Sitting almost exactly halfway between the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna and the 2016 Contest in Stockholm (in terms of time of course, not geography) comes the 13th Junior Eurovision Song Contest. It seems quite far away, and the contest may not have even registered on your radar in the past, but it keeps growing, with last year’s event being praised for both production values and quality of songs.

Maybe your post-Eurovision depression is pretty bad this year and you want something to tide you over, maybe you’ve heard about how good last year’s contest was and feel like jumping on board this year, or maybe you’ve been so wrapped up in the dissecting the voting from Vienna and speculating where the Swedish Eurovision will be hosted that you’ve not been abreast of all the developments so far. Whichever of these is true, we’ve put together this handy guide with all the essential details that we already know about this year’s contest.

Where is it?

Although the winning country is not obliged to host the following year’s contest, the last two winners, Ukraine and Malta, accepted the opportunities and hosted successful contests, so when Italy’s Vincenzo Cantiello won last year, speculation was rife as to whether debutants Italy would use their winners’ privilege and take on the event. In the end, RAI declined, but Vladislav Yakovlev (Executive Supervisor for Junior Eurovision) confirmed that two other countries had submitted bids to host.

One of those countries was Bulgaria, who came 2nd in last year’s contest, and back in January it was announced that they would be the hosts for the 2015 contest. It is Bulgaria’s first time hosting a Eurovision event, and there was some speculation that they had one eye on the hosting of Junior Eurovision when they decided not to participate in the adult contest this year. Whether or not this was the case, it’s a decision that paid off, and Junior Eurovision will come from Sofia on Saturday 21 November.

However, even though Italy don’t wish to host, it seems that Vincenzo will still play a major part in proceedings, having had a guest role in the adult contest in Vienna last month and participated in press and promotion around the event.

So who’s in and who’s out?

Well it’s slightly mixed news on that front, so let’s start with the bad. As we reported last week, both Cyprus and Sweden have withdrawn from the contest. Cyprus has cited budgetary reasons whilst current Eurovision winners SVT have simply decided to take a year out following a restructure at their children’s channel. It also looks like returnees from last year Croatia are out of the line-up.

However, out of the 13 remaining countries, nine have confirmed their participation with only San Marino, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine not having made a decision yet.

JESC_2015_Map.svg

As well as these nine, Albania will be returning after a two year absence (more on that in a minute), and we have a brand new county in the shape of Ireland, whose Irish language channel TG4 will be fielding a participant. That brings the tally so far to 11, and there’s no reason for that not to increase in the coming weeks and months, with many potential new and returning countries on the table. For example, there have been reports in Spanish media that RTVE are considering a comeback to continue their perfect top 5 streak from the early days of the contest, and Germany’s official Eurovision website are running a survey to see what fans think a possible German participation in Sofia.

Do we have any songs yet?

Yes, just the one so far, although coming from a country with just one previous appearance under its belt which was a last place, Albania was never going to be a headline selection. Nonetheless, they chose their song all the way back in May as part of Festivali 53 i Femijeve and it was won by 14 year-old Mishela Rapo with ‘Dambaje.’ At the start you may think Mishela is going to launch into a Disney ballad, but that’s not quite where the song goes…

Watch it now (or as much of it as you can without getting irritated at the poor production quality), because knowing Albania, it could be completely different come November.

We’ll have at least one more song by the end of this week, as Malta’s national final will be taking place on 11 July featuring 20 singers narrowed down from an open call – their song will be selected at a later date. Montengro is being represented by Jana Mirković with a song written by “Team Molitva” called ‘Oluja’ and we should be hearing the name of the Armenian singer any day now. Watch this space, the summer tends to be busy for JESC reveals, and many of them can be out of the blue!

Anything else we should know?

As ever, and as with the adult contest, the each Junior Eurovision has its own logo and slogan. The slogan is #discover which utilises the hashtag as has become commonplace now, and the logo featuring a daffodil being blown is a nod to Bulgaria’s nature, is “something we have all done as a child” according to Viara Ankova (Director General of BNT) and represents “how Bulgaria’s young people are the seeds of the future.”

It can sometimes be tricky to come up with commercial branding for the event that is geared towards children without coming across as twee – and there have certainly been failures in the past – but this year the organisers seem to have managed pretty well. What do you think?

jesc logo jpeg

That’s the gist of all the developments about the contest so far, but stay tuned to Xtra through the summer and beyond as we bring you the latest news about November’s Junior Eurovision.

Content Manager: In the real world I work in PR and I love pizza, dogs and gin. When it comes to Eurovision I can be quite a cynical fan at times, but I can always be won over by a killer key-change.

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