Ahead of tonight’s Depi Evratesil final, what do our team think of the hopefuls for Armenia’s ticket to Rotterdam?

It’s time for our staff to review the entries once more – this time, it’s Daniel, David, James, Roy and Sean who overlook the Armenian hopefuls…

Agop – Butterflies

Daniel – 9 – “What a cool song. It has this funk to it and this folk-like fun atmosphere while still having a respectable beat and rhythm. I love an elongated metaphor and this song has its staging concept already established. The instrumentation is super cool and really keeps you on your toes because every so often they add an extra element. This song makes me so excited that Armenia wants to be at the forefront of a new decade of music.”

David – 2 – “What an innocent and very standard song, I mean there is nothing really to dislike, but there ain’t anything to like either. Overall just very bland and boring, it goes in the ear and out of the other. Not exactly the kind of song you’d want, if you wish to make an impact.”

James – 3 – “I see butterflies dancing in your eyes feeling hypnotized” over and over again. The vocals don’t work (i.e. the singer is not good, at least not in the version uploaded to YouTube) and the backing track sounds like Coldplay meets the Dad-EDM of Darude. Can a song both be boring and irritating at the same time? Yes, and “Butterflies” is Exhibit A, and I suspect it will be entered into evidence as musical homicide when this is clobbered in the Semi-Finals should it make it to Rotterdam.”

Roy – 5 – “Main issue, it is a bit simple. Besides that, this is a nice, fun and inoffensive song. I am curious to see what they will try for a staging with this and I am a bit concerned for the live vocals. Strong 5 here!”

Sean – 9 – “Right from the off we have a great original track in Armenia! The jolty piano backing of the verses grabs the listener’s interest immediately, with the stabbing synths and electronic build during the chorus working really well with this song’s structure. There may be a lot to take in for some listeners, but this feels like it leaps from one idea to another, yet still stays as a cohesive unit and is catchy as hell. I’m impressed!”

Total = 28 (avg. 5.6)

Karina EVN – Why?

Daniel – 4 – “This is a somewhat fine sounding song that has some flaws that make the entire package slightly disappointing. I really do not like of the pre-chorus, I feel like her speaking, if not totally purposefully, makes it feel very amateurish and lose points on its musicality. While the chorus sounds great at first, it becomes extremely repetitive, and ooh ohh why is not really that strong of a chorus in my opinion. I think they had a great idea, but somewhere along the execution, it got slightly lost.”

David – 2 – “A promising start and a catchy beat, sounds good so far, right? Then the chorus hits and I’m like… WHY?!? Yes darling, I’m legit asking you “why?” as well. Why would you make such a promising build up and just say… why? Why would you do such? The song had me in the beginning, and then all my expectations were just crushed at the chorus.”

James – 6 – “Karina’s a big deal in Russia, though her brand of hip hop as exhibited in “Why?”, compared to Athena’s, seems dated and a little early 2010s in comparison. Karina EVN has overcome a lot and has repeatedly said she has a point to prove as an Armenian artist, but this song doesn’t prove much of anything. As a statement of intent for conquering Europe as an Armenian (rather than being seen as a mercenary who lives and performs in Russia for the money), “Why?” is not it. I feel Athena is using this platform much better to define herself as an artist and jump up to the next level, though Karina is a great stage performer so we can’t count her out just yet. She could still sell this. But in its current form, not so much.”

Roy – 3 – “Another artist who struggles with the English language a little. The song kind of sounds like it was written with Eurovision in mind. They probably had a type of song in mind and tried to replicate it. In doing so it just felt flat and the entire piece feels kind of dated too. It gives a sense of fake emotions and I feel like this live-performance could be really shallow too.”

Sean – 5 – “I feel like if this was in Armenian, it would not only mask the very strong accent Karina EVN has, but also add a bit of interest to this song. Instead, this is a basic painting-by-numbers club song for the uninitiated, with only a poor rap verse to add some intrigue. With a revamp this could improve, but it sounds like a demo with a half-executed idea at the moment.”

