This week, Slideback Sunday is going back ten years, to the 2010 contest – and as Armenia is the country, that means this week’s offering is “Apricot Stone”. Performed by Eva Rivas, what do our team think of this anthem from the Armenian motherland?
Up until 2010, Armenia had been doing very well, having entered four times prior, with all four entries hitting the top 10. Apricot Stone would go on to be their fifth top ten hit in a row, finishing seventh, fully making use of the late 00s/early 10s’ apparent love for pop with eastern influences.
Armenia have often gone back and forth among the Eurovision fandom, some years they’ll send a creative and interesting modern masterpiece (“LoveWave”, “Jan Jan”, “Not Alone”), and other times it will be a low energy dirge (“Lonely Planet”, “Qami”).
The apricot is the national fruit of Armenia. The song contains the lyric ‘motherland’. And if all you know about “Apricot Stone” is that it is appealing to patriotic symbols, you might expect the latter. Little could be further from the truth.
The warm instrumental that starts off the song matches with the singer Eva Rivas’ detailing of her life as a child. Where she is introduced to national myths and the cruelty of the world by her mother. So far, so predictable. But it’s what happens when you get through that that makes “Apricot Stone” come alive. The story has drawn at least some of your attention in, and now that its done its job, it retreats from the rest of the song to allow a much more exciting sound to take over.
After this point, Eva’s voice suddenly becomes much more powerful, she keeps the tempo high through the chorus and followup verses. The listener is taken on a fantastic ride of her singing her heart out backed by a shimmering soundscape. That soundscape features traditional Armenian instruments. Visually, there was an old duduk player on stage, and apricot seed and tree props to bolster the song’s theme. All together, it really sells the idea of a prosperous land in full bloom.
When I saw Eurovision Song Contest 2010, it was for most of the above reasons that “Apricot Stone” was one of the songs that stuck with me at a time I was not fully paying attention to every song. It’s remained one of my favourite songs from that contest to this day. It’s good pop, even great pop, that fully makes use of the Eurovision setting to deliver a confident and positive assessment of its country’s character. Eurovision could use a lot more like it.
What the team thinks
“Apricot Stone” started as a thin-as-it-gets studio production before getting a needed revamp, and then the version for the contest did a good job of blending synth pop, decent bass, and the always present but always welcome duduk. This stage performance is husky and fruity, and it works. “Apricot stone” doesn’t break new ground, but it has not aged badly! In a strong year, seventh place was, for me, a slightly generous finishing position, but definitely one of Armenia’s superior efforts – I’ve never hit ‘skip’ on this.
Eurovision 2010 was one of my first Eurovision editions, so a lot of these songs already own kind of a nostalgic vibe for me. “Apricot Stone” is definitely one of them. I wouldn’t voluntarily listen to this song, but I wouldn’t skip it either. An enjoyable song with some traditional influences will always conquer my interest and heart. The song is not the strongest one I’ve ever heard, and maybe 7th place was a bit too high. On the other hand, some other entries that I didn’t enjoy as much, finished higher. Good song and Eva Rivas has an enjoyable voice. The mix of both was clearly enough to make Europe vote for Armenia and bring them to a beautiful top 10 position.
I have mixed feelings about this one. I think that “Apricot Stone” is quite an avarege pop song being elevated really well by sound of a traditional duduk and pretty nice and meaningful lyrics. On the other hand, while watching the performance I get this feeling that there’s way too much going on. I believe that they had many great ideas, but they didn’t have one person to put everything in place, so we have some unnecessary camera shots, too much pyro and a general feeling of messiness. Definitely it’s not the worst try by Armenia in the contest, but certainly not the best as well.
Apricot Stone is one of my favourite Eurovision entries ever, for the very reason that it couples being a catchy lil’ ditty with capturing the gravitas of the struggle of the Armenian people. Eva Rivas’ 7-foot frame represents the enormity of the history carried by the Armenian diaspora, but her exuberant performance reminds us all of the power, strength and pride of the Armenian people and their unbreakable spirit. The iconic establishing shot of her breast – open hand presenting her necklace is an offering to the viewers, to welcome them into the picture she and her tiny pals are painting. The staging is high-camp and absolutely should not work, but just…does.
Let me not go another moment without mentioning the incredible ‘cHErIsHEd fRUiT’ refrain from the backing singers, which is so impactful that I named my Twitter handle after it. Also iconic is the obnoxiously large, flowering apricot pip behind her. None of this was necessary, and yet Armenia continues to serve generosity and abundance. Above all, the song is a total bop. The chorus is absolutely monumental and is effortlessly iconic. The last chorus in particular? Whew! This has aged like fine wine in a year where many songs…have not.
What’s your opinion on ‘Apricot Stone’? Do you agree with the team? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates!