It’s Aram Mp3 for Armenia!

A mere three days after we found out who’ll be representing Albania at Eurovision next year, we’ve just found out who will be representing Armenia in Copenhagen in five months time. Armenia will be represented by Aram Mp3, a twenty-nine year old singer and comedian who was revealed to be the Armenian representative during a TV show to celebrate the New Year, so what do we think about the choice? Well keep reading to find out!

Aram Mp3 will be flying the flag for Armenia!
Aram Mp3 will be flying the flag for Armenia!

Armenia’s national broadcaster, AMPTV, decided to select their artist internally, a process they’ve done for the past few years, and reveal the artist in a show they were dedicating to ring in the new year in the country. With a surprise appearance from Sirusho confirmed quite close to the time, speculation was rife that it was her who would be re-representing Armenia in Denmark, but just now it’s been revealed that Aram Sargsyan would be singing on behalf of the country in Copenhagen! Aram is both a singer and comedian, whose stage name is Aram Mp3. He’s only come into the spotlight recently, as he’s only released two singles; this song, ‘Shine’, being one of them, which was released in June.

His rather Michele Perniola-esque singing accent aside, ‘Shine’ is a good introduction to Aram’s music, as it’s very much a club track, but not “in your face” club music that’s normally in said clubs. The beat is quite entrancing and rhythmic and you’re caught up in the song straight away. It’s definitely something we haven’t heard in a long time, that’s for sure! The song would probably do well in Copenhagen if the autotune was taken off, but I guess it depends on his vocals live on the night. The following month, July of this/last year, he released this song:

‘If I Tried’ is probably the better song in Aram’s repertoire, as it’s a modern pop/rock song that’s sung in English (If you read our Possible Artists article on Armenia, you’d know that most of the artists we recommended sang in Armenian, ditching English altogether) that is many times better than what Dorians sent to Malmö back in May. Were the song possible to go to Eurovision on behalf of Armenia, I would say it would go down pretty positively, as it’s different to the schlager-style song that gets sent to Eurovision. The fact that he is singing in English also helps him branch out to a wider audience, so it’s definitely the right choice to sing in English.

So in our Possible Artists article, we recommended that Lilit Hovhannisyan and Sofi Mkheyan should go to Eurovision for Armenia, but sadly, none of our wishes were honoured, but hopefully Aram will get Armenia back into the top 10 in Denmark. We won’t know his Eurovision song until February, but in the meantime we can wonder what he’ll bring to the table. Who knows, maybe he’ll win for Armenia and we’ll all be going to Yerevan in 2015! It’s anyone’s guess, but until we find that, all we can say is Հաջողությու՛ն Արամ, or Good luck Aram! What do the fans think though?

Your views:

What do you think about Aram Mp3 representing Armenia?

Have Armenia made the right decision?
Have Armenia made the right decision?

Haris Karas from Greece: I approve!

Gokce Incekara from Azerbaijan: He sounds promising…Good Luck neighbour!

Ani Akyol from the United Kingdom:  It seems Armenia wants to win ESC finally. I hope he won’t disappoint us.

Ewa Pukszto from Poland: Interesting choice, I must say I didn’t expect it. Curious about the song though. Good luck!

So it seems the fans approve of Aram representing Armenia and they’re looking forward to February, when the song will be revealed to the public. Let’s hope it lives up to people’s expectations! But what do you think of the choice? Should someone else have gone for Armenia or is this the best artist they could get? Feel free to tell us what you think below and have a fantastic New Year from both James and I here at ESC Views and hopefully, 2014 will be an awesome year for Eurovision!

NF Review: Albania sends Hersiana Matmuja!

Oh hey there! So Festival i Këngës has just finished and I’m very happy to tell you guys that Herciana Matmuja will represent Albania in Copenhagen in May! It was a really interesting national final, but what did we make of the show and indeed, the decision? Well keep reading to find out!

Congratulations Herciana!
Congratulations Herciana!

We hadn’t heard the songs when we published our review article for the national final, so our expectations were yet to be set until Boxing Day when the whole show kicked off. Albania’s national final, although being dragged out across three days straight, isn’t the longest national final process of the season *ahem* Lithuania *ahem* but we still got to enjoy all sixteen songs, along with a few duets with previous Eurovision artists during the semi-finals. The show tonight, luckily, lasted for just over two hours and look-alikes featured quite heavily throughout the show (more on that later), but in the end, we found the artist: Herciana Matmuja with her song “Zemërimi i një nate”!

