The Junior Eurovision 2016 jury final took place on Saturday afternoon, and we had a front-row seat for all of the action. These performances were filmed and will be sent to jurors on Sunday at noon CET for their evaluation ahead of the live show on Sunday at 16:00 CET.

The press were forbidden from filming or snapping pics during the show — PBS wants to keep everything a secret. But we typed our comments on-the-spot and have throw in our earlier rehearsal videos.

Jury Final Vlog: In the press room

Jury final Review

Ireland: Zena Donnelly with “Brice Ar Bhrice”

A is for atmosphere and Zena certainly created that this afternoon. Feeding off the energy of the crowd, she looked amazing in her turquoise dress, which matched the blue-white clouds in the background. Her vocal seemed to be even stronger than in the rehearsals earlier this week, suggesting she was able to translate the energy from the crowd into her performance. Producers unleashed a series of smoke bursts that resembled geysers with all their power and ferocity. At one point Zena falls to the ground at the same time as an eruption and it’s just BAM! Today she managed to make her folk-pop song sound incredibly mainstream. It’s a steady and fierce opening to the show.

Armenia: Anahit & Mary with “Tarber”

Anahit may have had a cold earlier this week, but she is clearly over it as she was on-point and alive throughout this performance. The opening bars — essentially a vocal showdown between Anahit and Mary — sounded as good as it did in the studio version of the song. Their costumes — so shiny, so bright, so sequinned! — worked well with the dizzying background. Their dress reveal two minutes into the song had the audience SCREAMING, and the silver-and-white colouring worked well with the grey-and-white spotlight LED. In the arena we could see Christer and Jedward whispering to each other after this one, suggesting they loved this as much as we did. If this doesn’t come Top 3 with the kids jury, I’ll be shocked.

Albania: Klesta Qehaja with “Besoj”

You can just cut and paste everything I’ve already said this week. Young Klesta has the voice of a Mariah or a Whitney, and the cute factor of 20 puppies wearing matching bows. Earlier in the week I thought the visuals were a tad boring, but producers have worked on this. There’s now a gorgeous sun that rises during one of her “Besoj” moments. We saw Mads, the opera expert on the panel, clap very loudly afterwards, suggesting she’s one of his early favourites.

Russia: Sofia Fisenko & The Water of Life Project with “Water of Life”

Seated on the floor and serving other worldly realness, Sofia and her dancers delivered a confident opening that seemed spiritual and somehow religious. This was amongst their best vocal performances so far — even if the backing vocalists seemed a tad shouty at the beginning. Watching in the arena, it’s not the most exciting performance — they just stand in place. HOWEVER, the camera spins and cuts help give it the dynamism and drive it lacks in the arena. This is made for TV and from that perspective it works very well.

Malta: Christina Magrin with “Parachute”

The LED of clouds makes it seem like Christina is in free fall — but she was in total control this afternoon. Wearing red from head to toe — including sparkling shoes, spray-on leggings and an adorable coat — she was fiery and confident. It was obvious the crowd was helping push her to another level. And not just vocally — her choreography was sharp and on-point, delivered with a vigour few can match. When it comes to firing power, the girl may just win the day.

Bulgaria: Lidia Ganeva with “Magical Day”

Following the fortissimo performance from Malta, Lidia’s softness and pianissimo realness really stands out. She is soft, tender and sweet. She stands toward the back of the stage and moves closer to the audience with each verse, growing in power and confidence as she does. When she reaches the bridge and starts spinning in her princess dress, you can feel the audience melting. This remains the most age-appropriate entry of the year. Depending on what direction Junior Eurovision judges want the show to go, this could really challenge.

Macedonia: Martija Stanojkovic with “Love Will Lead Our Way”

Better suited for the O2 in London than the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Malta, this act was very Beyonce — from the body-con catsuit to the urban choreography. The fact she followed the most tender of acts brought Martija’s maturity into sharper focus, making it feel like it’s in the wrong competition. (Get this girl on X Factor Adria asap).

Poland: Olivia Wieczorek with “Nie Zapomnij”

There is cute. And there is classy. And this was BOTH. Olivia is completely unnerved by the competition, yet she manages to retain a degree of frailty. It’s charming and refreshing. Yet as she delivers her vocals — which are so enchanting — you can feel the fire of a seasoned diva who only knows how to slay. The LED background — dark, interstellar, at times with dandelions and constellations of people — has a subtle charm that grows more intoxicating as the act goes on. Olivia is magic.

