Over the summer, wiwibloggs has been running a series taking a look at all of the 43 countries currently participating in the Eurovision Song Contest and some of the reasons why we love them. Our tour has taken us around Europe and today we touched down in Yerevan, the final stop in our journey.
We are taking a look at Armenia, who joined the contest in 2006. Armenia enjoyed a prosperous start to their Eurovision career, placing in the top ten on their first five attempts. They have placed fourth twice and delivered a wide range of music. Without further ado — and for the last time — here are 10 reasons why we love Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. Fierce female soloists…
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Armenia are at their best when they send a fierce female soloist. Whether it is Sirusho or Iveta Mukuchyan, from Eva Rivas to Artsvik, Armenia has a plethora of female talent. It’s also no surprise that the country has won Eurovision’s Next Top Model twice, with Tamar Kaprelian taking out the honour in 2015 and Iveta Mukuchyan in 2016. Even national finals have thrown up fierce females, from Egine to Asmik Shiroyan. Who runs Armenia? Girls!
… and the men aren’t so bad either
Armenia’s most memorable entries feature fierce females but they have plenty of male talent too. A strong debut with Andre was followed up by a beautiful ballad from Hayko. The likes of Aram MP3 hold Armenia’s equal best result and more recently, Sevak Khanagyan took us somewhere special with the first ever Eurovision entry completely in the Armenian language. The men of Armenia can definitely hold their own.
2. They sing about fruit
Malta sang about vodka. Latvia had a cake to bake. Belarus had their cheesecake and ate it too. But Armenia stripped it down to mother nature’s sweet fruit. Eva Rivas sang “Apricot Stone” in 2010, celebrating the national fruit of Armenia. Apricots aren’t just popular in Armenia though — “Apricot Stone” soared to a seventh-place finish in Oslo.
3. They did that epic woodwind instrument moment first
Denmark won Eurovision 2013 with Emmelie de Forest’s “Only Teardrops“. The performance is instantly recognisable with it starting with a close up on Emmelie’s flautist. Speaking of apricots and Eva Rivas, her performance of “Apricot Stone” three years earlier featured a similar staging moment, featuring the woodwind instrument known in Armenia as the duduk. We aren’t taking anything away from Emmelie’s epic win in 2013 but there’s no doubt that both songs had that magic moment and Eva did it first.
4. Two-word song titles using the same word twice
From “Qele Qele” to “Jan Jan” to “Boom Boom”, half of Armenia’s first six entries followed a curious pattern. The most curious part of this pattern is the differing fortunes of the songs. “Qele Qele” holds the record of Armenia’s equal best result. “Jan Jan” finished in a respectable tenth in 2009 which was Armenia’s worst ever result at the time, while “Boom Boom” was Armenia’s first entry which failed to qualify. Emmy can take solace in the fact that her giant boxing glove holds an unquestionable spot in the history of staging props.
5. The curious case of “Qele Qele”
There is no doubt that “Qele Qele” is one of the best entries Armenia has sent to Eurovision, worthy of a spot on any Eurovision dance playlist. We have to start by pointing out that Sirusho is a complete goddess and an absolute Eurovision icon. But we also have to point out some odd records that she holds. “Qele Qele” received the most 12 point scores of all songs in the Eurovision 2008 grand final, from no less than eight countries, but managed to finish outside the top three. “Qele Qele” isn’t the only song to achieve this potentially unwanted record — Bosnia and Herzegovina also did it with “Love in Rewind” in 2011.
However, one completely unique honour that “Qele Qele” holds is that it managed to beat a Eurovision winner in a semi-final without winning the semi-final. This feat has not been matched by any other entry in the history of the contest, due to the fact that no winning song other than “Believe” has finished below second in a semi-final.
There sure are some curiosities around “Qele Qele” but for the most part, we will remember it for the masterpiece that it is.
