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 5 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 Kazakhstan, a country that has a lot to prove at Junior Eurovision, and whose performances since their 2018 debut are so good they’re banging on the door for a debut at the main event.

Kazakhstan’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Kazakhstan debuted at Junior Eurovision in 2018, with Daneliya Tuleshova’s “Ozine Sen.” She came in 6th place with a critically acclaimed entry, and such was her success she went on to the United States to perform on The World’s Best, representing Kazakhstan with “seven octave wonder” Dimash Kudaibergen. Additionally, she appeared on The Voice Kids Ukraine, and also returned to the United States and came in 6th on America’s Got Talent.

In keeping with a JESC theme, Kazakhstan’s 2019 representative Yerzhan Maxim won The Voice Kids Russia. Maxim also improved on Tuleshova’s performance, winning the jury vote at JESC 2019 and coming in 2nd to Viki Gabor.

The exact same result occurred at Junior Eurovision 2020, with Karakat Bashanova’s poignant tribute to her father, “Forever,” won the jury but overall lost out to France and Valentina’s “J’Imagine.” Kazakhstan brought out everything and the kitchen sink with the staging, and it will only be a matter of time before the same connection is made with the online voters as it is with the jurors.

2021 brought minor controversy to Kazakhstan, particularly with the last minute combination of the national selection winner and runner-up, but that was ultimately overcome (along with the pre-show cynicism) and Alinur Khamzin and Beknur Zhanibekuly ended up in 8th place with a cute and charming duet called “Fairy World.”

Before Junior Eurovision 2022:

Khabar TV again hosted a national selection, with 21 aspiring artists competing at Baqytty Bala 2022 in Aktobe, on August 13, 2022.

It was a bit of a hodge podge contest, with not all 21 being eligible to represent Kazakhstan at Junior Eurovision due to age (Melani Garcia, who represented Spain at Junior Eurovision 2019, was 15 at the time of the contest) or location (seven countries worth of singers in addition to Kazakhstan).

The jury was comprised of show director Askhat Mayemirov, teacher Marat Aitimov, Qanat Aitbayev (father of Dimash Kudaibergen, founder of Baqytty Bala), singer Rukhiya Baydukenova, and pianist Yernar Nurtazin (pianist).

David Charlin was selected by the jury to represent Kazakhstan.

The Artist:

12-year-old David Charlin lives with his parents in Almaty, Kazakhstan. On top of singing and performing, he also enjoys travelling and if you see drones flying above the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex in Yerevan this weekend, one of them may well be David’s.

The Song:

Unlike last year, the song was selected separately from the artist by an internal panel at Khabar TV.

“Jer-Ana (Mother Earth)” was selected as the song for David, and is written by Khamit Shangaliyev, Serzhan Bakhitzhan, and Jordan Arakelyan.

Shangaliyev also co-wrote Kazakhstan’s 2019 entry “”Armanyńnan qalma” and 2020 entry “Forever.”

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Kazakhstan’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 – 7 – “A dramatic ballad that’s vocally impressive. I could almost see this song competing at the grown-up ESC.”

Boris – 3 – “First impression: “Well this will win jury easily, and then its televote will receive fewer votes numerically than Nadir Rustamli’s” Second listen and, I feel precisely same? Kazakhstan’s persistent attempts to ingratiate themselves with professional juries are as shameless as they are shameful, and we have to accept this is the only game they know to play. “Jer-Ana” is carried like a Fed-Ex parcel by David’s power vocal because its instrumentation is like an even more sterile “Beautiful Mess”. What exactly makes this a JESC entry? I have no answer beyond a sigh. Thank the heavens we’re spared from this “Azerbaijan in the early nillies” levels of smarm in Eurovision Proper.”

Gianluca – 6 – “Ballads about the planet are hit-or-miss for me. I didn’t love this song at first, but after a third listen, something clicked with me. Among this year’s entry, it falls into the middle for me, but it has a great message, and I love hearing the Kazakh language on a Eurovision stage.”

James – 6 – “Perhaps I have been listening to Deftones too much and Stephen Carpenter is correct and the world is flat. Or at least “Jer-Ana” is. Moments fizzle out when they should be ramped up, such as that moment in the bridge where the drums come in, and when you expect them to transition to the chorus again they’re removed and David is left hanging. Kazakhstan clearly have the budget for a grand ballad and a singer capable of a jury checkbox performance, but “Jer-Ana” gets going.”

Roy – 7 – “I really dislike it when ballads go from very impactful completely back to ground zero with a stupid nullifying trap-beat. The high-hats suck at all the emotion from the song for me. Big shoutout to the cool little quirky instruments and details that they sprinkled into this song! There is a lot of staging potential with this song and the final chorus can really bring us a big moment to be awestruck by. There is definitely a potential to do well with this one, but as a studio version on it’s own, I would have definitely made some improvements.”

William – 8 – “Where does Kazakhstan find all of these small children with HUGE voices? Are they using that oil money to grow prodigies in a lab? We already know the staging is going to be all out; if David can deliver this live, I mean …. check mate. I’m sold.”

Zephaniah – 8 – “Name a better trio than Kazakhstan, a powerful ballad, and an artist with incredible vocals. You simply can’t. They are continuing their streak with this song. The composition is so solid. It’s just a matter of “can David bring justice to this song vocally on the live performance?””

Total: 45 points (Average = 6.429)

Kazakhstan comes in with 45 points, leaving Ireland in a slim lead with our ESC United team. With 9 countries to go, we shall see if this holds. Additionally, this is only the second under 7 average so far. Is this an indicator that we are in a year with above average entries?

1.) Ireland – 56 points (Average = 8.0)

2.) Italy – 55.5 points (Average = 7.926)

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

4.) Georgia – 52.5 points (Average = 7.5)

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

6.) KAZAKHSTAN – 45 points (Average = 6.429)

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

What do #YOU think of Kazakhstan’s entry? Do #YOU think Kazakhstan can continue their run in the top half? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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