So just like our previous review article, we’ll give you a review of both the show and indeed the song itself, before asking the big question: how will the song do in Eurovision?

The song:

Like I’ve said many a time before, we hadn’t heard the songs until the actual show, but when “Zemërimi i një nate” came on as the opening song in tonight’s show, it was an interesting choice, but the crowd seemed to like it! The intro is a bit long, but I guess it prepares you for what’s to come. The song is very much an ethnic ballad sort of song, with some pop elements being included in various points of the song.

The fact that the song is in Albanian almost emphasises the ethnicity of the song, as it shows that a song can work if it stays in the original language. The performance will need some work definitely – we don’t want to see her just standing on the stage doing hand movements (we’ve had way too much of that), we need some more working of the stage! She also may need to work more on her hair and outfit too.. making that outfit a bit more colourful may help her stand out from the crowd in the semi-final, given she’s in a relatively bleak one. Otherwise, the song is actually really good and Mariya Yaremchuk is officially not out of the woods yet.

The show:

The national final itself wasn’t bad at all! Unfortunately, there wasn’t any interpreter for the livestream so we couldn’t understand what the hosts were saying during those times of banter, but at least one would have a basic idea of the script, as there’s only so much one can say about the finalists and how to vote etc. The show did provide some breaks for the viewers to relax/go to the toilet/make a cup of tea or whatever, but we were kept on track with the show as it moved along pretty fast, but the faster the better eh?

If you were following our Twitter feed during the show, I was providing my opinions on the songs, styles, and anything else that was majorly noticeable – for example, the fact that there were a few look-alikes among the candidates – Lindi Islami looked an awful lot like Marco Mengoni, whereas Marjeta Billo seemed to be resembling Chiara. It basically summed up what we thought about the national final.. oh, and the beginning of the interval act with the backing vocalists – I swear those dancers were Cezar’s backing dancers from Malmö!

The interval act – well, the multiple interval acts – were also pretty nice to watch/listen to. Firstly, the aforementioned performance from the backing vocalists avec semi-naked dancers was a pleasure to watch.. for many different reasons, if you know what I mean! As well as them, we were also treated to Elhaida Dani, a previous participant of FiK and the winner of the Voice of Italy, who sang a song that could have easily gone to Copenhagen regardless because it was such a better song than most of the others and then singing three other songs which were so well received by the audience, that it confirms she should have gone to the Contest.. and she’s only 20! And of course, the most talked about “special guest” of the night – Emmelie de Forest had to turn up and sing “Hunter and Prey” and quickly followed by the quickest interview ever and yet ANOTHER performance of  “Only Teardrops” (no surprise there) – it was probably the most anticipated performance of the night, as well as the only time we heard English in the show altogether.. Good on you Emmelie, even though you lip-synced!

For the presentation of the show, the show is quite old-fashioned to pick the song for Eurovision, but it’s proved to be quite popular for it’s selection..if it was up to me, I’d probably decided to use more modern contests such as  Kënga Magjike or Top Fest, as they have more of an audience. Other than that, I would say that Albania have done really well with putting on a show! The main performance area may need a bit more creativity, but I’d say they’ve done pretty good, so well done RTSH! Just shorten the show down please in future..and make sure the jury isn’t completely over the age of 50!

At Eurovision:

Along with Ukraine, the fact that they have three months to work on the song could both help and hinder their chances. It helps them because they can iron out any mistakes or imperfections they have with the song, but it could hinder the song too, because if they work on the song too much, it might make the song unrecognisable to what it was like in FiK and you don’t want to lose that ethnic feel to the song.

When it comes to Eurovision, however, because the song is very “different” to what normally is sent to the Contest, I have a feeling that they don’t have a great chance of qualifying if they’re drawn in a strong semi-final. The song would probably be considered too alternative by Europe and as much as it pains me to say it, I can already see this staying in the semi-final, but if they work on the song, I may be able to eat my words! But what do the fans think about Herciana?

Your views:

What do you think about Albania's choice?
What do you think about Albania’s choice?

