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The national selection final for Belarus takes place on Friday evening, September 20, 2019, with the winning artist and song going on to represent the Eastern European nation at Junior Eurovision 2019 in Gliwese, Poland.

What did the editorial team at ESC United think of these eight aspiring young women and two girl groups? Who are we putting money on try lead Belarus to glory at Junior Eurovision 2019 on November 24, 2019? We have let #YOU know, and #YOU can vote for your favourite in the poll below!

In the running order on the night of the national selection final, here are our scores and opinions:

Liza Miznakova – “Pepel’nyy” (Ash Colored)

Connor – 3 – “So I had high hopes for this song when it started, but then when I heard how it was mixed I sort of fell off the wagon. She sounds almost inhuman because there’s been so much editing done throughout the track, and I really can’t support that. It’s a good effort, but not a good track.”

David – 3 – “Alright, so we’re starting it pretty well with an interesting beat… and it stays like that for all 3 minutes. I lose my interest very fast, ’cause the beat is repeated through the entire song, and I don’t understand why Liza has to sing with a thick and heavy accent, especially the few sentences that were in English.”

James – 5 – “I am struggling to imagine the staging for this song, and Liza comes into the national selection at a disadvantage as you need a barnstormer if you’re opening, otherwise you’ll be forgotten. The song starts well enough but never really builds toward anything. It’s too even-keeled from the open to the close to be an opener, and certainly to be a viable entrant at Junior Eurovision.”

Melanie – 5 – “The song has an really great and edgy beat. I see Lisa rocking this song with great choreography on the stage. But I think that is also the problem with this song. It can only do well with a great staging. The song itself is like a straight line, there isn’t any WOW moment of something else that really bring the attention back from the listener. So after 1 minute, you already heard the whole song. So please give her great choreography.”

Roy – 4.5 – “Nice little innocent song. I really enjoy the vibe it has and the main melody of the song.. It makes me move and that is always good. I am uncertain how she will be able to perform this song on the stage. A lot depends on her delivery of the vocals in this one and it certainly isn’t an easy song to sing. Her vocals need to be on point throughout and I fear that she could be out of breath towards the end of the song. Especially when this is not a song that you can just stand still and sing the song. You got to perform this to a maximum and I fear that this will struggle a lot.”

Sean – 6 – “This feels more in keeping with the Junior Eurovision ethos and is a fun, poppy track with the right level of teenage attitude. I’ll need to see what a live performance would look like to fully judge this one – it’s not really my scene but is certainly well-worked and an intriguing listen.”

Total – 26.5

Anastasia Zhabko – “Poymi menya” (Understand Me)

Connor – 6 – “So it’s certainly not a bad ballad by any means, but it really takes a while for me to really go “wow I’m enjoying this a lot.” I feel like this song could have benefited from either a slightly faster tempo, or a better underlying arrangement, because the vocals are perfect as is. I’m sure it’ll be fine live, but I don’t think this is the one. ”

David – 2 – “It’s very rare that I’m going to support a ballad, and considering this is aimed at a younger audience, I feel like she is instead aiming towards the more adult viewers. Wonderful voice, I’ll give her that, but I struggle to find a proper hook and so I fail to find some interest.”

James – 3 – “Balkan countries get flak for sending slow ballads to Eurovision, and I don’t feel such a ballad would work for Belarus at the Junior version. Why is a singer like Anastasia paired with such a leaden song? I guess they’re keeping it spartan so Anastasia can strut her stuff on stage? But this is Junior Eurovision, not a singer focused talent show like Idol or X Factor, and you need a complete package with more than just a phenomenal vocalist to win.”

Melanie – 3 – “The song starts very haunting with the aah, aah part. But sadly, that’s the only really strong part of the song. Anastasia has a nice voice, but I’m missing some connection with this song. I have a feeling that she just wanted to show her voice too much with making the notes unnecessarily longer. It’s just a standard ballad that doesn’t shine.”

