It is not often I would include Eurovision Song Contest in this category of song analyses. Because, while I love the contest and watch it every year, let’s be honest: it is more about the for once acceptable mixture of kitsch, colourful acts and pop music. Deep lyrics with a very deep meaning are not so often occuring. This year, we had a few ones though, and I decided to take out the song "Not alone", which was the Armenian entry.
The artist performing was Aram Mp3, the somewhat weird pseudonym of musician and stand-up comedian Aram Sargsyan (Armenian: Արամ Սարգսյան) . He is a 30 years old (at time of writing) performer born in Yerevan, Armenia.
His first steps in showbizz were more focused on the stand-up comedy than on music, although he did do parodies of famous songs, which earned him his moniker Aram Mp3.
He would, in the second half of the past decade, also start performing songs and creating video clips, continued comedy with his own comedy TV show, and became more famous by presenting programs such as Armenia’s X Factor and Armenian Idol.
There is no comedy at all about him going to Eurovision to represent his country though. "Not alone" is a "power ballad", starting with a very low-key soothing part, then getting a slight bit of rock influences while Aram starts singing with more passion and fury in his voice too. It is a love song, a message to someone in need and a very beautiful one. The lyrics are just lovely and hopegiving.
The song, according to bookmakers, was the top favourite to win, until the festival came closer and other entries took over the role of favourite. But Aram was Always within reach of that first spot in bookmakers tables.
This all despite an incident that lead to insinuations about Aram being a homophobe. He apparently said some remarks about Austrian participant (and later winner of Eurovision) Conchita Wurst, a man who dresses and performs as a woman. Aram apparently would have said this is no normal lifestyle, that Conchita would need help figuring out what sex she really is/wants to be, and that he always speeds up his car when driving through the gay district of Armenian capital Yerevan.
This lead to a lot of disapproving comments and shocked many. Now Aram is a comedian, and we all know comedians make jokes sometimes flirting with the boundaries of what is acceptable humor. Aram said he meant the comments as a joke ; since his long comedian background I guess this makes sense, although my personal opinion is that it’s a very poor joke and not funny at all. I also think he knew well enough this would stir up controversy, and saying "it’s just intended as a joke" is not really a decent apology. I assume that as a comedian it makes sense he makes jokes about such subjects ; hopefully we all agree this "joke" was a very bad joke, insulting more than funny.
Luckily Conchita herself seemed to react quite cool on it:
"It seems as if Aram wants me to be a woman, but I can say this to you Aram my dear, I am a working woman and an incredibly lazy young man in my free time and that is not going to change. If you have problems understanding that, then I would be happy to sit down with you and explain it to you in more detail. And with your homophobic comments, that is a conversation that we really need to speak about."
Aram apparently apologised in person to Conchita and the two would have become friends meanwhile, although that is hard to check. He did release the following statement:
"In my personal life and in my work, the respect for others is my guiding principle. Apart from being a musician, I’m also a comedian. Music and humor are inseparable parts of my life; I made some remarks recently in a humorous manner, which instead may have hurt the dear friends and fans. I really regret this and want to state clearly that I reject homophobia."
and the following tweet:
"Respect for others IS my guiding principle. We live in one world and we are not alone!"
If these apologies are sincere, the best way to prove that is to never make any such remarks again and try to make comedy that is not offending people.
I personally write this blog entry to praise the song, but let me clearly say that I (as a straight man who however likes a bit of androgyny and fully defends gay rights) think the "joke" was very poor and was offending. Tagging people according to certain aspects of their personality is never a good idea, and remarks like this are not doing the case for diversity any good. But, if Conchita and Aram talked everything through and became friends, then kudos to Conchita for being openminded and wanting to leave the incident behind her.
As I said, as a straight man who however fully defends gay rights, I wish to praise a song in this blog entry. I made it clear I too disapprove any homophobe comments made, so I think I am going to focus on the song again as I have made my opinion on the incident clear.
"Not alone" begins with a rather quiet, low key musical setting that gradually expands, building towards the end of the song where the music gets a lot of bombast and a sort of climax to end the song with. So the structure of the music for sure is good, slightly dramatic and that suits the lyrics very well. There is some dubstep in there, but also some violin and piano. It’s a song growing to its climax, and while bombast is a word I would use for it, I would use it in a very positive way.
The lyrics first describe a person who feels alone and abandoned by the world, seeking escapism in a dream world. Aram tries to comfort by stating the person really isn’t alone and describes the sadness as a tormenting dream. The song then gets more energy, and so does Aram’s vocal performance, when describing one single kiss can change everything, and make the world look beautiful and wonderful again. I think it is this part of the lyrics which makes me truly love this song a lot:
"What if it’s all in one kiss
That turns all seeds into trees
The strongest wind into breeze
Enter all doors without keys"
I think there is a lot of truth in this lyric, one kiss can indeed change a bleak world into a beautiful place where you wake up with a smile, looking forward to every new day. I cannot remember whose quote it was, but it has been said that "every love starts with a single kiss".
Aram himself told "You should never give up and always fight for love. One kiss can change everything." And on this statement, I do fully agree.
Armenia could not win the contest, therefor the performance of Conchita Wurst was too strong. Yes, performance, because while her style surely makes a very strong statement for tolerance, let’s not forget she had a good song and delivered a perfect vocal delivery.
However, Armenia did get a fantastic result as the song finished 4th in the final, collecting 174 points. I hope the song will be remembered beyond Eurovision fans, because the lyrics deserved to be heard by anyone.