A once strong Eurovision nation, Armenia has struggled in recent years to make it to the final. They have two non-qualifications in a row, which is unprecedented for Armenia, so this year they were hoping that Athena Manoukian would change that with her song, Chains on You.
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
Out of all the national selections this year, Armenia had arguably one of the weakest selections, which didn’t bode well for the nation, considering they have not qualified for two years in a row. Winning the selection was Athena Manoukian with the song Chains on You, and over social media I saw promises that Athena was one of Armenia’s biggest vocalists – but maybe that set the bar a bit too high for me.
Watching the performance at the national final, I was not impressed. It was a total mess, the vocals did nothing for me, it was hard to understand the lyrics, and the backing music was underwhelming. Armenia remained towards the bottom of my list this year, until the revamp was released.
Well played by Armenia, because they managed to turn an underwhelming song into something I actually enjoy listening to, but of course, this applies to the studio version alone. The music has a heavier ethnic tint, and just overall feels better produced than before. There were some small structural changes in the song which work well, but the revamp just gave that extra kick to the song. Even though I enjoy it a lot more, what continues to cast doubts in my mind is the fact that her vocals were underwhelming in the live performance. It was so hard to hear what she was saying, and that does still apply to the studio version, although it was worse in the national final. With the verses leaning more towards rap, the pre-choruses and choruses absolutely need to be nailed, as it’s the main time that her vocals are really on show.
Performance and Act
The music video definitely gives off Beyonce vibes, and Athena really fits into the fierce pop category. She is visually confident even though her vocals weren’t spectacular in the national final, but I suspect that Armenia had more in the bag for Eurovision itself. A strong light show and good choreography is all this song needed, but they may have included a big prop on stage.
Next Up: 2021
Athena was chosen in a national selection, thus making it difficult to determine which direction the Armenian broadcaster will go. They have jumped between internal and public selections in recent years, and have NQ’ed in both scenarios. Based on the poor selection this year, I would stick with Athena next year and either give her a song selection or just really put focus into that song. Sticking with ethno-pop seems like a good idea, but perhaps a song that sounds a bit more authentic, rather than trying to really push the rap idea might help Armenia return to the final.
I originally didn’t place Armenia as a qualifier at all, but with the revamp and knowing their capabilities to stage an act gave me some doubts. There was some wiggle room in the second semi-final, so qualifying could have been possible but those vocals needed to be spot on. Even then, it would have been borderline. Armenia has some work to do to get back on track at Eurovision, as I think they have lost their spark.
Song and Vocals
Ethnic, tempting and contemporary. The Armenian song for the late Eurovision Song Contest 2020 ticks a lot of the boxes that gave them success in the past. Athena gave a good vocal performance of the song, but still I was not fully convinced about its chances in Rotterdam. The song appears to be memorable, but it isn’t offering anything new or refreshing within the genre. The composition lacks something unique. This can be enough for a narrow qualification, but not more than that. The song has the potential to grow on someone, but Eurovision songs don’t always get that chance with most viewers.
Performance and Act
On paper, the act is fitting with the theme and vibe of the song ‘Chains on you’. Athena also does a good job in her presentation. However, I don’t fully believe her. It’s like she is playing to such a naughty performer, but perhaps she isn’t really like that at all. I feel like the act was made up for her, and it is not something that she is really comfortable with. For me this affects the credibility of the act. Something which usually works in the televote results, people can’t be fooled. Interesting fact is that this act did better with the jury than televote in Armenia, whilst you would expect it the other way around.
Next up: 2021
The Armenian lips about Eurovision 2021 are still sealed. Athena was not chosen by the broadcaster directly, so perhaps they have gotten second thoughts and want to do another preselection in 2021. Or they just haven’t set their minds to Eurovision again after the cancellation. Either way, Armenia has been silent thus far. I think it would be nice to see Athena at Eurovision. I am curious to hear her perform something completely different and see how she does that.
Armenia was not predicted a top-10 in the semi finals with the bookmakers, thus making Athena a non-qualifier. I don’t know that, but I can’t say I was fully convinced with their chances. Somehow I did not believe the performance by Athena, and credibility and sincerity are one of the main keys to success at Eurovision. There is still some work to be done for Armenia towards 2021.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 6.4/10
What do you think of Chains On You? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.