Debuting in 2006, Armenia are one of the more recent additions to the Eurovision family. That hasn’t stopped them making a splash in the contest, with top 10 finishes in their first five contests, including their biggest hit so far with Sirusho’s “Qélé, Qélé” finishing fourth in Belgrade’s 2008 show.
The wheels fell off in Dusseldorf though, as for the first time they failed to qualify for the final. To make matters worse, Azerbaijan won the 2011 contest, leading Armenia to pull out of last year’s contest in Baku on the strength of ongoing tensions between the two countries after the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Happily they are returning to the fold and are hoping to recapture some of their former glory in Sweden.
An internal selection chose Gor Sujyan and his band Dorians to represent Armenia in Malmö, with a televote deciding which song they would take. The choices weren’t my usual taste (read my write-up on the selection process), but I think the best song won.
“Lonely Planet” is a soft-rock environmental anthem (no, come back!!), which makes the most of Gor’s unusual but pleasant voice. I feel like there’s a shade of Will Young in his voice, even if the music sounds nothing like Will’s normal sound. In a surprise twist, it was composed by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, often cited as one of the best guitarists of all time.
I think if anything the soft-rock angle holds this one back, not detracting from the song but not really pushing it either, aside for a nice key-change. They’ve diverted away from the ethno-dance tracks Armenia have sent before (and done well with), a reasonable gamble after their mis-step in 2011, but I’m not sure it quite has the punch to qualify this year.
But Armenia have a decent diaspora following in Western Europe and friends in Eastern Europe. It might be enough to get them to the final, but I think a lot rests on his vocals, and the mood Europe is in on the night.
If you want to read up on all the other entries and news from the 2013 contest, visit my Malmö 2013 hub.