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Nine things the Grown-ups can learn from Junior Eurovision Written by on December 16, 2011 | 7 Comments

Almost two weeks ago, Candy took victory at Junior Eurovision, and the ESC Insight team was there, covering the event in person for the first time. escXtra joined us, as did Radio International, ESC.Rus, and a few others.

You know, there’s a lot to like in Junior Eurovision, and there were a few times we looked at each other and wondered “why doesn’t Adult Eurovision do that?” For everyone who wasn’t there, here’s our look at some things we think belong on the agenda for Adult Eurovision to consider…

Just Get On With The Voting!

Junior Eurovision manages to announce all the votes. This is partly down to them only having thirteen countries to get through, and not twenty-four, but having every vote announced with time to digest the implications simply felt right. There was also the young announcers didn’t feel the need to be witty or make a statement.

One sentence, including the words “Hello, Yerevan!” That’s all they did, and that’s all you need as an announcer.

How about a compromise for May. Everyone is given strict instructions on that opening sentence, and as the hosts ask for the votes, the announcer reads out the 1-7 points without the call back from Baku.

The EBU have them all in the spreadsheet anyway, so it’s not like the EBU need to write them down as they come down the line. It gives every vote the chance to be heard, and trading “bad humour” for “votes” is a winning combination

The Parade of Nations

After the delights of Armenian Riverdance, we had each of the singers come out, behind their national flag, and introduced to the audience. This was lovely, and marked out that this is a contest with a truly international flavour. A parade of contestants at the adult Eurovision would look fantastic. I’m told by Juha Repo this happened back in the sixties – let’s get this back. If nothing else it’s a wonderful way to get a taster of what’s coming up in the rest of the show.

Kristall and Evropa

Kristall and Evropa helping open the show

Everyone Working Together

What was interesting, watching the interactions of the children, was that they all knew each other’s songs, they were more than happy to sing them, and while some of them had a media filter when asked “what’s your favourite song, Erik”, the majority were honest and named another song straight away. They all partied together, supported each other and mingled in the Green Room, and it really magnified Eurovision as a show about bringing people together. Let’s see more of that!

On a similar viewpoint, the press room was full of people sharing resources, news, and even helping out with content for each other’s websites. Part of this was down to the simple fact that we were a small group, and it was easy to ask everyone for a spare microphone, some comments, or even a decent picture of a rehearsal, but I like to think that this could happen with the two thousand strong Adult Press room as well as it did with the twenty strong Junior Press room.

Send Someone Who Can Sing Live

We’re looking at Belarus here.

If it wasn’t for the pesky age rule, I’m sure that BTRC would be looking to send Lidiya Zablotskaya to Baku with the biggest power ballad that she can write. Looking at the dates, Angely Dobra might just sneak by the September 1st song deadline, but at the same time Anastasia Vinnikova is back to try to return to the Adult Eurovision Contest, and that’s a singer/song combination I do not want to hear again!

Switch the Rehearsal Times Around

Bit of a technical one here, but every performer gets two technical rehearsals. At Junior Eurovision you get the shorter session first, and the longer rehearsal session afterwards. This actually makes more sense. You can get mics, lights, and sound sorted on the first slot, and focus on the show on the second one. Adult Eurovision has the longer rehearsal period as the first one, and that feels the wrong way round now that I’ve seen both in practice.

Getting the crowds to mingle before the show

Normally at Eurovision, the crowds walk up, queue a bit, show their tickets, queue a bit more at the merchandise stand, and take their seats. Not at Junior. The atrium underneath the main hall at The Keren Demerchiyan Stadium was overflowing with children, full of wonder, joy, and flags. It was a superb atmosphere and I’m racking my brains how you could have replicated that at Dusseldorf’s Esprit Arena or any of the other venues. But it’s worth investigating for the future.

Flags out!

