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All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

The Russian national selection final will kick off tomorrow at 8 p.m. Moscow time, as nine young hopefuls, one duet and one group converge on the Vegas City Hall to compete for the honor of representing their country at Junior Eurovision 2019 in Gliwice-Silesia, Poland.

As with Belarus’s recently completed national selection, the votes will be 50% Jury and 50% Internet voting. However, what did the editorial team at ESC United think? Who do we think has the best shot of victory in Poland on November 24, 2019?

We have let #YOU know, and #YOU can vote for your favorite in the poll below!

In the running order on the night of the national selection final, here are our scores and opinions of the eleven songs up for consideration.

Click on the artist and title to listen to each song.

Daniel Khachaturov – “Life”

James – 6 – “I really hate using the word Disney to describe a song as it’s an overused Eurovision cliché and lazy stock adjective. However, it applies here. No doubt Daniel’s a talented kid. He’s probably the best singer in this national selection (and he’s got a tinkly piano backed song on top of which he shows off). But the song sounds as if it is for a talent show put on especially for the grannies and I doubt this would be the first choice of the kids. And it’s the latter Daniel needs to impress more.”

Melanie – 1 – “So guys, I’m going to tell you a secret: When I was a young Mellie, I sung at the childrens’ choir of our local church. This song really give me throwbacks to that period. It’s so sweet, but so brave. I just don’t like his way of singing and the whole composition of this song isn’t my cup of tea. I’m sorry, but this won’t work for Junior Eurovision.”

Roy – 4.5 – “I can 100% appreciate this young lad’s amazing voice. The issue I have with this song is that it is very musical theatre. I am not going to lie, I am definitely not a fan of that. So to me the song isn’t that enjoyable and I find it kind of really boring. Again, his voice is great, but does that justify a bad song? Apart from it being musical theatre, there isn’t much happening really. To me this is just a song that goes by, I appreciate the voice, but don’t care for the rest…”

Sean – 4 – “Twee and saccharine ballads like this one get slightly more of a pass from Junior Eurovision, as it almost fits the youthful, innocent feel of the contest. Daniil certainly sings this with convinction, but the song is a little too dated for my liking, even if it does hark back to the nostalgic early 00s days of Eurovision for me.”

Total – 15.5 (Average = 3.875)

Mikhail Noginskiy – “Superhero”

James – 7 – “I have to comment that Mikhail’s photo on the Russian JESC voting page is the first time I’ve seen a kid with an Engelbert Humperdinck-esque mane. Despite the glorious old school hair, Mikhail’s song sounds the most modern. He is aiming to emulate the Western European pop stars rather than the Eastern European ones the other kids here are following. That could pay dividends in Gliwice. And don’t knock old school swagger – Dino Jelusic’s back in 2003 for Croatia showed how you win a kids’ contest by embracing the style of your grandparents’ idols.”

Melanie – 4 – “Song starts with a nice built that goes to a clap-a-long bridge. Sadly the chorus isn’t that strong and the songs starts to bore me. The break with all the computer bleeps in the song sounds a bit random. It’s just an okay song, nothing special.”

Roy – 7.5 – “My biggest question with this song is if it is enough to stand out? It is a very nicely produced laid-back EDM-song accompanied with some good vocals from Mikhail. He doesn’t do that many special things, but for me this song actually really works. I think this song could get a really good staging, too. Often with these type of EDM-songs, the staging is the major downfall, I can definitely imagine this not being the case with this song. Definitely one of my favourites to be Russia’s representative.”

Sean – 8 – “Okay, I really like this one! It’s fun, it’s interesting, the production values are great and this could give us some fun in Gliwice! The vocals and rhythm of the song really complement each other well, and with a strong performance I could see this one going all the way to the contest.”

Total – 26.5 (Average = 6.625)

Like Teens – “Daddy’s Daughters”

James – 2 – “Are they going to pull off a kid version of Epic Sax Guy on the staging of this? They’d have to do something like that to redeem this hot mess of a song. It starts off with some balalaika, throws in some sax, drops some heavy bass, then there’s repeated chants of “fly fly fly like a butterfly” before we get a rap breakdown over flatulent bass. I feel bad saying this about a kids’ song, even though the choices made that ruin the song probably have little to do with them, but this is f%$#ing terrible. The kids seem willing to deliver a fun time, but the adults have littered the playground too much for them to do so.”

Melanie – 5 – “This song is so adorable! Normally I hate these kind of songs, but I really think this stands out in this national final. But why the rap and the “fly fly fly like a butterly” part? I don’t really have the feeling that it added some extra flavor to the song. Hopefully they give it a cheerful staging.”

