In the weeks leading up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, I’ll be reviewing each of the 37 entries competing this year. First up, the hot favourite that’s due to open the first semi final – Not Alone by Aram MP3 for Armenia. 

First off, apologies for being extremely lax with my updates over the past few months. Writing little-read articles for other publications has taken precedence over writing little-read articles for my own website of late. However, I have naturally been following the selection process with the usual fanatical interest, and with the running orders of the two semi finals announced today, it felt like an opportune moment to pop my head above the parapet again.

While the inevitable turd-polishing remixes will be popping up right down to the wire, we do now know the basic form and function of all the entries. So here are my entirely spurious predictions for how I see things going down in May… starting, logically enough, with the first song performing in the first semi final.

Armenia Flag

 

Armenia: Aram MP3 – Not Alone

It would certainly be a novelty for the first song we hear in the competition to also be the last. Could Armenia accomplish this feat? The bookies certainly think so, as Aram MP3’s song has been lodged at the top of the odds listings for weeks at time of writing. With five top ten placings out of seven attempts since they debuted in 2006, Armenia have long felt like a country that’s just waiting to strike the perfect balance to claim a well-deserved first victory. This could well be the song to do it – a strong ballad with modern production, performed by a gifted and photogenic singer.

However, I’m not totally convinced. As professional as this package undoubtedly is, it’s really missing the kind of instantly memorable hook that you tend to need to win Eurovision. Indeed, it took me several full listens to the song before I could even vaguely remember how it went within five minutes of hearing it. In 2011 France went into the competition as runaway favourites, but fell foul of this issue with their opera-pop confection ‘Sognu‘, which ultimately failed to grab the televoters. I don’t think this song is in danger of bombing that badly – it’s almost certain to finish somewhere in the top five in the finals – but it’ll have to really stand out if it’s going to poll a wide enough spread of votes to win.

Aram MP3 ArmeniaI suspect the running order could be a deciding factor this year. Place this within the first ten songs and I really can’t see it sticking in people’s memories all the way to the end. If he manages to close the show, he could yet be the one to beat. Armenia tend to put a lot of effort into the staging of their performances, so I have no doubt they’ll put on a visual spectacle to boost their chances. Aram MP3s live performances have also been spot on so far, so I don’t see anything to worry about there. This really does feel like a case of a country that has everything but the song, for me.

It’s also worth mentioning the minor controversy surrounding Aram MP3 at the moment on account of alleged homophobic comments he made to the Armenian press. He’s subsequently denied being a homophobe and claimed his comments were misinterpreted, but the story continues to gather steam anyway, and he was heavily booed during a recent fan concert in Amsterdam. This is likely to gather considerable press as the contest approaches, particularly if he remains the favourite to win, but I don’t think it’s likely to make a measurable difference to his performance at this stage. Getting booed at a small, overwhelmingly gay fan event is one thing, but in the full contest he should receive a warmer reception.

As for this semi final, opening isn’t the optimum position but Armenia have only ever missed the cut once, and considering the momentum behind this song at the moment, there’s no question in my mind that it’ll easily make the finals, very possibly winning the heat.

Prediction: Qualifier