Sixteen acts have come to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Malta, but only one will walk away with the winner’s trophy. We have been on the ground watching rehearsals and chatting with JESC stars and now it’s time to share our final thoughts on what promises to be one of the closest finals ever. As the contestants slip into their sequin frocks for tonight’s live show, you can read our country-by-country preview below. We’ve included details of how contestants fared in our fan poll, with the Wiwi Jury, and in our combined results. Consider all of this our pre-recorded commentary.
Junior Eurovision 2014: Previews by running order
1. Belarus: Nadezdha Misyakova – Sokal
Nadezhda plays the part of an indigenous princess with aplomb. She dresses as a chic Pocahontas, dances like a tribal warrior and sings like a goddess. The song gets under your skin not only through song, but through the visuals. Watch out for a giant hawk that sweeps across the LED screen, changing the wheat fields into an enchanting red forest.
Little Krisia has had a long week. First she had a cold and sore throat, so could sing fully during the rehearsals. Then the power went out in the Arena during her performance. No matter. She sang again and proved that she is in it to win it. She’s among the more adorable contestants, which can only help.
3. San Marino: The Peppermints – Breaking My Heart
Their background features the universe and the Peppermints are the five biggest stars. They may be this year’s oldest contestants, but their sass, charm and runway walks will appeal to all ages. They don’t make much effort to harmonise, and at times they seem to shout. But hey: they want Europe to hear them.
Josie’s song about the end of a relationship is sung from the heart. She wrote this herself and has managed to turn heartache into an electro-dance number. It’s just adorable. Her backing dancers Sven and Eros will likely win her some votes with their street dance and cheeky smiles.
Sophia topped the Wiwi Jury rankings for good reason: she has an addictive dance number that flies by. All week the press corps have been dancing to this, and all week she’s been growing stronger and stronger. Her song is about the most beautiful day, but rather than predictable scenes of sunshine she gives us rainclouds and lightning–and some fierce clubby dance moves. Watch her runway walk in the final minute.
This just grows, grows, grows with us. Lizi Pop has brought one of the most age-appropriate acts to Malta–and easily the most memorable riff (o-deli-deli-deli-ohhhh). Her pink loofah dress and sparkling black ballerinas scream cute. How can you not vote for such a charming act?
7. Sweden: Julia Kedhammar – Du Ar Inte Ensam
A lot of people in the press room have been harsh on this one, suggesting that the glittery costumes are only acceptable in progressive Sweden. I say WHATEVER! Julia is a Swede and should just be herself. The LED features an impressive cityscape, which plays on the title of her song “You are not alone.” There is always someone out there for y’all! The choreography features some impressive sidesteps and I love the schlager junior.
8. Ukraine: Sympho – Nick – Spring will Come
Fans of the adult Eurovision will no doubt compare this to Zlata Ognevich’s “Gravity.” It’s a fair comparison–and a flattering one! Ukraine is pulling a Mika Newton 2011 and using visuals to help boost a song which doesn’t automatically appeal to everyone. These LEDs are on point and deserve your attention.
Ula Lozar sings “Nisi Sam” (You’re Not Alone) — and we definitely aren’t. Her vocals wrap around us tight and make us feel all warm and fuzzy. This song screams 1920s jazz, and young Ula delivers it with sass and attitude. Simple staging helps us focus on the powerful song.
10. Montenegro: Lejla Vulic & Masa Vujadinovic – Budi Dijete Na Jedan Dan
Not all children are choreographed down to the C. Some prefer to go freestyle, and so it should be. Montenegro’s Lejla and Masa have opted for an organic performance that features two bright tutus. They are being kids (as their song title suggests) and it’s rather refreshing. They don’t need to hit any cues beacuse they largely stand in place.
This year’s only male contestant is singing a beautiful song in a beautiful language! Vincenzo doesn’t rely on fancy LED screens. Instead he lets his voice do all the work — and boy does it work. We still think he is a little too young to be all pained and emotional, but hey: he makes us believe it.
12. Armenia: Betty with “People of the Sun”
This song is drenched in Iberian flavour and will make you crave a bikini and a cocktail. Watch out for the children hiding under the silver podium. They slide out and later scale some orange curtains. You can’t make it up.
13. Russia: Alisa Kozhikina – Dreamer
She’s a fragile looking girl, but her voice is strong, strong, strong. She keeps the LED sparkly and kid-friendly, and she hits all of her camera angles. It’s a definite change of pace following high-octane Betty, and the perfect transition to Serbia.
14. Serbia: Emilija Djonin – Svet U Mojim Ocima
This piano ballad screams Maya Sar. It’s got classy lyrics, and a lovely singer on the piano. You may not think there is much motion here, but just wait: in the final minute she steps up and walks toward the audience.
This diamond shines bright — and she will make you shiver! Fielding opera is always risky, but brave Federica really works it — and with such confidence. Her LED screen looks like a million dollars (or at least a million diamonds). We approve. This song should really rack up points with the juries. When you hear it, you can’t believe it’s coming out of a child.
16. The Netherlands: Julia van Bergen – Around
The final song is among the catchiest. Julia says the word “Around” 60 times, and that’s one reason it gets stuck in your head. Given that it closes the show, this could bode very well in the recap. We love the gold lamé and Julia’s street dancers.
Want more? Here is a video of all our thoughts: