Armenia will share a dark part of its history with “Don’t Deny” at the Eurovision Song Contest. Will the song honor memories or miss out on the final?
After making a run for the top slot in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Armenia is taking a step back to recognize its own history. 2015 marks 100 years since the Armenian Genocide, when upwards of 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the crumbling Ottoman Empire. It is probably in everyone’s interest that Turkey is not participating in this year’s Contest, as the country (the modern forebear of the Ottoman Empire) does not recognize what happened in Armenia as a genocide.
Enter Genealogy, a supergroup composed of six Armenians from all over the world as a result of the diaspora brought about by the events a century ago. Take a listen to their track “Don’t Deny”:
I find this entry rather intriguing. When I did my actual first listen of “Don’t Deny” when it was introduced last week, my initial thought was “hmm, this is kind of all over the place.”1 However, this was before I was aware of the context surrounding this song. Upon a few more listens, the social activist in me loves how this entry is skirting the “No politics, s’il vous plait” rule that Eurovision sorta kinda has.2
Let me be clear: I think Armenia is completely on the sunny side of whatever “no politics” murkiness may exist with this entry. The lyrics are vague enough to not be political—this is not a “We Don’t Wanna Put In” situation. I think the video may push a few buttons, but it could easily be described as tribute (plus it is executed quite well).
The success of this entry will likely come down to presentation. When I hear “supergroup”, I fear it could be a repeat of Croatia’s 2012 entry. Though that song was lovely and executed on a technical level, the performance lacked movement and was not telegenic in the slightest. If this song is just six people standing on stage standing behind microphones in a v-pattern, ending in a straight line, reaching for the sky and hands dropping down, an impression will not be made.
I hope Armenia seriously considers the stage performance—which has often been the country’s weakness. “Don’t Deny” could do quite well in Vienna with the right strategy.