National Finals and Internal Selections: How Junior Eurovision winners were selected
While Junior Eurovision entries can now be selected in a variety of ways, in the early years of the contest it was a requirement that each country’s entry be selected through a televised national final. Now, the option is available for broadcasters to internally select artists and/or songs, or through a national final.
In September, we looked at how the 67 winners of the Eurovision Song Contest were chosen by their broadcasters. Now, we’re going to look at how the 17 winners of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest were chosen.
From the seven winners of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest between 2003 and 2009, all seven of the entries (100%) won televised national finals in their respective countries before winning the biggest international children’s singing competition in the world.
Of course, during these early years, almost every Junior Eurovision entry was chosen through a national final, as it was a requirement of the rules that a televised national final be held unless permission was sought from the EBU.
The winner of the debut Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Dino Jelusić, first won 'Dječja Pjesma Eurovizije 2003' before singing ‘Ti si moja prva ljubav’ in Copenhagen. María Isabel won Spanish national final 'Eurojunior' with 'Antes muerta que sencilla'.
Both of Belarus’s wins in the decade were decided through national finals called 'Junior Eurosong', that provided winners in Ksenia Sitnik in 2005 and Alexey Zhigalkovich in 2007.
Russia saw its first win at the competition with the Tolmachevy Sisters, who initially won the Russian edition of 'Junior EuroSong' in 2006 with 'Vesenniy jazz'. The group Bzibeki won 'Georgia Junior Eurovision 2008' with the song 'Bzz' sung in an imaginary language of buzzing bees. And Ralf Mackenbach won Dutch national final 'Junior Songfestival' in 2009.
In the 2010s, the situation changed, and some broadcasters began internally selecting their artists. This didn’t change for the first few winners of the decade, though, as the winners from 2010 to 2012 were all selected by national final. Out of the ten winners of the 2010’s, six (60%) were selected by national final, whilst four were internally selected.
Maltese broadcaster PBS internally selected Gaia Cauchi with ‘The Start’ in 2013, who eventually went on to win, and the next year, Italian broadcaster RAI internally selected Vincenzo Cantiello with ‘Tu primo grande amore’.
Two years later, Georgian broadcaster GPB internally selected Mariam Mamadashvili and her song ‘Mzeo’. Another two years after that, in 2018, Polish broadcaster TVP internally selected Roksana Węgiel and her entry ‘Anyone I Want to Be’.
Vladimir Arzumanyan won Armenian national final 'Junior Eurosong 2010' with his song ‘Mama’, while music group CANDY competed in 'Georgia Junior Eurovision 2011' with ‘Candy Music’. This was followed up the next year with the Ukrainian national final won by Anastasiya Petryk and ‘Nebo’.
After Malta’s first win in 2013, they followed up with a second win two years ago. Destiny Chukunyere won 'Malta Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015' with ‘Not My Soul’.
Polina Bogusevich from Russia first had to win 'Akademiya Eurovision 2017' before competing at the competition with ‘Wings’.
And Junior Eurovision’s most recent winner, Viki Gabor, won Polish national final 'Szansa na sukces 2019' before winning the international competition with ‘Superhero’.
Out of 17 winners, 13 (76.5%) were selected by national finals, compared to 4 (23.5%) who were internally selected.
While it appears national finals are slowly falling out of favour for internally selected options, it’s probably too early in the history of the competition to tell whether this trend will continue into the future.
So, who will win this coming Sunday night / Monday morning? Will the 2020s start off with a winner from a national final, or someone internally selected? We'll find out soon...