Yerevan – Armenia’s representatives at the Eurovision 2009 song contest, Anush Arshakyan and Inga Arshakyan, moved forward to the finals, which will be held on May 16 in Moscow.
The sisters on Tuesday, May 12, performed “Jan-Jan,” which combines English and Armenian lyrics and mixes traditional motifs with modern rhythms. That mix was reflected in the performance, where female backup singers wearing traditional garb showed plenty of leg and garter belts.
“We are not betraying our roots. We are staying true to our style and growing in our musical experimentation,” Anush had said when asked about the song in February.
The performance was one of 18 on Tuesday. Ten acts that night earned the right to advance to the final round. In addition to Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and Turkey advanced.
A second qualifying round was held on May 14, to choose another ten acts: Albania, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, and Ukraine. Under the rules, the 20 acts will be joined by host Russia and Eurovision initiators France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Winners in the qualifying stage were chosen by televoting. In Armenia, viewers voted by sending text messages. Viewers cannot vote for the country in which they are voting. In the final stage, winners are chosen by a combination of televoting and jury selection.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a tradition that is over 50 years old, and every year, its popularity seems to be growing around the world, [as Nyree Abrahamian wrote in these pages in February]. It is broadcast not only in Europe, but everywhere from the United States to Hong Kong. Since 2006, it is even broadcast online. Eurovision is one of the most-watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures in recent years quoted as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. Last year, Armenia was represented by Sirusho, whose song, “Qele, Qele” came in fourth place and was subsequently a huge hit, blared all through the summer on radio stations throughout Europe.