Belarus: Alexander Minyonok with “Muzyka Moikh Pobed”

How Alexander avoids a hoverboard crash is beyond me. In the final minute of the song all five performers are on stage spinning — and dangerously close. Yet somehow they never hit each other. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Alex holds his vocal and maintains his energy. The kids in the audience reacted very strongly to this, suggesting that going for fun and excitement will serve him very well with the kids jury.

Bulgaria: Poli Genova with “If Love Was A Crime”

Listen. She’s not a kid and she isn’t competing. But Poli Genova reprises her Eurovision 2016 entry at this point in the show and it’s absolutely amazing. She stands at the front of the stage wearing a silver jacket, matching leggings and a grey cape — leading a troupe of 16 dancers who wearing all-black, including shredded leggings. The LED is a starry sky and it’s just unbelievably powerful. This song has aged better than most from Eurovision 2016 and will no doubt remain a fan favourite for years to come.

Ukraine: Sofia Rol with “Planet Craves For Love”

With stunning lighting, dramatic mimes and Sofia’s mysterious voice, this feels more like art than pop. Her oversized umbrella doesn’t seem like a toy, but rather a vessel to convey the ups and downs of a planet in need of love. It’s the visual centrepiece for a magical performance carried by Sofia’s voice and her expressive mimes. Is it right for Junior Eurovision? Perhaps not. But it’s stunning to watch and something Sofia should be very proud of.

Italy: Fiamma Boccia with “Cara Mamma (Dear Mom)”

Mads, the opera expert on this year’s expert panel, could not take his eyes off of young Fiamma. Looking sweet and innocent, she stood centre stage in a casual but sparkling black leather jacket and matching skinny trousers. The look was of a young woman in charge — yet still completely fresh and youthful. Vocally she elevated her game, leaving any and all missteps behind her in the rehearsals. Listening to her sing I could feel the same energy in the arena as I felt when Vincenzo won a few years ago. She’s back in this.

Serbia: Dunja Jelicic with “U La La La”

Following the non-stop hoverboard showdown that was Belarus, the stage felt somehow empty. Thankfully Dunja thrives on pressure and managed to deliver those “U La La La”‘s with panache and energy. The close camera crops prevent viewers from feeling the empty space and her attitude and gutteral delivery makes this memorable. For a girl performing disco but rolling on her own, this was very strong indeed.

Israel: Shir & Tim with “Follow My Heart”

Talk about peaking just in time! Little Shir finally let her personality show, bouncing and bobbing and smiling from ear-to-ear in her silver sequins and black skirt. The red accents matched the fire she finally let loose. Showing out vocally and sartorially, she finally matched Tim’s exuberance and the pair looked fantastic together. For me this has gone from mid-table to near the top. Well done!

Australia: Alexa Curtis with “We Are”

Alexaaaaaaaaa honeeeeeeeey! We knew you were a star before you got here. Today, you turned that star into a supernova. All week she’s been steady, but today she went nuclear — clearly she had been saving everything up for when it counted. This felt anthemic and I seriously wanted to light a lighter and wave my hand. She was precise and in-tune, with some extra sass in her hand flourishes and hips. Earlier in the week I worried that the “We Are” lettering on the LED might be a tad cheesy. But seeing this with the camera angles and with Alexa on her A-Game (make that A+ game), it really worked (and werked). Alexa is fresh, likeable and endearing. She doesn’t need Junior Eurovision — but she’s gonna slay it anyway!

The Netherlands: Kisses with “Kisses and Dancin’”

The Dutch act returned to their colourful costumes that said “on fleek” and “LOL”. But laugh at them and the joke is on you. These girls nailed their choreography and seemed as confident as ever. Their harmonies worked as we’ve come to expect. The audience wasn’t as raucous as I’d hoped for. But that’s probably because this is made for TV, with the close crops and camera angles giving this the energy and drive that may seem absent in the arena since they stay in the same place for the duration of the show. (If we were bobbing like them we wouldn’t be running around either!).

Cyprus: George Michaelides with “Dance Floor”

Grab your fire extinguishers — George brought the fire! Channeling the Eurovision Dance Contest, he did his thing as he has done all week, twisting and spinning and slaying. During the opening sequence, the drumming behind him is slightly distracting (though visually amazing). But that’s unlikely to come off on TV. This act has the best choreography of the evening and remains among the most memorable.

Update: On Saturday evening we bumped into George’s team at the official hotel. Apparently he was experiencing serious audio issues — not his fault — so the EBU allowed him to perform a second time after the run-through. That performance will be sent to the juries on Sunday.

