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 8 days to go until Junior Eurovision 2023, and we are counting down the 16 nations who are participating in Nice, France on Sunday, November 26, 2023.
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 16th 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,” which remains, at 108 points, the lowest scored winner at Junior Eurovision, narrowly pipping Rachel’s “Teenager” for The Netherlands with 103 points.
You might recognize one of the Candy girls – Iru Khechanovi represented Georgia at the adult version of Eurovision with “Echo” in 2023, coming in 12th and narrowly failing to qualify for the Grand Final.
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.
Mariam Bigvava did one better, come in 3rd at JESC 2022 with “I Believe.”
Before Junior Eurovision 2023:
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…. Wait! Hang on! Is ESC United just copying and pasting the article from 2022?
Yes. Mariam Bigvava emerged victorious over Nikoloz Kharati, Vache Ghviniashvili and Oto Bazerashvili to take the title and represent Georgia at Junior Eurovision 2022.
However, Nikoloz and Oto would go on to join the sixth season of Ranina winner Anastasia Vasadze as the three kid group Anastasia & Ranina.
Vasadze emerged as the sixth season of Ranina’s front runner from the start, earning the maximum points of 120 in her duet with Oto Bazerashvili across the four judging categories of vocals, performance, artistry and collaboration (a potential maximum of ten in each category from each of the evening’s three judges) in the season opener.
This is the first time a group will represent Georgia in the Ranina era, even though other Ranina contestants have served as backing singers in the past.
Anastasia Vasadze can add Ranina to her already formidable list of titles, including victories at Wonderland in 2018 and The Golden Muse in 2021.
Nikoloz Kharati and Oto Bazerashvili are also themselves known competition winners in Georgia.
“Over the Sky” is a self-belief ballad encouraging children to take charge of their own destinies and fly (metaphorically).
This year’s entry also sees Georgia’s usual and three-time JESC winning songwriter Giorgi Kukhianidze taking a break from Junior Eurovision, though he did co-write “Echo” with Georgia’s Eurovision 2023 entrant Iru Khechanovi. They did not qualify for the Grand Final in Liverpool, United Kingdom, placing 12th in Semi-Final 2 with 33 points.
“Over The Sky” is written by Mebo Nutsubidze and Betkho. Betkho produced the track. Nutsubidze is a Georgian musician, though he also held a position as Third Secretary in Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and worked as a translator for the French embassy in Tbilisi, according to his LinkedIn page. He holds a Master’s degree in French from the University of Tbilisi, and also studied in Paris, France at Universite-Paris Sorbonne. Betkho is a Georgian composer and producer, having released several albums of ambient music.
With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Georgia’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2023.
Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Alexandros (Greece), Yehonatan Cohen (Israel), Boris Meersman (Belgium), James Maude (Los Angeles, California), and William Carter (Dallas, Texas).
Alexandros – 3 – “While the song, in my assessment, falls within the realm of adequacy, it didn’t resonate with me to the extent I had anticipated. It is noteworthy, however, that the vocal prowess exhibited by the two young performers is undeniably impressive. The potential for a dynamic and engaging stage performance could enhance the overall impact, offering an opportunity for the song to leave a lasting impression beyond its initial reception.”
Boris – 8.5 – “As sure as night follows the day, so will Georgia deliver a quirky weirdo for the Junior Contest. “Over the sky” is a typical Georgian indiosyncracy: clever uses of polyphony, language shifts and Anastasia’s boy companions, while maintaining her as the centrepiece of the performance. Georgia’s song strongly feels on-brand for JESC, and with their ironclad staging record, this might produce another good result in Nice.”
James – 9 – “I was initially sceptical of pairing this year’s Ranina winner with two lads who were runners up from last year, but Anastasia finds a way to shine and be bright. The voices of Nikoloz and Oto play off each other while Anastasia leads, cleverly and subtly bringing in a Georgian singing style into a kids song without hammering the audience over the head. It’s hard to tell how this will hold up with the kids, but the parents and uncles should be happy with this delightful number.”
William – 6.5 – “This has all the hallmarks of a Georgian Junior Eurovision entry – avantgarde visuals, big ideas, a semi-proficient grasp on the English language – but that’s just it. This is very typical, almost safe? Ranina’s more ethnic verses are a pleasant surprise, and Anastasia is clearly incredibly talented, I just can’t help but feel like Georgia could have crafted something a little more bespoke for these two.”
Yehonatan – 8 – “Georgia does what Georgia knows best, and that is whatever the hell they want in every good way. This song doesn’t fall into any predicted patterns at all. I find the song’s structure so refreshing, and I wish the juries and the public could appreciate it, although I’m somewhat doubtful.”
Total: 35.0 points (Average = 7.000)
We have 11 more entries to go, and France remains in 1st place with 8.5 points average.
Five countries in, here are our current rankings in editor scores:
1.) France – 42.5 points (Average = 8.500)
2.) Armenia – 38.0 points (Average = 7.600)
3.) GEORGIA – 35.0 (Average = 7.000)
4.) Albania – 33.5 points (Average = 6.700)
5.) Estonia – 32.5 points (Average = 6.500)
What do #YOU think of Georgia’s entry for Junior Eurovision? Do #YOU think anyone can equal Georgia’s three win record? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forum.