Total = 20 (avg. 3.33)

Hayk Music – What It Is To Be In Love

Daniel – 8 – “This is a beautiful song, very melodic and a great contrast to the other songs in the selection. It is so bare and open to emotion and the lyrics are quite beautiful. If staged properly and done so in a stripped down manner, than this could totally wow listeners. I think it is a very nice song, it is a bit slow-paced but he does his romantic ballad justice.”

David – 1 – “Sorry mate, but I’d rather be tortured, if this is what it means to be in love… actually, now I’m questioning if this song can be considered as torture…”

James – 5 – “It’s just Hayk at a piano delivering an adult contemporary ballad in the style of so many piano men of the 1970s and 1980s. I thought strings would come in towards the end, but no. Just a guy named Hayk at his piano, telling you his feelings about being in love with somebody. I don’t hate this, though his voice is a little too high pitch to get away this piano man schtick. I am sure this is great in the background while having martinis at a hotel bar lounge, but in Rotterdam standing next to a guy in assless chaps with an Aussie flag over his bare shoulders… not so much.”

Roy – 1 – “1 line in and I already cringed hard. I am happy for the lad that he knows what it is to be “whatever”. But no need to keep going on about it. This just tries to be interesting, deep and dramatic. In reality his vocals are already shaky on the studio-cut with too much forced vibrato. The overall composition is super plain and super boring too. I don’t want to bring a bucket to Rotterdam so this is a hard pass from me.”

Sean – 4 – “I’m sure there will be a lot of people who feel touched by the raw emotion of this song, but I’m unfortunately not one of those people. Call me a cynic or an emotionless robot, but I’m just happy to accept I’m not in the target audience for this song. As piano ballads go, it’s heartfelt and portrays the emotion a lot stronger than many others I’ve heard this year, but Hayk Music’s entry isn’t to my taste.”

Total = 19 (avg. 3.8)

ERNA – Life Faces

Daniel – 5 – “This sounds like jazz in another world. And then it begins to grow, going through all these mini identities before it hits the chorus. It goes from sweet to sultry to cute. I think it presents itself as a very unique entry which I appreciate. That being said, I do not foresee this song doing super well either in its national final or actual Eurovision. It seems lacking a bit of maturity and the initial build somewhat plateaus.”

David – 1 – “What am I listening to?! I’m actually confused from listening to this song, it’s just a huge mess, the way it changes over the 3 minutes. Here’s the bad thing, I already lost interest with the sad and depressing beginning and I am not dealing with that, whenever I wanna hear this song, so overall you lost me at the very beginning and left me hanging.”

James – 6 – “ERNA certainly gives us vocal theatrics and leads us on a peppy journey over a minimalist track. The song is just too minimalist, though. ERNA lets loose in the second minute with a great crescendo, but the underlying track doesn’t display any such ramp up in intensity. This song has a cool vibe that can engage you, but vocals and vibe aside, not much to write home about. This will have its fans who insist we try it at Eurovision, but I don’t see this one winning this selection let alone doing much of note in Rotterdam.”

Roy – 3 – “Another song where I can’t really understand what she’s singing… It sounds like “Mountains are fun?” It sounds like a song about mountains, but I don’t think it is about mountains. If it is, then that is absolutely stupid either way. She has a pleasant voice, but also the melody and production of the song is very lacklustre.”

Sean – 6 – “One of the YouTube comments on this track says that it seems like “it was written to be performed by an a capella team”, and I couldn’t sum this up better myself. As an a capella track, this would be an enthralling listen, but the basic features of this song strip a lot of it back when all of the production tricks in the book could’ve been used to spice this song up. It feels quite amateur musically, although ERNA does her best to lift this song with a powerful, soulful vocal.”

Total = 21 (avg. 4.2)

Eva Rida – No Love

Daniel – 5 – “I think this song is ok, like I see it trying its best at incorporating modern elements into the composition, which sometimes it does successfully. But if you take some of the fluff, it is a bit basic and some of the lyrics get muddled around. I think it is the rhythm that make me feel this is slightly amateurish. I do not know, it is a fine song but it really did not sell me and I never really was like “wow, this might be it”.”

