The below editorial features the opinions and views of the quoted reviewer and do not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision or the EBU.

This Saturday, September 24, 2022, The Netherlands will decide who will represent them at Junior Eurovision 2022. The contest’s only ever-presents gave a great account of themselves in 2019 and 2020, when Matheu Hinzen and Unity came in 4th in both years with “Dans met jou” and “Best Friends,” respectively.

But in 2021, the formula unexpectedly flopped, with Ayana’s “Mata Sugu Aō Ne” finishing in 19th and last place. This was the Netherlands’ only ever last place finish. Still, broadcaster AVROTROS is confident with their approach these past few years and is again persisting with Junior Songfestival, its national selection where solo and group acts are assembled from a batch of a dozen kids and paired with songs from the same writer pool of Jermain Van der Bogt, Willem Laseroms, Robert Dorn, Maxine Van Breukelen and Julian Vahle.

Again, the vote will be split into three: an adult jury, a kids’ jury, and the televote. Chantal Jenzen joins Flemming and Glen Faria in the adult jury, while Ayana, as well as SH!NE and Priscilla from Junior Songfestival 2021, form the kids’ jury.

And as ESC United did last year, we assembled some staff to offer our own opinions and recommendations for whom The Netherlands should send to Junior Eurovision 2022. This year’s ESC United panel is Oklahoma editor, interviewer and writer Connor Terry, ESC United’s Texas correspondent William Carter, our brand new correspondent from Ireland Laoi, ESC United’s Dutch correspondent and YouTube contributor Roy Postema, and Yorkshire’s own California based writer James Maude.

Now assembled, let’s see what this Voltron of barely professional Eurovision reviewers thinks of the Dutch entries.

High5 – “Because I Know”

Connor – 5 – “Oh boy, this one is a little disappointing compared to the other entries – there’s always one in the bunch that just doesn’t have the same qualities as the others. Don’t get me wrong, the boys try their best and definitely have the vocal talent to shine, but this song’s track is like dead on arrival energy wise, and just drags on and on. I’m happy they get their time to shine in the spotlight, but these songwriters did them dirty.”

James – 4 – “I am at risk of sounding like one of those boomer memes with the “when I was a kid we’d ride our bikes past midnight, rob the pizza store after playing “Galaga” on their arcade machine and set fire to a police station… UNLIKE THE BORING KIDS OF TODAY!” statement over a generic pic of a boy playing in a creek with a knife. But that’s how I feel watching this not particularly interesting group of lads wander a Dutch town. Not the kids’ fault, as this song is a by-the-book Dutch ESC group entry, and it lacks “the goof troupe” quality that real groups of pre-teen boys would have.”

Laoi – 5 – “High5’s Because I Know may unfortunately become a little lost in the crowd, as it is significantly more understated than the other songs in this selection. However, it is still a very pleasant listen, with a charming focus on childhood life. The song describes childhood friendships, from finishing a test after school to fighting over “the prettiest girl in class.” The song feels very sweet and authentic as a result; however its low-key nature may cause it to slip by some listeners.”

Roy – 2.5 – “Standard_backing_tune.exe…. Of course we couldn’t just have a perfectly executed selection. This song is so incredibly lazy written by the songwriters. This is exactly the type of song that frustrates me every year in the Dutch selection and that I want them to steer away from as far as possible. The lads seem to have an awesome time and they should be! It’s not their fault that the songwriters couldn’t care less about this song…”

William – 6 – “There’s a nice mix of vocal tone among these gents, and that definitely makes for a much richer sound. They’re not all the most … natural movers. (I got a kick out of the music video trying to cut around our less dynamic dancers.) I like the energy, but the song itself is a little unsatisfying. It’s not short, exactly, but it still feels truncated.”

Total – 22.5 points (Average = 4.5)

Infinity – “Never Ever”

Connor – 9 – “Usually, I’ve not been a massive fan of the all girl-group entries of Junior Songfestival because they are so hit or miss, but wow this has really come our strong. It’s the perfect blend of a driving beat, a positive message, and the girls are really able to carry the choreography. This entry’s make or break will be their live vocals and their stage presence on the night – if they can out perform the others this could be a strong contender for Yerevan.”

James – 7.5 – “My major concern with this is that Wales and Ireland tried this guitar driven pop recently and bombed. That being said, it’s light and fun and has a supportive message that rings true to pre-teen girls. They also harmonize well in the chorus, and assuming they don’t go weird with the staging again, this could return the Dutch to their usual spot hovering in the Top Third of the table.”

Laoi – 6.5 – “Infinity’s Never Ever might be relatively simple, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable track to listen to. The lyrics may resonate with both children and adults, as the song describes a feeling of isolation many of us can relate to. When “even the smallest things feel bigger than before,” we are assured “you can share everything, don’t be silent.” It may be too straightforward for some, but I felt that the relatable, encouraging message paired with nice harmonies and a catchy chorus lead to a very solid pop entry.”

Roy – 7.5 – “Infinity is a girlgroup that was very well assembled by the Dutch selection committee. The voices fit together tremendously well on the studio cut. Hopefully they will be able to sound equally tight and well mixed in the live performance. The Netherlands is good in sending fun songs like this and with a good staging, this would definitely be a great option to send!”

William – 6 – “Cute! As with HIGH5, there’s definitely an imbalance in dance ability between Infinity’s members, but all four of them have a lot of spunk. There is A LOT of production on this track, so I’m curious to hear how it sounds live. The song sounds a bit familiar, so the staging will be key.”

