After months of build-up and a week of rehearsals, the final of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is finally upon us. On 24 November at 16:00 CET, 19 countries will shimmy and shake on stage in Gliwice, Poland.
But only one will slay hard enough to snatch the crown. As they slip into their Sunday best and warm up their wind machines, we thought we’d take a moment to walk you through what’s about to go down. Consider this our pre-recorded commentary.
So grab your popcorn and fizzy pop — and let’s do this!
- How to watch Junior Eurovision 2019
- How to vote in Junior Eurovision 2019
- Your ultimate guide to Junior Eurovision 2019
Junior Eurovision 2019: Final Preview
Australia: Jordan Anthony — “We Will Rise”
Ever since producer-led running orders arrived at Eurovision, show openers have tended to be bold and brash. But that’s not the case with Australia’s “We Will Rise”, an anthemic ballad with an anti-bullying message. Of course, Jordan Anthony is kicking off events thanks to chance — he drew the slot at the Junior Eurovision 2019 opening ceremony.
A graduate of the actual The Voice rather than the kids’ version, Jordan knows how to command a stage. His LED is filled with warm oranges and purples and at moments is filled with geometrical figures in a nod towards the kids and teens he’s singing to. He’s also accompanied by four backing vocalists, who step forward and join him centre stage as the song reaches its climax.
Memorable lyrics: “Lifting up that winner’s crown, you’re setting fire to the sun”
France: Carla — “Bim Bam Toi”
The energy picks up with a bang for song two — France’s “Bim Bam Toi”. The effervescent Carla exudes charm and joy, and that’s reflected in her stage show. It’s awash with pinks, purples and yellows… almost like an explosion of coloured icing from one of Paris’ finest patisseries. The look is finished off by pops of comic book style “bims”, “bams” and “booms”.
The song is among the pre-contest favourites and, at the time of writing, has amassed almost 2.5 million views across Carla’s Vevo page and the Junior Eurovision channel. It brings a joie de vivre that’s youthful and modern while winking at past classics like the late France Gall’s 1965 Eurovision winner “Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son”.
Memorable lyrics (translated): “I don’t have the words, yet I’d like to scream, a mute acrobat with a knotted throat”
Russia: Tatyana Mezhentseva and Denberel Oorzhak — “A Time for Us”
Russia’s Denberel gave us all a scare when he fell ill during his first rehearsal. But thankfully, after a trip to the hospital, show organisers and the Russian delegation assure us that he’s fighting fit ahead of the live show. He’ll be joined by Tatyana, and together they are the only duo competing at Junior Eurovision 2019. Their duet “A Time For Us” touches on a range of topical issues, including technology and the environment. But, perhaps, the most striking element is the contrast between the pair’s vocal tones.
Their LED is dominated by a giant dandelion clock whose hundreds of little seed heads disperse in the wind. The duo wear jumpsuits akin to space-age Ghostbusters.
Memorable lyrics: “There’s no limit for us, to unite all the world and break every wall”
North Macedonia: Mila Moskov — “Fire”
North Macedonia’s Mila sets fire to the stage — literally! Wearing a flaming orange dress while the LED flickers with sparks and embers, the songstress emits a heat that you’ll surely feel at home. “Fire” is all about succeeding and breaking all the rules in the process. And Mila conveys these emotions through a vocal delivery that’s laced with passion and determination.
The once beleaguered Eurovision nation is building on Tamara Todevska’s 2019 jury victory in Tel Aviv and taking flight. It’s all the more impressive given that Mila is sporting a leg brace after tearing a ligament before travelling to Poland. Rise like a phoenix!
Memorable lyrics: “Can you see the spark that’s in my eyes? With this flame I can fly”
Spain: Melani García — “Marte”
It’s been a long 13 years, but Spain is finally back at Junior Eurovision. In its four previous attempts, it never finished outside the top four, coming second twice and winning with María Isabel’s iconic “Antes Muerta Que Sencilla” in 2004. And it looks like Spain is planning to continue as it started. Melani García’s classical crossover “Marte” is told from the perspective of the world’s oceans and the harm caused by pollution. The song’s title, which translates as Mars, is an indication to the distance the message can travel if we let our voices be heard.
And the Iberian nation isn’t holding back on staging. They’ve recruited Nicoline Refsing, the stage designer responsible for visualising Eurovision entries like Australia 2016 and Latvia 2015. The LED shows an ocean in constant flux, complete with droplets, waves, whirlpools and entire schools of fish. Fishing nets are draped from the roof to the floor.
