Sydney does it with a spectacular firework display, London does it with the bongs of Big Ben, New York does it with a ball dropping in Times Square. Yerevan does it with a scruffy old man with a mullet singing in a red convertible car. Welcome to New Year’s on Armenian tv.
I was only watching because we’d been promised the reveal of Armenia’s Eurovision entrant during the show, but by five minutes past midnight that had gone out of the window. I was sticking with 1tv through the night. Back in 2013, I had been sitting through a fairly staid, boring music show. Frankly, this is what I closed-mindedly expected from Armenian TV. As long speeches from the head of the orthodox church and the president of Armenia ushered in the new year, I was ready to get my entrant and go. I was not expecting the pimp daddy and his laydeez to come out. Remaining resolutely stationary in his car as the world whizzed by, he and his bevy of excitable beauties started up the maddest of New Year’s parties. I don’t think that was snow on the trees.
Just in case anyone was left under the impression that this show would revert to something resembling normality, the performance was followed up by a gaudy disco number, replete with dancing disco balls. The performance wasn’t at all bad, but the colours! I was just transfixed by the pretty pictures. And mesmerised by the prospect of one of these acts being our Eurovision entry.
It wasn’t just the viewers having fun, though; oh no. Between, and sometimes during, songs the cameras would cut to various Armenian celebrities in the audience who were having the time of their lives. This despite the fact that they never seemed to be shown drinking their champagne. The glasses were only there for clinking. Very loudly. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s possible to clink champagne glasses over the noise of a pop concert going on a few rows in front, but the Armenian sound producers made it happen.
Two side games were being played as I was watching the New Year spectacular. One was to listen out over the champagne clinking for any mention of Eurovision, Europe, Te Deum or anything to do with Copenhagen. I had to occasionally remind myself that’s why I was originally watching. The other was to stare at the screen and say “Is that Eva Rivas?” It was hard to tell under all that makeup whether it was really her singing “Strong Enough” by Cher. I don’t understand how her lips became so big. Maybe she’s allergic to apricots.
Similarly, I was joking when I called the buxom divas strutting across the stage and grinding with their dancers Inga and Anush. The closer I looked though, the less funny the joke seemed and the more funny the reimagining of Inga and Anush as Armenia’s answer to The Weathergirls became. Gone were the traditional bejewelled robes and in their place came lurid plasticky fifties dresses. It was wipeclean vintage. This show is amazing.
There was one Eurovision alumnus everyone knew for sure was going to be there. The annual Sirusho rumour machine went into overload as news spread of her rehearsals for this programme. Alas, her appearance came and went with no mention of Copenhagen. Like all the performances, it was playback, but she put on a good show. It was quite reminiscent of Kylie; very slick and professional. She didn’t really fit in. There were other slick performances to be fair. There was this one girl who did a nice retro sixties number and a nice performance from a girl I’ve since identified as Lilit Hovhannisyan. Lilit judged the occasion better, though; entering by being lowered from the ceiling wearing head-to-toe leopard print.
The one thing that was missing from the show up to this point was a viagra commercial. Luckily, Armenia knows what its public wants. Sitting alone at his table, this poor old man watches the lady on stage and he dreams. He dreams of his youth when he could have any woman he wants. He seems to want big women. That, or Eva Rivas would have been too much for his ticker to handle.
New Year’s Eve is a magical time in Armenia, where dreams come true. Our elderly observer will have this dance. Suddenly the entire studio is cleared. There’s no party going on, no clinking of glasses; just him, her and the music. We then go back to him at his table, watching the song alone. The whole sequence has been a dream. Maybe this whole new year’s eve show was a dream. Did I dream it. I was too ill to go out last night; maybe I was iller than I thought.
Any existential musings were cut short by a sudden burst of Te Deum. 2014′s Armenian entrant was next. And what an entrance. Aram MP3 is probably the first Eurovision entrant who has been introduced to me by way of revolving disco Christmas tree. On emerging he launched into an energetic cover of Jealousy by Martin Solveig (video below). I was really impressed. Obviously, the song wasn’t his and the singing wasn’t live, but Aram has a great stage presence. He is very watchable and given a good uptempo song in Copenhagen, he could do well.
I sincerely wish him and Armenia all the best and a happy new year. They know how to put on a party. I wish Jools Holland could be this good.