Seth Wezendonk from the Netherlands: Great choice from Albania! I hope they keep it in Albanian though..

Peter Kleeman from Germany: It’s a very strange pick from Albania I think.

Orestis Moschonas from Greece: Albania will be out of the final FOR SURE!

Elvir Peleševic from Bosnia and Herzegovina: Albania is just horrible after first listening – this song is going nowhere.

So the fans also think that it won’t be doing too well either in Copenhagen, but the opinions of the fans could change as time goes on and they become more familiar with the song. Here at ESC Views, we like the song, but what about you? Do you like Herciana and her song or do you think another song should have won the festival? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

NF Season: This week’s national final previews (December 23rd-29th)

So after Ukraine picked Mariya Yaremchuk to go to Copenhagen on Saturday, it’s time to see who will be selecting their artist for Denmark in less than five months time. So which countries will be in the spotlight this week?

This week's national final broadcaster - RTSH in Albania
This week’s national final broadcaster – RTSH in Albania

Like our NF preview last week and indeed, for every upcoming NF preview, we’ll take on this challenge like so – we’ll preview each national final that will take place each week, giving you our opinions on a few of the songs and then predict how well we think said songs will do, and of course predict who will take the title in the National Final and represent their country in Denmark in no more than 134 days time. We’ll also refer back to our Possible Artists articles (where possible), contrasting the artists to our personal choices and finally, put them in our Eurovision context – where we predict how well they do in the actual competition. Once the artist is chosen, we’ll write a review article of the happenings of said national final and tell you guys how well we think the winner will do at the actual Contest. Of course, your views are always appreciated, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of the national finals and who’ll take the title! So, without further ado…

This week’s calendar:

28th December 2013 – Albanian National Final (Festival i Këngës)

  • Albania
Festival i Kenges will take place on the 28th of December.
Albania’s national final will take place on the 28th of December.

The most notable national final of the year, Festival i Këngës is indeed Albania’s national final.. and let it not be said that the competitors have really strong songs, so the Albanian public have their work cut our for them! Keeping with tradition, the final is being held at the end of December a few days after Christmas (let the holiday pass first RTSH, eesh!) at 9:45 pm CET – 8:45 pm for us who are in the GMT area.. and like most years, it will probably run for an unidentified number of hours – they have to cut that show down! The national final is seeing a couple of returning artists, but it’s up to their song and their vocals to seal their fate – and that goes for everyone! Of course, along with Ukraine with the idea of selecting the song in December, this gives the Albanians five months to work on the song like Mikhail Nekrasov worked on ‘Gravity’ to create the final masterpiece for the Queen that is Zlata Ognevich. However, you can’t find the songs on Youtube at the time this is posted, (*cry*) but we’ll talk about the artists instead, which you can find here thanks to the lovely people at EscToday – thanks a million guys! Here’s what we think!

Reviews and Predictions:

Rory – Well because the songs haven’t been released, there’s not much to talk about in terms of the national final, but I’ll do my best to give my opinion on what we already know – which hopefully is a great deal!

Looking at the participants list, I can see that there’s definitely an overuse of the letter ‘X’ – seriously people, lay of the x! As for the participants themselves, the fact that some artists are returning doesn’t mean that they’ll win the festival again – anyone remember Kejsi Tola? She won the whole thing in 2009 but only came fourth in the last edition twelve months ago.. Mostly, it will depend on the vocals of the contestants, so these guy should bloody well be practising for this, because this could be the start of an international career for a good few of them.. well not Frederic and Luiz! They’ve had a shot at it.. and Eurovision has gotten them some fan following across the continent, but now it’s someone else’s turn!

As for who I think will take the title; well, it depends once again on the vocals on the night and indeed the song itself. But if I was to put a name on it – even though we haven’t heard the songs yet – I would probably go for Venera Lumani and her co-singer Lindi Islami. I’ve heard Venera before when she was taking part in the Albanian version of The Voice and to tell you, I’m not surprised she won – her version of “River Deep, Mountain High” is really amazing! Other than her and Lindi, I would also back Luiz Ejilli. Even though he’s a returning, if his song, ‘Kthehu’, is anything like “Zjarr e ftohtë”, I’ll be happy with him going to Copenhagen, but if he goes, he’ll have to move more than he did in Athens.. and maybe they’ll make a better music video! Good luck to them all and hopefully the best song will win.. if they release the songs by then!

