All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.
It’s 3 days to go until Junior Eurovision 2020, and we are counting down the 12 nations participating in this year’s remotely held and Warsaw, Poland hosted contest on Sunday, November 29, 2020.
Every day we will do an overview of a participating nation in alphabetical order, recapping how they got to Junior Eurovision, a brief history of the nation’s participation, a brief biography of the artist, and finally, our “expert” panel of editors give the entries a score out of 10 and a brief review.
Today, we look at contest heavyweights Russia.
Russia’s history at Junior Eurovision:
Russia have only finished twice in the bottom half at Junior Eurovision. That was in 2005 on their debut appearance “Дорога к солнцу” (“Road to the Sun”) by Vladislav Krutskikh, which came in 9th out of 16.
Bad luck befell Junior Eurovision 2019 participants Tatyana Mezhentseva and Denberel Oorzhak, whose “A Time for Us” came in 13th. Oorzhak’s preparations for the contest were interupted when he fell ill and had to be taken to hospital and remain overnight.
Russia won the very next year, and you will recognize these winners: The Tolmachevy Sisters won with “Весенний джаз” (“Spring Jazz”).
Anastasiya and Maria Tolmachevy came in 7th at Eurovision 2014 with “Shine.” The Tolmachevy Sisters were the third Junior Eurovision act to step up to the adult stage, but the first ever Junior Eurovision winners to do so. The only other winner to step up is Destiny Chukunyere as a backing vocalist for Michela Pace’s “Chameleon” at Eurovision 2019 and also as lead vocalist for Malta at both Eurovision 2020 (cancelled because of you-know-what) and Eurovision 2021.
Russia would have to wait a while for their next win, but in the meantime, in 2009 and 2010, Ekaterina Ryabova came in 2nd with “Маленький принц” (“Little Prince”) and Liza Drozd & Sasha Lazin came in 2nd with “Boy and Girl,” respectively.
Ryabova is the first returning artist in Junior Eurovision history, as she returned in 2011 with “Romeo and Juliet,” which finished 4th.
Polina Bogesuvich became the 2nd Junior Eurovision winner for Russia in 2017 with “Wings.” One of the darkest entries in Junior Eurovision history thematically, and it won. Anna Filipchuk came in 10th in 2018 with “Unbreakable.”
Before Junior Eurovision 2020:
Russia again utilized a national selection with eleven young acts being invited by children’s network Carousel to try out. As usual, it was a 50% jury and 50% televote.
The judges panel was made up of Karousel TV’s head Tatyana Tsyvareva, Russia’s Eurovision 2004 participant Yulia Savicheva, Russia’s Eurovision 2011 representative Alexei Vorobyov, T.a.T.U. member and Eurovision 2003 representative Lena Katina, Russia’s Junior Eurovision 2017 winner Polina Bogusevich, Russia’s Junior Eurovision 2015 representative Mikhail Smirnov and Karousel TV presenter Alla Krutaya.
Heading into the day of the final, the online polls were open from September 16, 2020 to September 24, 2020, Rutger Garecht won the televote. It appeared the judges ultimately preferred Feskova’s sweet ballad “My New Day” to the slick bombast of Garecht’s “The Road is my Destiny” (“Дорога – моя судьба)”.
A lot of vocal fans online cried foul, with “My New Day” being the most contentious national selection pick of the 2020 JESC season.
Sofia Feskova was born on September 9, 2009. Despite only being eleven, she has been on Russian television entering contests for at least four years. As with many of her competitors, Feskova has featured on The Voice Kids and several other children’s contests.
Feskova has also performed in scores of musicals, starred in Russian television commercials, and is also a child model.
Sofia Feskova will bring “My New Day” to JESC. The song is written by Russian singer-songwriter Anna Petryasheva.
The lyrics represent a popular theme at a childrens’ contest such as JESC – painting the world with bright colors.