Flags out before the start of JESC 2011

Mingling in the Green Room

This was probably more obvious to the live audience on the night, but the Green Room area at the side of the stage where all the children sat before and after their song wasn’t a territorial country-by-county space; everyone just mixed, chatted, hugged, and stood next to whoever they wanted to. You’ll never get this in Adult Eurovision, as the competitive element is just a bit too strong, but more backstage and green room action on display would help both the show itself as well as promote the Eurovision message of cultures learning about each other.

Tweaking the language rule

It took Mairi, my seven-year old daughter, to spot this as she was always asking if the next song would be in English, but listening through the Junior Eurovision songs, rather a lot of them are in the native language of the singer. It’s nice to have a Eurovision where you don’t hear lyrics translated somewhat awkwardly into English and massaged to make them sound almost right. Is it time a language rule returned in some form to the Adult Contest, or would that give too big an advantage to the countries that would get away with using English?

Put the local culture on show

It was great to see an opening that felt traditional, and still managed to hold your interest. While I’ve got nothing against Stefan Raab’s Big Band opening from May 2011, being freed from the shackles to reprise the winning song from 2010 (even though Vladimir did show up later) meant that a focus could be placed on Armenia in the opening, as opposed to a nod to the previous year. We did get the reprise, and looking at some of the recent interval acts, perhaps holding back the reprise to the middle of the three hours and promoting something local at the opening is the way forward this decade?

The soon to be legendary Armenian Riverdance

The soon to be legendary Armenian Riverdance

…and number ten?

That’s up to you – what did you see or hear at Junior Eurovision that the Adult Contest needs to adopt? Let us know in the comments.

Once more, thank you BMI for their support, which has allowed the ESC Insight team to cover Junior Eurovision and fly to Yerevan.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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7 responses to “Nine things the Grown-ups can learn from Junior Eurovision”

  1. eurovoix says:

    I totally agree that the children during the show looked far more relaxed, they just did what they wanted and got along with every other participant going. I think that Eurovision should implement some sort of interaction with the people in the arena, it’s all nice when the hosts are standing in the crowd and talking away amongst themselves but why not do what they did in Oslo and what they did in Yerevan we saw more of the audience and they audienece were more into it.

  2. Jaz says:

    I was going to say that Big Eurovision should adopt the artist/song introductions in the postcards…but even that was dropped from JESC this year. And I was so eager to hear Dorijan Dlaka’s voice break in speech as well as song!!! Darn it.
    I’m so with the ‘straight-into-points’ thing. Even hearing ‘what a wonderful show!’ a hundred (aka 40) times is bad enough, but what I can’t stand to an even greater extent is the spokespersons who were in the contest years ago and still think people want to hear them belt out some of their entry instead of carrying on with the votes. THEN they proceed to sing the chorus of each song they are giving points to. Blech.
    Rant concluded.

  3. Moshe Melman says:

    Yes It was great experience. The atmosphere in the press room was completely differnt from the senior ones.

    I wish they ill implement some things from the Junior to the seniors ones.

    On this occasion let me wish you and your readers merry xman and Happy New Year 2012

  4. Ewan Spence says:

    Good to meet you Moshe, I;ve added ESCLine to our Eurovision website directory, stay in touch!

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    Agreed, the producers need to remember this is a live show, not 25 rehearsed MTV videos. Every opportunity to stress “live audience” needs to be taken (just like TOTP used to).

  6. Ewan Spence says:

    It’s live, you’d have some chancer in the voting, but yes, more points less “banter that doesn’t translate from Norwegian, please!”

  7. Babar says:

    I have never watched the Junior eurovision contest, and I will never for some reason. But this said,….

    I did read your appreciations about the junior contest above, because I wanted to know if indeed there would be something to learn from it (through your comments of course), and I have to say that I totally agree on your suggestions for reorganising in a better way the adult contest !
    Actually, it already happened that the junior version was used as a test for the adult contest, so who knows ? Maybe next May we will get some of these ideas: there is only little distance beetween Erevan and Baku after all.

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