Roy – 3.5 – “There is no denying that this girl can sing. Her voice is beautiful and the notes that she hits are impressive too. Of course we still need to see whether she can hit them live, but it sounds promising. Unfortunately, the progression of the song is a bit dull and her voice is the main attraction here. This is a very good advertisement for her future career, but in no means should this be THE song for Belarus.”

Sean – 6 – “This has an air of RnB about it but at its core it is a very standard pop ballad with a pleasing rhythm and flow. I wish it was fully in Belarusian as I feel the English part loses something in the song but it’s a solid entry.”

Total – 23.5

Maria Zhilina – “Spyavala, gukala, chakala” (I Sang, I Called, I Waited)

Connor – 5 – “I mean this in the nicest way possible, this sounds like it would make a great theme song for a Belarusian TV show. Within the song we have a vocal performance that is just fine, but I think that they overproduced the track again with the electronic elements. The random breakdown within the one minute mark really didn’t need to happen either. It’s okay and cute, and oddly enough reminds me of K-Pop songs but not as good.”

David – 2 – “So we have a promising start, which then aims at some sort of dance style pop song, which then travels into the techno… and then there is dubstep… I gave up when the dubstep kicked in. A brave choice and it rarely works combining so much, but in the end, I just lose my focus. I mean, this is not something I would listen to in my free time.”

James – 6 – “Did Flo Rida move to Minsk and start producing for perennial Junior Eurovision national selection contestants? This is like something I might have heard at a Russian college student’s house party in Miami back in 2012. Its many quirks and twist and turns do grow on you on repeated listens, but in a one and done contest like Junior Eurovision most first timers would find this both dated and grating. Especially the dubstep breakdown.”

Melanie – 2 – “This song is just a hot mess. It’s a big example of using too many different genres of dance in one song. They tried to make an interesting composition, but in the end I’m just lost and only hearing her singing la la la la. Next time, please just tone it down and keep it in one style. ”

Roy – 6 – “She is back! This time she tries to win over everyone with a blast to the past. She nearly ditches the idea of integrating “native sounds” into her song and goes full dance-mode. You can’t help but move to this song. It is just pure fun and I don’t think there is that much more to say about it. It is probably very fun for children to just dance to and have fun. I will say that the “Dubstep-breakdown” midway through the song is a bit odd. This would probably not deliver a very high position for Belarus in the main contest, but it could be an alternative fun choice if everything else turns out to be mediocre.”

Sean – 7 – “I need to see a visual on this for a conclusive view, but this could be a fun entry if chosen. It’s toe-tappingly catchy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This could turn heads in Gliwice with the right show.”

Total – 28

Ksenia Galetskaya – “A Better World”

Connor – 7 – “This is what I wish “Never Again” was, a quality and amazing song that still carries the childlike innocence of JESC within it. Another good try but I feel like this song has moments where I want just a little bit more. Overall it’s a cute song and it would be well received in the contest I feel. ”

David – 3 – “Sweet girl, but I think she just wanted to show off her voice to whoever is listening or watching. There is a lot of screaming, trying to contrast to music that you hear, and I’m quite unsure when she started to sing in English, at least I heard some English, but it doesn’t mean I understood any of it exactly. I’m more lining up towards the music rather than her singing.”

James – 4 – “It took me a while to realize the chorus is in English. This song is an example of how you can ruin a song by trying to take advantage of Junior Eurovision’s 60/40 language rule. Ksenia is a great singer in Belarusian, but she’ll need work on her English. They’d be better off ditching the English as Ksenia’s an emotive singer who could pull off that feeling of wanting a better world to a non-Belarusian without the listener needing to understand the specific lyrics.”

Melanie – 6 – “When I first heard this song, it was just such a confusing trip. When it starts, you just think: “Oh, it’s another clap-along ballad.” But than the chorus kicks in with a dubstep kinda beat. Then there are parts that you hear a choir singing with Xenia. It’s such an interesting composition, that I immediately wanted to listen it over and over again. So it definitely gets points for creativity. The problem is that I still don’t know if I like it and I’m afraid that more people will think the same about it.”

