Last night, the second semi-final of Eurovision 2019 kicked off with Armenia’s Srbuk, who performed her song “Walking Out”. But as the song progressed, an unexpected thing happened — the audience disappeared. It left viewers — both fans and Eurovision media — wondering what had happened.

Watch the disappearing audience from 2:17.

Many fans took to social media, puzzled at what they’d just seen. Was it a technical error? Had the show producers switched to rehearsal footage as something unexpected had happened in the hall? Or was everything all going according to plan?

But it wasn’t just viewers at home who were surprised. Fan media — who had viewed numerous rehearsals of “Walking Out” — had never seen it performed with shots of an empty audience.

It turns out the answer was a simple one: it was deliberate. Srbuk had even given fans a heads-up on the morning of the semi-final.

On Twitter, she had revealed that, “During the culmination you will be surprised. I’m gonna be “alone” in the hall, without audience. This trick’ll be used for the emotional tension to be even more powerful.”

But despite the warning, the empty audience scenes still came as a shock to viewers.

British tabloid Daily Express interpreted the staging as a “huge blunder”, and quoted viewers who thought rehearsal footage had been cut in.

Eagle-eyed viewers, however, noted the complete emptiness of the pavilion. With no press or technical crew to be seen in shot, it’s clear that the “empty audience” scenes were filmed especially, not just taken from rehearsal footage.

But it appears that rather than creating emotional tension, the shots left many viewers scratching their heads.

This may have contributed to viewers not feeling inspired to vote for Armenia. “Walking Out” was not one of the ten qualifiers from the second semi-final, giving the former Eurovision power nation its second non-qualification in two years.

It’s not currently known where Armenia placed in the semi-final, however Eurovision executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand has today revealed that just one point was all that separate the acts in 10th and 11 place.

What do you think? Were you confused by Armenia’s empty audience shots? Or did it heighten the songs emotions? Tell us your thoughts below!

Read more Armenia Eurovision news here

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Adrian
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Adrian

SHE CAME 16th?!?!?!? ROBBED

Maxime
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Maxime

stop talking about anything to just close the eyes of the audience, she had planned during the interviews that she was going to be alone for a moment in the room, the juries of Eurovision have boycotted well and use that as evidence for not vote for Armenia. she had an exceptional voice her performance was good, she was loved by the audience, for once Armenia sent a song that was up to par, and that was also favorites for many people, but no one was talking about her or advertised, because Eurovision put forward those they prefer. If I… Read more »

Maxime
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Maxime

no, but where are we going? it becomes ridiculous Eurovision, at the last minute they change the program as by chance, and disqualify the Armenia I do not agree because the viewers liked his songs she was appreciated by the public it was a big favorite too but no one spoke of her, Eurovision always put forward those they want them to win, shame on them. I will not look at Eurovision anymore because everything is boycotting. and one more thing if I was Armenia I will not participate in Eurovision anymore

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

I heard rumours that Armenia had a really cool, shattering glass camera effect that they were working on (that would obviously need pre-recorded footage). Am thinking that maybe they had problems with the effect but kept the pre-recorded footage in without it. As good an explanation as any.

yodenman
Guest
yodenman

Yes the audience disappeared and so did the voters.

Anna
Guest
Anna

She was too aggressive. The stage was empty. Her outfit was underwhelming and she also wasn’t at her best vocally. I called it since the preparties that both Armenia and Belgium wouldn’t qualify.

Leo M
Guest
Leo M

Well that plan backfired massively. It just left me confused. I actually thought she did well but the audience disappearing made think it was a technical error

Khazar
Guest

She was bad

Linay
Guest
Linay

It was intentional, and if I recall correctly, she had already mentionned it in her press conferences last week.

Gama
Guest
Gama

It WAS deliberate. Honestly, people… this is why Salvador Sobral ranted against fastfood music. Simple discernment of why it happened… And yet we have to dumb it down to people watching.

But really, they should have gone the HALF A GODDESS route. Could have been a banger. Still love Srbuk tho.

Ann
Guest
Ann

There is NO such thing as “fastfood” music -.- There’s a variety of music genres and every genre is made for something else.

James
Guest
James

Like that Gunther song from some years back?

Katitam
Guest
Katitam

I love the song but she has some aggressive vibe which makes that people can’t connect with her. I don’t know, she always sees uncomfortable, angry, cold, and made me feel like that when I was seeing her on ESC and in the concerts before the contest. The staging was good, her voice was okay, but she produces rejection. As a musician, that’s a huge problem. Different from, for example, artists with different personalities and music styles as Duncan, Jonida, Tamara, Sergey, the girl from Malta (sorry, I forgot her name but I like her song), Luca, Keiino guys: you… Read more »

Anna
Guest
Anna

I agree with you completely! I hope this experience helps her grow, and she receives the criticism as constructive. She was always too focused on her song and performance and never clicked with the public. This was evident especially at the Madrid pre-party.

Katitam
Guest
Katitam

Extremely agree. It was the case with Alekseev last year: he has grown a lot since ESC. They were more famous in their respective countries and maybe both thought that they had more to demonstrate as artists. And they didn’t: they just needed a good song and transparency.

I hope both come back someday.

jache
Guest

I SWEAR IF IT NEEDED ONE TELEVOTE VOTE TO PASS AND IT WAS BECAUSE I COULDNT VOTE CUZ MY CONNECTION CRASHED I WILL SCREAM ALL OVER THE PLACE

Ron
Guest
Ron

I’m so sad for Srbuk (not for the Armenian delegation), but for Srbuk. The girl has an incredible voice and an immense talent yet everyone around her from the stage producers to costume designers were apparently idiots. I wholeheartedly believe that Armenia should send her again next year and do her justice and fire the stage producers who has been ruining Armenia’s performances for the past two years. #Srbuk2020

Max
Guest
Max

They should, at least some time in the future, when she feels more confident on stage. However, “Walking out” was indeed smashed to pieces with that staging.