Now with the introduction out of the way, what do we at ESC United think of this particular entry? Judging the JESC entries this year are ESC United Editor-in-Chief Sean Tarbuck, ESC United’s Instagram Account Manager Melanie Otto, writer and YouTuber Roy Postema, ESC United’s Twitter and Facebook Account Manager Connor Terry, and writers James Maude and Daniel Montoya.
Connor – 6 – “I won’t lie – I was extremely shocked to learn that this won the Russian national final because the original studio was so…lackluster. Since that day and when the music video was released they have really polished the song up in a way that elevated it, but there’s no hiding that it’s still another Russian “Love Love Peace Peace” song. Sofia gives a convincing performance and has a great voice and tone, but at the end of the day I’m left wanting a bit more.”
Daniel – 6.5 – “This song like none of the others reminded instantly and throughout the song of a Disney ballad. This is good in the context of JESC because of the high production and the ease to translate this ballad into a stage perfromance. I think this shares that wonderful over-the-top energy that served Kazakhstan 2019 so well. This might be polarizing for people who are like this is predictable and those who can be moved. It is Russia so I know this will be staged well so there is a lot of potential.”
James – 6.5 – “It’s fine, and they redid it since the national selection, cranking up the David Foster factor to 10. I was shocked to see “My New Day” win the national selection, to be honest. Not because Ms. Feskova is undeserving (she is clearly a talented performer), but because this song does seem out of touch for the sensibilities of JESC, or at least the kids the contest is targeting. Additionally, this song lacks a wow moment that Russia’s rivals Georgia and Kazakhstan have, so for Ms. Feskova’s case, I hope Russia at least puts in a strong staging effort (which they’ll have considering what early reveals from Kazakhstan are showing us) to make “My New Day” competitive.”
Melanie – 5 – “As I already have written in my reviews for the Russian National Final, this song really reminds me of the music that my mother always had on repeat on a Sunday. It’s a sweet song that could be the soundtrack of a fairytale, but it’s just sounds a little bit outdated for me. However, I thought the same about Kazakhstan last year and they won me over with the mesmerizing staging at the show itself. I can see the same happening with this song. So Russia, please make this a stand-out show! (Extra points if you bring Genych from the national final with you on stage.)
Roy – 5 – “Firstly, have you noticed that this song for has a very similar sound and structure as their winning song from 2017? Or am I the only one? Anyways, this just kind of feels like a less expensive and elaborate version of it. It stays more on the surface and although it is fine, I have a tough time fully remembering it within this year’s competition. Sofia is an amazing singer and I am sure she will do a fine job, but the Russian song just doesn’t fully grab my attention this year.”
Sean – 3 – “Typical Disney schmaltz from Russia. This ticks all of the soaring, gradual build up to a crescendo boxes from this type of song well, it’s a pretty orchestration, Sofia sings well and with conviction so can’t take that from her, but come on! Junior Eurovision has shown itself to be more than this type of song over the past few years – I need some interest!”
With 6.5 being the highest scores offered by any editor, it is no surprise Russia currently props up the table in our series. Praise is reserved for Sofia herself, but it’s the Disney-by-numbers composition that makes everyone here feel that Russia needs a change of direction if they’re to remain a top half competitor at this contest.
1.) KAZAKHSTAN – 51 points (Average = 8.5)
2.) GEORGIA – 50 points (Average = 8.33)
3.) BELARUS – 47.5 points (Average = 7.92)
4.) MALTA – 41.5 points (Average = 6.92)
5.) FRANCE – 40 points (Average = 6.67)
6.) POLAND – 39 points (Average = 6.5)
7.) THE NETHERLANDS – 38.5 points (Average = 6.42)
8.) GERMANY – 34 points (Average = 5.67)
9.) RUSSIA – 32 points (Average = 5.33)
Next up, we go the Balkan peninsula’s sole representative this year in Serbia.
What do #YOU think of “My New Day”? Do #YOU think this will charm both jurors and televoters, or do #YOU think Russia should have gone in a different direction? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.