Athena Manoukian was due to represent Armenia at the 2020 Eurovision song contest in Rotterdam with her song “Chains on You”. It’s urban pop with a distinct sound, marking a change of musical direction for Armenia.
Armenian broadcaster AMPTV selected Athena through Depi Evratesil 2020. This was the third edition of the Armenian national final and the first since 2018. She emerged victorious from a field of 12 competing entries, gaining major support from both national and international jurors. Her winning song later underwent a major revamp.
We’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Athena Manoukian. Let’s do this!
Armenia at Eurovision 2020: Facts about Athena Manoukian
1. She is proudly Greek-Armenian
Athena’s mother is Greek and her father is Greek-Armenian, making her 25% Armenian. However, as she told our William in an interview, she feels like Armenia is her second home. She has started learning the Armenian language and proudly identifies with both sides of her heritage.
2. She tried to represent Greece at Junior Eurovision 2008
Athena Manoukian is not an unfamiliar name to Eurovision fans. Even if you missed the various rumours about her potential participation in recent years, you may remember her from her younger days. At the age of 14, she attempted to represent her native Greece at Junior Eurovision 2008. She performed the song “To fili tis Afroditis” (“Aphrodite’s Kiss”). Ultimately, she placed seventh in a field of ten entries and did not go on to sing at Junior Eurovision. She did, however, place her name firmly on our radars.
3. She won a TV talent show aged just 12
The junior song contest wasn’t Athena’s first appearance on television. In 2007, she won a Greek talent show called This Is What’s Missing, giving us a very early taste of the diva to come. Let’s not forget that she was just 12 years old at the time.
4. She was a MAD VMA nominee
Every year the brightest stars of Greece’s music scene come together for the MAD Video Music Awards. The glitzy ceremony regularly also attracts big-name international acts. And in 2012, Athena was nominated for two awards for her breakout hit — “Party Like A Freak” with DJ KAS. She got the nod in the Best Collaboration and Best Music Video Dance categories. Alas, she missed out on both gongs. Athena followed this success up with “I Surrender” and “Na Les Pos M’agapas”.
5. She’s worked in Sweden and Australia
We know about her connections to Greece but our queen is slaying across all corners of the globe. Her hit single “XO” planted her squarely in our sights in 2014 and it took a globetrotting effort to produce it. The song was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden and the music video was shot in Sydney, Australia. “XO” received an Armenian Pulse Award for Best Song in English.
6. She’s written for a Eurovision winner
Greece’s only Eurovision win came back in 2005, when Helena Paparizou performed “My Number One“. The final took place one day before Athena Manoukian turned 11 years old. Fast forward to 2017 and Athena would go on to co-write a song for the Eurovision legend. “Palia mou agapi” can certainly be regarded as one of Athena’s greatest songwriting achievements to date.
7. She auditioned for The X Factor UK
This one may be no secret, but Athena made a splash on the UK’s version of The X Factor in 2018. While she didn’t proceed to the live shows, her audition caught the judges — Simon Cowell, Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and Ayda Field — off guard. They all seemed rather unsure as to whether they were impressed or not. Athena isn’t the only act from abroad to appear on the UK show — Finland’s Saara Aalto finished second on the 2016 edition, before her appearance at Eurovision 2018.
8. She’s developed a love of snakes
Fear of serpents may be a relatively common phobia and Athena certainly subscribed to the notion. What might not be so common is that our girl decided to confront her fear head-on. That experience certainly changed her view on the topic — she says she now finds them peaceful.
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So I always had a thing with snakes. Not a good thing. And I like to try things that I fear. And now it's my new fav, you can't imagine how peaceful it makes you feel. I met about 15 of them but this one is one of my fav. I'm telling you right now, whatever you fear of just go and try it. You'll feel you can conquer the world. I absolutely did feel like that? Although you can see me be scared at times. One of them came to my ear and whispered and I said if I made it do this I can be eating rice only from now on. How do you feel about snakes? You like 'em??#AthenaManoukian #SnakePhotoshoot #BehindTheScenes #Backstage #GettingFriendsWithSnakes #TonyCouper @tonycouper_styleclothing
9. Her Halloween costume of choice is Harley Quinn
There’s more than one instance on Athena’s Instagram account of our queen posing as DC Comics character Harley Quinn. Sometimes it’s for Halloween and sometimes it’s just because! Our girl is more than capable of rocking the pink hair on a more permanent basis if she wishes.
10. She has a great range of covers on YouTube
While Athena didn’t release any new music between “XO” and “Chains On You”, she has posted a series of covers on YouTube. These include takes on Adele’s “Hello“, Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” and LP’s “Lost on You“. That’s quite the repertoire and it’s worth checking out.
Eurovision 2021 update
As of 27 March, neither Athena nor the Armenian broadcaster has commented on their plans for 2021. Upon the cancellation of the 2020 contest, Athena wrote:
“In my experience, when something goes wrong or not as scheduled, ALWAYS something better and bigger comes after. That’s what I also believe now. Whatever happened, happened ONLY for good. And time will show. I keep that I met amazing, precious and unique people, my team, my Armenian family”.
Would Athena Manoukian have taken Armenia back to the Eurovision grand final? Are you digging the urban vibe of “Chains on You”? Let us know in the comments below.