Alex
Guest
Alex

well it failed to leave a positive impact as it left people confused and wondering what happened. Big fail from the Armenian delegation.

Laurentiu
Guest
Laurentiu

So, this is a reason not to vote for a song even though you like it? Lol eurovision televoters do not cease to surprise me!

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

For just a moment, I thought that the boycott movement had bought the tickets to that Semi.

James
Guest
James

Anyone who paid attention to both the song and the performance would see immediately that the quick shot of the empty venue was intentional.

Oh well.:)

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

I know the song very well. Full attention was paid here during viewing. It was still a surprise that I wasn’t certain about.
Besides, the song is about HER walking out on a relationship, not the audience walking out of her performance.

RicJames
Guest
RicJames

Hahaha Purple Mask- so true

James
Guest
James

Perhaps so that the attention would be drawn to her. The execution may not have been flawless but as the old saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts”.

Shame still for not qualifying. It would be a bigger shame if she did ended up 11th. The juries may have pushed her up while the televoters dragged her down likely.

EuroBalkan
Guest
EuroBalkan

This was done intentionally?
Oh my god. Like it wasn’t enough that stage looked empty, they decided to make the whole arena empty. Actually, people generally thought that it was rehearsal recording and wondered if her performance is live at all.
Bad move Armenia. I hope you will learn from your mistake.

MrBrightside
Guest
MrBrightside

Maybe they just walked out for a pee break. ^^

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

So it was intentional. And very poorly executed. Many people haven’t even noticed the empty arena shots and those who noticed wondered that it could be a technical problem. And when you start wondering it, you lose connection to what’s going on (I spent the rest of the performance paying attention on the crowd and not on her). Could it work? Maybe. But they would need much more impressive camerawork. A shot of Srbuk singing to the empty arena filmed from the back of the stage, for example.

Where I Belong
Guest
Where I Belong

I have got an uncomfortable question: how can we be sure that this sequence was vocally live ?

James
Guest
James

Because she continued singing throughout?

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Because when singing it, she was nowhere near that note.

Meli
Guest
Meli

It seemed quite obvious to me that it was done on purpose… I mean they really went out of their way to show how empty it was.

Melissa J
Guest
Melissa J

I totally missed this haha. But I was extremely surprised Armenia did not make it through as she had one of the stronger performances of the whole contest thus far. I thought she’d get in over Malta, as Malta was just not as strong vocally. But with both semi finals having such close “near qualifiers” with only one or two points separating positions, makes you wonder how close the rest of the field was, and if the Final will have a similar situation of very close points. I’m personally hoping for that, and for an expected country to swoop in… Read more »

Esc fan
Guest
Esc fan

How do you know that Malta qualified instead of Armenia?

CyxCy
Guest
CyxCy

When I saw that there was nobody, I just thought they had not managed to sell the tickets for the stands. 😀

Cedric
Guest

I didn’t pay attention to half of the Irish performance because of that. I was trying to find out what happened and missed Sarah’s performance >.>

Bogdan Honciuc
Guest

it was a risky move and it didn’t pay off, as more people were baffled than they were impressed

Kuhkatz
Guest
Kuhkatz

Didnt really do much. Her problem was to fill the whole stage alone, others did better in that term (Estonia or Serbia for example).

Joe
Guest
Joe

I didn’t even notice since I was watching the stage.

ESCFan2009
Guest
ESCFan2009

Me too. I love the song, so I was really in front of the TV and concentrated, but I didn’t notice at all. Then I read this article and thought, wait what? Just watched it again today and yeah, now I see the thing 😀

Pengu
Guest
Pengu

It did nothing but cause confusion.

Safiya
Guest
Safiya

It was confusing and I think it might have even hurt their chances. It didn’t really look impressive, rather weird. But in my opinion the fact that she was alone was the issue here. I’m not talking only about the audience thing. I thought that they would try to recreate their official videoclip – it would probably be much more interesting with the dancers.

David F
Guest
David F

I think this kind of stunt should be banned. It disparages the overall production — just like when Lea Sirk faked an audio problem. The EBU should require performances to respect the presentation of the host.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

This particular one was just weird, but I kinda liked Lea’s fake audio problem and Barei’s fake fall. The audience wises up pretty quickly usually.

David F
Guest
David F

I just think it’s a cheap trick; even if the audience wises up, the setup is that the performer is victim to a production fail.

INAMOO
Guest
INAMOO

You are overreacting. At least Lea Sirk’s gimmick that time was a success.

Rashad Guliyev
Guest
Rashad Guliyev

Well, it was not really a good idea. I think it just confused the audience. But kinda sad not to see Armenia in the final. Yes, there were issues, but she definitely deserved to qualify.

Dan
Guest
Dan

She was alone on the stage. She got lost. Point.

Bette Davis
Guest
Bette Davis

Sometimes they just act stupid, or to put it this way: don’t think smart. It is often that the artist is alone in his vision, and – being an artist – having difficulties with advice or criticism. No honey, we don’t see what you see and we don’t get the message you are trying to send. Re-think. Same with Moldova. All the fuss about the sand, but was anyone actually impressed with what they’ve shown? No. Felt dated. Has anyone actually told her: hey woman, take a break, listen, the sand is a bad idea from the very start, it… Read more »

Frisian esc
Guest
Frisian esc

Actually the sand artist probably helped moldova stand out. The song wasn’t good enough to qualify in the first place but it probably made the difference from being dead last to around 13th place I think.

acp
Guest
acp

I am absolutely shocked by the small points of difference between the 10th and the 11th on both semifinals. The 11 placers are going to scratch their head because they were so close!!