Roy – 6 – “I like to see this as the “yesyes of JESC”- song. A very decent EDM-song mixed with very decent singing, yet it always feels like it is missing something. I feel a bit of a disconnect between the singing and the beat. I hope her live-vocals are as impressive as they are on the studio-track, because it really elevates the song for me. I could also see why her vocals would come across to some as shouty. I don’t necessarily have this issue, but it could cost her votes. I like it overall, but it is not one of my big favourites.”

Sean – 4 – “This doesn’t feel authentic at all, and perhaps with time Kseniya may not pursue this style of music, so it feels a bit disingenuous and an attempt at ticking boxes to get to JESC. The music is pleasant enough but isn’t a stellar example of the genre, and doesn’t really fit with the vocals or general feel of the song. It’s all a little bit jarring.”

Total – 30

Monkey Tops – “Posmotri na nas” (Look at Us)

Connor – 5 – “It’s like Belarusian Little Mix, how adorable! This song actually has a fun melody and some cool elements within it like the horn parts and the harmonies they wrote. I also don’t mind the mini-rap break in the middle, but I’m wary that it might not go over very well live. Guess we’ll see how Monkey Tops do soon!”

David – 9 – “This one I actually find quite promising, I’m actually curious and want to hear how the song goes, and it kept me captured the full on 3 minutes. A girl band with attitude, and I think even that children would find this cool looking, I believe this could be a contender and hopefully they can deliver live.”

James – 8.5 – “A fun, energetic girl group bringing an up tempo dance number with rapping at the bridge. This has the potential to get the crowd all riled up in Gliwice, and assuming the staging goes right, which it should as these girls have been performing together for a while, has the potential to be a winner. There are no divas in this group, and teamwork where each girl pulls their own weight and doesn’t showboat earns fans in the Junior contest.”

Melanie – 9 – “A really well produced and polished song from the fierce girls of Monkey Tops. There were a lot of songs struggling in finding the right balance in their composition in this national final,  “Look at us” just sounds already like a big hit. If they also can deliver it live, I seriously think this can win the Belarusian national final.”

Roy – 7.5 – “I should probably not enjoy this as much as I am. The song is very catchy and I can already see this packing a lot of fun and energy on stage. I must say that I am not a big fan of the “rap-breakdown”. It kind of ruins the energy and flow of the song and it doesn’t add much either. This part also doesn’t last long, so I would have scrapped it all together if it were up to me. I must also point out that the production of this song is done really well. If the Monkey Tops can perform this well than this would be a very respectable choice for Belarus. The song has a lot of sass and attitude scattered all over it and this could surprise a lot of people.”

Sean – 4 – “This really doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid. Fairly standard pop fare albeit in Belarusian which makes it more interesting than some national selection entries in the main contest. The rap break in the second verse is also a major switch-off factor for me.”

Total – 43

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Sofia Khrolovich – “Davay tantsuy” (Come on Dance)

Connor – 4 – “This is a very basic track composition, and it really lacks life. It also reminds me of Portugal’s entry from last year with all these video overlays, and we saw how that worked out for them. She looks like she’s having a good time, but this isn’t a serious contender in my line-up for the selection show.”

David – 6 – “It tried, it almost worked, but it didn’t at the end. The song sounds a bit old school for me, and I like the energy she delivers, but the song just isn’t enough for me to start dancing. It’s something enjoyable, but not exactly memorable, so I see this somewhere in the middle, very innocent and the song minding its own business.”

James – 5 – “This is fun and wants to rope us into the care free and joyful time that a kid should be experiencing at Sofia’s age. It makes you feel bad for saying anything bad about it, but the song is very simple and features an annoying repeating high pitch sound on occasion that may have been inserted to evoke playfulness but instead evokes a clown that’s overstayed his welcome. At the end of the day, the song is just bang average compared to some of the others at the national final.”