Roy – 2.5 – “This is that typical JESC song that tries to captivate you with its cuteness. I guess it is fun and innocent, but it doesn’t really do much with me. I would much rather have a well-produced song represent a country than something that is just cute. I feel like this would be that song that you choose when you don’t have any other option left. I don’t really know what more to say about it, it’s just there and it doesn’t do much for me.”

Sean – 7 – “Junior Eurovision electro-swing? This contest is really going to strange places… and that’s with Bzikebi in its history! This genre seems to work well with the Russian language, the song doesn’t take itself seriously at all and chops and changes to keep you on your toes. Really interesting song!”

Total – 16.5 (Average = 4.125)

Alisa Pritochkina – “Warriors of Love”

James – 4 – “Russia does know they can send 100% Russian language entries (or any of the languages from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok and all points inbetween), right? The reason I ask is that this one is the worst deployment of English from a very good Russian singer. Editorial decisions are why this song doesn’t work, from the generic empowerment themes to the generic composition to the weak lyrics. And there’s an attempt at a guitar solo that falls flat.”

Melanie – 3 – “It sounded very promising in the start, but i have the feeling that Alisa is holding back. I think that she can do better and she’s not giving her fullest in the studio version. But maybe that will change on stage. The English part of this song just doesn’t do it any justice. Please keep it Russian.”

Roy – 5.5 – “This is a decent song with an interesting background track. The unfortunate thing is that we never really get that epic chorus or that amazing Dubstep drop. The groundworks are there, but they chose to play it safe instead. A missed opportunity in my eyes, I think giving this song some more dubstep/chillstep elements would have been an amazing thing in this song. It doesn’t do that many things wrong, but it isn’t the most amazing song either. Middle of the road for me.”

Sean – 7 – “The choruses really let this song down, which is a shame as I like the build-up towards them. It’s one of the stronger songs of this genre in the selection, although I would like for it to harness some more of the drama in the verses across the duration of the entry. Solid, though!”

Total – 19.5 (Average = 4.875)

Mariya Mirova – “Way to Dream”

James – 8.5 – “A lovely, soulful ballad that gradually builds as Mariya herself switches things up. It starts up quietly, but little flourishes and intricacies here and there keep the song from being dull and repetitive. The bridge and the key charge, particularly the notes Mariya hits there, are handled expertly, before a soft winding down. As with “Vetra” from Belarus’s selection, this could do the business at the grown-up Eurovision better than the Junior version.”

Melanie – 4 – “Is it just me or does the intro sound a bit like the intro of “Beautiful” from Christina
Aguilera? Really loved that song! But back to Maria Mirova. The way to dream sounds like a cute Disney ballad, but isn’t doing anything for me. It’s just too old-fashioned for me.”

Roy – 2.5 – “I am not a hater of ballads, I swear. In fact, some of my favourite Eurovision songs are emotional ballads. What I struggle with in this one is that it is a very basic ballad. The orchestration in this is very simple and nothing ground-breaking. I do think that you could stage this song very well. I can imagine something very dreamy, maybe even add clouds. I don’t think that this song would do very well in the contest either. Maria has a decent voice, but again, the song isn’t interesting enough for me.”

Sean – 5 – “I mean, the song is way too long as it is anyway, and it certainly drags because of this. It’s not my type of music and it’s too basic for me. That’s not to say that others might not like it as I’m sure this will have fans. It’s well composed and ticks all the Eurovisiony boxes for a ballad, but it isn’t my scene.”

Total – 20 (Average = 5)

Yuliya Solnyshkova – “Bright light”

James – 5.5 – “An uninteresting ballad. The lyrics are uplifting, but the piano led instrumentation doesn’t soar with Yuliya. The note Yuliya hits in the outro is great, but the song could do with a few more touches like that to liven it up. Yuliya herself is a bright light, but whoever wrote this song is trying their damnedest to snuff it out.”

Melanie – 3 – “Sounds like a song that I have heard before. The built to the chorus is okay, but the chorus itself is so weak. I’m just already losing my attention after 1 minute. Most interesting part is the piano part around 2 minutes in the song, but it couldn’t save the song anymore. Next time, give it a climax.”

Roy – 2 – “I feel like a broken record at this point. There are just so many ballads in this selection. One even less creative than the other. I am sorry, but this is just doing nothing at all with me. It passes by and every time that I had to listen to it, I got distracted and checked my phone. I always try to avoid this, but this one is just not doing it at all for me…”

Sean – – “It’s almost like “What If?” was reborn for Junior Eurovision with a slightly more gospel feel, but the original didn’t work for me and I’m not particularly fond of this either. The vocals are decent with enough emotion and feeling and I’m sure there will be fans for this type of song.”

Total – 15.5 (Average = 3.875)

Ksenia Kushner – “Girls don’t cry”

James – 8.5 – “This one runs the risk of veering off the novelty cliff as it is unapologetically Slavic with the instrumentation and Ksenia dropping her voice at the bridge to give it a jazz feel with a small saxophone solo joining in. “Girls don’t cry” is absolute fun, is distinctly Russian, and should have the crowd clapping and stomping their feet in unison. We’ve had words about dodgy English in this contest, but Ksenia’s actually works for this song.”

Melanie – 8 – “Finally a song that really has potential to win this national final. Maybe this sounds weird, but I get a pirate party feeling with this song? Anyway, I’m loving the way how she sings “Girls don’t cry” in the chorus. It’s really catchy and I think a lot of people will sing-a-long. Even the saxophone part fits perfect in this song. Only hoping that she can perform this song with a real band on stage, so she can really start a party.”

Roy – 3.5 – “She is still young, so I can’t blame her for her iffy English pronunciations. The difficult thing about that is that it is all in the chorus of the song. A decent effort, but it is just missing too many elements to truly make it interesting enough. I guess the Russian songs this year are very safe. I feel like this is another one of those songs that seems nice at first listen, you kind of enjoy it, but then you immediately forget it when the next song starts to play. At least there is something to swing to a little bit.”

Sean – 8 – “This is poppy fun, with an ethnic Russian feel that most of these songs so far have not had, so kudos goes to Ksenia and her team for this. She also has a voice which belies her years. With a classy, effective staging this could be one to watch in my opinion!”

Total – 28 (Average = 7)

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Margarita Stryukova – “In my sky”

James – 7.5 – “Key changes aren’t as frequent at Junior Eurovision as at the grown-up event, though in the latter you can make the argument it’s become a tiresome cliché. Here, however, the key change works as it is expertly deployed after a brief slowdown at the bridge. It’s got a decent hook, and Margarita’s a great singer and possesses restraint. I’d be less concerned about her live performance as she doesn’t have to hit some crazy notes like some of her rivals.”

Melanie – 6.5 – “So I’m really loving the beat of this song. But somehow the lyrics don’t justify the beat of this song. So I’m actually only listening to the great beat and forgetting that Margarita is actually singing a song. The only moment that she grabs my attention, is when she is singing English. And that’s too bad, because there’s a lot of potential here.”

Roy – 4.5 – “This is an intriguing song. The beat progression is nice and well produced. The vocals guide you very well along the way. Again, I would have maybe liked to hear a bit more of a pay-off or a part where the beat could be more prevalent. I think this is another song that has some hidden potential that they never dared to pull out of it. The vocals are very good again and I feel like it is at least a decent effort into making something interesting.”

Sean – 3 – “Unfortunately this whole song passed me by. It’s pleasant enough and a competent effort but there’s nothing in this track that I haven’t heard a thousand times over. Sorry!”

Total – 21.5 (Average = 5.375)

Mariana Titova – “We are Legends”

James – 6 – “An even keel, slickly done effort. It just lacks a hook and the song really doesn’t really mix things up from start to finish. The first minute is decent, but with the second and third sounding much like it, my attention wanders. I struggle to remember this one, even after multiple listens, despite a good start and a decent performance from Mariana. A good shake-up at the bridge will really help, otherwise this one is doomed to oblivion.”

Melanie – 5 – “Oh yeah, this girl has attitude! Sometimes I have the feeling that her voice is getting
lost in the music. So they have to pump up the volume and maybe giving her extra backing vocals for extra power. I’m curious how she will deliver this song live and if she can deliver it. For now, it’s a mediocre song with potential.”

Roy – 3.5 – “The beat progression is kind of cool and funky again. Yet again, there is nothing really happening in the song. The beat stays more or less the same, the singing does the same and that just kind of makes it another forgettable entry. I was looking forward to what the song would do after it started, but I was very disappointed again.”

Sean – 7 – “I like this! It’s quite funky and unique, and I wouldn’t be dissapointed with a similar song ending up in Eurovision proper. It’s a little hard to visualise songs like this on the Eurovision stage with no performance to see, but this has a lot of staging potential and will get the crowd dancing if chosen for Gliwice.”

Total – 21.5 (Average = 5.375)

Nikita Moroz – “Nikita & Friends”

James – 5 – “I am actually a fan of rap breaks after the second chorus, but the one in this song just sucks. Sorry, Nikita. Otherwise, it’s a fun party song aimed squarely at the kids. As a 10 year old in Russia, you’d probably want to hang out with a kid like Nikita. However, the reason the rap break doesn’t work here is at it sounds like a piece of the late-1980s was shoe-horned in. A good rap break acts like a recoiling snake, slowing down the tempo temporarily before launching venom to spike up the final third of the song. This one just destroys the flow and despite some horns trying to pep things up a bit, the energy doesn’t really come back.”

