Disappointing Performance Leaves Armenia Behind at Eurovision

As Armenia stayed behind, 10 qualifiers advanced to the Eurovision Song Contest’s (ESC) final, which will take place on May 14 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Arguably, the loss was foreseeable. Emmy, or Emma Bejanyan, the Armenian pop starlet, delivered a disappointing performance during the first semi-final that took place on May 10.

Although Armenia stayed behind—as did its neighbor, Turkey—Greece, Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Finland, Georgia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Iceland made it to the final.

The second semi-final will take place on May 12, where another 19 countries will compete to make it to the top 10 for a chance to win first place at the Grand Final.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7djeM3s4waU

Eurovision is known to many as a kitschy affair, featuring performers in glitzy clothes, spewing catchy nonsensical chorus verses—like Emmy’s “Boom-boom chaka-chaka”—or whiny ballads. However, once in a while a gem slips through. On the other hand, the subtle political undertones or surrounding indignation and attacks, can be fascinating at times.

A matter of patriotism

While some countries view Eurovision as a chance to display their cultural heritage, many relinquish that for the sake of “competitiveness,” and display performances stripped of national characteristics.

Emmy during her performance on May 10

The Huffington Post, in a May 11 article, singled out Azerbaijan to highlight the staggering amount of money the country has invested in the ESC—$2 million in 2010, which included hiring Beyonce’s choreographer to aid Safura, last year’s contestant.

“Under the influence of alcohol, you might mispronounce Azerbaijan as aspiration. You wouldn’t be far off the mark. A fiery patriotism makes doing well at the Eurovision Song Contest a matter of national importance, and that occasionally leaves competitors scratching their heads,” wrote Will Adams.

Following the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, Azerbaijani authorities launched a campaign tracking and interrogating dozens of individuals who had voted for Armenia’s Inga and Anush Arshakyan and their song “Jan Jan.” Forty-three individuals had reportedly voted for the song. (The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) found that the Azerbaijani broadcaster, Ictimai Televiziya, had distorted the TV signal when the Armenian contestants were up, blurring the telephone number.) According to the Azeri Press Agency (APA), EBU fined the TV station €2700, and gave them a warning.

This year, Azerbaijan’s “Ell & Nikki,” or Eldar Qasimov and Nigar Jamal, secured a spot at the final with their song “Running Scared.” Many believe the duo has a chance to make it to the top three.

Emmy has proven to be an unfortunate choice for Armenia. Her supporting Greek dancers, however, roused emotions in Azerbaijan, where according to reports, the media was quick to declare that Armenia “stole” Azerbaijan’s national dance, the kochari.

A controversial pick

In December 2010, the president of the Council of Public Television and Radio Company of Armenia, Alexan Harutyunyan, announced the council’s decision to send Emmy to Eurovision, without a public vote.

Although Emmy was preselected, her song was voted on by the public.

The move towards an internal selection of competitors is not a new concept. Back in 2008, Sirusho, after being internally selected, made it to fourth place in the ESC—the best result yet for Armenia.

During the 2010 national final in February, the artists were voted on by the public through a televised 15-minute SMS voting system. Emmy and rapper Mihran performed a duet and lost to the Russian-Armenian Eva Rivas. Emmy and her mother, Nadezhda Sargsyan, went public with accusations of foul play, even threatening to take the matter to court.

During a press conference, Sargsyan claimed that Harutyunyan had reassured her that Emmy and Mihran would “definitely” represent Armenia at Eurovision.

Armenia debuted in the ESC in 2006 with Andre’s song “Without Your Love,” which came in 8th place. In 2007, Hayko represented Armenia with his song “Anytime You Need” and came in 8th. In 2008, Sirusho’s “Qele, Qele” came in 4th. In 2009, Inga and Anush Arshakyans performed “Jan Jan” and came in 10th. Eva Rivas, with her song “Apricot Stone,” made it to 7th place in 2010. Emmy’s performance on May 10 marked the first time Armenia failed to make it through the semi-finals.

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Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk, and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in political science and English from the University of Massachusetts (Boston), where she is currently continuing her graduate studies. Email Nanore Barsoumian at writenanore@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter (@NanoreB).

33 Comments

  1. So ridiculous. If you are going to cry foul play and threaten court action, then you better “bring it” when you are given a chance to perform.