David – 2 – “I agree… there is no love between this song and me. I’m just bored and not bothered paying attention to the lyrics. Song overall is just very plain and simple, I just don’t know what to feel when listening to this, that is if I was bothered enough to listening.”

James – 3 – “I like the acoustic guitar sample that brings us in, but everything thereafter sinks. The lyrics are unintelligible. Her English is no doubt better than my Armenian, but she definitely still needs work. The track never gets out of first gear, and neither does EVA. This does not work as a standalone track, more as filler or a bridge between two more interesting songs. There’s no wow moment here, and apart from aimlessly bobbing around on stage, I have no idea what sort of staging could be done to lift this up.”

Roy – 2 – “It took me about a minute to figure out that she was actually singing in English the entire time. You just can’t understand what she is singing and it just sounds like brabbling. I feel like this will be even worse live. The rest of the song isn’t all that good either. I guess it has some energy?”

Sean – 5 – “This seems to combine the worst qualities from Karina EVN and ERNA’s entries; the rap-like vocals and the generic production. Eva seems like a strong singer so it’s a shame to see her talents wasted on a track like this. It doesn’t sound like the finished article and doesn’t have enough oomph or power to become the floorfiller it sounds like it’s trying to be.”

Total = 17 (avg. 3.4)

Athena Manoukian – Chains on You

Daniel – 7 – “Oh wow we are bringing those Cardi B vibes to Eurovision. She has a beautiful voice in the pre-chorus and then has such a sexy appeal in the spoken portion. She literally is dripping of coolness. Now specifically on the music, this is not really my genre and it has some nostalgic elements that remind me of Soulja Boy. Regardless, looking beyond the type of music, she manages to excel at bringing sex appeal and sultriness to a heavy R’n’B song. At least she will be known as the lit one.”

David – 0 – “Trash. Cheap, poor, demeaning, junk lyrics, sloppy… I’ll stop here, otherwise it’s going to get really ugly.”

James – 9 – “An Armenian take on Cardi B? It works. American rap with some Armenian instrumental flair makes for a compelling entry. There’s going to be that bitchy contingent who will whine this is “too American, eeewwww,” but I can show them the way to Lake Sevan so they can jump in. Athena’s an “old” pro at this by now, so I expect great staging, and given her popularity in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, she’ll be one to watch out for in Rotterdam if she wins this selection even if the Western Europeans maintain their anti-hip hop pretentiousness. On its own merits, it’s a good song, and I would not be surprised to hear this be an export hit with the Armenian community here Los Angeles (similar to how the Jewish community took to “Golden Boy” and “Toy” over here as well).”

Roy – 6 – “Is it a bad thing that this teleported me into the ocean in a rave-party among Spongebob and his buddies? The trap beat sounds well produced and could actually work well live for once. I’m not the biggest fan of the steelpan sound that just got scattered throughout the track in the same pattern. This stands or falls on her abilities to perform a song like this well live. Lyrically it isn’t a masterpiece either, but at least it is sort of current.”

Sean – 7 – “Another young female pop star with an ass-shaking RnB song to tempt the masses in this year’s Eurovision selections, although I like the ethnic-sounding elements to this track, and in this selection it stands out more than it may do if it were between some favourites in another country’s selection. I’m curious to see how this one comes across live as the mysterious, sensual nightclub vibe will need to be perfect for this song to come across effectively on stage.”

Total = 29 (avg. 5.8)

Gabriel Jeeg – It’s Your Turn

Daniel – 7 – “A pretty epic song that has those strong sultry undertones. This song is definitely a grower. I mean a lot of people are going to be like what happened in that change about halfway through the song. It is very unique, a little bit all-over-the-place but I do not hate it. I actually find it quite interesting like they add a Latin infused space next to a retro synthesizer, it is really is exciting. I am not sure about his chances but at least this song took me around the world.”