Melanie – 3 – “He sounds like he’s having fun singing this song. The song sadly isn’t going somewhere and is just a mediocre pop song. I have the feeling that he’s singing “Nikita and Friends” on repeat. They try to make it special with a rap-part (Is it just me or are random rap-parts the new “it” thing in music?) but it just don’t work in this song.”

Roy – 7 – “I feel like this song will be really fun to perform live. I think this is a song that really fits JESC. It is child-appropriate and has an easy and effective beat to it. Nikita Guides us through the song with his voice in a very good way. He doesn’t do anything special with his voice, but he also doesn’t need to with this song. In my eyes this would be a really good song to choose for Russia to go to Gliwice.”

Sean – 6 – “Slightly jazzy, slightly poppy, this song straddles a number of genres without really nailing its colours to the mast of one particular style. While this works in a number of cases, it gives this song a bit of an identity crisis. It’s perfectly pleasant but struggles to master one genre and really evoke strong feelings in me as a result.”

Total = 21 (Average = 5.25)

Tatyana Mezhentzeva & Oorzhak Demberel – “A Time for Us”

James – 9 – “Kyzyl, Tuva sensation Oorzhak Demberel is gunning for Junior Eurovision, and in this duet with Tatyana Mezhentzeva, it is largely a triumph. Oorzhak’s husky voice will certainly stand out, though whether Junior Eurovision is ready for Grigory Leps, Jr. remains to be seen. Tatyana pulls her weight and does a great job taking the lead when Oorzhak takes a back seat later in the song, and the composition, oddly reminiscent of Denmark’s “In a Moment Like This” from Eurovision 2010, expertly takes advantage of the 60/40 rule by deploying its English in an anthemic outro about no limits for the youth and breaking down barriers. Warning for the act, though: as Polina Gagarina found out, a lot of Europe does not respond well to Russia putting out unity and diversity anthems as it is seen to contradict the actions of Russia’s government domestically (Chechnya, the LGBT community) and abroad (Georgia, Ukraine).”

Melanie – 6 – “Can someone please tell me if it’s legal for children to smoke in Russia? You can’t convince me he’s born with this kinda voice?!? Tatyana on the other hand sounds like an angel. I think this is the best ballad in this national final, but the voice of Oorzhak really distracts me in this song. Please send Tatyana alone next year.”

Roy – 5 – “Lets start off with pointing out the obvious: this guy has an incredibly interesting voice. This is very prevalent in the start of the song, but it kind of fades away throughout the song when they start to sing together. The fact that it is a duet really works in their favour. The melody of this ballad is really nothing special, but when you have 2 persons singing, it automatically becomes more interesting. It got me hooked for about half of the duration of the song and then I was kind of done with it. It is an okay pick for Russia this year, but really nothing special in my eyes.”

Sean – 6 – “The Siberian winters in Russia must be tough on the vocal chords if this song is to be believed! Not sure how a Junior Eurovision entrant can get such a raspy, rocky voice but it works with this song and elevates the maturity levels on this pop ballad. Whether that’s a good thing or not for JESC is up for debate but this is a well-produced and intriguing duet.”

Total – 26 (Average = 6.5)

So after reviewing all eleven entries, here are our rankings by total points. And our winner is Ksenia Kushner’s “Girls don’t cry!” Second is Mikhail Noginskiy’s “Superhero,” and a close third is Russia’s current leader in the online polls, Tatyana Mezhentzeva and Oorzhak Demberel’s “A Time for Us.”

  1. Ksenia Kushner – “Girls don’t cry” – 28 (Average = 7)
  2. Mikhail Noginskiy – “Superhero” – 26.5 (Average = 6.625)
  3. Tatyana Mezhentzeva & Oorzhak Demberel – “A Time for Us” – 26 (Average = 6.5)
  4. Mariana Titova – “We are Legends” – 21.5 (Average = 5.375)*
  5. Margarita Stryukova – “In my sky” – 21.5 (Average = 5.375)*
  6. Nikita Moroz – “Nikita & Friends” – 21 (Average = 5.25)
  7. Mariya Mirova – “Way to Dream” – 20 (Average = 5)
  8. Alisa Pritochkina – “Warriors of Love” – 19.5 (Average = 4.875)
  9. Like Teens – “Daddy’s Daughters” – 16.5 (Average = 4.125)
  10. Yuliya Solnyshkova – “Bright light” – 15.5 (Average = 3.875)*
  11. Daniel Khachaturov – “Life” – 15.5 (Average = 3.875)*

* Lowest Hi-lo spread used as a tiebreaker. Preference given to less divisive entry, therefore songs with scores more clustered around the mean rank higher when mean is equal.

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

Who do #YOU like at Russia’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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