Nine things that Junior Eurovision 2016 got wrong

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Following the furore surrounding Junior Eurovision 2016, we brought you a list of everything it got right.

Six things that Junior Eurovision 2016 got right

Now it’s time we turn our attention to everything it got wrong.

*This list is written out of love for the contest. We want organisers to learn from the mistakes and improve next year’s event. Don’t get bitter, get better.

1. The opening parade

Ever since its introduction at Eurovision 2013, the Parade of Flags has become a permanent fixture at both song contests. It makes for an exciting spectacle, giving the audience an opportunity to cheer on their favourites while introducing the acts to viewers at home.

Alas, the JESC 2016 parade was more shambolic than spectacular. Instead of focussing in on the young singers, the camera crew insisted on panning out at every opportunity. All this did was highlight how small the arena was, while giving each performer virtually no time on screen.

Meanwhile, the stage itself was overcrowded with an unexceptional dance troupe. With scarcely a speck of glitter or flashing light in sight, the whole ceremony had less razzmatazz than your average school play.

2. The presenters

Given the time slot and target audience, we were never going to have a Maltese Petra Mede urging viewers to grab their towels. Nonetheless, we expected PBS to leave us in the safe hands of at least one capable host. And so seemed to be the case when Ben Camille and Valerie Vella were announced as the 2016 presenters. The pair were local TV veterans and both had experience at hosting the island’s annual Eurovision selection.

But based on Sunday’s performance, they may as well have been novices. While we could just about look past their wooden delivery of a stilted script, their litany of blunders is unforgivable. To mention just two, they renamed Israel’s Tim as Tom and tripped over Poli Genova’s song title ahead of her interval set.

However, proceedings turned to farce during the final few moments of the voting sequence. With just Armenia left to receive points from the kids jury, the stage was set for a thrilling finish. Would they get enough points to pass out Georgia and take victory? But the tension didn’t last long as Valerie immediately announced that there were only 110 points left to be distributed — not enough to take Anahit & Mary to the top. Realising the faux pas, the pair then proceeded to carry on as if nothing had happened, spending the concluding minutes building up Armenia’s non-existent chance of winning, “it’s still open, it’s still open”. Fail!

3. The interval acts

We love Poli Genova. We love Jedward. But one really does have to wonder why they were invited to perform as interval acts. Malta may be a small island, but it has a rich musical tradition. This is especially true when it comes to Eurovision — just compare its national selection to those of the UK or France. Junior Eurovision gave Malta an opportunity to sell itself to hundreds of thousands of people across 16 other nations, so why did they choose to field a Bulgarian and two Irish men as their prime entertainment? The mind boggles. At least Justin Timberlake sang a song written by a Swede when he popped up in Stockholm last May.

Destiny Chukunyere, last year’s winner, was the sole local light during the break. Sadly, producers thought it best that Destiny lipsync instead of singing live. Viewers at home facepalmed, because of all the people on stage that night, Destiny was probably the last one that needed a backing track.

4. Flags

This collage says it all.

5. Booing

It’s an unfortunate reality that booing has almost come to be expected at Eurovision. But few expected it to seep down into the Junior Contest. Without being sensationalist, there were a few uncomfortable moments during the voting sequence as the green room crowd booed the scores coming in. The jeering came from overzealous local school children unhappy with the points awarded to Malta — so no politically motivated boos, thankfully.

However, neither the hosts nor producers made any efforts to shut it down. A point was made that they couldn’t hear it themselves from the main stage, but that’s not really an excuse in an era of earpieces and instant communication.

6. The expert jury

The 2016 contest saw a lot of changes and innovations. But out of everything, the expert jury was without question the most pointless. The concept seemed redundant in theory, and so it proved in reality. With two sets of jury points coming from each of the 17 participating countries, there were more than enough votes to go around. Ultimately, the scores from the Swedish TV producer, the Danish record executive and the Irish pop act had no effect on the final result — with or without them, Georgia would have won. Their banal comments added nothing to the show while their giant desk took up precious room in an already small arena.

Can you tell we don’t want to see them back next year?

7. Removal of televote

For the first time ever, Junior Eurovision had no televote. And that made us sad. While we will obviously never know what impact this would have had on the final score, we can assume that it affected some entries more than others. If juries continue to have the ultimate say in future years, will we lose the crowd pleasing pop songs in favour of technically challenging jury fodder? Does this mean no more entries like Russia 2012 or Cyprus 2014?

Of course, abolition of the televote also removes a key element of audience engagement. With no say in the final result, why should viewers sit through a three hour long show? Aside from national pride or a pre-existing interest in some of the acts, there’s no emotional connection to keep them tuned in.

8. The Jury Final

Junior Eurovision, like its big sister, has two finals — one for the juries and a second that’s broadcast live for TV audiences. JESC 2016 was no different. However, given that there was no televote, this meant that almost all the points were awarded based on a show that no one at home saw. Only the expert jury voted on Sunday’s performances. In theory, Georgia’s Mariam could have sung perfectly during Saturday’s jury show, lost her voice completely for Sunday’s show and still won. While this didn’t happen, thankfully, it’s ridiculous that there’s a possibility that it could.

9. Age limit

Did the new age limit make any noticeable improvement to the 2016 show? No. Let 15 year olds take part again!

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

COMING SOON:

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

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