Yesterday, during the first set of rehearsals at Junior Eurovision 2017, eight acts threw down the gauntlet with a series of stellar performances that showed off the power of this year’s LED.

And today it was the turn of the remaining eight countries — Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine — to slay that stage.

Below is a quick — and generally encouraging — take on today’s action. You can watch all of the performances in the playlist below, watch our review video (coming later this evening) and read our reviews. Then vote in our poll. You can vote for as many acts as you’d like, but you can only vote ONE time. So make it count.

Junior Eurovision 2017: Day 2 rehearsals

Junior Eurovision 2017: Rehearsals review (Day 2)

Italy – Maria Iside Fiore with “Scelgo (My Choice)”

Continuing the LED selfie trend from Eurovision 2017, thirteen-year-old Maria utilises her own image to great effect in this emotional number, which is really coming to life now that it’s on the big stage.

Maria stands alone before a black-and-white image of herself, creating a nostalgic, wistful atmosphere. But the wall — like the song — progresses slowly and steadily, moving through images of Maria swinging through grass and walking through a field. She gives you a slice of her life visually, which makes a heartfelt song seem all the more heartfelt. As with Italy’s act last year, this doesn’t rely on camera tricks or explosions, but instead tender delivery backed by major vocal power. There’s texture here — vulnerability, strength, optimism, hope — and in the bridge she really brings this home. A rare example of a song that sounds even better live.

Malta – Gianluca Cilia with “Dowra Tond”

His JESC 2017 music video was a blast of energy that mixed classic styling — three-piece suit, bow tie, barber shop — with a funky, folk-pop sound. And Gianluca managed to bottle up all that fun and take it with him to Tbilisi. Effervescent and endlessly adorable, this worked on every level — visually, vocally and in terms of JESC spirit.

Supported by five female dancers, Gianluca was the lil’ man of the moment, serving swagger, confidence and plenty of attitude. Simple hand choreography mixed with natural dance pizzaz saw him working the entire stage — even running down the runway where he hyped up the audience with plenty of hand gestures. A versatile performer, he spins in place like a Chinese gymnast and even grabs a megaphone to shout out more of his enthusiasm.

The LED screen avoids Eurovision clichés — there’s no starry sky or random geometric shapes here. Instead we see a series of vintage televisions that feature scenes from Gianluca’s video. The presence of rotating television fits thematically: Gianluca is most definitely a star! This is a real contender for the win.

Poland – Alicja Rega with “Mój Dom”

She’s a balladeer of the first order and she’s able to serve drama and rich vocals that belie her youth. And Poland’s Alicja did it again this morning with the poise and pitch-perfect vocals we’ve come to expect from Polish singers.

What’s the colour of her life? Purple — from the LED panels that line the stage to her elegant plum dress, which sparkled before an evolving landscape of flowers and vines. Among the loveliest moments is 2:12 minutes in when she seems to dip into a minor key while maintaining her voice. It’s a lovely transition in this decidedly mature and sophisticated performance. P.S. Her hairography was on point — she looked absolutely regal!

Netherlands – Fource with “Love Me”

The boy band isn’t dead — it’s alive and well and slaying the stage in Tbilisi. This morning Fource wore velvet outfits that mix urban swag, R&B style and retro realness. The outfits play an important role — they fit the theme of #ShineBright with their manifold colours and they also provide ample opportunity for the lads to incorporate them into their choreography.

The only foursome in this year’s contest, the gents make the most of their numbers by popping and locking in unison and forming dance lines. They do all of this before a disco-esque LED, which captures the club spirit of their song. Sometimes in groups the individual artists fight for the limelight. But this number and stage show give each singer (and dancer) a moment to shine. They’re definitely in this together.

Portugal – Mariana Venâncio with “Youtuber”

Long live the emoji — and long live Mariana Venancio! This adorable “YouTuber” understands that this is a kids contest and has arrived in Tbilisi with an LED that reflects that. The opening moments see her screen explode with adorable emojis — from the smiling face with shades to the monkey to the angel to, somewhat amusingly, the smiling poo. It’s cheeky and totally deliberate — she’s reaching out to young viewers in a visual language that they understand and love.

