Musical Content in Junior Eurovision 2019: Part 2

Last week, we began a brief musical journey through all 19 songs in Junior Eurovision 2019 in alphabetical order. These 19 songs will perform in Gliwice-Silesia on 24 November, and voting starts on 22 November. Two weeks remain!

The previous article links many resources that may be useful for understanding theoretical aspects within the songs.

Georgia

Song (and any titular translation): “We Need Love”
Artist: Giorgi Rostiashvili
Lyrical themes: Enjoying life and believing in love
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiLlNU8Nlrg
Song credits
Writing and Composition: Dato (David) Evgenidze (jazz pianist and film score musician who is also part of the Georgia Idol jury (in Georgian), who will select the artist and compose the song representing Georgia in Rotterdam 2020)

Musical analysis:
This song rivals France in complexity but falls under more familiar jazz idioms rather than a carnival away from the tonic. However, the dominant (V) chords of tonal harmony, which traditionally go to one specific chord, instead resolve to all sorts of different chords. The beginning starts with a unison (singing the same notes) that split into a Gm7 chord. Before the verse comes in, the highest note, a B♭, is held as a pedal tone or pedal point – not necessarily part of the chords, but meant to draw the harmony towards the held note in some fashion. After the Gm7 chord, there is a chromatic passing chord – the non-pedal notes move down by the same distance to a chord without a tonal relationship in the overall context. The passing chord passes down to Fm7 (with pedal note), then B♭7(♭13), a chord with a jazz extension. The Fm7 to B♭7 may suggest an E♭ chord will follow, as the ii-V-i/I progression is ubiquitous in jazz (one of the many video explanations of this progression can be found here). The transcription of the intro can be found below with annotations:

Instead of an E♭ chord, however, the song goes back to an Fm7 chord, and it begins a iv-V-i (related to the ii-V-i because of shared notes) to C minor first, and then C major at the repeat.Then it goes to a ii-V-i in G minor, then a substitute for ii-V-i in D minor. In the choruses, the chord progression is (simplified) E♭m – Fm – B♭, which may suggest i-ii-V in E♭ minor, particularly since the E♭m chord lasts twice as long as the others. However, the longest melody note over the E♭m chord is not even one of the main chord tones, which may lead to its feeling of instability. The instability persists until the final section, which clearly suggests G♭ major, reflecting the song’s lyrical and musical journey through the things that make life beautiful and energetic, like the bass groove and overall syncopation, and the final section can be seen as an exhortation to respond to said reflection.

Ireland

Song (and any titular translation): “Banshee”
Artist: Anna Kearney
Lyrical themes: Facing fears with love amidst darkness and adversity
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPauKZ4hN6M
Song credits
Writing: Niall Mooney (songwriter for Irish Eurovision entries in 2009-10 and Junior Eurovision 2018), Fiachna O Bhraonáin (member of Hothouse Flowers), Anna Banks, Anna Kearney (artist)
Composition: Jonas Gladnikoff (seasoned Swedish songwriter), Cyprian Cassar (Maltese DJ and producer), Daniel Caruana (music manager and Emeli Sandé’s beau)

Musical analysis:
The choruses play the four-chord progression as made famous by Axis of Awesome, although the speed of the progression is half as fast due to the half-time feel of the chorus. The other parts rearrange the chord order, but all the chords are still there. The presence of acoustic guitar, piano, and produced orchestral string sounds gives the song a particular organicness when contrasted with the more heavily-produced motif that starts at the beginning of the song, as well as the percussion and sub-bass situation. The transition from F major to G major in the final chorus is a common-tone modulation, meaning that the last chord in the F major section, B♭, shared a note with the next section – specifically, a D.