James – I’m disappointed but not entirely surprised that the individual entries aren’t available on the internet as of yet, although that in itself makes me more likely to tune into the show prior to Saturday night, if only out of curiosity! As a result, as I’m sure Rory has already mentioned, all we have to go on are a list of names and unfathomable song titles.

From this list of names, however, one stands out a mile above the rest for me: Blerina Braka. She’s a bit of a star in her homeland – in the sense that she has a number of successful contemporary musical creations to her name already, something which isn’t always guaranteed with FiK participants. Indeed, the last two years, Blerina has taken part in the Kenga Magjike festival, which generally attracts the best of the best when it comes to Albanian professional music.

So, what can we expect from her? Looking back into her repertoire, it seems that – as may be assumed to be interlinked with her blonde bombshell appearance – her forte is mainly uptempo dance music, often in collaboration with rappers who look like mafia bosses. Very typical in the Albanian music scene. However, she has also been a purveyor of those enchanting guitar-led ballads with an abundance of “dashuri” in the lyrics – very “been-there, done-that” but nice nevertheless. Bearing in mind this IS Festivali I Këngës, I’s guess that’s the kind of song our Blerina will be singing, however, I’m personally still hoping for a fantastically catchy slice of dancepop like “Zogu Ti“!

Other than that, Venera Lumani may be one to watch, given that her previous experience on “The Voice” will mean she’s fresh in the public conscience. And of course, the returning contestants from 2006 and 2007 – I’m not personally expecting much from either of them, but you never know…

Context:

One of our earlier posts, James compiled a Possible Artists article for our choices for Albania, in which our primary artist was Maya Aliçkay, with Aurela Gaçe’s sister Blerta closely following behind as our secondary choice. Sadly, this time, none of our choices were selected to take part in FiK, but if they did, they would definitely be opening themselves to a larger audience and therefore, gaining a larger fan following. But this year just won’t be the time they’ll be doing all this.. oh well, there’s always next year, eh?

Given that once again, all the songs are in Albanian, there’ll be a large chance that when one of those songs is selected to represent Albania, the language won’t change. The last time something like that was done, it was Aurela back in 2011 – and even then, the song wasn’t completely changed to English, which is probably a good thing. Recently, a pattern has started to emerge with Albania’s qualification; they fail to qualify every other year and since ‘Identitet’ didn’t qualify in Malmö, could this mean that Albania will qualify for the final in Denmark? Well, one would sincerely hope so. Albania have given us some absolute choons over the years, from ‘It’s All About You‘ to ‘Suus‘, the most unlikely song you’d think would be an awesome track.

Because we have no idea what the songs sound like, it’s incredibly hard to tell whether Albania would be faced with qualification or not. But if we believe the pattern of qualification, it’s possible that Albania will qualify for the final – that being if Albania decide to put on a spectacular show, as they always do. When it comes to the vocals, it’ll be anyone’s guess but if the song is right, the vocals will be right too. Let’s just hope the best song wins.. and what do you think about Albania? Could they keep up their track record?

Your views:

Who do you think will triumph in Albania?
Who do you think will triumph in Albania?

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I’m not normally interested in the Albanian national final, but if Frederic Ndoci is in it, how couldn’t I watch it? I loved ‘Hear My Plea’ and hopefully, his song in Festival i Kenges will be just as good!

Ilias Kozantinos from Cyprus: I hope Albania does better this year than it did last year. They deserve a good placing by now.. maybe even a victory! Let’s hope these guys will be like that in the live show…

Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: I am quite disappointed, I wish for Albania to use Kenga Magjike as selection for Eurovision, for there are many better artists than Festivali I Këngës. I still hope for a great song from Albania!

So once again, the fans are backing who they know and sticking with the returning artists, but it can’t be denied that expectations are high for Albania to do well next year in Denmark.. but who will go on behalf of them? Well, we’ll find out on the 28th of December. In the meantime, what do you think of the choices RTSH have made for FiK? Who do you think will win the national final and how do you think they’ll do in Copenhagen? Be sure to tell us what you think below!