Those adorable animations explode in a brightly coloured cityscape — the skyscrapers have multi-coloured windows — and splatters of paint that scream happiness. Mariana keeps the theme going as she sings straight into the camera, smiling big and oozing joy. Vocally the girl is on point. Yes, there is power. But more importantly there is charm and likability. Some have panned the notion of singing about a YouTuber. But you get lost in the beautiful Portuguese language and the term “YouTuber” suddenly doesn’t hold a literal meaning, but embodies a tropical sound of romance and excitement. Haters back off: There is a new queen in town! #LoveIt.

Russia – Polina Bogusevich with “Wings”

Wow. Russia isn’t playing with this one. Taking inspiration from her artistic music video, Polina once again returns to a furnished room where drama, tension and turmoil can be found at every turn. The LED room cracks and splits, and seasoned dancers bend and snap and filp with the precision you’d expect from the Bolshoi Ballet.

To say that Polina is feeling her song is an understatement. She lives every note. It showed on her face and in her body language, which was deliberate, confident and determined. She unleashes a wall of sound that’s totally striking. Yet it doesn’t feel like shouting — it feels like a young woman with something very important to say.

Serbia – Irina Brodic and Jana Paunovic with “Ceo Svet Je Naš”

This is adorable. Jana and Irina reach back in time with this endearing number, nodding to the 1920s and Vaudeville with a stylish flapper dress and suspender-trousers co-ord. Their clothes may be red and white, but their backdrop flits between a series of magical landscapes, including a series of green hills beneath moonlight and a purple sky. It’s really quite eye-catching.

They continue the vintage theme by playing a cello and old-school keyboard, all the while smiling and having a legimitately good time. By the end — when the on-screen flowers shoot magic beams and butterflies — you just want to give them a hug and thank them from the good time. It may not be mainstream pop, but it’s a nice addition to what should be a programme for children.

Ukraine – Anastasiya Baginska with “Don’t Stop”

Talk about a reboot! Anastsiya has taken her delightful song and amped it up with some properly enchanting staging. She begins the performance sitting on a white tree while a friend plays the guitar. She then dismounts with her back to the audience before hitting her chorus and voguing to the audience. Confident, cute and totally in control, Anastasiya is unfazed by the arena or the stakes.

She’s a tiny performer, but that voice is enormous. And she’s managed to tweak her song so that she can deploy that voice in more interesting ways than before. The song has more shape and takes you on more of a journey than it did previously, and it’s all helped by the changing vistas, which include purple lights and a series of trees that sprout out from nowhere.

Poll: Who had the best rehearsal?

Who impressed you the most? Who did you vote for? Let us know in the comments box below. 

READ OUR LATEST JUNIOR EUROVISION NEWS

Photo: Thomas Hanses (EBU)

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Héctor
Guest
Héctor

Take off Portugal and Poland and you’ll have the real poll. Crazy fans taking over the poll like Armenian and Georgians… How stupid is doing that, seriously.

Paklur
Guest
Paklur

I watched this rehearsal at 4am in my country and I cannot held back my tears when I saw Ukraine’s performance.
The opening speech (?), the staging, the violin, and the song, and her voice, they are beyond perfection. Her song really moved me! I can’t stop crying lol.
10/10 gonna vote for her in online voting

Timselvision
Guest
Timselvision

I honestly don’t understand why people here hate Armenia so much! It wasn’t perfect but I see it last everywhere? Am I missing something?

Anyway, today Russia really impressed me and Malta was very good too. I think those two will be in the top 3 together with either Australia, Belarus or Georgia.

beccaboo1212
Guest

I have 100% hope Armenia’s second rehearsal will be better. Misha needs to focus more on his vocals in order to improve people wrong! 🙂

thespb01
Guest
thespb01

Lol how is Portugal winning? It was better than expected, but seriously!?

