Depi Evratesil: Six Finalists Revealed

Depi Evratesil held its semi-final Saturday, with six duels to determine six finalists. There will be heartbreak.

The judges have made their decision on who should be the Depi Evratesil finalists. (Photo: Armenian Public Television) The judges have made their decision on who should be the Depi Evratesil finalists. (Photo: Armenian Public Television)

Previously on Depi Evratesil: The judges forced their teams to battle within to narrow down the field. After two rounds of duels, each judge has two members left to battle for a chance at representing Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest. The choices are not going to get any easier.

This week, the format is much the same as the previous rounds. The two contestants associated with a judge will each perform a song of their choosing. After both acts perform, the judges will offer feedback. The panel won’t vote–it’s not clear if that was always going to be the case or if the show ditched that mechanic because it had zero effect. Anyway, the mentor will make the final decision as to which act will advance to the final round.

Here’s how the battles went down on this week’s Depi Evratesil:

Team Iveta Mukuchyan: Hasmik Shiroyan vs. Vahe Aleksanyan

Hasmik Shiroyan opened the show with a mini-medley of Michael Jackson tracks, specifically “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Leave Me Alone.” Hasmik was wearing a white outfit reminiscent of the gloved one, and her vocal tone bordered on impersonation. She didn’t change the pronouns of the song, which I always find to be an interesting choice (though I’m not sure how much intention there was). The performance was fine, but nothing too special. It also felt short or rushed, but that might have been a function of how the two tracks combined.

Vahe Aleksanyan also did a mashup of sorts, combining Vahe’s revised version of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, the guitar riff from “What Goes Around Comes Around” by Justin Timberlake, and the hook of Iveta’s “LoveWave.” TEACHER’S PET. I like the idea of combining these elements and I think it could work if the person singing it would bother to learn the correct lyrics.

I’m not sure who I would have picked in this scenario. Hasmik is more technically proficient, but Vahe’s performance and song choice were much more interesting. Ultimately, Iveta hopped on the LoveWave and opted for Vahe. Sorry, Iveta 2.0.

Team Inga:  Syuzanna Melqonyan vs. Gevorg Harutyunyan

Syuzanna Melqonyan will offer this series’ third rendition of “I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls. This song has become such a cliche on reality singing competitions and drag shows that it hardly registers when people give an okay performance. But when someone just sings the song and doesn’t get tempted to fall into full-on histrionics when performing, magic happens. Syuzanna, with a turban and perhaps one too many accessories, is a GD sorceress when she sings. This was one of the best performances of the series.

Gevorg Harutyunyan has the Herculean task of following Syuzanna’s performance. He does a jazz club version of “A Song for You” from the Ray Charles songbook. It’s kinda baller that he includes a lit cigarette onstage as part of the performance, as if to suggest a professional singer would smoke during a career-changing performance. I thought he was fighting a losing battle, but I think I might like this performance more than Syuzanna’s. Gevorg has a charisma about him that I think would stand out on the Eurovision stage.

I do not envy Inga having to make this choice. She had the most balanced and perhaps strongest team in this contest, and this battle highlights that situation. Inga decides to move forward with Syuzanna. Although either option would have been a good choice, my gut tells me Gevorg should have moved forward. I hope this isn’t the last we see of him in Armenia’s Eurovision circles.

Team Hayko: Egine vs. Anna Danielyan

Egine gets to go first and she performs “Sexy Silk” by Jessie J. I don’t even know how to evaluate this at this point. I don’t like Egine’s style, she’s more about performance than technique, and there’s nothing about her that says “Armenia will win the Eurovision Song Contest.” Good on Jessie J for getting another royalty check, I guess.

Anna Danielyan is our only hope to stop Egine. The opening drumbeat from Adele’s “Rumour Has It” starts to play and I get excited. SLAY! Or… stand there like this is a choir performance? Oh, girl. The challenge Anna has faced throughout the competition has been making a strong impact early. Instead, she eases into this song and slow builds to the bridge, which is not how this song works or how to follow the performance that preceded her.

As expected, Egine got the green light. This is heartbreaking, but in terms of what the end goal is of this competition this is the right choice. Boo.

Team Essaï Altounian: Opera Viva vs. Artsvik

Opera Viva finally goes toward pop music by covering “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban. The only way to describe this performance is “uncomfortable.” I would assume they have access to stylists, but everyone opted to look as frumpy as possible, with popped collars and totally mismatched outfits. This particular arrangement of the track also has too many layers, with each voice trying to be heard above the others, creating a convoluted soundscape. I’ve been lukewarm about Opera Viva’s Eurovision possibilities, and this seems like the inevitable outcome if they were to win this competition.

Artsvik taps into the Destiny’s Child catalog with “Stand Up for Love.” I’ve been #TeamArtsvik since her second round performance, but she needs to win this competition. Her vocal style and R&B point of view would be an amazing addition to the Eurovision stage. I think the judges may agree, as they give her a standing ovation following her flawless performance.

I wish I could understand the feedback the judges were giving to the contestants, particularly since this battle was the prize fight of this episode. No heartbreak here: Artsvik will represent Team Essai next week.

Team Aram mp3: Lilit Harutyunyan vs. Lucy

Lilit Harutyunyan performs the Prince arrangement of “Nothing Compares 2U.” I didn’t care for Lilit when she first started on this show, but I think she may be the most improved contestant. She’s mostly overcome the throat voice tic that bugged me early on and her pacing through this performance has a funkiness to it that I adore. The performance is a slow build, which could be a problem similar to what Anna faced earlier.

Lucy offers her interpretation of “Say Something” by A Great Big World. I’ve never been a fan of this song, but Lucy’s interpretation is winning me over. Along with not whining the notes (as in the original), there is an animation of a contemporary dance routine playing behind her. If this were a performance on the Eurovision stage, I could imagine it being well received.

Although I think I would be happy with either of these contestants advancing, Aram selects Lucy. After that performance, I agree with the choice.

Team Anush Arshakyan: Marta vs. Alexander Plato

Marta sings a ballad that I believe is in Armenian. There are some vocal gymnastics that she executes well, but the song itself is not all that memorable. I find her song choices interesting in that they are unconventional, though there is a lack of strategy from a competition standpoint.

Alexander Plato does a Satan-inspired number? Much like Egine and Opera Viva, I don’t know how to evaluate this schtick. He’s not a joke act per se, but I am unable to take him seriously. The performance ends with Aram mp3 making a cross with a couple of pens, so there’s that?

Anush puts an end to the joke and selects Marta to move on in the competition.

Next week on Depi Evratesil: I think it’s the final, y’all! The final six are:

  • Vahe Aleksanyan
  • Syuzanna Melqonyan
  • Egine
  • Artsvik
  • Lucy
  • Marta

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