Armenia’s Maléna wins Junior Eurovision 2021
In terms of young pop talent, December 19 was a great day for the Caspian Region. At the Paris 2021 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, all three South Caucasian countries came amongst the top five (out of 19) while Kazakhstan was placed 8th. The competition was won by Armenia’s 14-year-old singer Maléna performing a partly self-written ‘space-pop’ dance-anthem Qami Qami (translating as Wind Wind). Thanks to popular voting, the song overturned professional jury rankings that had initially placed Polish and French contenders higher. Georgia’s Niko Kajaia came fourth with Let’s Count The Smiles and Azerbaijan’s Sona Azizova was close behind singing One Of Those Days.
Despite her young age, Maléna had already tried for selection in the 2018 competition and would have been Armenia’s candidate in 2020 had the country not pulled out of last year’s competition due to the 2nd Karabakh War. Geopolitical pressures on competitions like this are sadly all too common and this year’s version was no exception: all of the Armenian jurors ranked Azerbaijan’s song last while two of the Azerbaijani judges were equally partisan. However, before the event some more enlightened folks started a social media campaign encouraging Armenian and Azerbaijani viewers to vote for each-others’ songs as a symbol of hope for lasting peace. And viewers at the Paris venue report that immediately after her victory, Maléna was seen to be warmly congratulated and hugged by Azerbaijan’s contestant, Sona Azizova. Soft peace power perhaps!