Georgia: Mariam Mamadashvili with “Mzeo”

This was the only act of the day where the audience started clapping non-stop one minute before it even finished. Despite all the power coming out of little Mariam, there’s a real sense of silence — as she takes it higher and louder, the audience could not speak. This gave everyone — including those who hated on the song earlier — major tingles. Among those in awe was the panel of jury experts, who raised their hands and said “yay, yay, yay!”

We’re fairly confident that Georgia won the jury final — she closed the show with a surprising and amazing bang!

 

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Sanja
Guest
Sanja

That review about the inappropriateness of Martija’s looks is hilarious and misplaced. Let them not give us that because we’re not gonna swallow it. What are the standards to judge? This is an an age when marriage between people from the same sex is acceptable as a normal standard and I am just stating facts here. Why is then not acceptable for a girl to emulate or even to identify with a woman? Is the girl to be burnt at the stake because of her femininity – mother nature made her like that. Is that her fault that she looks… Read more »

Sanja
Guest
Sanja

That review about the inappropriateness of Martija’s looks is hilarious and misplaced. Let them not give us that because we’re not gonna swallow it. What are the standards to judge? This is an an age when marriage between people from the same sex is acceptable as a normal standard and I am just stating facts here. Why is then not acceptable for a girl to emulate or even to identify with a woman? Is the girl to be burnt at the stake because of her femininity – mother nature made her like that. Is that her fault that she looks… Read more »

beccaboo1212
Guest

@Marc For your information, the performances are definitely gonna be important. Even if you don’t like the fact that the EBU removed the automatic 12 points, you just have to sit back and enjoy it. Pretend your eyes actually inside the audience at the Republic Hall! 🙂

Shanghai China Australia
Guest
Shanghai China Australia

Please don’t let Italy, Australia or Russia win they are so overated and horrible let Albania or Macedonia win for a change either TIRANA2017 OR SKOPJE2017

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

I caught some major shade in Russia’s review haha! I honestly don’t know what to expect from the outcome, but if it’s true that talent always wins, then Poland or Italy will run away with it!

Griffin
Guest
Griffin

I do really like Macedonian’s entry, but i thought it wouldn’t win this competition. Bulgaria, Poland and Italy more likely to be a champion.

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

@Sanja,
I agree.

Sanja
Guest
Sanja

The review about the inappropriateness of the Macedonian entry is, well it is inappropriate in itself. I mean what are the standards to judge. In an age when marriage between people from the same sex is a normal standard, why should be abnormal for a girl to emulate and even to identify with a woman. What’s wrong here? Come on people we live in the 21st century. Don’t tell me that the children in Macedonia are brought up in the most liberal way. The children today all over the world look like Martija and re more mature than their actual… Read more »

Carri Nzchen
Guest
Carri Nzchen

I want Junior Eurovision 2017 in SKOPJE
#SKOPJE2017!!

Sanjorz Mickighganian
Guest
Sanjorz Mickighganian

+Myan D’wzange
Yes i couldnt agree more!
#SKOPJE2017

James
Guest
James

@Around: It is stnadrd procedure for the juries to vote on their favorite performances on the dress rehearsals the day before the actual show. This would allow the EBU to count all the votes ahead of time and will only have to wait for the results of the expert panel to combine all three votes onscreen.

Colin
Guest
Colin

They are all young talents and at that age, one must appreciate the energy given into it regardless of the result. Songs are all okay to really good, so there is no wrong whoever wins. It will depend on the performance itself. Best luck to all!

Sanja
Guest
Sanja

+ Myan D’wzange
Yass! Let’s have Junior Eurovision 2017 in Skopje! :))))))))))

Sanja
Guest
Sanja

+Kylie and Erin Thank you for your explanation. So the winner might already be known, which diminishes the thrill of the show tomorrow. + Erin That Martija is more mature than her peers shouldn’t be taken as her fault. You are prone to stereotyping cause you see only the visual side. Luckily, Martija subverted the looks stereotyping in the interviews in which she proved to be spontaneous, intelligent, even spiritual, which is the other side of her maturity. If only you knew her personally, you would certainly see then that there is nothing calculated or pretentious about her. Anyway, thank… Read more »

Kylie
Guest
Kylie

Sanja only the expert jury consisting of the 3 members announced will decide their points tomorrow the rest of the points have already been decided today.

