The future of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest… seen from Denmark

Charlotte fully backs her country Denmark’s decision not to participate at the contest, but she is open towards changes being made which can bring the contest to a level where its existence can be justified. She is giving ideas as to what these might be.  

Editoral: On the 30th of November 2013 the last edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest was held. Two writers from EuroVisionary watched the contest in order to see how it could be improved. The two writers have been selected based on that they came with each their attitude towards the contest. They were asked the same two questions about why their country isn’t taking part and what the future of the contest looks like, and both give ideas as to how the Junior Eurovision Song Contest might be able to survive.  

Why isn’t my country participating at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest?

Yeah, why is Denmark not taking part at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest? I’ve been asked that question many times and I have also asked myself the same question. Since the junior contest is a Danish "invention" it would only be natural if Denmark took part itself. So why aren’t they?

In Denmark we have had the junior contest since the ’80’s. Different formats have been tried, but up until today the show remains very popular and the official CD among the bestselling albums of the year. The Danish junior show is extremely popular and back in the years where Denmark did take part internationally, that show was equally as popular. It has been mentioned that 80% of the sale of the official Junior Eurovision Song Contest CD took place in Denmark. Whether that is true or not, it is no coincidence that EBU dropped the official CD as Denmark pulled out.

When the Danish broadcaster DR decided to pull out of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest it happened as the contest was going in a direction DR no longer agreed with. Back then we saw several Eastern European countries participating with 10 year old girls dressed as a sexual object. That was directly mentioned as one of the things DR disagreed with. I can only say that I agree with DR’s decision and though EBU to some extend has stopped this, the contest is still not at a point where it is likely for Denmark to return.

A few weeks ago the 2013 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest was held. I was watching it. Not because I actually had an interest in doing so, but because I wanted to see how close the contest was to be something Denmark would be able to take part in. I could conclude that there still appears to be a long way. One of the main things will probably be the songs itself; too many of them are too adult in style and content. I loved the Dutch entry as it was a children’s song performed by two children who looked like children, but many of the songs were of a complexity where I don’t think the children had much to do with them. According to EBU’s rules, they don’t have to either. Previously the rules clearly stated that the children had to write the songs themselves. Now the rules are so wide that if the children just place a little dot in the lyrics, they are accepted. That is not how things should be.

The entertainment in the show is another thing, which once again points in a wrong direction. It is not entertainment for children, but instead children performing something planned by the adult. Last year we saw the previous year’s junior winner performing an adult song. All signs of this being a sweet little innocent girl who sings songs children can relate to, was gone. It got worse when the host Zlata Ognevich almost turned the show into porn near the end. It is sometimes stretched just how much of a family show the Eurovision Song Contest is, but such things do not belong in a Junior Eurovision Song Contest where most of the viewers will be children below the age of 15. If you want Denmark back at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest you need to make it more a children’s show with everything that entails.

What does the future of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest look like?

Unfortunately I am not too optimistic when it comes to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. While I am not a fan of the show myself, I do consider this a shame. I would like it to be able to continue as a successful show, which many countries would want to be a part of. If that is to happen things need to change. At the moment I have the impression that it is mainly an Eastern European event, plus the Netherlands, who are in it as they are hosting it every second year and plus Belgium as well, who follow what the Dutch do. From time to time a few more countries from the west take part, but it is not with the same dedication to the show. Where is Germany? Where is Norway? Where is the UK? And of course, yes, where is Denmark? Many western countries are hiding when it comes to the junior show, they pretend it doesn’t exist and that is the first thing that has to change if the contest is to have any chance of surviving. 

I have already written how it has to be more of a children show if Denmark is to return. As a Dane it is quite natural that I look at how things are done here where the Danish junior show is popular and something of a highlight for the children. A big difference between the Danish M:G:P show and the Junior Eurovision Song is that JESC is held roughly six months after the Eurovision Song Contest. DR have connected their national final for Eurovision and their junior show a lot better as the children show now always is one week later than their national selection and always on the same stage. In other words, the host city is hosting two shows with one week in between. As soon as they finished the first one, rehearsals for the second one can begin.

I like this, but I also acknowledge that it isn’t possible for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest unless all Eurovision participating countries are willing to take part in the junior edition. You don’t have to have all the countries taking part in both shows. It is easy enough to say that they should just be willing, as if they win Eurovision Song Contest, they are as host country required also to take part in next year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest. That way you may also attract some other countries. With Denmark as the winner of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest they will be hosting the 2014 edition. If that included the Junior contest as well it could be that Denmark got so interested that they would also take part in 2015, and if Denmark is hosting and taking part maybe countries like Norway and Iceland could be persuaded into joining as well, just for one year to try it out. It of course requires that you can book the arena for a week longer, but I am sure that would be possible. By going for this format you get current non-participating countries to try out the junior contest, which may attract others. You will naturally get more publicity as well as there will be some media whch decide to stay for one more week to cover both shows instead of just the Eurovision Song Contest and you should be guaranteed more TV viewers as well by connecting the two shows better. Just imagine the Eurovision Song Contest ending. The hosts saying "See you in a week for the junior Eurovision Song Contest (No matter if it is the same hosts or not) where this winner of tonight will open the show". I can see that idea working and I will encourage EBU to adopt it right away, before the Junior Eurovision Song Contest has completely died.

As a contrast to Charlotte’s thoughts we also recommend you to read the blog from Virginia. She loves the contest, but acknowledges that things have to change if it is to survive. You can read those thoughts in her blog:

Read Virginia’s blog 

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