Growing up away from Armenian culture, I’d call myself a bit less patriotic than my fellow Armenians. I admit it’s always been somewhat of a struggle to hang on to a heritage I was not aware of during my formative years, but as time passed, I’ve grown closer and more aware of my background.
As an incoming Armenian, one of the very first things I was informed of was the occurrence of a genocide, one that marks its centennial this April. In 1915, on the 24th of April, over 1.5 million people fell victim to the Turkish Empire’s pursuit of geopolitical power. This act has been denied by the Turkish government and a few other international countries, but has been recognized by the overwhelming majority of the world.
Today, as the genocide turns a hundred, Eurovision, an annual singing competition featuring countless european countries, turns 60. And this year’s Armenian entry, released on Thursday, March 12, 2015, has gone viral on social media less than 24 hours after its debut.
The song stands at 240,000+ views at the moment, far surpassing many of the other entries. The UK entry currently stands at 700,000 hits, and that’s a week after its release. In that, the virality of the video far-surpasses that of its contenders, and for good reason.
Given the occasion, I expected the entry to be an emotional ballad, but “Don’t Deny” by Genealogy is not quite what people expected it to be. And it’s brilliant for a number of reasons.
First, the people singing it. The concept behind forming the group is genius. Genealogy — defined as the retracing of family lineage — is formed of six members of Armenian descent who represent their respective continents. The members are Essay Altounian, a French-Armenian artist representing Europe, Tamar Kaprelian, an American-Armenian songstress representing the United States of America, Ethiopian-Armenian Vahé Tilbian, representing Africa, Japanese-Armenian Stephanie Topalian, representing Asia, Mary-Jean O’Doherty Basmadjian representing Australia, and finally, representing the country itself, Armenian star Inga Arahakyan, who’d qualified for the same contest with her sister in 2009.
The first five members’ families were dispersed all over the world following the genocide, and the idea of bringing them together is heart-warming.
The second factor that gives the entry its distinct edge is the tune. It is well-composed and well-written, but what’s awesome is that it manages to add elements of music from all the artsits’ backgrounds, ending in a discernable and traditional Armenian melody. It encompasses the unity and solidarity of the members and is everything Eurovision stands for, especially with its “Building Bridges” tagline this year. But above all else, the song is extremely catchy. I’ve been listening to it all day myself. And that’s the best part about it: it’s been getting around. In fact, in the time it took me to write this article, the video has gained over 15,000 hits.
The eerie video is quite captivating to watch as well. It features a family that disappears member by member,leaving behind empty chairs in an old house, but these vacant seats are filled by successors, and that speaks volumes for the Armenian people. It challenges all those who deny the existence of a genocide to recognize it.
With the semi-final round coming soon, there is no doubt in my mind Armenia will move on to the final, and if I’m to partake in the event with an unbiased, honest opinion, it stands a damn good chance at the crown. Time will only tell. The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest will air on May 19 and 21, with the final airing in May 23.
Here’s “Don’t Deny” by Genealogy:
Image Sources: eurovision.tv, artsakhpress.am, armenianweekly.com, armedia.com
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