Melanie – 5 – “It’s a cute song, but I’m missing something special in it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad song. Only I have the feeling that I heard it all before. It just don’t really grab my attention. But at least she has a lot of fun and energy while singing it.”

Roy – 6 – “I find this song to be very child-appropriate. It is fun, innocent and the singer is really good. It could be an underdog to win the contest for Belarus. The song itself may not be the most ground-breaking, but I do feel that this could really work in Junior Eurovision. I can also imagine a very colourful and bubbly staging. It also doesn’t sound like the singer would struggle with the delivery of the song. Like I said, the song isn’t that ground breaking, but does that really matter in the eyes of kids?”

Sean – 5 – “I mean… this is probably the one that really sticks to the Junior Eurovision brief, whether that is a good thing is up to interpretation! It’s well-produced, upbeat… but I’m struggling to find anything else that I can personally invest myself in here. Ah, at least there’s a key change. That’s something?”

Total – 31

Sofia Rustamova – “Skhazi mne” (Tell Me)

Connor – 5 – “I feel like this song was really trying to be something that would never work: a captivating vocalist with a subpar track composition. There are small moments where they lock together and make something interesting, but this wonky orchestral track just isn’t working for me. What I find to be interesting and well done is the chorus itself. That’s the best part of the song overall.”

David – 8 – “That’s quite a dramatic song and very intriguing. I don’t know how to properly explain it, but it’s like I’m listening to some sort of a fairytale and it has my full attention. Just like a story, I wanna know the ending, just like I actually wanted to listen all the way to the end. A strong composition, and if she can deliver with that voice, especially the high note… DAMN!”

James – 8 – “A grand and lush ballad with some great violins and piano. This will go down a treat in the East, which fortunately for Belarus is the dominant voting block for Junior Eurovision. The movement is great, too. After two verses and two choruses, the bridge hints at darkness and then Sofia just takes off with a triumphant reprise. This will stand out at Junior Eurovision, especially if others bring messy up tempo numbers.”

Melanie – 8 – “This song is just a perfect mix between a fairy tale and a nightmare, in a good way. I really compliment the one who made this haunting beat. Sofiya as singer is giving me drama, tension, mystery and a beautiful voice. Only curious if she can deliver that high note also live. But a great song and hopefully this also appeal to the younger audience.”

Roy – 4 – “If I had to describe this song with one word, I would use: “Dragging”. It feels like the singer is constantly trying to grab my attention and drag me into the song, but that never really happens. The melody and beat progression are also a little slow and dragging in my opinion. The choruses have sentences that feel like they were dragged out too long. I should stop now, you get the point. I don’t hate the song, but I am also definitely not a fan. Could be very forgettable when performed on stage.”

Sean – 3 – “This Disney-fied ballad is a perfectly fine example of its genre, but again just passes me by. Not too much here to keep my interest and perhaps a bit too disingenuous for this contest.”

Total – 36

Zephyr – “Luchshiye i pervyye” (The Best and the First)

Connor – 8.5 – “First a question, what happened to all the non-female artists for Belarus this year? Not that I’m complaining, but this is an interesting trend I just noticed. Now, back to this girl group, this is what I would imagine “Kisses and Dances” would sound like now 3 years later. This song is fun and energetic, and really makes you want to get up and dance. I have a feeling this will be a highly choreographed number, which if it’s not done right could hurt them. I’m intrigued to see how this one goes as well. ”

David – 4 – “Not a fan of the change of the tempo, are we dealing with a rather slow song or an energetic song? Visually, I also struggle to see how this will work out, considering how it’s going to be performed by the trio. A lot is already happening in the song, so I do kind of struggled to focus on their singing.”

James – 3 – “Less a cohesive and more an assemblage of annoying noises. Some of the noises, like the one that sounds like sneaker soles hitting a hardwood floor, and the constant stop and start give me a headache. This is the least focused song in the selection, and that lack of focus means you forget the song as soon as it’s over.”

