Today Wiwi called in some favours for the Wiwi Jury – our in-house panel of music unprofessionals – and got us First Class Seats for early morning flights to Yerevan. We took in a tour of the Monastery of Geghard, took some snaps at the only remaining Hellenic temple at Garni and rounded the night off taking in some ruul, ruul quality 1930s Yerevan Opera Theater. The next morning over a croissant and OJ we asked the waiter to turn up the radio so we could listen to Armenia’s contestant Aram Mp3 and his song ‘Not Alone’. Did we throw shade or cast it into the spotlight? Read on to find out!
Angus: Let’s just all expunge Dorians from collective Eurovision memory and pretend that this is the song Yerevan returned to the Contest with after their absence in Baku. A full half of this song is absolutely perfect and it’s the half until the chaotic dubstep breakdown kicks in and Aram starts yelling. His vocal is stirring and the lyrics are beautiful up unto about the 1:30 mark. After that it’s just yelling and ill-advised dubstep. I think it’s meant to give power to the song but instead it squanders the emotion and beauty demonstrated in the restraint of the first half. The overall result is a bungled production salvaged only by a strong vocal and excellent lyrics.
Wiwi: This electro ballad, which features glorious instrumentals, is a hymn devoted to perseverance. It encourages victims of domestic abuse and torrid relationships to remember that they’re not alone, and that they can remove themselves from all the turmoil. The song begins solemnly, and builds continuously. Moving into the second minute, it crescendos into an extended period of rage as horns blare over the synthesized backing. It’s measured and perfectly timed. Thematically he suggests that passion can lead to one’s unraveling. It can blind us from the horrors and faults of those we think we love. Seeing the truth can hurt, but it’s essential to have that reckoning: “You’re gonna wake up/ It’s only a dream/ And why do dreams make people scream?” That’s deep, y’all.
Billy: So, this song will most probably win the contest. It’s lovely, and so is Aram MP3. Nowadays, dubstep is becoming more and more popular, so a Eurovision winning song must have dubstep (maybe for not such a big duration). The switch between sleeping ballad-mode to over-exciting dubstep is quite good, although there is one thing I can’t ignore. The entry has very few lyrics. Consequently, “Not Alone” is repeated for many many times. However, the song’s overall style is wonderful! The Armenians could bring a couple of dancers on stage, and change a little Aram’s moves, as, judging from the short rehearsal video, he moves in the same way he moves in the video-clip, which by the way was thrilling. Well done, Armenia!
Bogdan: Aram Mp3 should give up comedy (the only “joke” I heard from him was highly offensive, unfunny and could very well cost him victory this year) and become a full-time songwriter. As far as songs go, “Not Alone” is a masterpiece. He was right when he said that it’s like a film. It starts like an unassuming Chopin nocturne and grows and grows like Ravel’s “Bolero”, adding layer upon layer of instrument and feeling until it explodes. It’s very cinematic. Its only correspondent I can think of in modern music is Björk’s “All Is Full Of Love”, which also defies pop rules and grows like a balloon. Vocally, Aram is alright, but I worry about the faces he makes when he sings live. He needs to work on that and become more telegenic, otherwise he will scare the viewers. But again, the song is without flaw. I can definitely understand why Aram’s fans are so passionate about it.
Francheska: Let me start off on this: I know that Aram has found himself in more controversies and second-looks than Paris Hilton has said “poor people should just get rich”, but before anyone starts splurging in the comments that no one should give him a good score: Eurovision, ultimately, is about the nation being represented. But not in a political way, in a way that encourages peace and understanding among nations while enjoying the talents of each other. I quite like the song, since my famous shark metaphor says that ballads need to move. Many songs from this year and the year before put too much emphasis on electronic/dubstep music, thinking that somehow it’s a magic formula for success. Belgium from last year and Armenia this year got it right: you build up, then you drop the base. It has the quasi-inspirational/love angle to it, and Aram adds instruments to go along. If anyone remembers my attack on “Best Friend’s Boyfriend” (Melodi Grand Prix, Norway), I said that the violin was unnecessary. It isn’t in Armenia’s case. To me, this is ultimately a song of smart arrangement. PS: If Armenia hosts next year, it’ll be the centennial of the start of the Armenian Genocide (Which did happen, by the way). I think that it might be fate. Armenia could use a bump in tourism (lord knows the only people who go are probably distant cousins).