  2. Yeah.. the singer and the song did not do justice for the Armenia… poor choice unfortunately.. it is dissapointing…

    Armenia, please pick someone to represent our country in all aspects in the next competition.

    Thank you
    Gayane

  3. “Altough Armenia stayed behind -as did its neighbour Turkey-  ”

    Nanore  you are so so strange. 

  4. Thanks Nanore for letting this primarily Armenian audience know the results for our natural rivals Turkey and Azerbaijan.  Necati may think you are strange, but I think you simply provided your readers with the info they were looking for. 

    And Necati Genis, nothing derogatory was said.  No reason to get your knickers in a bunch.  All countries competing in the ESC are rivals and we all know that the rivalry between Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan has a particular poignancy because of our tragic shared history.

  5. You can consider us as “natural enemy ”  but we dont do same for any country.

    I want to hope that not the whole Armenian people thinks same way as yours.

    Eurovision is only a song contest nothing about  politics.

    Anyway , i could understand your feelings but  not NANORE’s.

    It is very disappointing that someone ,like Nanore , who majored in political sciences  and being “anti-war activist ” , says that.

    Nations can never be natural enemies. It is a matter of time. Some nations were enemy in the past but now very close. and vica verce.

    For example France was very close to Ottomans  during the period  starting from  The  magnificient Suleiman until  the Empire got  smaller. After that, they turned to be an enemy of Ottomans during ww1.

    I hope people , if any more , like you , can  put some humanity in their hearts  instead of pure , unconditional hate.

  6. Necati,

    You are making a good point and I have to agree. It’s just a song contest and, to be honest, the quality of the songs is pretty low, in general. Perhaps, Nanore simply wanted to inform how other countries in our neighborhood did, which includes Turkey. She mentions other countries besides Turkey, doesn’t she? You may be a bit defensive, since Turkey, like Armenia, did not make it to the final. So what? If Nanore singles out Turkey as a “nature enemy,” she shouldn’t.

    Since you are so sensitive to this issue, I advise you to find out how Azerbaijan has been harassing her own citizens for giving points to Armenian singers and how political is this whole issue–who won/who didn’t–for them. I am sure you will have a lot to teach them.   

  7. There were few factors that did not let Emmy go to the final:

    1. Emmy was punished by Diaspora Armenians  for taking part in TASHIR 2011 gift- scandal;
    2. This year Holland and Belgium were not allowed to  vote of the first semi-final. These are countries which usually gave/give maximum points to Armenia;
     3. Emmy performd  not that good  (as  ALL Armenian participants before her  in semi-finals). Stress?
    4. The jury is anti-east European generally.

    I have to be honest to say that In 2010 Emmy/Mihran DID have the best song/performance (
    “Hey”).  I do think that they did the right thing to appeal to the decision in 2010, because there were many irregularities (many sms’s did not make it).

    ALL the Armenian participants before were NOT any better than Emmy. And if you think that the selection process in Armenia is that fair then your are wrong.

    This I would like to tell to Emmy:  you do not have to get yourself down. You did your best. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes not. IT IS WHAT IT IS, and it is ALWAYS for your best.  If you REALLY want to win  EuroVision Songfestival one day, try again. Why not. Good luck.

  8. Necati Genis, it will help you to look up the meaning of the word rival and to re-read my comment.  I do not feel hate.  I only acknowledge that when it comes to Turkey and Azerbaijan, most Armenians have a heightened desire to prevail due to our history together.   I think perhaps your own prejudice to view Armenians as hateful is clouding your ability to understand the subtlety of what I said.  May the best song win!

  9. Each candidate should sing in her/his country’s language. That’s how I see the real Eurovision contest and that’s how it should be!

  10. Necati Genis:

    I read Nanore’s article end-to-end, word-for-word. I did a ‘search’ for the word enemy.
    The only place the word enemy appears is in your post (and later Gina’s).
    The only word that appears next to Turkey in Nanore’s article is neighbor: any problem with that ?

    Maybe you, Necati Genis ‘… are so so strange.’

    Either show us where in her article  Nanore used the word ‘enemy’, or profusely, with genuine contrition, apologize to Ms. Barsoumian for libeling her.