David – 2 – “What a shame, the song gets quite interesting about halfway into the song, catchy tune, but nothing original at all. Playboy here is trying way to hard, and before it gets interesting, I’ve already left the building.”

James – 7 – “WTF? Did this song just switched to disco at the halfway mark? This song is too bananas to dislike. And then it’s trying to end with Spanish style horns,  piano and guitar? If Adult Swim created a comedy show about a steakhouse singer in Batumi, I think this song would be its theme, it’s that kind of zany. I have to see this live for the full effect. They can’t just have him at the piano, right? He needs dancers, costume changes, fire… everything but the kitchen sink since they threw so much into the song itself. GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT!”

Roy – 2 – “This song is trying to sound dramatic and anthemic in the beginning. Then out of nowhere it turns into a semi-jazzy song? Not enough switch-ups? Let’s add some weird chopped-up disco. Still not enough? Let’s add some trumpets to make it more like a carnival. Add some more piano’s that wouldn’t be an oddity in a cliché casino song/Vegas show and the Frankenstein monster is complete! This is just horrendous and leaves me puzzled…”

Sean – 8 – “Now this has veered too far in the other direction in the interesting stakes, but when the funk gets dialed up to 11 I have to say I strangely dig this! This has a Balkan feel which would be an interesting choice for Armenia, and reminds me of a 00s Eurovision vibe. Oh, and now there’s a lounge-rumba style genre change. At least there’s a journey with this one, and I’m curious to see it live!”

Total = 26 (avg. 5.2)

Sergey and Nickolay Arutyunov – Ha, Take a Step

Daniel – 5 – “I think the chorus is much stronger than the intro leads you to believe, so at least that is good. This song, however, is an example of an epic song with not a lot of substance behind it. I barely can discern the content of the lyrics because they are so flowery and general. The song is almost three minutes of epic chants that start to tread the line of Viking calls. While it will be a total moment on stage, it just seems too heavy with not a lot of sustenance.”

David – 1 – “Yawn… I’m just bored, if it wasn’t for the few screams I would classify this as an lullaby. Consider taking a step back before you go any further, because if the idea is to make me fall asleep, then congrats I’ll miss the other acts, but I’d miss out of this as well, so it’ll backfire either way.”

James – 5 – “The song titles references the 2018 anti-government protests in Armenia which resulted in the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan, the long-time President whose ruling party had become synonymous with corruption and increasing authoritarianism. That is pretty much the most interesting aspect of this song, on top of Harutyunov Sr.’s signature raspy vocals. This may be too parochial a song for Eurovision, though the lyrics will be generic enough to not fall foul of EBU’s political content rule. The composition itself is also very generic. Other than a feel good “we got rid of that old git Sargsyan” rabble rousing sentiment, I am not sure what it’s doing here. It’s more of an interval act than an entry.”

Roy – 6 – “I would probably need several months to explain this song to friends if it were to go to Eurovision. This could be the freakshow of the year if they stage it right and the vocals are good. Ironically I envision some craziness like Azerbaijan 2008 called “Day After Day”, this lyric also appears here. There are too many Ha’s for me to give it a higher ranking than this. Curious to see what they are going to make from this.”

Sean – 6 – “I thought this would end up being a rock song, so I’m a little dissapointed, but it’s an interesting song. It really ramps up in my estimations with the vocal change in the final minute of the song, and it gives the track a bit of grit and spark. The first two minutes leading up to it are nothing special however, which could be a death-wish for a Eurovision entry.”

Total = 23 (avg. 4.6)

Miriam Baghdassarian – Run Away

Daniel – 7 – “I think this song is much stronger in the back half than the front half. I will admit I felt that it was a bit boring and some of the lyrics were a bit meh “blood is blood, done is done.” But her long notes and that pounding beat really brings the song together to a great climax. I think she might have one of the cleanest voices in the competition and really, I am excited to see her perform. Nevertheless, the first minute or so were weak and so it does hurt it in my ranking.”

David – 1 – “Trust me love, I’ll run away, I’ll run as far away as possible if I could, from such a boring and painful entry. Believe me dear, you should maybe run away from this song yourself, I’m sincerely questioning why you didn’t.”

