Depi Evratesil: Round 3 Part 2

Depi Evratesil has its second half of the 2-to-1 battle rounds. Were there any surprises on who advanced to the semi-final battles?

The stage is set for Armenia's Depi Evratesil (Photo: Armenia Public Television) The stage is set for Armenia's Depi Evratesil (Photo: Armenia Public Television)

Previously on Depi Evratesil: The six teams began battling for Eurovision stardom. Two members of each team faced off in front of the professional jury for the chance to move on to the next stage of competition. Twelve acts performed, but only six survived.

This week, the other half of the field will engage in their own battles. The six winners this week will meet the surviving teammates from last week for one more team battle.

Here’s how things shook out in the second battle round of Depi Evratesil:

Team Aram mp3: Lilit Harutyunyan vs. Jujo

Lilit Harutyunyan has not been one of my favorites in this competition, but the choice to perform “Price Tag” by Jessie J may have won me over. Her vocal tone in her previous performances is not pleasant to my ears, but for some reason it works for this track. Her styling is a bit of a mixed bag: I love her hair in an updo, but the outfit she wore for the performance was not all that flattering. If the vocal tone issues are a work in progress, my next suggestion would be to work on breath control. Lilit is certainly in contention for most improved.

Jujo countered with the song “River” by Bishop Briggs. I had not heard the song prior to this performance, and if I never heard it again I would be happy. Aside from simple, repetitive lyrics, the pounding of the track is an overproduced mess. Ultimately, this is not a singer’s song, but Jujo was not offering much in terms of performance. This is a shame, since Jujo did not do a bad job. This is a case of not having enough material to work with.

The judges voted and for Lilit unanimously. Sorry, Jujo.

Team Inga Arshakyan: Narine Jinanyan vs. Syuzanna Melqonyan

Narine Jinanyan opened the battle with Christina Aguilera’s “Impossible.” The staging has Narine standing center stage as a chanteuse in a fancy gown. Despite the attempted sultriness and costume, Narine does a great job of not over-singing the song. Ironically, she doesn’t Aguilera all over the track, which always wins points with me.

Syuzanna Melqonyan fights back with her own Aguilera cover: “Ain’t No Other Man.” The performance begins with some over-stylized camerawork before we see Syuzanna serving Paula Abdul Forever Your Girl realness. Aside from Aguilera-ing at every possible moment, there seems to be no reaction from the audience. As a viewer, the whole performance feels uncomfortable, as if Syuzanna is in a vacuum.

The panel casts their votes and gives their critiques. The votes are revealed and it is unanimous… for Syuzanna? Huh. I am genuinely surprised and somewhat disappointed.

Team Hayko: Eva Kans vs. Egine

Eva Kans enters the stage to the opening notes of “I’m Outta Love” by Anastasia. Like Lilit, I have real problems with Eva’s vocal tone, but this is a song choice that should be a perfect match. Unfortunately, the performance can’t even get on the rails before it falls off. Eva does not kick off right, either missing the first few notes or starting ahead of the music, but she spends about 2/3 of the song trying to get back on track. She doesn’t succeed.

Egine has a low bar to clear at this point. She does a mashup of Kelly Price’s “Tired” and the hook of “Burnin’ Up” by Jessie J. This performance is all about performance, with multiple dance breaks and what is probably the minimal requirement of vocal effort. Girlfriend is trying to channel Nicole Scherzinger, which is probably why I can’t stand her.

Voting happens, and it is not unanimous. I believe it was Aram mp3 who voted for Eva1, but everyone else goes for Egine. Based on how performance seems to count for more than vocals at this stage, I’m not sure there was anything Eva could have done even if she hadn’t stumbled.

Team Anush Arshakyan: Anna Sedrakyan vs. Alexander Plato

Anna Sedrakyan returns to the stage with her guitar and a “Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes. I don’t understand why this song has been everywhere in 2016, but I guess this choice shouldn’t surprise me. As expected, Anna doesn’t do much with this song, which is not an effective strategy. The instrumentation has a very basic chord structure, so any cover is going to need some other element–playing along on your guitar is not enough. The Tori Amos arrangement of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” might have been a better choice for Anna.

Alexander Plato is back to do his thing. So far he is three for three in having his entries be listed on my spreadsheet as “???” so… congrats? Wikipedia tells me the song is called “Ke Qeler”/”Lily”, and it seems to be a crowd pleaser. Although his style is a departure from what Armenia has sent to Eurovision in the last few years, I could see Alexander Plato tapping into the public consciousness in a way that made Poland so successful this year. In other words, don’t underestimate him in this competition.

The panel gives Alexander Plato all the votes, so he moves on to the next round. That’s going to be an interesting battle.

Team Essaï Altounian: Opera Viva vs. Marissa

Opera Viva perform a song called “Maria” which places the guys in the lead and the women as backing singers. It should be noted that this group hasn’t done anything that is pop friendly yet. If this group were to win this series, I’m worried Armenia could get caught up in the technical proficiency of singing, resulting in an entry that doesn’t do well at Eurovision. Il Volo has a pop sensibility (plus the guys are dreamy) which this group has yet to demonstrate. The Eurovision Song Contest is not just a singing competition, so we need to see something more from Opera Viva.

Marissa was the wild card who got to this stage because there was still a vacancy on Team Essai. And she’s going up against the opera kids. In other words, she has to push a boulder up a muddy hillside to even stand a chance. She sings “Stop” by Sam Brown and… it’s one of the better performances of the night. There are a couple of bum notes here and there, but Marissa is making the most of her second chance.

After critiques, the votes from the jury roll in and… whoa. The split is 3-2 in favor of Opera Viva. Essai has to make a decision and he hems and haws. Could we have a major upset? We don’t, as Essai goes with Opera Viva. But good on Marissa for turning it out!

Team Iveta Mukuchyan: Sona Dunoyan vs. Vahe Aleksanyan

Sona Dunoyan is in a schoolgirl dress combo to sing “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande. What I like about this performance is you can tell Sona is having fun and is comfortable on stage, which you don’t always see happening simultaneously on shows like this. I don’t think the vibe of this song is the best match for Sona’s personality, but that’s a minor nitpick for an otherwise good performance.

Vahe Aleksanyan closes out the show with “My Prayer” by Eric Benet. This performance reminds me of the guys in high school who are part of singing groups or the school chorus to impress girls. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me wonder what his long-term prospects are with this should he win the series. There’s nothing spectacular about this performance, but the song is a better match with his personality than his opponent’s song.

The judges vote and the split is 4-1 in favor of Vahe. I’m not surprised, but a little disappointed. The audience was chanting for Sona during the voting, so there may be more disappotment in the studio.

Next week on Depi Evratesil: The final 12 duke it out in one more round of battles:

  • Team Aram mp3: Lucy vs. Lilit Harutyunyan
  • Team Inga:  Gevorg Harutyunyan vs. Syuzanna Melqonyan
  • Team Hayko: Anna Danielyan vs. Egine
  • Team Anush: Marta Kirakosyan vs. Alexander Plato
  • Team Essai: Artsvik vs. Opera Viva
  • Team Iveta: Hasmik Shiroyan vs. Vahe Aleksanyan

Whoa, next week’s going to be kinda nuts. Sweet!

  1. I wasn’t expecting any for her, so I wasn’t paying 100% attention  

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