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 6 days to go until Junior Eurovision 2022, and we are counting down the 16 nations who are participating in Yerevan, Armenia on Sunday, December 11, 2022.

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.

Next up, we look at Georgia, a country with a tradition of winning with excellent yet quirky entries at Junior Eurovision in contrast to its adults not qualifying with excellent yet quirky entries at Eurovision.

Georgia’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Georgia will appear for a 15th consecutive time since their debut in 2007. With three victories, Georgia has the most wins at Junior Eurovision. Their first victory was the group Bzikebi with “Bzz…”

 

Believe it or not, this exercise in barely restrained chaos crushed Junior Eurovision 2008, earning 8 of the 14 first place 12 points on offer. Words fail you when you try explain this one to non-Junior Eurovision fans, so I’ll just babble on in the imaginary language used here. By the way, this description is not meant as an insult. This entry is what you want in an excellent song and dance number that is not patronizing to kids but will also impress the adults. It is so bonkers, it takes you several views to unpack everything that makes this song work. And a testament to Giorgi and the two Mariams here – one slight misstep and this would have fallen down like a house of cards.

Georgia’s next win came in 2011 with Candy and “Candy Music.” One of the kids auditioned for Georgian Idol three years ago, and she did not make the final ten. “Candy Music” remains, at 108 points, the lowest scored winner at Junior Eurovision, narrowly pipping Rachel’s “Teenager” for The Netherlands with 103 points.

Mariam Mamadashvili delivered Georgia’s third win in 2016 with “Mzeo” (Sun). This old-fashioned strings-dominated power ballad delivered a convincing win, mostly on Mamadashvili’s stunning vocal performance. Both kids and adult juries were blown away, with Georgia finding success with pairing retro sounds requiring a vocalist capable of feats of magic to pull them off. It doesn’t always work for Georgia (see the senior version), but when it works they blow the doors clean off the house.

Georgia also have two second place finishes in 2012 and 2017. Unfortunately, Giorgi Rostiashvili came in 14th in 2019 with the David Evgenidze penned “We Need Love,” Georgia’s lowest ever finish at JESC. Georgia improved in 2020 with Sandra Gadelia’s “You Are Not Alone” coming in 6th, but viewers of the contest were saddened to see her by herself in the green room as it turned out one of her entourage had tested positive for COVID. A moment that is supposed to be an early triumph and happiness for a kid, and she is forced to view the scores rolling in on her song “You Are Not Alone” while being alone. A heartbreaking moment.

Niko Kajaia’s “Let’s Count the Smiles” at Junior Eurovision 2021 was a return to form of sorts, with the song being another quirky Georgian entry that tried, and largely succeeded, in packaging the fun and chaos of childhood play into a three minute package. Niko came in 4th, and also entertained the Junior Eurovision viewers by running around and climbing on anything he could during the live final.

Before Junior Eurovision 2022:

For the fifth year running, it was trial by Ranina for ten aspiring young Georgian performers. The wildly popular selection features ten kids doing four “tours” of some combination of duets with famous Georgian singers, covers of Disney or children’s classics, and leading ensembles such as Shavnabada and The Quintessence.

The final was held on June 18, 2022, with four finalists competing before a jury of Beka Gochiashvili, David Evgenidze and Nato Metonidze.

Mariam Bigvava emerged victorious over Nikoloz Kharati, Vache Ghviniashvili and Oto Bazerashvili to take the title.

The Artist:

12-year-old Mariam Bigvava is from Tbilisi, and has been studying Georgian folk vocals and instrumentation since the age of 7.

However, like most of her Georgian counterparts, she has her eye on modernity as well and is a huge fan of Billie Eilish.

The Song:

If you have the best record at a contest, makes sense you bring back the person responsible for that. So for the 13th time, Georgia brings back Giorgi Kukhianidze to compose “I Believe.”

Lyrics are by Iru Khechanovi and was co-composed by Beni Kdagidze.

 

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Georgia’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2022.

Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Alice Christine (Washington, D.C.), Boris Meersman (Belgium), Gianluca D’Elia (New York City, New York), James Maude (Los Angeles, California), Roy Postema (The Netherlands), William Carter (Dallas, Texas), and Zephaniah Gabriel (The Philippines).

The Verdict:

Alice – 9 – “The melody and beat are a little bit darker than the typical children’s song, but it’s undeniably cool, and its message is simple yet poignant – “Just a simple peace, I wish it for the world.””

Boris – 5.5 – “Another addition to Georgia’s already vast repertoire of Quicky Jesc Entries, and it fits the spirit of the contest. So far the good points. Musically, I’m not that impressed. “I believe” – which is a very generic title – lacks discernible moments to a point that it’s challenging to come up with adjectives to describe it. It has no ups and downs, it merely is. Its curve is a flat line and its ending a sudden break that leaves no impact. Furthermore, the studio also dabbles *very* heavily into autotune, which is perhaps my biggest pet peeve. I dunno. The video shows some artistic flair, but the same creativity is absent from the music itself. What a pity.”

Gianluca – 7 – “Georgia always delivers at JESC and this was no exception! I found Georgia’s song to be one of the better ballads among this year’s entries. It is not the best lyrically, but Mariam performs it well and makes it so engaging.”

James – 6.5 – “As a Georgian entry, “I Believe” falls a little flat. I get they can’t be doing whimsy and painting the world in bright colors every year, and sometimes they want a slower appeal to peace and be serious. If they wanted a contemplative number, they should have leaned into Mariam’s Georgian folk education.”

Roy – 6.5 – “This is definitely a unique composition, but I feel like this could have been a lot better. Mariam has quite a heavy accent when singing in English, not something she can help and my accent when I was that young was waay worse. I just think that it would have been such a better decision to keep it fully in Georgian. Mariam has a great voice, but I don’t think that the instrumentation fully highlights that. This kind of song does lend itself well to a semi-artsy staging and performance and with the full package, this could still surprise me. As of now though, I am a bit underwhelmed and am left wanting for more.”

William – 9.5 – “Truly, where would we be without Georgia in the mix every year? At both JESC and the adult contest, they are constantly sending entries that are imaginative, creative, and bold. Bless them. The day Georgia withdraws entirely is the day I bail. SO ready to hear Mariam belt out this song’s final notes. In my perfect world, she’ll be performing it as the credits roll and confetti falls from the ceiling.”

Zephaniah – 8.5 – “Oh an avant-garde track. It sounds good, which is expected from Georgia. My biggest worry is that the instrumental drowns the vocals and I hope in the live performance, the vocals will shine because the vocals in this song are amazing and incredible. I think this is a song that needs to grow to people before people realize that it’s a good song but hopefully, I’m wrong.”

Total: 52.5 points (Average = 7.5)

Georgia comes in with a respectable total of 52.5 points, but it is not enough to knock Armenia from the top of the perch on our rankings. But it is enough to just pip France to second place.

1.) Armenia – 54.5 points (Average = 7.786)

2.) GEORGIA – 52.5 points (Average = 7.5)

3.) France – 52 points (Average = 7.428)

4.) Albania – 42.5 points (Average = 6.071)

What do #YOU think of Georgia’s entry? Do #YOU think they could extend their record to four crowns? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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