Months of build-up, weeks of promotion, and one week of rehearsals have led to this: The grand final of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
This year’s crop of 16 contestants have each brought their A-game, elevating their performances rather dramatically with state-of-the-art LEDs that would give many adult Eurovision acts a run for their money. There’s a huge difference between a nine-year-old and a 14-year-old. And with that comes a variety of styles, approaches and musical sensibilities. But all of this year’s singers have a few things in common: big voices, big dreams and an ability to #ShineBright.
Below you can read our quick summary of all the action. Countries are listed by the running order, so you can follow along as the show progresses. We’ve also included where the acts finished in our readers’ poll, which received more than 36,000 votes (Note: most of those votes were cast prior to rehearsals, so were based primarily on the studio cuts and national final versions of each song). We’ve also listed the results of our “online vote” poll, which received more than 10,000 votes and asked our readers to let us know which countries they actually voted for when the voting period opened on Friday. Finally, we’ve included the song’s ranking with the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals (who evaluated the songs prior to rehearsals).
Who do you think will win and who do you want to win? We appreciate that there is sometimes a difference. Let us know in the comments box below!
You can watch the show from 16:00 CET on junioreurovision.tv.
Junior Eurovision 2017: Running Order
Cyprus – Nicole Nicolaou with “I Wanna Be a Star”
Diva-liscious and ready for her moment, Nicole spends the opening bars of the song standing still on her runway while her dancers strike poses and make shapes. The heavy drum beat announces her arrival and she marches confidently to her throne — in this case, a series of light boxes centre stage. Proving she can skip while singing, Nicole holds her voice and looks at ease as she moves to and fro in her bright orange skirt with glittering top. It’s a Mediterranean dance number with major flavour — and a great way to open the show.
One highlight of the performance is when she stands on her cube and a pair of orange butterfly wings form behind her. It’s a Sergey Lazarev moment that provides an appropriate visual climax for this euro-dance number. Forget the club house. We’re headed to the club!
Memorable lyrics: “Put your hands up in the sky, spread your wings prepare to fly”
Poland – Alicja Rega with “Mój Dom”
Poland’s Alicja is a balladeer of the first order and she’s able to serve drama and rich vocals that belie her youth. Singing about friendship and making a better tomorrow, she oozes poise and pitch-perfect vocals. Among the most restrained of all the performances, the focus here is totally on the music — and it’s not a bad move. When you sound that good you don’t need distractions.
What’s the colour of her life? Purple — from the LED panels that line the stage to her elegant plum dress, which sparkles 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. Not enough fireworks? You decide.
Memorable lyrics: “I want every new day to carry a little good and bring hope”
Netherlands – Fource with “Love Me”
The boy band isn’t dead — it’s alive and well and slaying the stage in Tbilisi. Repeating the phrase “luh-luh-love me baby…”, Fource drive their ear worm home and lodge it firmly in your head.
Their velvet outfits mix urban swag, R&B style and retro realness — and they fit the JESC theme of #ShineBright with their manifold colours. 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. At times their dance moves have seemed a bit languid. But hopefully the excitement of the live shows will rev them up. May the Fource be with you!
Memorable lyrics: “You post a photo and even without a filter it’s lit”
Armenia – Misha with “Boomerang”
The night is dark and full of terrors — and Misha’s opening LED captures that darkness in a rather stirring way. But as his ballad progresses — led by some very effective drumming — the sky lightens and we’re reminded there is hope after it all.
Nodding to Belarus and Serbia from 2016, the Armenian star takes to a hoverboard, albeit one bedecked with a giant boomerang. Owing to clever camera cuts and plenty of billowing smoke, he should appear to fly across your TV screens. And not just fly — he’ll also spin with the force of an Olympic figure skater and, depending on the angle, literally soar. That he’s able to hold his voice during all of that is mighty impressive.
You’ll want to watch how he throws and eventually retrieves his boomerang. As he explained in an interview with wiwibloggs: “The idea is that I am flying through the skies on the boomerang. That’s how I start the song — I throw my boomerang into the audience and then in the end when I jump off the boomerang my boomerang comes back to me.”
Memorable lyrics: “Kindness has a habit, sooner or later it always comes back”
Belarus – Helena Meraai with “I Am the One”
She sings that she is the one, and Helena certainly made the case for herself with her artistic performance that left us calling her Helena, Mother of Fierceness, Slayer of Boredom, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The Intergalactic staging is reminiscent of her national final performance, though this time she wears a pink cape, which, owing to clever LED tricks, seems to fill the entire stage as colour-matched extensions of her cape are simultaneously lit on the screen behind her.
Her starry LED is amped-up big time from her show in Minsk. Towards the end the stars seem to be flying at the screen as Helena lets it rip vocally, which creates a dramatic and stirring sense of movement on screen. The pre-contest favourite nails it vocally and continues to ride a wave of hype. Can she pull it off?
Memorable lyrics: “We are changing this planet with our love”
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.
Memorable lyrics: “I wanna be viral, cuz in the end I just want him to look at me”
Ireland – Muireann McDonnell with “Súile Glasa”
Sometimes the quietest performance can resonate the loudest, and that’s certainly the case here. Muireann’s tender and endearing number falls so easily on the ears — it doesn’t need fancy tricks or over-the-top explosions to make an impact.