Katie: I was surprised when I found out this song was favourite to win, but I do like it. There’s quite a slow start, and that’s why I love the crazy, exploding chorus as it’s so unexpected yet works perfectly. There’s a nice build up to the chorus, it gets a lot more intense during the bridge when the violins kick in and Aram starts to shout a bit more. The chorus is like a firework, violin and drum madness carried off perfectly with Aram’s harsh tones. I can’t believe he’s a comedian! He’s talented enough to be a full time, serious singer!
Vebooboo: People say it will be a head-to-head battle between Sanna and Aram MP3 this year. What I love about both entries is the way that they start soft and build until the end, capturing our attention throughout — something that so few songs have successfully done this year. I am completely mesmorised by the passion and fire that comes out of this man’s voice when he starts screaming toward the end of the entry. My only concern is that the contrast with his sweet, sweet whisperings from the start of the song may be a bit too drastic (and definitely more polarising than Sanna’s shift). But there’s no denying that this is generally a fantastic entry, and deserves a place within the Top 5. Aram MP3 may not be a fan of gay people, but I have to say I am a fan of his music–hence why I ironically place him tied with his bestie Conchita Wurst 😉
Padraig: To quote John Travolta, “I’ve got chills and they’re multiplying”. Thankfully, I’m maintaining control, but only just. The soaring orchestra, the pulsating dubstep, and Aram’s gravely voice draw me in and ensnare my senses. I’m fully aware that it’s 100% emotional manipulation, but I don’t care. “Not Alone” would be nigh on perfection; if only the lyrics weren’t so perfunctory. The verses are riddled with repetition, while the chorus is just downright lazy. However, the text is only a tiny cog in a well constructed machine, and is not enough to cause a derailment. It’s little wonder that all signs seem to pointing towards Yerevan 2015.
James L: In some ways, I’m not sure why Armenia is one of the major favourites to win this year. The song is a bit unbalanced, with a fairly yawn-inducing first half and a relentless electro-dubstep screamfest for the second half, and Aram has ruffled a few feathers already with some of his less-than-careful comments. He seems to have smoothed over those feathers and will surely be on his best behaviour now, and I can’t help loving this song. It starts slow, but it has an emotional power that pulls you in. And then it builds to an epic head-banging climax that leaves you satisfied – except you want to hear it all over again.
Deban:The message of not giving up on love is a timeless one that universally resonates. However, being whispered to, only to be shouted out, is not the best way of putting that message forward. Aram Mp3’s roots are in comedy. However, unlike Anri Jokhadze who crashed in the semis when he represented Georgia in 2012, many ESC fans are firmly behind this year’s Armenian entry. Personally, I don’t think this track is capable of gaining any mileage beyond the contest. Fuelled by hype and hostility in equal measure, ‘Not Alone’ simply doesn’t measure up when critically assessed.Some of the ideas are good, but the finished product reads like a demo.
All 19 jurors review all 37 songs, but we only had space to share 9 written reviews. Here are the remaining 10 scores.
Maxim Montana: 5/10
William C: 9.9/10
The highest and lowest scores are removed before calculating the final score. We have dropped a low of 3 and a high of 10.
The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 8.05/10
Note: An earlier version of this post mistakenly calculated the average as 8.24. We neglected to include a score from our 19th juror. This lowers the average to 8.05. We apologize for the error.
You can check out our latest Eurovision 2014 reviews and rankings on the Wiwi Jury page. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.