  11. Emmy…
    You’re beautiful 
    Light hearted…
    Soulfully active
    Typical ‘Armenian Sun-shine’

    You brought happiness to the stage 
    Your face looked like Audrey Hepburn
    You were the prettiest of all the girls
    Those appeared after…

    All had harsh faces…Like men 
    You are the winner 
    And always the winner
    Your voice dances with sparks

    Your cute figure 
    No one can deny 
    If some did not like
    It doesn’t mean all

    We should judge
    With our minds
    Not what others’ guide us
    Disappointment mustn’t enter your heart
    Stay happy alive

    We appreciate your hard work
    One day you will be
    A hollywoodian actor 
    I hope I will be alive…
    To see you again

    If you are singing,
    “I am in love with you” 
    We shall sing
    “We are all in love with you too” 

    Sylva-MD-Poetry

    Written instantly 

  12. I agree with Avery.. Necati you definintely need to apologize to Nanore for your quick jump to conclusion and dillusional comment…

    Seriously? You are calling Nanore strange? ABsolutely absurd… absolutely.. One should read your comments and one can conclude that you are an absolute “strange” and not Nanore…

    oh and one more thing.. you say nations were natural enemies in the past but now close.. i say well then.. good for them.. HOWEVER, your nation and my nation will never be close as YOU mentioned in your own article UNTIL your nation apologizes and pays back everything that is LAWFULLY belong to ARmenians.. understood? call me harsh but i would never want a Turk or Azeri to win anything that represents culture/music/heritage among many other nations because Turkey and Azerbajian is solely developed and prospered on stolen culture/music/heritage… It is harsh to hear this but lets face it… truth hurts….so please stop your melodramatic oh this and oh that nonsense…it truly gets old…

    Nanore thank you for your excellent article.. and I hope that Armenia will win in the next EuroVision contest….

    Gayane

  13. One of the only things I like during the Eurovision contest in addition to a beautiful song, is the word ԵՎՐԱՏԵՍԻԼ !

  14. Gayane and Avery, I think Necati Genis was responding to my first post on May 12th in which I state that Turkey and Azerbaijan are our rivals.  Mea culpa.

  15. Ananoon:

    Thanks for trying  to clarify.
    I  re-read your post of May 12: you use the word ‘rival’ not ‘enemy’.
    English is not my native tongue, but I know the difference between ‘enemy’ and ‘rival’: no need for me to elaborate; people can look it up.
    Like you said in your 2nd post: Necati should look up ‘rival’ before he gets all steamed up.
     
    And here is Necati Genis’s May12 post:
    ‘….Anyway , i could understand your feelings but  not NANORE’s.
    It is very disappointing that someone ,like Nanore , who majored in political sciences  and being “anti-war activist ” , says that….’
     
    Necati specifically accuses Nanore of something she absolutely did not say  in her article, even mentioning Nanor’e anti-war stance in her bio above: there is no doubt who the false accusation was addressed to.
     
    So my request to Necati still stands: either publicly apologize to Nanore, or refrain from Posting your usual Anti-Armenian rants here.
     

  16. Azerbaijan won…but my English friend said,
    The music has similarity to an old English song music
    But we are not musicians to remember…
    Needs expert in this field
    To study and trace…

    Sylva

  17. Ell & Nikki of ‘Azerbaijan’ won: congratulations. Their performance and song were excellent. A well deserved win.

    Armenian Emmy’s performance and song were lousy: a well deserved loss.

    BTW: if Ell and Nikki are ‘Azeri’ (Tatar), I am a Klingon.

  18. This is Azeris performance… even though i found their song boring and not so special, they did an ok job.. Congrats but not a winner in my book…….the video sucked…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qimiNmQsSs

    I like this song because the singer has a very strong and powerful voice.. he did a great job.. and also Greece was represented by the song’s lyrics which were in Greek and the music had ethnic sounds.. the guy did a great job of making sure everyone knew he represents Greece
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v27gtuLhiac

    This should have been a winner–great song, great voice, great looking guy.. :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwhMsJQl2ps

  19. Turan,

    Thanks to Sultan Aliev, Azerbaijan won eurovision.  But do you have any idea how much money they spent for that??  Why don’t you guys try to win an invention contest, or score some wins in olympic games, or win a title in intenational art field.  Before you get too happy win the latest win, try to name 3 internationaly recognized Azerbaijanis in any field.  :) Good Luck!

  20. Avery,

    Nigar is Turkish Cypriot who was given Azeri citizenship and Eldar is Azeri. I guess that would make you half Klingon.