Melanie – 3 – “I compare this song to a wild rollercoaster ride. It’s just going everywhere and nowhere, but I’m missing a good focus. I’m just kind of lost in what’s happening with the beat, that I don’t really listen to the singers anymore. Maybe with a good staging, it can be saved. But for now, it’s a pop song that tries to be a hit.”

Roy – 5 – “First off, good effort. The song is perfectly fine as it is and I struggle to bring to words what I really don’t like about it. I guess it is just a bit too stale even though I really enjoy what they do in the instrumentals. Somehow the song doesn’t do much with me and it just kind of goes by. I do sway back and forth to it, but I never fully get into the song. Maybe I miss a bit of clarity in the structure and the diversity of the song. I guess you could say that I am just not a fan, but can respect the song and the effort put into it. This should not be the song for Belarus.”

Sean – 8 – “There’s a lot of elements to digest with “Luchshiye i pervyye”, but I have to say this is a breath of fresh air! In equal parts mature and silly, this builds through the layers of production wonderfully, with elements of the song dropping in and fading away at the right moments to keep my interest. Very interesting song!”

Total – 31.5

Arina Pekhtereva – “Never Again”

Connor – 8 – “Another ballad from Belarus, but this time it has power and a clear line to the song. It’s impactful and really tells the story of the lyrics, and she really sells the whole song despite being so young. My two notes here are that it’s a bit serious for JESC, so I’m not sure how it might be received in the contest if it won. Also the ending is a bit disappointing. I would hope that gets fixed up.”

David – 2 – “We’ve seen these a lot of times before in Junior Eurovision, with kids trying to behave and stage too much as adults, and just by listening to the English lyrics, isn’t this a bit too deep a thing for a child to sing about? Then again, I’m left quite bored, since I’m just not into these deep ballads.”

James – 5 – “I am not partial to vapid bubble gum kids bop, but I am not sure if I want slow, moody and dark at Junior Eurovision 2019 either. “I won’t let you waste my life, I won’t let you use my mind” are English phrases in the chorus, and it is unclear whether this is song about bullying or generic jilted lover lyrics that are out of place in a song by a pre-teen. She also needs work on her English pronunciation in the choruses, which shouldn’t be a stretch as her Belarusian singing in the verses is quite good. But the composition is too dull and the lyrics too vague, and they let down a promising young singer.”

Melanie – 7 – “It starts with a very nice build to the Chorus. There her inner Avril Lavigne is singing that never again someone would waste her life. I love the pop rock sound that you hear in this song. It just gives it the extra dimension that is needed for the lyrics. A lot of strongs struggle at Junior Eurovision with combining English and their national language, but I think that they done it well in this song. I’m really curious if Arina can deliver it also live.”

Roy – 8 – “This song is really strong. It has a good build-up in every aspect of the song. Arina belting out the chorus is also a pleasure to my ears. The big question is if she can hit those notes live or not. If she can, then this could be an incredible entry for Belarus. Whether the Junior audience will appreciate this as much is still a big question of course. It should be a huge candidate to get the highest score with the judges in my opinion. To me this is the strongest ballad of the selection by a landslide and it is one of my favourites to win in Belarus.”

Sean – 8 – “Unlike Anastasiya Zhabko’s entry, this straddles the linguistic blend very well, dipping into Belarusian and English for just the right moments, and it works to full effect; the verses are mysterious and serene, with a powerful English chorus. This wouldn’t seem out of place in Eurovision itself and could more than hold its own!”

Total – 38.5

Maria Yermakova – “Vetra”

Connor – 9 – “This is a song that reminds me a lot of Poland’s song from 2018, it’s a more modern song that could pass as a song outside of JESC if you didn’t follow the contest. At first I was sceptical, because it lacks that whimsy that I love in this contest, but then I was like….this song slaps hard. With a killer beat, interesting choruses and bridges, an ethnic sound, and more I’m in love! I’m going to be curious to see how this comes off live, because I think they’ve found a stellar entry with Maria.”

