

1.  The songs

Junior Eurovision is a song contest. And the 2016 crop of songs held its own against those from previous editions. The Wiwi Jury dished out praise to all the compositions, with Russia’s “Water Of Life” receiving the second highest Junior Wiwi Jury average of all time. These songs will be on our playlists for years to come.

2. The contestants

Sayonara #Malta. It's been real! ?? #junioreurovision #jesc #jesc2016

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We come for the songs but stay for the contestants. That’s the case with every Eurovision contest, and Junior Eurovision 2016 was no different. Seventeen young acts jetted into Valletta and let their talent and personalities shine. Many possessed voices and levels of professionalism that their adult counterparts could only dream of.

3. The JESC Spirit

It may share a common brand, but Junior Eurovision possess a unique spirit that sets it apart from its sister contest. The cut-throat nature of the May event is absent, and instead there’s an overarching sense of camaraderie. Whilst this may appear artificial or forced during the Common Song, the friendship is real.

Just watch the clip below, where Georgia’s Mariam Mamadashvili becomes overwhelmed during her winner’s reprise. The other contestants rush to comfort her, while Ireland’s Zena Donnelly takes control of the situation and urges them to give the newly crowned victor some space. You would need a heart of stone to doubt their sincerity

4. The green room

So far, typical Junior Eurovision. If any of the previous three elements went wrong the contest would be in deep trouble. Nonetheless, they’re still worth acknowledging.

But while these factors were constant, there were also several innovations introduced. Perhaps the most successful of these was the enhanced green room experience. Complete with runway and an audience all of its own, the 2016 green room had an atmosphere like no other. The excitement was palpable, even to those of us watching at home. We’d be more than happy to see something similar rolled out in future contests.

5. The split voting sequence

The final #JESC scoreboard #junioreurovision #jesc2016

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Just like the adult contest in May, Junior Eurovision 2016 embraced the Melodifestivalen style voting system for the first time. And once again the split voting sequence created a truly gripping finale. The fact that the hosts made a mess when presenting the last set of points can’t be blamed on the sequence. And while we might have issues with the lack of televote, the existence of the “expert jury”, and the confusing scenario of children announcing the points of the adult juries while adults announced the kids jury results, the new presentation format isn’t at fault.

6. The stage

Considering the limitations posed by the Mediterranean Conference Centre as a venue, the stage design team really did work wonders. It was thematically on point, with the spiral structure mimicking the Embrace logo and interacting with the graphics at the start of each performance. The impressive structure proved that it wasn’t necessary for the contest to be hosted in a massive arena. More’s the pity that much of the stage’s magic was lost due to bad camera work and poor use of space.

What did you think of Junior Eurovision 2016? Do you agree with our high points? What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Coming soon:

  • Things Junior Eurovision 2016 got wrong

Nine things that Junior Eurovision 2016 got wrong

  • Things at Junior Eurovision 2016 that didn’t quite work

Follow all our Junior Eurovision 2016 news.