ESC 2010 Reviews: Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is the most recently-debuting nation competing in this year’s ESC. The Land of Fire made a splashy entrance in 2008 along with San Marino, who sadly haven’t returned since. Their first entry, “Day After Day” by Elnur Hüseynov and Samir Cavadzadə (And no, that’s not a typo…the Azeri alphabet includes the letter “ə”. Jealous?) blended rock, opera, and traditional Azeri mugham, resulting in a cacophony of sound, dancers dressed as angels and demons, rapid costume changes, and enough high notes to melt off Adam Lambert’s face. They ended up in an incredibly respectable 8th place, beating bookmaker’s favorites from Israel, Iceland, and Portugal, and winning maximum points from Turkey and Hungary.
After such a massive debut, both in score and in spectacle, Baku either had to go big or go home in 2009, and they more than delivered. Sponsoring broadcaster İTV invited the acclaimed Iranian-Swedish DJ Arash Labaf and up-and-coming singer Aysel Teymurzadə to sing “Always“, an upbeat ethnopop number that landed the duo in 3rd place.
This year, Azerbaijan selected 17-year old singer Safura Əlizadə (Alizadeh) to take the nation even higher. Their song, “Drip Drop”, is a R&B-influenced ballad that if in placed in the proper hands of production, wouldn’t sound too out of place on a lot of American Top 40 radio stations. However, in the videos I’ve seen of Safura’s live performance, her youth and inexperience with the English language sadly seem to get to her. She appears to suffer from pitch problems at times, and sometimes her accent muddles her lyrics to the point of intelligibility (Just to contrast, last year’s Azeri eye-candy, Aysel, had spent a year as an exchange student in Texas as the recipient of a FLEX scholarship, so her English ability was basically top-notch.) Don’t get me wrong, though; Safura looks beautiful, and Azerbaijan’s currently riding a wave of popularity in Eurovision, so she will likely pass through to the finals. Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s sharing their semifinal with ally Turkey, so votes from one will likely go to the other, and vice versa. However, I don’t see this gaining the universal appeal of “Always”, so I think that Baku 2011 might be out of the question.
What do you think of “Drip Drop”? Am I being too harsh on Safura? I love reading your comments and opinions, so feel free to bounce your ideas off of me!
Until next time! (Coming attractions: Belarus, Belgium, and Bosnia-Herzegovina!)