David – 4 – “I can easily see this as something visually stunning, which I fear will take the focus from the song, cause the song doesn’t really have that kind of hook that I might have hoped for, and I’m rather confused about what to think about the song. It’s easily missing a great hook, and then I’m kinda left with nothing in the end.”

James – 9 – “I do love the new age vibe of this one, written by Michael Soul, who gave us “Humanize” earlier this year when the adults did their national selection for Eurovision 2019. With the right staging, and if Maria can pull off the demanding vocals live, we could have a winner here. My only concern is if this song was originally aimed for a singer going to the grown-up Eurovision, because I have my doubts over the kids liking it. Sure, their parents would love it playing in their Jaguar SUV while driving through a redwood forest, but despite its obvious quality and a phenomenal young vocalist, will “Vetra” find an appreciative audience in Gliwice? Regardless, it’s great and my personal favorite.”

Melanie – 8.5 – “Sorry readers, but I’m such a sucker for this kinda song. Maria just took me by the hand with her song “Vetra” and together we’re going on an ethnic and magical journey. The music video is also visually stunning and I’m hoping that she can bring the same magic alive on the stage. I’m only afraid that this won’t appeal as much to the younger audience from Junior Eurovision. But for me, it’s a really strong contender for the win.”

Roy – 7 – “I got to admit that I struggle to give a rating for this song. It does so many things right, yet there is such a massive thing that bugs me about this song. The overall package is really sophisticated and mature. In this case, I feel like it fits the singer and it makes for a very interesting song. The singer sounds amazing and may even be the best of the bunch. Now I have 2 major issues. To me screaming Vetra in the chorus over and over does not fully work for me. However, I can put that aside and appreciate her voice and beautiful song. The thing that bugs me even more is the addition of the “silly” Ha-lû-li-lû-li-lû-li. It totally gets me out of the majestic feeling that the song carries. It could be nit-picking, but I feel like they could and should have thought of something else. Those 2 points don’t work for me, but I would not be surprised to see this song winning the selection.”

Sean – 8 – “I was incredibly impressed by Kazakhstan’s debut offering in last year’s contest and this is giving me similar vibes; Maria Ermakova would certainly have a set of lungs on her if she can match Daneliya Tuleshova’s performance. It’s stylishly produced, with hints of funk/disco in the second chorus and just the right amount of electropop. It also succeeds in feeling authentic, true to the artist and Belarusian. Great job! ”

Total – 45.5

So after reviewing all ten entries, here are our rankings by total points. And our winner is Maria Ermakova’s “Vetra”! Though it comes with a caveat that a couple of us think this may be better suited to the grown-up Eurovision. A close second is Monkey Tops’s “Look at Us,” which is traditionally what you’d expect from a strong JESC contender.

Here are our final rankings:

  1. Maria Ermakova – “Vetra” – 45.5
  2. Monkey Tops – “Look at Us” – 43
  3. Arina Pekhtereva – “Never Again” – 38.5
  4. Sofia Rustamova – “Tell Me” – 36
  5. Zephyr – The Best and the First – 31.5
  6. Sofia Khrolovich – “Come on Dance” – 31
  7. Ksenia Galetskaya – “A Better World” – 30
  8. Maria Zhilina – “I Sang, I Called, I Waited” – 28
  9. Liza Miznakova – “Ash Colored” – 26.5
  10. Anastasia Zhabko – “Understand Me” – 23.5

Now that you know our opinions, who do #YOU rate as Belarus’s best and deserving of a plane ticket to Gliwice? Make sure to vote in our poll below and we’ll reveal your favourite ahead of tomorrow’s show!

Who do #YOU like at Belarus’s national final? Outside of JESC, do any of these young artists impress #YOU? Let us know in the comments below, on our forum or on social media!

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