More and more Americans are starting to become aware of the Eurovision Song Contest, the annual competition in which each participating country sends an artist to perform an original song at the most-watched TV event in the world. I covered last year’s Eurovision on this blog. What many people don’t realize is that there has been a Junior Eurovision competition every year since 2003, and while I forgot to cover last year’s, I’m making up for it this year.
This year’s field doesn’t have as many clear standout performers as in previous years, like Laura Omloop’s infectious yodeling from 2009, Elias Elffors Elfström’s poised performance from 2013, or Julia Van Bergen’s incredibly repetitive but incredibly catchy song from 2014. This made my favorites picks a little harder to make than usual. Last time I made my picks for Eurovision, one of my five won the contest, so I’m proud to confer The Stroman Bump on the following three entries:
Anahit & Mary: Tarber (Armenia)
This song doesn’t bother building to a climax to show off the belting ability of its dynamic duo, immediately starting the song off with the two of them holding high notes. It then immediately morphs into the dance pop standard of this year’s contest, with an infectious beat that should get the audience moving at the live show. It also has a message (“love can overcome any difference”) that many right here in the good ol’ US of A would do well to take to heart.
Martija Stanojković: Love Will Lead Our Way (Macedonia)
While Stanojković’s song also falls into the category of dance pop, this one has just enough indie sensibility sprinkled in that it could stand out from the crowd. While it is in common 4/4 time, the synth-y sounds almost make it seem like it is in a different time signature. They also recall 80s synthpop, almost as if she is putting a modern sheen on a classic sound. This sonic texture is atypical for a Eurovision entry, which is the main reason I like it. Stanojković also shows off the power of her voice in a more subtle way, letting it speak for itself rather than belting high notes to smack the listener over the head with it.
Alexa Curtis: We Are (Australia)
Am I potentially biased in favor of this entry because I recently visited Sydney and absolutely loved it? Maybe. But there’s no denying this song is quality. Curtis shows off her vocal power in a similar way to Stanojković, but with extra poise and maturity beyond her twelve years. Her voice also has an extra shine and polish to it, more so than the other two entries. The “we are the world” subject matter also carries on in the tradition of relentlessly optimistic Junior Eurovision offerings (except for the occasional breakup song).
I’d highly recommend checking out the other entries, as most of them are solid songs. And if the contest captures your imagination as it has mine, check out the documentary Sounds Like Teen Spirit, which follows three kids as they attempt to represent their countries at the 2007 contest, and offers an inside look into the ups and downs of competing.