Junior Eurovision 2023 Song Review

So, with just under three weeks to go until the 2023 Junior Eurovision Song Contest  takes place in Nice, I thought I’d bring to you a short review of all sixteen of this year’s competing songs. All opinions are my own, and judging by previous contests, my current list of favourites and least favourite songs will likely change before now and November 26th anyway!

Viola Gjyzeli – Bota ime

The beginning of this made me think the CD had skipped, but thankfully it was just a glitchy effect at the start. I bet the sound engineers’ heart will skip a beat on their first play of it in Nice! The song has nice production with lots of plinky, clicks, rattles and bassy bits throughout – giving it almost a clockwork, wind-up, mechanical sound to it. It gives me vibes of Mariam Mamadashvili’s ‘Mzeo’ song for Georgia from JESC 2016, and could easily be something you could hear in a modern-day musical. Very grown-up, and something that we’d hear at Festivali i Këngës. If Viola’s live vocals are as good as the ones in the music video, I think this could easily do well for Albania.

Yan Girls – Do It My Way

Plenty of ‘Girl Power’ and attitude in this one! It’s almost as if the unborn children of the members of Little Mix and The Pussycat Dolls have released a song together. Very modern, and could easily be slipped into the playlist of a contemporary commercial radio station. Really nice production and plenty of builds, with a nice little breakdown/dance section. It reminds me a little of Czechia 2023 in Liverpool, with each girl doing their own thing. I also hope we get to see the clever cartoon/morphing effect that’s in the video on stage in Nice. It’s a full-on two minutes-twenty of pure energy to your face. Impressive.

ARHANNA – Hoiame Kokku

A very ‘Adele’ style piano introduction, and sweet vocals from Arhanna from the offset. Even without understanding the Estonian language, it’s easy to hear the heartfelt emotion in the song. The song has a meaty, punchy beat part-way through, and the long powerful notes towards the end of the song will sound great on stage if performed well. Complete with effective staging, this could do pretty well! It’s quite simple, but that helps the vocals punch through the music much more effectively than some of the other songs in the competition.

Zoé Clauzure – Cœur

France are doing very well for themselves at Junior Eurovision in recent years, and it’s fantastic to see that after last year’s win they haven’t backed off the quality tunes. This is a great song and reminds me a mix of La Zarra’s Eurovision song and Dua Lipa’s work. The ‘aye-e-aye-e-aye-e’ hook is very catchy and memorable. If you like pop, you’ll love this. There’s loads going on with the vocals at the end of the song, so hopefully won’t prove too tricky for Zoé to perform live on stage in Nice. This has been one of my favourites even after only first hearing the 30 second preview on first listen.

Anastasia & Ranina – Over The Sky

Plenty of positivity in the lyrics to this one. Lines like ‘you’re the hero’, ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘find a way to shine and be bright’ in the English lyrics really stand out. It could almost be a motivational theme to the Olympics or something! The mix of vocals from the female and male vocals are nice, and only have the Netherlands to compete with in terms of being a non-100% female act this year. There’s some nice instrumentation with a few ethnic sounds thrown in for good measure too. I like their costumes and haircuts too – very 70’s sci-fi. Hopefully we get to see them being worn on stage in November.

FIA – Ohne Worte

Another song in this year’s contest that starts off with lovely piano chords. I really like the almost drum ‘n’ bass beat in the majority of the song. Sped up a little, I think it could sound like something like a Chase & Status, Rudimental or Plan B release. I’d really like to hear a club version of the song. A floorfiller for sure! If we get to see the sign language elements from the music video used on stage, along with the girls performing together, we could have some heartstrings being pulled. It’s a very sweet and pleasant song. German doesn’t always sound the most pleasing language when sung, but this somehow warms my heart.

Jessica McKean – Aisling

After Loreen’s win for Sweden in Liverpool, Ireland must be eager to get another win back under their belt. Could this song be it? It’s certainly what we’ve come to expect from Ireland in Junior. Beautiful, haunting Gaelic vocals from a young lady in a princess-like dress. Again, to me, this has broadway musical vibes – and it’s something you’d potentially hear in Frozen 3 or another big Disney production. If Jessica nails those vocals in the live show, the roof will be lifted right off the roof of the Nice arena. Shivers down the spine moments on every listen! Nice rhythms towards the end.

Melissa & Ranya – Un Mondo Giusto

More piano? JESC 2023’s answer to the cowbell, it seems! The two girls look great together in the music video, and the friendship shines through. Both have very unique vocal styles, and I almost see them as Italy’s answer to Arianna Grande and Amy Winehouse. The vocals gel together well, as do the harmonies. Very powerful indeed, which is particularity impressive, considering their ages. The song itself reminds me a little of Alicia Key’s ‘Fallin’, even parts of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ so it sure has potential! The way the song lyrics flow is unmistakably Italian. Whether intentional or not, the line ‘you stupid man’ pops out in the mix of Italian, which somehow adds something.

