Musical Content in Junior Eurovision 2019: Part 3

Last week, we continued a 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. One week remains!

The previous articles link many resources that may be useful for understanding theoretical aspects within the songs. Additional links are given here in order to help clarify new phenomena in the current songs.

The Netherlands

Song (and any titular translation): “Dans met jou” (Dance with you)
Artist: Matheu
Lyrical themes: Wanting to dance with someone you really like while in the city
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKNb1y62KOw
Song credits
Writing: Dieter Kranenburg (DJ and producer)
Composition: Jermain van der Bogt (hip-hop/R&B artist better known as Wudstik), Willem Laseroms (seasoned Junior Songfestival songwriter and part of the production trio Future Presidents, who wrote and produced K-Pop hit “Electric Shock” by f(x) among other songs)

Musical analysis:
A brief analysis has already been given in our Junior Songfestival final preview article. To further clarify the polyrhythm point, this MIDI representation of the beginning of the verses shows both the tresillo rhythm in the vocals and the 4-on-3 polyrhythm (further explained by professional bassist Adam Neely here) in the staccato (short notes) synthesizer section, and the rhythms are clearest in what is notated as measure 8 (technically measure 7 because the verse starts on a pick-up, or an incomplete measure).

North Macedonia

Song (and any titular translation): “Fire”
Artist: Mila Moskov
Lyrical themes: Pursuing the flames in your life
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nzx1qeI-5I
Song credits
Writing: Magdalena Cvetkoska (singer and songwriter)
Composition: Lazar Cvetkoski (music producer and composer: co-wrote Tamara Todevska’s “Proud” (ESC 2019) and Esma and Lozano’s “Pred da se razdeni” (ESC 2013))

Musical analysis:
This song is somewhat ambiguous between F minor and A♭ major, which are relative keys. These keys have roughly the same notes but have different tonics; that is, the note that is the most settled or the focus of the keys is different, as is the quality of the chord – minor vs. major. For example, one minute into Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, the lyrics “when the dog bites” has the sound of a minor chord, which may seem dark at times, while “so bad” at 1:14 is a major chord, which sounds happier in general. However, the actual melody suggests F minor, as the actual note F is more common and can thus be perceived as more stable, particularly when it actually resolves V-i in F minor at the end.

“My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music (Rodgers and Hammerstein). Major and minor chords can be found throughout but are the focus one minute onward. This song was sampled by Ariana Grande over 50 years later.

The intro has chords A♭ B♭m Fm twice, which seems to suggest a weaker iv-i motion towards F minor. In the verses, there is the opposite: Fm D♭ A♭ suggests a weak IV-I (major) motion towards A♭ major. However, it wraps up after the A♭ chord with B♭m Fm the first time in the verse. The second time, the B♭m chord is replaced by E♭. Normally, if the song were in A♭ major, the song would resolve right to the A♭ chord right now. Instead, like the bridges in Lisa Ajax’s “Torn”, it goes to a different chord (B♭m) before resolving back to an Fm chord. Unlike Lisa Ajax’s “Torn”, which felt unstable due to both musical technique and thematic matter, however, “Fire” channels the “energy” generated from the ambiguity and and makes it more uplifting with the message of passion. Like the Netherlands, there is a hidden polyrhythm that divides a tresillo, albeit in the percussion part.

Poland

Song (and any titular translation): “Superhero”
Artist: Viki Gabor
Lyrical themes: Saving the world and fighting for the quality of the time we have left
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okG6yNKaS1g
Song credits
Writing and Composition: Małgorzata Uściłowska (better known as Lanberry, competitor in Polish selection for Eurovision 2017 with the song “Only Human”), Patryk Kumór (singer/songwriter), Dominic Buczkowski-Wojtaszek (composer and member of Young Stadium Club)

Musical analysis:
This song is in G♯ minor and starts with a G♯m chord, the chorus melody, and the chorus chords; however, the verses start on a C♯m chord. The producer extended the C♯m chord’s duration from 0:11 and carried it into the verse as a sort of transition. The rhythm is a sort of modification of the tresillo, where the synthesizer is playing the first two hits in the tresillo pattern and then leaves the third for the percussion.The “i-i-i” motif in the English verse is sung with three different textures: first alone, then with backing vocals a fifth above, and finally with pitch-shifted vocals an octave down, and similar layering is used in the Polish verse. The low piano was sampled into a pulsing bass at 0:40. The chords in the chorus are G♯m C♯m B F♯/A♯ G♯m C♯m B F♯, where the A♯ is the lowest, or bass, note in the chord, but the chord still contains the notes F♯ A♯ C♯, which make an F♯ chord.

Portugal

Song (and any titular translation): “Vem conmigo” (Come with me)
Artist: Joana Almeida
Lyrical themes: Working together to preserve nature
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7qPD6D5Q7E
Song credits
Writing and Composition: João Pedro Coimbra (composer of Pedro Gonçalves’ Festival da Canção 2017 song “Don’t Walk Away”)

Musical analysis:
The song is in B major, but the frequencies are focused in the mid-frequencies until the chorus kicks in, as the synth pad has limited frequency information that doesn’t carry as well as a bass, for example. There may be some low interval limit issues in the orchestration; the closeness of all the notes in the lower range may be too close to each other to sound as clear as they could be separately. In the chorus, the chords are B D♯m G♯m F♯ x2 C♯m D♯m E F♯. Over the first D♯m chord, the bass plays a D♯1, which requires either a five-string bass or down-tuning. The harmonics, which are hidden sounds above any sung note, for said note begin with D♯1 (itself) D♯2 A♯2 D♯3 F𝄪3 (double-sharp, sounds like G). The G-like sound clashes with the F♯3 in the synth from the verse and produces a dissonance sharper than the equivalent in the “Hendrix chord”. Unlike the Hendrix chord, there are no notes between to alleviate the tension between the harmonic and the played note. When the chord plays a second time in the chorus, the chord is not as muddy-sounding because the C♯5 Joana sings emphasizes the harmonics of the lower F♯ instead of emphasizing the D♯ in the bass from which the dissonant F♯-G tension stems.

A short demonstration of what the harmonic series sounds like. The fifth partial is the point of contention in the chorus of Portugal’s song, specifically at 0:53 and similar places.

Russia

Song (and any titular translation): “A Time For Us”
Artist: Tatyana Mezhentseva and Denberel Oorzhak
Lyrical themes: Doing the hard things to make the world a better place, sharing the joy, and remembering the important things in life
Official video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCsT9zNi2-M
Song credits
Writing: Dmitry Northman (composer and producer), Tatyana Mezhentseva (Artist)
Composition: Dmitry Northman

Musical analysis:
The song in F♯ major changes the order of chords in the I-V-vi-IV progression parodied by the Axis of Awesome and results in a very tonal set of chords. As stated in previous articles, the V-I resolution is one of the strongest defining factors of tonal music (roughly the 17th century onward), and the I-IV-vi-V contains this resolution. In the choruses, the first two lines are sung with a nearly-identical melody (using solfeggio, sol-mi-re-do), and then the next two lines cover a similar melody but with some alterations to fit the chord (sol-mi-re-mi x2 mi…mi-re-do-mi-re). As seen from the solfeggio, the main difference is the extra added mi-re at the end to fit the V chord; everything else is roughly repeated from the previous lines, if drawn out.

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