Erin
Guest
Erin

The jury spokespeople are 17 kids who will present the combined result of their respective country’s adult and youth juries from 1 to 12 points. Following the votes from the 17 countries, The 3 expert jurors will add their individual votes from 1 to 12. It’s possible that the winner will already be known prior to the expert jurors votes in a scenario where the leading country has a 37 points advantage over the runner up country at that stage…hopefully that’s not gonna be the case because we’re expecting a pretty tight race. Adult juries will always choose an act… Read more »

Myan D'wzange
Guest
Myan D'wzange

I don’t think the children will like Italy! They will probably like something like- Bulgaria, Macedonia or Armenia
Good Luck to everyone!
PS I hope Macedonia Wins!!
SKOPJE 2017!

Sanja
Guest
Sanja

+Velma ESC
totally agree! Can someone explain in simple terms the voting system?
Also, I’d like to know whether the performances tomorrow will have any relevance at all?

Velma ESC
Guest
Velma ESC

Wiwi Team or someone who knows: Could you please explain once more how the voting works? As I’ve understood, each country will have a 50/50 split of adult and kids jury and will award one set of points, and then each of the experts will award one set. But then some other sources said that each country will only have an adult jury that votes normally, then the experts comment on each performance (what’s the point of this) and then one (international?) kids jury will announce their votes. This is VERY confusing and I’d like to know what’s the official… Read more »

Rasda
Guest
Rasda

Why are all the votes giving now? I don’t like that. And the Kids jury is very bad every year….. The televoting was sooo much better! My predication (first=kids second=jury): 1. Italy (4th – 1th, FIRST) 2. Armenia (1th, FIRST – 4th) 3. Malta (2th, SECOND – 5th) 4. Bulgaria (5th – 3th, THIRD) 5. Russia (7th – 2th, SECOND) 6. The Netherlands (3th, THIRD – 8th) 7. FYR Macedonia (6th – 10th) 8. Ukraine (11th – 6th) 9. Australia (10th – 13th) 10. Belarus (8th – 14th) 11. Poland (13th – 7th) 12. Cyprus (9th – 15th) 13. Georgia… Read more »

Sanja
Guest
Sanja

Does this mean that the performances tomorrow won’t matter at all?
My top ten:
1. Macedonia
2. Russia
3. Italy
4. Armenia
5. Serbia
6. Bulgaria
7. Poland
8. The Netherlands
9. Albania
10. Australia

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest
(J)ESC Fanatic

OMG, I’m happy with the good reviews of my favourites, Armenia and Albania, now I have hope! 🙂

@Kylie

Did they really remove them? But even if they did, it doesn’t matter at all. 12 supposed points is still 0. Trust me, everyone is smart enough to understand that those 12 automatic points are in fact nothing.

Marko
Guest
Marko

MACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDONIA!

Kylie
Guest
Kylie

I mean, 12 points looks better then 0

Kylie
Guest
Kylie

Stupid decision from the ebu to remove to automatic 12 points. what if some country goes home with 0 points ? All their hard work for no points? do you know how upset they’ll be? Pointless! This year has a great quality of songs but the ebu has ruined it with all their changes

marie
Guest
marie

I like Italy

Ben Rafter
Guest
Ben Rafter

Macedonia? Hello? In a different league to the others. Would win the televote, if there was one. Stupid decision from the EBU, Slovenia, one of the strongest JESC countries left because of this bs. Fingers crossed that Russia won’t win. If not Macedonia then Armenia or Malta or Bulgaria!!!

Lena
Guest
Lena

MACEDONIA NUMBER 1 .. BEST SONG EVER ON JESC!!!

SpirK
Guest
SpirK

Here’s my prediction :
1. Italy
2. Armenia
3. Malta
4. Russia
5. Belarus
6. Bulgaria
7. Cyprus
8. Australia
9. Albania
10. The Netherlands
11. Ukraine
12. Georgia
13. Poland
14. FYR Macedonia
15. Israel
16. Serbia
17. Ireland
At this moment I really can see Italy or Armenia winning, they are almost the only songs that can have an appeal to every jury.

Davve
Guest
Davve

This is how it has almost always been. There is no chance for the jury groups to decide with such a short time frame as in tve final tomorrow.

Around
Guest
Around

Is it allowed to change the outfits for this final and the final tomorrow? If this answer is yes, it could be an explanation why The Netherlands has two outfits.

Around
Guest
Around

Why aren’t the juries judging the performances of tomorrow? Since televoting has been removed won’t be the performances of the final tomorrow have any influence at the final results.

In my opinion it’s a better idea that this show was only a dress rehearsal.

Kylie
Guest
Kylie

I can’t wait for tomorrow omg

deli
Guest
deli

Didn’t you miss the review of Poland ? 😛

Marc
Guest
Marc

This is so stupid.
Tomorrow performances won’t be important at all. Ridiculous.