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 4 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 The Netherlands, Junior Eurovision’s only ever-present nation.

The Netherlands’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Despite being in every edition, The Netherlands only won once in 2009 and came in 2nd with Rachel’s “Teenager” in 2011. Otherwise, it’s mostly been middling form. Though with three fourth place finishes in the last five years, you get the feeling AVROTROS is on the verge of achieving the winning formula for the junior version as they got for the adult version recently, one slight drawback aside.

Their one win in 2009 was quality, though. Ralf Mackenbach somehow made a Dutch boy ensemble look fun and authentic despite this formula flopping at the contest several times. “Click Clack” was catchy and fun and appealed to both sides of the kids / adults divide. Mackenbach had stage presence and confidence despite being lumbered with a bad Justin Beiber haircut.

Another Dutch entry of note is Lisa, Amy and Shelley from 2007. Their 2007 effort “Adem In, Adem Uit” came in 11th, but they came back to represent The Netherlands in the adult version in 2017 as O’G3NE with “Light and Shadows.” Coincidentally, they also came in 11th in the Grand Final.

Femke Meinke came in 7th in 2012 with “Tik Tak Tik,” but later achieved more fame becoming the lead actress in the Dutch Disney Channel’s Just Like Me!

Stefania Liberakakis from Kisses, The Netherlands’s 2016 entry, is now a big deal in Greece. She earned rave reviews for her appearance at the Mad VMA Awards by Coca-Cola last year by performing Daddy Yankee’s take on Snow’s “Informer.” And the Alexis Bledel look-a-like of course was selected to represent Greece at Eurovision 2020 and 2021 with “SUPERG!RL” and “Last Dance,” respectively.

Boy band FOURCE surprised many by coming in 4th at Junior Eurovision 2017, as did Matheu Hinzen’s 4th place finish with “Dans met jou” in 2019 and Unity with “Best Friends” in 2020.

However, 2021 was an unfortunate milestone year for The Netherlands – for the first time ever, they ended up in 19th and last place with Ayana’s “Mata Sugu Aō Ne.”

Before Junior Eurovision 2022:

Despite their unprecedented setback in 2021, The Netherlands’s broadcaster AVROTROS again utilized the Junior Songfestival format to select their entrant for Junior Eurovision 2022.

You know the drill by now – the Dutch picks a batch of kids, have them audition, and then either group them together or have them perform solo to compete in a national final. It’s a collaborative singer – songwriter camp formula that has mostly worked for the Dutch before, and 2021 be damned, no need to ditch the formula for 2022.

Three groups and a solo artist were formed for Junior Songfestival, and it was soloist Luna who prevailed in the Grand Final, held on September 24, 2022.

As usual, the winner was determined by an online vote, a professional jury (Chantal Janzen, Flemming, and Glen Faria), and a kids jury (Junior Songfestival 2021 winner Ayana and finalists Shine and Priscilla).

Luna swept all three, coming in first with both juries and online votes. MixedUp’s “It Doesn’t Matter” came in second, High5’s “Because I Know” came in third, and Infinity’s “Never Ever” came in 4th.

The Artist:

Wondering why there’s Italian in a Dutch entry? Luna Sebella, whose parents are of Italian extraction, lives in the Southern Netherlands with her parents and older brother.

As with many of her international rivals, Luna is a graduate of her country’s version of The Voice Kids.

The Song:

“La Festa” was written by Dutch Junior Eurovision stalwart Robert Dorn.

He also wrote Unity’s “Best Friends” (Junior Eurovision 2020), and co-wrote Julia’s “Around” (Junior Eurovision 2014), as well as numerous Junior Songfestival entries over the years.

 

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of The Netherlands’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 – 8 – “Very fun song – the unusual progression of the song with its changing tempo will be cool to see presented on the live stage.”

Boris – 7.5 – “Unlike some other countries, the Dutch really nailed their homework. Fun, joyful, kid-friendly, catchy; these are all traits “La Festa” displays in abundance and all of these are important qualities in a JESC song. It also should be noted that Luna is GOOD live – a consistent vocal and a spunky performance should give the Dutch a respectable result in Yerevan. “La Festa” however does suffer from a rather underwhelming drop and bass, meaning it lacks the chutzpah to truly pose a threat.”

Gianluca – 9 – “This was a refreshing song to hear, among several songs with more serious themes and lyrics. The Netherlands keeps things light and fun, with great energy and choreography. It’s one of my favorites this year.”

James – 9 – “As a reviewer, the Dutch give us an advantage in that their song is road-tested both with studio and live versions month in advance, and they usually hire solid professionals like Luna who can onboard criticism and pivot months in advance of the JESC final. Such is the case here with the typical Dutch entry – a pan-European moppet encouraging every kid to hang out and party in a major key and mid tempo. In other words, the Dutch again provide the soundtrack to a birthday party that any kid under 12 would love to attend.”

Roy – 8 – “In our initial reviews of the Dutch songs, my biggest concern with this song was whether she could carry the song and energy live. Well the has more than delivered on that front and absolutely amazed me how amazing she was! This is pure fun, well produced, very Dutch with the hoompa breakdown. Definitely a big contender for a high place or a win!”

William – 9 – “Luna has more ease and charisma on stage than a sizable chunk of artists we’ve had at the adult contest over the past few years. She’s singing, she’s dancing, she’s smiling, she’s serving. JESC has gradually been becoming more and more mature in terms of songs. Some from this crop could easily slot right into the adult contest. But this is what I personally love to see at Junior Eurovision. ‘La Festa’ is fun! It’s positive. It’s … childish, but I mean that in the best sense of the word.”

Zephaniah – 7.5 – “What in the Icebreaker am I hearing? Okay but the tempo change is better. However, I feel like it didn’t fit the intro and the rest of the song. It’s still good though and I enjoyed it. I am running out of words for the upbeat songs at this point.”

Total: 58 points (Average = 8.286)

After last year’s blip, are the Dutch back? The ESC United panel certainly thinks so, as the Netherlands are our new leader with an excellent average score of 8.286.

1.) THE NETHERLANDS – 58 POINTS (Average = 8.286)

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

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

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

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

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

7.) Kazakhstan – 45 points (Average = 6.429)

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

9.) Malta – 38.5 points (Average = 5.5)

What do #YOU think of The Netherlands’s entry? Do #YOU think the Dutch can avenge their last place finish from 2021? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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