Armenia’s Eurovision 2014 Entry

Armenia went for an internal selection this year, choosing Aram Mp3. Here’s “Not Alone”:

First of all, I have this knee-jerk dislike for music artists with filenames or URLs in their names. (, anyone?) I need to get over that. Aram actually got the name from his early career in sketch comedy with 32 Atam, where he would do parodies of popular songs.

My first impression when I heard “Not Alone” was favorable. It’s modern, has a melody, builds, and has a universal message. All this, with a competent live singer. In a year where few Eurovision songs have presented themselves as possible winners, this one immediately has seemed a candidate. At the time of writing it’s the bookie favorite, with nearly even odds.

The arrangement, paired with the vocal, is what makes the song stand out. “Not Alone” starts as a piano ballad, then builds with a string arrangement. There’s a dubstep climax, then at the end it retreats again to the piano. Aram Mp3’s vocal similarly evolves, beginning with soft tones and long phrases, building to gritty tone and clipped lines, ending again with soft tones and long phrases.

All this to say the hype has some merit. But I also think the hype is overblown. The song’s effectiveness can be attributed to execution, not the quality of ideas. The song has an unconventional structure, overly relying a repeated chorus. Granted, “You’re not alone” is one of those messages that’s best said with emphasis and conviction, since when we most need the reassurance we also need a lot of convincing. However, its repetitiveness means it’s not the kind of song I want to hear over and over again.

If Aram Mp3 sells the hell out of it on the night, we might be impressed just long enough to vote for him. But a week later we’re going to realize there’s not much there.