Italy

Song (and any titular translation): “La Voce Della Terra” (The Voice of the Earth)
Artist: Marta Viola
Lyrical themes: Saving the planet, whose voice can be found in all living things
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-80p_Py-S5o
Song credits
Writing: Emilio di Stefano (renowned children’s song lyricist), Fabrizio Palaferri (3-year member of the Italian JESC songwriting team)
Composition: Marco Iardella (involved in Italian JESC songwriting team 2016-17), Franco Fasano (singer-songwriter and composer who has won Zecchino d’Oro, an international children’s song festival hosted by RAI, Italy’s public broadcaster)

Musical analysis:
Similar to Ireland, this song uses a I-V-vi-IV progression in the verses and an organic piano and orchestral patches throughout, but the progression disappears in the second verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. The intro fade-in with the bassy synthesizer pulses in triplets against the straight 4/4 rhythm, which forms a fun polyrhythm. The antiphonal (call-and-response) singing between the lead vocal and the backing singers on “sempre” in the choruses recalls historical singing practices. The chord that falls on the lyrics “aspettare primavere” (right before the choruses) is a D♭ major chord, which in the key of F is a ♭VI chord – the note D♭ itself is not in the key of F, and that is shown by the ♭ alteration on the Roman numeral. Like the common-tone modulation discussed in “Banshee”, B♭ (the chord preceding D♭), D♭ and F major chords all share the same note F, which is the tonic. The concept of using different chords that share notes is common in jazz and reharmonization circles and has been demonstrated by jazz prodigy Jacob Collier before.

Kazakhstan

Song (and any titular translation): “Armanyńnan Qalma” (Don’t forsake your dream)
Artist: Yerzhan Maxim
Lyrical themes: Working towards your dreams no matter what
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooag1JvvRW0
Song credits
Writing: Aldabergenov Daniyar (folk musician who can be seen playing the dombyra here), Timur Balymbetov (producer)
Composition: Khamit Shangaliyev (composer of the Winter Universiade 2017 flame extinguishment song)

Musical analysis:
The verse sounds like “Let it Go” from Frozen, not just because of the orchestration decisions, but the chord progression leading into the pre-chorus at 0:40 mirrors the “Let It Go” progression in a comparable position. In the pre-chorus, the D♭ chord gives way to a D♭m chord. The IV-iv-I (A♭ in the chorus) in major has been used before, for example in “One Thing I Should Have Done” by John Karayiannis (Cyprus 2015). The I-V-vi-IV returns in the chorus. In the key change that starts at 2:05, the D♭m chord shares a tone with the A major chord that directly follows. Since D♭m and A chords share two notes and are both in the key of A major (with enharmonic respelling – respelling note names that sound the same so they also look the same), diatonic mediant chords (the chords with root – the letter – on the 3rd and 6th notes of the parent scales – C♯, the enharmonic equivalent (sounds the same) of D♭, the root of D♭m, is the third note in the A major scale, and the new key is A major) are often used for dramatic key changes, like G♭ (♭VII chord in A♭ major) to A in “Quedate conmigo” (Pastora Soler, Spain 2012).

Malta

Song (and any titular translation): “We Are More”
Artist: Eliana Gomez Blanco
Lyrical themes: Believing in yourself and standing up for your beliefs
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu4TBECwLqA
Song credits
Writing: Rachel Suter (Canadian co-writer of Monika Marija’s “Light On” (Lithuania NF 2019)), Jonas Thander (Swedish songwriter, producer, and musician), Joe Julian Farrugia (writer, songwriter, and broadcaster), Kevin Lee
Composition: Jonas Thander, Rachel Suter

Musical analysis:
This song starts on an A major chord while being in C♯ minor overall, which means it has an off-tonic beginning. The piano starts off with a darker sound than Adele’s “Hello” on the chords A C♯m B A6 (with minor variations here and there). The first and last chords in the progression only differ by one note, which makes transitioning between chords easier. The riser and music cut straight into the bass drop at 0:59 allows for the music to build again from the beginning of the chorus. In the second verse, an additional C♯ is played on a percussive synth, and at 1:42, a higher synth plays E-D♯-C♯-B repeatedly over the chord progression, and the drop after the second chorus finally resolves the building energy from the previous sections. In the descant (the high melody) at 2:55, there is an F♯6 at the highest point, rivaled only by the G6 in “Marte” (Spain)’s descant part.

Come back next week for an analysis of the next five songs!

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