For those of you who can’t get enough of Eurovision, there is also the Junior Eurovision, where all the budding stars of tomorrow get a chance to display their talents for all of Europe to see. Snobby music fans (like me) turn their noses at such a spectacle, at times calling it, in the best case, “heavy on the cheese” and, in the worst case, exploitation.
Not to say there isn’t talent at these competitions. These are trained (if a wee bit young) musical artists, though the material that they are given is often of a lesser nature. Case in point: Dzintars Čīča, singing prodigy from Sabile, Latvia. Born in January 1993, this singing wunderkind has achieved much already, including participating in the 2003 Junior Eurovision contest, where he earned ninth place. With all his talent, you would figure that a better album could be put together to show off his talents.
The album Nāc un dziedi was released in November 2003 after his appearance in Children’s Eurovision. The album includes one of Čīča’s original compositions, “Tu esi vasara,” as well as his interpretations of a number of different songs.
Nobody is disputing his talent. This kid has an amazing voice. It is just too bad that he is saddled with material that in my opinion is not suited for him (or anybody, really).
“Tu esi vasara” is one of the best songs on the album, but it becomes immediately clear what is going to happen—all the music sounds heavily synthesized, and it seems that there aren’t even any “live” musicians besides Čīča (at least none are listed in the sparse liner notes). It makes it seem that Čīča is simply just singing karaoke, which is a shame. “Tu esi vasara” would be a much better song if there was an actual band, or even just a guitarist, not this unnatural synthetic stuff.
Most of the rest of the songs are taken from the Raimonds Pauls repertoire. You get versions of “Sikspārņa Fledermauša šūpuldziesma,” “Mežrozīte” and “Mēma dziesma,” among others. Nothing wrong with the songs at all, but the life and vitality in the music that was in the originals is replaced with mechanical backing tracks. In fact, the backing track for “Mežrozīte” sounds suspiciously like the group Bet bet’s version of this song from a few years back.
Also on the album is a version of “O sole mio,” once again demonstrating that Čīča has a phenomenal voice, but one would have wished for an actual orchestra or some kind of accompanist.
The entire album seems a bit rushed as well, as if the producers just pulled whatever Pauls standards they had available and let Čīča sing along. And I am not sure who the intended audience is for this compact disc. I wouldn’t call it inappropriate for children, but I can’t see young kids getting into this. Nary a folk song is to be heard here. Even the liner notes seem rushed, including only the lyrics for only two songs (“Tu esi vasara” and the Guntars Račs-penned tune “Nāc un dziedi”) and some pictures. Among those is the (presumably) unintentionally funny picture of Čīča and friends adopting the hats-on-backwards, baggy-clothing look.
Perhaps Čīča’s next album will be a bit more organic than this one. He’s got the voice, now put him together with some actual musicians and let’s see what happens.
Nāc un dziedi
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