Total – 36.5 (Average = 7.3)

Luna – “La festa”

Connor – 7 – “I know that this is the fan favorite to win Junior Songfestival, and I know that Luna is going to destroy the stage with her musical theater background. And while I love most of the song, the chorus is in dire need of help. The song flips from this modern sound and blend of instruments to…….just a sad 1 2 3 4 beat for the chorus? It really doesn’t match the rest of the entry stylistically. It’s not high up in my list but I can still see it winning.”

James – 7.5 – “After some decent percussion on the pre-chorus, the chorus itself fizzes out a bit. And the key change sounds almost fartish with the brass instruments driving it. But I suppose this would be like a real Italian themed street party that for all its fun, where there’s always that one person who brings the terrible mushroom casserole using processed ingredients that they swear was a recipe handed down by Nonna and not a prison warden from Nizhny Novgorod. Anyway, I feel this one has the most potential to be a party anthem that the kids in Yerevan could latch onto if they tweak the chorus and key change a little bit.”

Laoi – 6 – “Of all of the songs in this selection, this is the one that has stayed in my head the longest. Luna’s La Festa feels like a madcap musical smoothie — blending all sorts of ingredients, from its frequent tempo changes to its sporadic use of Italian. The end result is a poppy, bright and cheerful creation. It will not be to everyone’s taste: its sudden diversions and unapologetic energy may alienate some. However, ultimately this is an entry bursting with creativity and fun, which should ignite a party on-stage — and it won’t leave my head!”

Roy – 7.5 – “This song is really awesomely structured and keeps the listener on it’s toes the entire duration of the song. It’s definitely the most unique and would make an awesome entry. I am a little hesitant with my score however. This is mostly because we have seen in the past that a solo singer makes a song like this sound a bit too empty. Luna’s voice is cool, but it has a tone that I could see the same thing happening. I hope she completely proves me wrong though, this would be a really cool entry!”

William – 8 – “OK … This girl has it. Her vocal chops, natural charisma, and all-around performance ability remind me of the kids France has been sending over the last few years, and that’s a huge compliment. Love the Spanish sound. Key change is a bit strange. Based off of the selection, I would guess the broadcaster wants to send a group this year? But, if you ask me, this is the clear choice.”

Total – 36 points (Average = 7.2)

Mixed Up – “It Doesn’t Matter”

Connor – 8 – “Now while I haven’t always loved the all-female groups, I always end up loving the mixed group entry, and this year is another strong entry as well. I’m not sure why Netherlands is always able such a killer dance bop for mixed voices every year. However, they always struggle live so I am hesitant to get my hopes up. That said, this has made it’s way into my playlist alongside a number of the other dance tracks from the last 5 Dutch national finals.”

James – 3 – “”No it doesn’t matter, just be like whatever” has got to be the least inspiring chorus I have heard in some time at JESC. I get what they’re aiming for, but for JESC you want to be more inspirational and positive. Maybe they should have checked out Wyclef Jean and The Rock’s “It doesn’t matter” to show how you use that phrase to punctuate your message. “So no-one’s noticing you at school?” “With friends like us, IT DOESN”T MATTER!” packs a more emotive punch than the “whatevs” here. And the message gets lost being bootstrapped to another “I’ve been saving this in my JESC suitcase since 2016″ track. This songs lacks the inspiration it is trying to sell.”

Laoi – 7 – “On the surface, Mixed Up’s It Doesn’t Matter appears to carry a relatively flippant message. The song’s refrain of “it doesn’t matter, just be like ‘whatever'” sounds very trivial — however, the song does carry a substantial message. “Love sees no he or she,” the song tells us, and all are welcome. Like Infinity’s Never Ever, the song also emphasises the importance of expressing oneself: “Just use your voice because you can.” Sonically, It Doesn’t Matter was my favourite of the selection. The punchy and danceable instrumental dips and dives with great momentum, promising to create a highly enjoyable party atmosphere; one to which all are invited.”

Roy – 8.5 – “Now this is something that I have been pleading for with the Dutch selection for a while. Sure the beat is predictable, but it sounds like they put in an effort to make a well rounded and finished piece. The members of Mixed Up have a really cool chemistry with their vocal tones. One of the girls has a little bit of an accent that adds a lot of intrigue for me. This is definitely the song to beat in my eyes and would love it to be the Dutch representative.”

William – 7 – “If The Netherlands sends a group to Junior Eurovision this year, Mixed Up is the one I would choose. The song is CATCHY, and it gives the singers moments to show off their vocal chops. Real talk: I’ve been a teenage boy, so I get it, but the girls seem to be a lot more comfortable with the choreography. That can be fixed with enough rehearsal, I’m sure, and I will definitely be singing this song in my head all day tomorrow.”

Total: 33.5 points (Average = 6.7)

Right, so who does ESC United think AVROTROS should pick to represent The Netherlands at Junior Eurovision 2022? Here is the final tally of points for all four entries:

  1. Infinity – “Never Ever” – 36.5 points (Average = 7.3)
  2. Luna – “La Festa” – 36 points (Average = 7.2)
  3. Mixed Up – “It Doesn’t Matter” – 33.5 points (Average = 6.7)
  4. High5 – “Because I Know” – 22.5 points (Average = 4.5)

So in our view, Infinity’s “Never Ever” should eke out a win over Luna’s “Festa.” However, third place Mixed Up’s “It Doesn’t Matter” also earned praise, though we all agree the Netherlands should feint if our last placed group tries a High5.

Anyway, tune in at around 17:00 local time to watch Junior Songfestival 2022 on AVROTROS and see who ultimately prevails.

Do #YOU agree with our editors’ recommendation of song or singer? Share your thoughts below, in our forum, or in the comments below.

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