6. They sent a guy singing “Not Alone” completely alone
You will need an appreciation of irony to take in Armenia’s 2014 entry. “Not Alone” matched Sirusho’s record of finishing fourth at Eurovision but unlike Sirusho’s dance number with her troupe of backing dancers, Aram MP3 did so by singing all alone on stage. While this is far from unusual when it comes to Eurovision performances, we certainly appreciate the irony of his solo performance with a song called “Not Alone”. His repeated cries of “you’re not alone” may be true, but Aram himself was all alone.
7. Eurovision’s best sister act
Siblings can get in on the Eurovision fun together. Whether it’s Russia’s Tolmachevy Sisters, Switzerland’s Zibbz or Ireland’s Jedward, there are many cases of talented siblings working wonders on the Eurovision stage together. But they don’t get any better than Armenia’s Inga & Anush. The sisters performed the addictive “Jan Jan”, one of the best pieces of ethnopop in the last decade. The ladies played to their traditional roots, from outfits to instrumentation and dance styles, and finished tenth in one of the most competitive editions of the contest ever.
8. The Depi Evratesil national selection
Admittedly Depi Evratesil hasn’t brought Armenia much success since it was introduced as the national selection in 2017. However, the format is definitely finding its feet, with a number of quality entries in 2018. Armenia has had a few teething problems with the contest but as it develops and if Armenia persist with it, Depi Evratesil could evolve into the best national final in Eastern Europe. We should also point out some of the most epic performances from the contest, from the dazzling Egine in 2017 to the beautiful Tamar Kaprelian in 2018. Some of us are still a bit disappointed Armenia’s best national final entries did not get through. Oh, and let’s not forget the outrageous Kamil Show, which simply cannot be put into words. If you haven’t experienced “Puerto Rico”, strap yourself in for the best viewing experience of your life and click play below.
9. The masters of staging
Admittedly “Qami” was a bit of a staging misfire in 2018 but generally, Armenia produce some of the best staging we have witnessed at the Eurovision Song Contest. We’ve already mentioned the gigantic boxing glove from 2011 but let’s not forget that Eva Rivas had a gigantic apricot stone (and a smaller one in her hand). Genealogy brought a world map with them and Hayko brought the drama in 2007 by almost bleeding out on stage and even brought a replica of the trees of the Geghard Monastery. Amazingly, Sirusho brought an epic dance number without any props or gimmicks, which in itself is something spectacular at Eurovision. Of course, there’s also Artsvik, who brought some dramatic camerawork in 2017 and transformed “Fly with Me” from forgettable to fierce. Armenia does staging right.
10. The best-staged and best-performed entry in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest
Did you really think we were going to make an entry about staging on this list and not include Iveta Mukuchyan? The staging of “LoveWave” is so good it deserves its own entry on this list. Now I’m not going to be biased and make any ridiculous comments about how “LoveWave” is the best Eurovision entry ever (Poli Genova ensures that it’s not even my favourite entry of 2016) but simply put, nothing in the history of Eurovision pulls off the drama that Iveta Mukuchyan pulls off. It’s a performance that is too good to compute and has already left a legacy on the contest, having a major influence on a number of entries in the two years since, with the likes of Armenia’s Artsvik and Croatia’s Franka trying to pull off that same dramatic wow factor. “LoveWave” creates drama with quick cuts and sharp camera angles and most of all, the way Iveta works her body.
In short, “LoveWave” is incomparable.
Bonus: The Armenian diaspora
The Armenian diaspora has certainly played its part in helping Armenia move up the leaderboard in certain editions of the contest. However, we have to also point out the wonders that the Armenian diaspora has delivered on the stage as well.
The group Genealogy was formed consisting of Armenians from France, Ethiopia, Japan, Australia and the United States of America, as well as Armenia itself, representing Armenia at Eurovision 2015. Eurovision 2016 winner Jamala is Armenian from her mother’s side of the family and she won the contest for Ukraine. Hovig represented Cyprus in 2017 and is also a member of the Armenian diaspora. Another Armenian, Elly V, finished second in the Austrian national final in 2016. Armenians have had great success on stage, whether they are flying the Armenian flag or the flag of another country.
What do you think of Armenia at Eurovision? What are your favourite Armenian entries? Let us know in the comments below.
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