Yulan – Stronger

I get ‘X Factor’ winner vibes from this one. The production of the song sounds like something Westlife would have released in the 90’s, or even Leona Lewis in the 00’s. There’s a few different rhythms during the song, and Yulan’s vocals make me think of the winning JESC song from Gaia Gauchi. Parts of the melody remind me of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing At All’. We have a key change too! Are we allowed to do shots for that when watching JESC? Lots and lots of vocal gymnastics in the song too, so she mustn’t overdo it in rehearsals. There’s plenty of potential boxes getting ticked by the jury with this one!

Sep & Jasmijn – Holding On To You

This is another one of my favourites. Love it! I’m not sure if the guys are a couple in real life, but in the music video their chemistry is very convincing. After a few piano chords, we’re into a chunky bassline and thumping beat. The Netherlands are very proud of their trance and dance DJ exports, and this is easily something that Armin van Buuren or Tiësto could have released a few years ago. Some nice bits where the beat drops off, for the vocals to stand out, and both Sep and Jasmijn sound great on the studio version. Get your whistle and glowsticks for this one. I hope we have a crazy lighting package for the staging! Photosensitive epilepsy warnings at the ready?

Tamara Grujeska – Kazi Mi, Kazi Mi Koj

There’s definitely been a load of pianos going cheap around Europe on eBay this year! More ballady goodness from North Macedonia. Thankfully, it’s not just piano, and there’s lots more local-sounding instruments in the song too. It certainly has a Balkan ballad sound to it! It’s slightly less poppy to what North Macedonia have sent to Junior in recent years, but it’s still a great song. Tamara’s powerful silky-sleek vocals knock the song out of the park. The section in English works very well too, and is quite a surprise at how unusual it sounds when accompanied with such a ethnical sounding production!

Maja Krzyżewska – I Just Need A Friend

I really like this song title. That’s all we really need, isn’t it? Especially when how crazy the world can get sometimes. Maja’s vocals sound great, even when singing in non-native English. The balance of Polish/English is just about perfect, and the song definitely has powerballad vibes. Plenty of sweet slow, plinky piano sections contrasting with the shouty, in your face bursts of emotion. Her dog in the video is very cute. While the rules of the contest don’t allow animals on stage, he can hopefully be featured in some way during the performance! After a minute or so in, there’s a cool Killers’ ‘Human’ sounding beat, and Christmassy twinkling sounds, plus synthy sounds – so something for everyone.

Júlia Machado – Where I Belong

Some guitar riffs start this one off, which is a welcome change to many of the other slower songs this year. Julia’s song is in a similar vein to some of Taylor Swift’s earlier work. Or even the likes of Delta Goodrem from the 2000s. A lovely chilled tune that could as much be enjoyed chilling on a beach with the waves lapping, or relaxing in a coffee shop. There’s lots of English lyrics in the chorus, so it will have wide appeal to the voting audience at home and in the arena. On first listen I wasn’t too sure, but this could be popping up in Adult Contemporary playlists around the globe! Could she be Portugal’s answer to Rosa Linn?

Sandra Valero – Loviu

Starting the song with ‘I Love You’ in multiple languages is a clever touch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lyrics also pop up on the LED panels around the stage! This is a really fun song. Something that can be enjoyed and sung along to by the crowd. It’s 100% pop for sure. If the likes of S Club 7, B*Witched, and A*Teens were put into a blender, something similar to ‘Loviu’ would surely be formed. The musical style and chord progression remind me of ‘My Future Husband’ by MeghanTrainor or Olly Murs’ ‘Dance With Me’ – both very successful songs! Even being in the worst of moods, I’d still be smiling by the end of this one.

Anastasia Dymyd – Kvitka

I’ve conflicting thoughts on this one. I didn’t really like it on first listen, but now I love it! It’s sickly sweet and feels like something you shouldn’t enjoy – a bit like Gangnam Style or the Fast Food Song. But it’s just so catchy. Anastasia seems adorable too, like a Ukrainian doll you might buy at a souvenir shop. The collective mums and grannies across Europe could be picking up the phone on that fact alone! Looking forward to seeing how this looks on stage. Hopefully something like the music video, but on a larger scale! Grab the paracetemol. If the bright colours don’t give you a migraine, the incredibly high note at the end certainly will! The repeated ‘Kvitka, Kvitka’ lines are very anthemic and get stuck in your head.

STAND UNIQU3 – Back To Life

Trying not to be too biased on this one, what with me being from the UK and all! However, this is very good, and a welcome follow-up to Freya’s superb song and performance last year. The girls’ remind me a little of the Sugababes or Little Mix, each with their Uniqu3 vocal styles during the song. The whistle melody/hook is an absolute earworm, and on first listen, I still had it stuck in my head HOURS later! The choreography looks great, and I always love a ‘clap’! I’ve seen them perform this on a couple of TV shows and in interviews, and much like Freya last year, they always seem positive, lively, enthusiastic and likeable – something that isn’t always present in the UK’s contestants at the contest during May! Best of luck, girls!

So, what are your thoughts? Do you agree with me, or think I’m crazy in my thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

You can watch and listen to all 16 songs via the Official Junior Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel here.

You can also watch a thirty second recap clip of each song below:

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