Instead Muireann quietly tugs on heartstrings while strumming her black guitar centre stage. From the very beginning the focus is on her — and that memorable purple hair. She stares into the camera, stands in place and hits tender note after tender note as the LED moves between greys, blues and emerald greens. The emphasis is rightly on the music and Muireann’s sincere delivery, which stands out for its authenticity and sense of optimism. We suspect her parents will need a box of tissues after this one. Heck, we may need them too!
It’s a real standout that turned many heads as the week has gone on. We dare you not to hum ooo-oh-oh-oh after this.
Memorable lyrics: “I’m dancing with the stars, take my hand I’ll show you”
FYR Macedonia – Mina Blažev with “Dancing Through Life”
Last year her countrywoman Martija leaned toward the sophisticated and trendy. And Mina does it again with her electro dance number that wouldn’t be out of place in the lounges of New York, London or Milan. The drum ‘n bass segments are accompanied with fierce graphics that turn the stage — occupied solely by Mina — into something of a discotheque…think Poli Genova with “If Love Was A Crime” or Ace Wilder with “Don’t Worry”.
Costume-wise Mina opts for a body suit with shiny high-rise boots and a translucent cape, which seems to blend into the grey, black and white graphics, creating a lovely spectacle of shadows and shapes. Overall it’s the kind of on-trend performance that you’d see at the adult Eurovision. And we totally approve.
Memorable lyrics: “We’re dancing through life”
Georgia – Grigol Kipshidze with “Voice of the Heart”
The Georgian media like to talk about his eyes, which served him well on X Factor. And the cameramen make the most of it here, opening the performance with close-ups of Grigol’s face as he sits near the audience and croons to all his fans. A slow walk up the runway to centre stage and he’s ready to slay this vocally and visually as a moon-like figure rises in the background. Clouds and white bubbles float about the LED, reminding us of some of the nicer screensavers available with the Mac operating system. His backing vocalists nail their simple but effective choreography, which reminds us of the moves Jennifer Hudson struck in the hit film Dreamgirls.
There’s not a lot going on here. And, with shades of Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson, this may sound familiar to many. But Grigol feeds off of the home crowd, and you’ll no doubt feel his feels.
Memorable lyrics: “La la la la la la”
Albania – Ana Kodra with “Mos ma prekni pemën”
Do NOT touch my tree. It’s a simple message that’s more relevant than ever as the world battles climate change and impending nuclear conflict. And little Ana brings her message to life with a stirring LED that depicts a world in peril — thunder and lightning, it is definitely exciting! Unlike so many other LEDs that appear flat, hers really tells a story as trees bloom and work a stirring colourway when she hits the chorus.
Vocally Ana is on-point, balancing vulnerability and power that speaks of a performer well beyond her years. We’re in love with that guttural chorus. A fantastic use of stage and sound, and an adorable ending where, once again, she asks you to back off her tree.
Memorable lyrics: “I go home and caress the tree with love”
Ukraine – Anastasiya Baginska with “Don’t Stop”
Talk about a reboot! Anastsiya has taken her delightful ballad 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. 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 snakes through sweet and powerful rather easily. It’s all enhanced by the changing vistas, which include purple lights and a series of trees that sprout out from nowhere. At times it has an eerie Game of Thrones quality. But the lightness of her voice always brings it back from the bring of darkness.
Memorable lyrics: “We can live in harmony because we’re one, we’re family”
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 works on every level — visually, vocally and in terms of JESC spirit.
Supported by five female dancers, Gianluca is the lil’ man of the moment, serving swagger, confidence and plenty of attitude. Simple hand choreography mixed with natural dance pizzaz sees him working the entire stage — even running down the runway where he hypes 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.
Memorable lyrics: “Life’s a whirlpool, a merry-go-round”
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 flip 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 shows on her face and in her body language, which is deliberate, confident and determined. She unleashes a wall of sound that’s totally striking — though some will say it’s perhaps a bit too loud. There’s a lot going on here — themes of violence, dancers on sofas, images of parents on the LED. Find your focus and hopefully you’ll admire it.
Memorable lyrics: “I will spread wings behind your back, the sky will be closer if you’re with me”
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 legitimately 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.
Memorable lyrics: “Sometimes the seas are dancing, the moon and the dawn are kissing, and love is rising”
Australia – Isabella Clarke with “Speak Up!”
She entreats listeners to speak up — and Isabella Clarke certainly does that. Making a bold statement in a silver catsuit, she brings a sleek, well-polished performance that references her lovely music video with its choreography and feel-good spirit. Totally unfazed by the cameras or the scale of the arena, she unleashes the Broadway star inside, serving major High School Musical realness.
The LED doesn’t tell as much of a story as, say, Albania’s. But Isabella’s is bold, bright and thoroughly modern. Black and white stripes, bolts of geometric lightning, a spiralling zebra vortex — it’s memorable and helps give the somewhat adult performance a bit of juvenile edge, which is essential at a kid’s contest.
She ain’t the next Kylie Minogue. She’s the first Isabella Clarke.
Memorable lyrics: “Could lay in bed all day, still stuck in yesterday — no way, no way”
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.
Memorable lyrics: “I choose not to be afraid, to go beyond these walls”