  21. I am thinking that Armenians will not show up because, most likely, their safety will not be guaranteed. Would that be a boycott? I don’t think so. I have no idea why you are so happy about that.  

  22. Turan,

    Of course you are entitled to be happy after azerbaijan won Eurovision.  Congradulation to the WINNERS!  But don’t get too happy because after all the most famous azerbajani in the world is only a Eurovision winner.  LOL. 

    If Armenians have not been boycoting about turan, (which is obviously every seljuk’s dream), then why would we Armenians boycot a Eurovision?? Because azerbaijan won? Big deal! LOL. :) Your lifespan will not be enough to learn about Armenian’s achievents. LOL. But of course, enjoy your Eurovision achievent because after all the most famous azerbajani is a Eurovision winner. :) LOL. 

    I will tell you something else.  If you are about to start a war as your incumbent little sultan aliev claims then you should know that you are in the spot light after the Eurovision.

  23. No, Armenia won’t boycott Eurovision. We’ll only put up warning signs in people’s bedrooms asking people to take caution for Azeri maniacs that may burst into their rooms at any moment and chop them up with an ax; Ramil Safarov style.

  24. AR,

    Actually and ironically, the most famous “Azerbaijani” in the world may be Gary Kasparov–the greatest chess player in history–who is half Armenian and half Jewish. He barely escaped the Azeri maniacs who were trying to persecute him because he is Armenian. He was talking about what happened to the Armenians in Baku in an interview given to the Western media years ago. Try to find it Turan. It will be quite eye-opening for you. 

    Also, when I asked Turan about being happy, I wasn’t referring to Azerbaijan’s victory. He has all the right to be happy. I was instead referring to him being happy that Armenians will not be able to go. 

  25. Nina,

    You are an obscene talker.

    Nanore looks like accepted  her mistake since she is  in silence..so no need to write more…

  26. Why does everyone make such a big deal out of Eurovision. Most Europeans use it as an opportunity to goof on the contestants and the whole spectacle.

  27. Necati… Like i said in my other comment in another forum.. your statement sounds sooooooooooooo stupid…. just because she does not respond to your unintelligent comment it does not mean she acknowledges the mistake.. do you even think before you write like your friend Robert the Turk? You guys have that in common for sure..

    So if I call the President of a country all the names in the book after a published speech and get no response from him or his team, does that mean he agrees or acknowledges all the name calling put upon him?

    or if i respond to an article written by LA time where I can contribute my comments by writing something untrue about the information provided and the editor does not respond to me, does that mean my accusations are to be true????? I don’t know.. i just think your comment is baseless and meaningless cause it does not make sense……

    Have a great night sir or madam.. whoever you are..

    G

  28. Ok..lets  start from  the beginning. Bold is my  addings.
     
     
    Nanore   :  “Although Armenia stayed behind—as did its neighbor, Turkey—“
     
    Genis   :   “ Nanore  ,  You  are so strange…”   
     
     
    Ananoon:  “Thanks Nanore for letting this primarily Armenian audience know the
                        results for our natural rivals Turkey and Azerbaijan”
     
     Genis:       You can consider us as “natural enemy “  but we dont do same for any  
                      country. Eurovision is only a song contest nothing about  politics.
                     Anyway , i could understand your feelings but  not NANORE’s.
          It is very disappointing that someone ,like Nanore , who majored in
          political sciences  and being “anti-war activist ” , says that.
    Nations can never be natural enemies. It is a matter of time. Some nations
     were enemy in the past but now very close. and vica verce.
       For example France was very close to Ottomans  during the period  starting  from  The  magnificient Suleiman until  the Empire got  smaller. After that, they turned to be an enemy of Ottomans during ww1. I hope people , if any more , like you , can  put some humanity in their hearts  instead of pure , unconditional hate.
    Gina:  Necati, You are making a good point and I have to agree. It’s just a song
              contest
    Avery : Either show us where in her article  Nanore used the word ‘enemy’
                or profusely, with genuine contrition, apologize to Ms. Barsoumian for
               libeling her.
     
