Depi Evratesil: The Final Four

Depi Evratesil tests the four finalists on Eurovision covers and stage presence. Are Marta, Syuzanna, Artsvik, and Egine up to the challenge?

Christer Bjorkman meets with the four Depi Evratesil finalists. (Photo: Armenia Public Television) Christer Bjorkman meets with the four Depi Evratesil finalists. (Photo: Armenia Public Television)

Previously on Depi Evratesil: the six finalists took to the stage in the first live show of the series. After each singer performed, a professional jury and the Armenian public cast their votes for who they wanted to advance in the competition. Each singer performed a duet with their mentor, which was a lovely capstone to the competition. In a bit of a shocker, Marta won both the jury vote and the audience vote. Sadly, we lost Lucy and Team Aram along with Team Iveta and Vahe Aleksanyan.

This week has the four remaining contestants–Marta, Syuzanna Melqonyan, Artsvik, and Egine–performing two songs. The first round singing a song of their choosing and the second round features covers of Eurovision songs. Woo! Here’s what happened on this week’s Depi Evratesil:

Team Anush Arshakyan: Marta

Marta opens the show again this week. Standing center of a fog-filled stage, she sings an Armenian ballad as a pianist plays behind her. This might be my favorite Marta performance. There is more power in her voice, but she maintains the ethereal nature of the song. If she wins both the jury and audience vote again this week, I have to think she’ll breeze on through to Kiev.

Her choice for the Eurovision round is Belgium’s 2015 entry “Rhythm Inside” by Loic Nottet. Ooo, this is a brilliant choice for Marta’s persona. She works with backup dancers who have blue bedazzled face masks to complement her blue lipstick. There are some issues with the lyrics and Marta gets a little marblemouthed at a few points, but overall the performance engages.

Team Inga Arshakyan: Syuzanna Melqonyan

Syuzanna starts her night with James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and a group of backing dancers. Syuzanna wears a suit and has a purple flower in her hair that matches her tie. I’m getting flashes of her Christina Aguilera battle from a couple weeks ago, which makes me uncomfortable. Syuzanna has a powerful voice, but working the stage is not her strength. Power ballad isn’t my favorite Eurovision genre, but that is where Syuzanna shines. Head toward the shine!

For her Eurovision entry, Syuzanna selected “Sweet People” by Alyosha, which was Ukraine’s 2010 entry. Alyosha sent in a video message wishing Syuzanna luck, which was a nice touch. This song has never been on my list of favorites, but Syuzanna does a fine job on the track. I don’t think it’s the best song choice, but every other song I can think of that might be a better fit may have a language she doesn’t know1 or comes from Azerbaijan which… yeah, not gonna happen.

Team Essaï Altounian: Artsvik

It’s been a while since I last heard “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, and it turns out to be an interesting choice for Artsvik. I get why it would be in her repertoire–it has that old school R&B vibe and her vocal tone is kind of in the same family as CeeLo Green’s. The arrangement reminds me of how the house band on Dancing with the Stars would turn this song into a paso doble backing track if needed. This isn’t Artsvik’s strongest performance, but I think it’s an improvement over last week.

For her Eurovision entry, Artsvik selected “A Million Voices” by Polina Gagarina, Russia’s 2015 entrant. This is a bold choice, given that the song requires a lot of power and control to avoid become super schmaltzy. Of the remaining contestants, I think Artsvik is the only one who could attempt this song but even she has difficulty with it. She adds power a little too early as her vocal tone doesn’t allow for the whispered delivery of the first verse. Still, a B+ performance of this song is quite good. I think a better choice might have been “Undo” from 2014.

Team Hayko: Egine

Egine gets the honor of doing this week’s obligatory Beyonce cover, performing the 50 Shades of Grey version of “Crazy in Love.” The vocals and pacing are a mess as a dancer trots around stage and does a bunch of leg stretches behind her. Since this is Egine, there’s also an interminable dance break thrown in with a crew who may or may not be Jabbawockeez? If Egine were to win, what on earth would she do on the Eurovision stage that would give Armenia a chance of advancing out of the semi-finals?

Speaking of Eurovision, Egine selected Georgia’s 2015 entry “Warrior” by Nina Sublatti. OXIMATED!!! This is the perfect entry for Egine, and I mean that sincerely. Her vocal tone should match the original, and the story of the song matches Egine’s persona. Before the performance, Nina wishes Egine luck on the performance. Unfortunately, things do not go well. Again, Egine’s pacing is off and the staging lacks engagement. There’s a drummer standing behind her waiting as another drum set sits by itself across the stage. During the break after the second chorus, Egine heads over to do a drum duet which… why? She’s no Sheila E, and if she wanted a drum solo Egine should have gone with “Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl).”

Results

The home audience has 15 minutes to vote on the four finalists. The head of the international jury, Swedish music producer Christer Bjorkman, was interviewed during the voting window and had the opportunity to read the jury point results. There was some confusion as to how the scores were read–his list had the scores ordered from least to most while the screen presentation listed the scores in the shows running order. Oops.

The international jury awarded 21 points to Marta, 30 points to Syuzanna, 35 points to Artsvik, and 24 points to Egine. Really? I agree that Marta had an off night, but I certainly disagree that Egine offered a better performance. Marta may also disagree, as she looks pissed when the televote results are revealed. This time the results are given in the running order.

Marta earned 40 points, giving her a total of 61. Syuzanna earned 24 points, giving her a total of 54. Artsvik earned 27 points, giving her a total of 62 points and guaranteeing a spot in the final. Yay! Egine earned… 19 points, giving her a total of 43. Marta is also going to the final!

I am really excited about Artsvik and Marta battling in next week’s Depi Evratesil final. Both have offered interesting, engaging, and entertaining performances and both would be awesome representatives for Armenia.

  1. i.e. Serbian  

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