Today we go as far east in Europe as it’s possible to go – Azerbaijan. Baku, the Azeri capital, is at the easternmost point of the country and their victory in 2011 brought Eurovision to that most easterly point Eurovision will ever be hosted. Aside from Australia, they are Eurovision’s most recent entrants, yet in that time, have won once and come in the top 5 for five years in a row between 2009 and 2013. Azerbaijan take Eurovision seriously – well, they take doing well in Eurovision seriously (too seriously in fact as some past #skandals have shown with vote rigging accusations). Once again they’ve turned to Swedish songwriters to bring them glory this year? Will Samra work a miracle for them again?

I’ll be upfront with my views on this song – I think it is massively overrated, overproduced and sounds no better than a song and act that would get no further than the semi-finals in Melodifestivalen. Clearly many people don’t agree with me and it had been riding high in the betting and high in this chart. Azerbaijan are well known for putting on impressive staging so it’s been eagerly anticipated what they would deliver this year.

However, Samra did her first rehearsal today in Stockholm and her vocal was very poor – not my opinion but that of all the live blogs who are there at the moment. Illness is being cited but her vocal was poor in both the live preview events she did – her backing singers will need to do far more to carry her through the chorus. The staging also seemed to disappoint being likened to Melodifestivalen semi-final act staging. Which goes to reinforce my point that this is all what this song is – a Melodifestivalen song that would struggle to make the final of that show.

Does this mean that the unthinkable might happen and Azerbaijan fail to qualify for the grand final for the first time? Well, a performance like today would make it a distinct possibility but I can’t imagine that their delegation won’t put in some hasty work to improve this enough to pick up enough votes to squeak through. I don’t think it deserves to reach the final but I think at least we can safely say there will be no return to Baku next year.

Live at Russian Eurovision preParty in Moscow:

Azerbaijan at the Eurovision Song Contest:Azerbaijan Eurovision flag

First entered: 2008

Appearances (excluding this year): 8

Best result: Winner 2011

Last year’s result: 12th