    Ananoon:  Necati Genis, it will help you to look up the meaning of the word rival and
                     to re-read my comment.  I do not feel hate.  I only acknowledge that when
                      it comes to Turkey and Azerbaijan, most Armenians have a heightened
                     desire to prevail due to our history together
     
    Gayane:     your nation and my nation will never be close as YOU mentioned in
                           your own article UNTIL your nation apologizes and pays back
                          everything that is LAWFULLY belong to ARmenians.. understood?
                           Call  me harsh but i would never want a Turk or Azeri to win anything
                           that represents culture/music/heritage among many other nations
                           
    Avery  :   if Ell and Nikki are ‘Azeri’ , I am a Klingon
     
    Gayane:  your statement sounds sooooooooooooo stupid
     
    Nina Sirelian :  Necati Genis you’re a babblling idiot!
     
    Genis: Nina, You are an obscene talker
     
     
     
     
     
    Başkalarının başarısızlıklarını kendine referance alan insanlar yerinde saymaya mahkumdurlar.
     
     
     
    Ok..lets  start from  the beginning. Bold is my  addings. 
    Nanore   :  “Although Armenia stayed behind—as did its neighbor, Turkey—“
    Genis   :   “ Nanore  ,  You  are so strange…”   
                     Isn’t she ? Normally you should not get happy on a bad score  of a contest  just
                      because  someone else  is much worse or  same  bad. Or is it  inferiority
                      complex?  (Those who always take  the other’s failure as  their model  are doomed 
                      to make no progress. )    

    Ananoon:  “Thanks Nanore for letting this primarily Armenian audience know  the  results for our
                       natural rivals Turkey and Azerbaijan”
                       Ananoon  is   honest (at least) .

     Genis:       You can consider us as “natural enemy “  but we dont do same for any country.
                      Eurovision is only a song contest nothing about  politics. Anyway , i could understand
                      your feelings but  not NANORE’s.It is very disappointing that someone ,like Nanore ,who
                      majored in  political sciences  and being “anti-war activist ” , says that. 
     
                     Nations can  never be natural enemies. It is a matter of time. Some nations were
                     enemy  in the  past  but now very close. and vica verce.
                     I hope people , if any more , like you , can  put some humanity in their hearts  instead of
                     pure , unconditional hate.
    Gina:        Necati, You are making a good point and I have to agree. It’s just a song  contest
    Avery :    Either show us where in her article  Nanore used the word ‘enemy’  or profusely, with
                  genuine contrition, apologize to Ms. Barsoumian for libeling her. 
                  She did not use the word ‘enemy’  directly  but anyone who reads her articles
                  can   feel it. Nevertheless, if she says most of Armenians , including herself ,are
                  pleased with us, i can apologize to her for my misunderstanding her heart. 


    Ananoon:  Necati Genis, it will help you to look up the meaning of the word rival and  to re-read my
                    comment.  I do not feel hate.  I only acknowledge that when  it comes to Turkey and
                    Azerbaijan, most Armenians have a heightened  desire to prevail due to our history
                    together 
                    I think You are one of  very very few people who  tries to think  with commonsense.  

    Gayane:     your nation and my nation will never be close as YOU mentioned in  your own article
                     UNTIL your nation apologizes and pays back    everything that is LAWFULLY belong to
                     ARmenians.. understood?
                     No. What  is that my nation need to pay back lawfully belongs to Armenians ?
                       Call  me harsh but i would never want a Turk or Azeri to win
                       anything that represents culture/music/heritage among many other nations 
                      Then, accommodate yourself to our inevitable success at all  in future .

    Avery  :   if Ell and Nikki are ‘Azeri’ , I am a Klingon. (yes They are.)     
                    I too was in doubt about your humanness.      
    Gayane:  your statement sounds sooooooooooooo stupid 
    Nina Sirelian :  Necati Genis you’re a babblling idiot!
                    I do not think all of Armenians are this much  rude  .

  29. Necati Genis
    (bold emphasis is Necati’s from May20 post above)
     
     
    re:     “ She did not use the word ‘enemy’  directly  but anyone who reads her articles
    can   feel it. Nevertheless, if she says most of Armenians , including herself ,are
    pleased with us, i can apologize to her for my misunderstanding her heart.”




    Well, you now admit she did not use the word ‘enemy’.
    I can feel a lot of things about people based on what they write or say: it doesn’t count – it’s what you actually write, say , or do that’s actionable in a Court of Law.

    You also kinda-sorta apologized to Nanore – “i can apologize to her for my misunderstanding her heart.”  – although you had to throw in the ‘heart’ thing.
    I can now  feel that Nanore is satisfied. If Nanore is satisfied, I am satisfied.

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