ESC 4ever
Guest
ESC 4ever

My top 16 (rehearsals): 1. Australia: The winner in my eyes. I love her vocals, outift and coreo. The stage is okay, but i prefer something colorful. But she remains my favourite. A POTENTIAL WINNER! 2. Netherlands: The boys, i love them. The song is a radio/kid friendly bop. I love the staging and their performance. Their moves are cute and natural. They went straight to my top 2! 3. Georgia: He did so good! Was one of my faves before the rehearsals. He stayed in my top 3. He has an amazing voice and the song is so original!… Read more »

Gregory
Guest
Gregory

HOLLAND NUMBER 1
BELARUS NUMBER 2
RUSSIA NUMBER 3
POLAND NUMBER 4
GEORGIA NUMBER 5

Jason
Guest
Jason

The neterlands and belarus are my winners

Lilly
Guest
Lilly

Amazing; Belarus, Georgia
Very good; Ireland, Russia, Malta
Good; Ukraine, Australia, the Netherlands
Ok; Poland, Macedonia, Serbia
Bad; Albania, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus
Very bad; Armenia

beccaboo1212
Guest

Unless Misha’s vocals improve tomorrow and the stage is flooded with smoke. Because tomorrow, all the effects come in! (Pyros, smoke, etc.)

rasmus
Guest
rasmus

Who think this voting only will last one year? When the Polish people vote like crazy on Poland on sunday. They use to be very nationalistic in votings. I do.

Yoan
Guest
Yoan

Malta and Russia topped today’s rehearsals by far. They were incredible!

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

Ukraine, Russia and The Netherlands where AMAZING, and Poland and Malta where great too. The others where actually just as good. Everybody (also yesterday) was amazing, and I’m soooo looking forward to Sunday.

Henry
Guest
Henry

Did you see Glenys Vargas (backing vocalist for Albania 2010) entered 1 in 360? She slays, one of the best backing vocalists ever.

Ian Gallagher
Guest
Ian Gallagher

I LOVE:
1.Belarus
2.Ireland
I LIKE:
3.Malta
4.Georgia
5.Russia
6.Australia
7.Ukraine
OK:
8.Netherlands
9.Macedonia
10.Serbia
DISLIKE:
11.Poland
12.Albania
13.Portugal
TERRIBLE:
14.Cyprus
15.Italy
16.Armenia

Shellydaliie
Guest
Shellydaliie

very much agree

sam
Guest
sam

i genuinely don’t see the appeal in poland’s song and the staging really wasn’t anything special. i do like how russia and malta copied their music videos over to the stage- definitely today’s winners

West
Guest
West

1.-2. Serbia and Malta – I can’t choose, they were noth amazing, adorable and fun!
3. Ukraine – improved vocals and magical staging
4. Portugal – another fun performance, it really doesn’t deserve the hate it gets
5. Netherlands – funny that live they sound more mature then in the music video
6. Russia – too many props, Polina looks overshadowed by the amount of things on stage and all the dancers
7. Poland – simple song doesn’t always need simple staging – it feels empty and dull
8. Italy – ok, i guess

beccaboo1212
Guest

Hopefully Armenia does better tomorrow (vocals, staging). Misha will probably flood the stage with smoke, and of course he’ll improve his singing, and people won’t complain anymore. Also, who wants Armenia to participate at next year’s JESC in Belarus? 🙂

meh
Guest
meh

stop worrying about Armenia not participating. I’m sure they will still compete next year even if they get their first bad result.

West
Guest
West

I think Misha’s vocals were great – if only he could just walk on the stage, not speed on a boomerang-hoverboard thing.

beccaboo1212
Guest

Who knows? Maybe the stage could be flooded with smoke to make it look like Misha’s in the clouds with his boomerang! 🙂

West
Guest
West

I’m trying to imagine that – maybe with him driving that thing a bit slower… I don’t know, I’m still sceptical, but maybe it would be better.

Elmar
Guest
Elmar

Ukraine, Russia and Malta were the best ones today.

My Top 16 after the rehearsals
1. Ireland
2. Belarus
3. Georgia
4. Ukraine
5. Russia
6. Malta
7. Australia
8. Netherlands
9. Macedonia
10. Serbia
11. Albania
12. Poland
13. Italy
14. Cyprus
15. Portugal
16. Armenia

Ronda
Guest
Ronda

My top 8 for today’s rehearsals:
1. Ukraine
2. Russia
3. Malta
4. The Netherlands
5. Serbia
6. Poland
7. Italy
8. Portugal

Wwqz
Guest
Wwqz

Portugal the best