Memorable lyrics (translated): “Each piece of waste you toss away is a weapon that could take a life”
Georgia: Giorgi Rostiashvili — “We Need Love”
Georgia takes to the Gliwice stage with possibly the quirkiest number of the year. “We Need Love” is an old-school track that’s heavily reliant on vocal harmonies. Much of the melody is achieved entirely through vocals with instrumentation kept to a minimum. Yet despite the harmonies, Giorgi is the only one on stage.
The pop star of the future channels Queen’s legendary frontman Freddie Mercury with a flashy yellow jacket, while an ever-changing LED switches from the solar system to aeroplanes to psychedelic sunshine. The most memorable moment happens when hundreds of red heart-shaped balloons are dropped from the rafters into the audience beneath.
Memorable lyrics (translated): “It’s snowing, what a beautiful snow it is, the sky knits the dreams, we’ll return the sun to the sky”
Belarus: Liza Misnikova — “Pepelny (Ashen)”
Belarus brings an entry that’s a throwback to the 1990s but also slap bang in the middle of 2019. “Pepelny (Ashen)” lyrics reference tea on the porch and ringtones, as Liza tells us to look on the bright side — where some see grey, others see silver. And her staging certainly takes the bright message to heart.
Its neon-fuelled scheme makes full use of every highlighter in the pencil case. Reflecting the bop’s R&B influences, the backdrop resembles an urban cityscape for much of the performance. There’s also some mix and match anime, while Liza’s dancers also have an opportunity to wave some very big flags.
Memorable lyrics (translated): “Tea on the porch is freezing cold (is cold like snow)”
Malta: Eliana Gomez Blanco — “We Are More”
It may be a small island, but Malta is one of the big guns when it comes to Junior Eurovision. Since its 2013 comeback, it’s come top ten every time and won twice. Eliana will hope to keep this tradition going with her inspirational anthem, that some are interpreting as a feminist call to action.
The staging is dominated by a red colour palette, while images of powerful women come and go in the background. In a nod to the track’s Americana vibes, Eliana dons an eye-catching stetson-style hat.
Memorable lyrics: “They can try to mute our sound, but they’ll never drown us out”
🏴 Wales: Erin Mai — “Calon yn Curo (Heart Beating)”
The UK remains a longterm JESC absentee, but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise? That’s because if the UK was to compete as a whole we wouldn’t get to hear the beautiful Welsh language on the Eurovision stage. As it is, Wales is competing for a second time. Erin Mai’s uplifting number takes inspiration from The Greatest Showman phenomenon, espousing the joys of performing.
And it wouldn’t be a Eurovision show without some sort of dress reveal. Erin Mai delivers on that front when she lifts her long skirt to reveal a pair of butterfly-like wings. This allows her to showcase some clogging — a traditional Welsh step dance.
Memorable lyrics (translated): “Singing from the stage to the lights, faces smiling open hearts”
Kazakhstan: Yerzhan Maksim — “Armanyńnan qalma”
Wales isn’t the only one returning for a second bite of the cherry. Kazakhstan may be still out in the cold with regards to Eurovision, but it seems determined to show the rest of us what we’re missing through its JESC entry.
Yerzhan Manskim tackles the Disney-like “Armanyńnan qalma” with gusto. But its the staging that takes it to the next level. We’ve got a costume change, avant-garde dancers and some mind-blowing LED. It’s been said that they’ve brought everything except the kitchen sink. And as we know from Eurovision entries like Russia 2016, that’s often not a bad approach to take.
Memorable lyrics: “There’s a miracle that comes from above, it will help you write your name in the stars”
Poland: Viki Gabor — “Superhero”
Seven point one million. That’s the number of YouTube views Viki has amassed for “Superhero” across her national final performance, the studio cut and the official music video. Going off those figures alone, it’s safe to say that Poland’s unlikely to fall victim to the notorious host nation curse.
“Superhero” is a contemporary dance-pop number which calls upon young people to fight to protect the environment… a battle that’s much more pressing than any tiffs the Avengers might have with Thanos. Melting ice caps and a giant countdown make sure the message isn’t lost on anyone. Some sign language also enhances the universality of the entry’s themes.
Memorable lyrics: “We are the superheroes, we can save the world”
Ireland: Anna Kearney — “Banshee”
The Emerald Isle marks half a decade of participations with perhaps its most poetic entry ever. For those in the dark, a banshee is a mythical female Irish spirit that shows up when a family member is at death’s door. She’s also had some mainstream appearances, including a couple of mentions in Harry Potter. Despite the sorrowful nature of the spirits, Anna’s song is all light. It’s about overcoming the bad and finding the good. She’s banishing the banshee!