James – 8 – “We have ourselves another expat, this time from Canada, and she brought the big guns with her. This is slick and modern, though I have to give the slight edge to Athena for bringing little touches of Armenia to her track. Miriam can release “Run Away” in Canada and no-one and it fits right in. “Run Away” is the best produced song at this selection, though if she had more of a nod to her ancestral homeland in here, she’d have blown away the competition. The song is well-crafted, Miriam is a great singer, but could this fall into the Australian trap of being just too slick and too safe for its own good? High score from me anyway.”

Roy – 4 – “This is a weird ballad. It has modern sounds and elements to it, but it really misses something more interesting throughout. Past the halfway point is the first time where it gets a bit interesting and that is just because Miriam starts to showcase her vocals. You can still write a good song around that though. This is not a singing competition like the voice, this is a song competition. The overall package just isn’t doing it for me.”

Sean – 7 – “The subtle arrangement of this track makes it a stand out compared to other piano-based balladic entries this year, and Miriam straddles the line between softly sung vocals and powerhouse notes well. However, the song feels a bit anticlimactic to me – “Run Away” seems to build towards something that never truly arrives within the three minute duration.”

Total = 27 (avg. 5.4)

Vladimir Arzumanyan – What’s Going On Mama

Daniel – 8 – “I really love the nod to his winning JESC song. The boy is all grown-up and we can tell by the mature sound of this song. It is very catchy and extremely relevant. It has a lot of appeal to younger audiences while also bringing enough mainstream appeal that it can do well in any cross-section. It is not in your face, but in this case I like that because he lets the beat and his voice do the work. This is a cool song, a la par with those boy pop stars from Melodifestivalen.”

David – 3 – “This guy really loves his mama and nothing wrong about that, but something tells me that “Mama” was more happy 10 years ago. I mean come on, you had this awesome song at Junior Eurovision, but then you have this? It’s a sweet song, but I had expected something a lot more catchy.”

James – 4 – “So is this meant as a sequel to his Junior Eurovision “Mama”? I don’t necessarily care as this song is such a generic dud with several pop production crutches and Vladimir has taken to indie-pop forced pronunciations. I listened to some of his other songs and thought they showed a more confident and assured young man. This song does not, as his reference to his JESC winner will backfire as most people will be put off by the emo-lyrics and the terrible vocal effects that sometimes make him sound like a wheezy robot. It’s also slow as molasses. I am going to say that as of today, this is the worst song entered by a former JESC contestant at a national selection, and the reason I sound angry is that I know he can do better. Hopefully he’ll mature in a few years and come back when he can make better editorial decisions for his songs.”

Roy – 4 – “Lyrically this is not a masterpiece, the title is weird, his voice doesn’t really work for him, but there is something that kind of keeps me hooked. I feel like there was a whole lot more potential in this one though. They should have decided on a vibe and stuck to it. Right now it just kind of balances between trying to be a pop-ballad or rap song, between a reggeaton beat and a europop beat. It just makes it a bit of a forgettable piece in the end…”

Sean – 5 – “Former Junior Eurovision champion Vladimir Arzumanyan is back with another Mama song in 2020, and it’s a standard issue RnB-pop song with a slightly tropical sound. The lyrics sound to me a bit like an Oedipus complex played out to steel drums which I can’t really get on board with, but can’t really fault or praise much else with this one.”

Total = 24 (avg. 4.8)

Arthur Aleq – Heaven

Daniel – 6 – “A sweet ballad that also incorporates those lovely ethnic sounds. The chorus is not what I expected, it really threw me for a loop when the beatbox elements came through. Arthur has a phenomenal voice and he is paired up with an interesting song. I am still not perfectly sure how to feel about the song, it kind of reminds me of the music from a menu setting on a video game (which is not necessarily bad). I think it has a lot of funk and goes the extra mile, which at some point, slightly loses me, but you need to respect the hustle.”

