Ukraine first made their debut at Junior Eurovision back in 2006, and since then, they have not missed an edition of the contest. Their best result was back in 2012, where the nation won with Anastasiya Petryk and her song Nebo. The following year was also a success, finishing in 2nd place with Sofia Terasova. Since then, Ukraine have been in and out of the Top 10 and this year the nation will hope for another successful result with Sophia Ivanko and her song, The Spirit of Music.
Song + Vocals
The Spirit of Music was one of the first Junior Eurovision entries to be released for this year, and although it has been a few months since the reveal, I still love this just as much as I did when I first heard it. The piano opening the song immediately catches my attention, and from there the enchanting melody is really introduced. For the first two minutes, the song is totally understated, from the vocals to the instrumentation. Had it been that level of intensity for the entire song, it would have made less of an impact, but as we reach that 2 minute mark, the music builds and Sophia really belts out that final portion of the song.
I am certain this comparison will have been made by someone else, but I really do get Jamala vibes from this song. Perhaps not in the ‘winning’ sense, but more in the musical and vocal style. It has that melancholy sound, although in essence it is an uplifting song. At first I wasn’t too sure about the added English into the song, but the more I listen to the entry, the less I notice. I think it will help viewers who don’t speak Ukrainian get a glimpse of what the song is about, and that can’t be a bad thing.
Vocally, I think Sophia is in control for the most part, especially during the verses. The revamped version does have a more vocally challenging part at the end, and hearing the partially revamped version performed live a few months back revealed some flaws. A few notes were missed, but with months of preparation under her belt, I think she will be prepared to belt out the song with great confidence. Or at least I hope.
Act + Performance
Having featured on the Voice kids before, Sophia will have some television experience under her belt. In the videos I have seen of her, she seems comfortable on stage, and you can see that she really connects with the song. It was a brave choice from the Ukrainian jury selecting the artist this year, but I think it’s a mature song and Sophia is a mature performer. The downside to this is that the entry may only appeal to a certain audience.
Staging will be a big factor in the success (or failure) of this entry in the results but knowing Ukraine, they will have something up their sleeve. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a piano on stage, but otherwise I just hope they don’t distract from the delicate nature of the song, or at least, the first two minutes of the song.
Will Ukraine win Junior Eurovision 2019? I would suggest not, and would go as far to say that this entry is totally unpredictable. I don’t think it will appeal to every viewer, but if the vocal and stage performance is as good as Ukraine can make it be, then it has every chance to be in the top half of the results table. Time will tell!
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