On stage, Anna channels woodland spirit chic. Her beautiful dress mimics the movements of the ghosts, while an enchanting LED backdrop is populated by the flora and fauna of the forest.
Memorable lyrics: “My black horse, I’m a loyal bird, don’t be afraid of the banshee”
Ukraine: Sophia Ivanko — “The Spirit of Music”
Ukraine’s “The Spirit Of Music” is unique in that it’s the only one of the 2019 batch to be entirely written and composed by the performer. Yes, some adult help was drafted in for the production, but the lyrics and melody are all Sophia’s creations, including the distinctive “hoo-oo” refrain.
Like Ireland immediately before, Ukraine also takes us to a spirit world. Instead of Celtic imagery, we’re given auroras and diamond showers. The spell is at its strongest when Sophia spins in a whirlpool of light.
Memorable lyrics: “Hoo-oo hoo-oo-oo hoo-oo-oo hoo-oo-oo”
Netherlands: Matheu — “Dans met jou”
Following in the tradition of past acts like Kisses and FOURCE, the Netherlands are offering up another healthy dollop of highly-choreographed pop. Wearing a ruby red jacket, Matheu emanates cool as he tells his mates all about a special girl he can’t get off his mind. All he wants to do is dance with her.
And it’s highly likely the audience at home will be on their feet too. The staging recreates a city park, complete with a picnic bench. But don’t expect any food baskets to appear. The boys prefer to use the table as a prop to show off their impressive dance tricks.
Memorable lyrics: “Every day you spin me round and round, you let me float like an astronaut”
Armenia: Karina Ignatyan — “Colours of Your Dream”
“Colours Of Your Dream” comes with some strong songwriting pedigree. Its creators have also worked on Eurovision entries for Inga and Anush (2009) and Arstvik (2017) and five other JESC songs. Karina’s vivacious number brims with positivity — if life is black and white, just add some colour.
And no one could accuse the staging of being black and white. Karina and her dancers resemble candy floss fairies, showered by a confetti of colours — every colour you could possibly dream of.
Memorable lyrics: “When you feel like life is black and white, take a brush and mix the colours right”
Portugal: Joana Almeida — “Vem comigo (Come with Me)”
Some say the simplest solution is often the best. And that’s definitely the approach Portugal is taking for its peppy ecological entry. Joana is left to do much of the work in an empty stage, with limited LED flourishes. Solid blocs of changing colours display some English translations of the lyrics.
Lucky then that Joana is a plucky starlet. With a fashion-forward look and some cute face art, she has enough belief in her message to carry off the performance.
Memorable lyrics: “Time is running out to save the earth”
Italy: Marta Viola — “La Voce Della Terra”
Italy is keeping things simple too. Although, Marta’s LED does feature some rather charming nature-inspired artwork. While Spain tackles the global climate crisis from the perspective of the sea, Marta gives us Mother Earth’s side of the story. It’s not quite as overtly environmentally minded as some of the other entries, but the lyrics do remind us that life on our planet is fragile.
Memorable lyrics (translated): “You will find the voice of the Earth, hidden there in a seed”
Albania: Isea Çili — “Mikja ime fëmijëri”
Albania’s Isea tackles a theme that’s been topical for kids since time immemorial — the transition from childhood to adulthood. Through the metaphor of a friend, she tries to cling on to the past but acknowledges that while time moves on she’ll always have the memories.
The LED screens vividly show ships and planes travelling along the rainbow of life. The future might be unpredictable, but it definitely looks bright!
Memorable lyrics: “You shine like a sun in the soul, full of colours, like a rainbow”
Serbia: Darija Vračević — “Podigni glas (Raise Your Voice)”
After 18 songs, we finally reach the end. And song 19 ensures we go out with a roar. Serbia’s “Podigni Glas” is arguably the most passionate of all the green anthems, and definitely carries the most urgency. The young Darija tells us that the clock is ticking and tomorrow could be too late. Her vocals pack a real punch, aided by a song structure which features both a key change and a dramatic ending.
The staging is even more striking. Luscious green forests give way to a post-apocalyptic world where nothing remains of life save some world-famous landmarks — the Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower — peeking out from a barren earth.
Memorable lyrics: “From the very first breath, we are all guests on this planet”
Who should win? Who will win? Let us know in the comments.
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