David – 1 – “I’m starting to think, that maybe I should start considering causing some sort of hate crimes, cause “Heaven” suddenly sounds worse than hell. Boring and sloppy for 3 minutes.”

James – 4 – “Starts out promising, like we’re going to get an Armenian – modern pop take on Sting’s “Desert Rose.” Nope, it just flatlines into a dull X Factor runner-up ballad. This track could do with more bass and replacing the crappy fake snare drum. And after the second verse, we expect the song to ramp up into overdrive, but it just stalls. The lyrics are also something of a word salad. I have no idea what the hell this song is about. A revamp could do this song wonders, though, and Aleq has a reputation that this song does not uphold.”

Roy – 1 – “This is just amateuristic. Should probably not even be considered for winning this show. The melody is boring, the lyrics are boring and the singer has quite a dull voice too.”

Sean – 4 – “This is fine, I guess, but the whole three minutes kinda passed me by without much to note. I like the ethnic feel to the entry and it’s a decently structured pop song, but this is going to need a revamp to even have a slight chance were it to win and go to Rotterdam.”

Total = 16 (avg. 3.2)


Daniel – 10 – “This is a super cool song, from the beginning to the end. This is a more traditional pop song that incorporates more edgy features. This will totally be an eye catcher, kind of like Azerbaijan 2019, and it is super modern and fun. I love the instrumentation as having this mysterious aura while also being omnipresent. And you know I love me some good horns in the background. Overall a phenomenal package that has me hooked from the beginning to the end. Super awesome song all around.”

David – 4 – “I’m getting insane start 2000’s vibes from this, but sometimes I don’t mind that, getting some old school vibes is cool now and then, the song has a sick beat, but it’s a bit messy. Not gonna lie though, I’m enjoying it for what it is.”

James – 8 – “For those disappointed Edgars Kreilis didn’t make it for Latvia, TOKIONINE has a song for you. The co-writer of 2019 entry “Walking Out” has his own song this time, and it is a fun mid-tempo EDM number. It’s danceable, with some nice groove and bass, and it’s simple though catchy. TOKIONINE does sound like he knows not just production but how to write a simple yet engaging pop song that doesn’t rely on the usual industry crutches and doesn’t need a top shelf singer to pull off. I have two other songs ahead of this one, but I think “Save Me” would be a welcome addition to the Rotterdam roster nonetheless should Armenia want to send a more conventional party entry.”

Roy – 7 – “The song already starts off in an interesting way. The concept of this song is also really cool. The execution leaves a bit to be desired and this could end up getting swallowed in the sea of songs. It just needed a bit more oomph and we could have had another banger added to the list. Revamps still exist though and this is most certainly not bad.”

Sean – 8 – “Here we go! This feels like the only one that could have a life outside of Eurovision, so this is already one of the front-runners in this competition. This could excel with a great performance and has a uniquely broad appeal to both Western sensibilities and the Eastern European dance-pop sound that has been huge in recent years. I wish there was a part in Armenian as it sounds like a song where it would slot in seamlessly, but this would offer something different in Rotterdam nonetheless.”

Total = 37 (avg. 7.4)

So, after all of this, where do we sit on our Depi Evratesil ranking?

  1. TOKIONINE – Save Me – 37
  2. Athena Manoukian – Chains on You – 29
  3. Agop – Butterflies – 28
  4. Miriam Baghdassarian – Run Away – 27
  5. Gabriel Jeeg – It’s Your Turn – 26
  6. Vladimir Arzumanyan – What’s Going On Mama – 24
  7. Sergey and Nickolay Arutyunov – Ha, Take a Step – 23
  8. ERNA – Life Faces – 21
  9. Karina EVN – Why? – 20
  10. Hayk Music – What It Is To Be In Love – 19
  11. Eva Rida – No Love – 17
  12. Arthur Aleq – Heaven – 16

So it seems clear – our choice would be TOKIONINE with “Save Me” for Armenia, but can he win Depi Evratesil this evening?

What do #YOU think of our scores? Would TOKIONINE be the best choice or have we underrated any entries? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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