NB. This version was published in December 2016 and has been replaced by an updated Top 5 from Azerbaijan.
After trips to southern and central Europe, my next top 5 goes as far east as it’s possible to go in Europe to the land of fire, Azerbaijan. A relative newcomer to Eurovision, they have taken it very seriously and had a string of Top 5 finishes (and a win) between 2009 and 2013. They’ve tailed off a little in the last couple of years, but still keep making the final.
Azerbaijan presents me with probably one of my easiest top 5s as they only have 9 songs for me to select them from! I don’t think my winner here will be a surprise, though my runner up might be.
5. Dilara Kazimova “Start a Fire” (2013, 22nd place, 33 points)
In my opinion, this is the most subtle and classy of all Azerbaijan’s entries. Somewhat surprising to find it was their worst performing song to date but it makes my top 5. Also, I believe this was my friend’s favourites that year, and he’s a music journalist and composer…
4. Ell & Nikki “Running Scared” (2011, winner, 221 points)
Azerbaijan’s first and sole win – coming only in their fourth year in the contest. I thought this was a likely winner at the time and said so to a friend who promptly but a bet on them and won a fair bit of money! I don’t think it’s the strongest Eurovision winner that there has ever been but it’s easy on the ear and pleasant enough.
3. Farid Mammadov “Hold Me” (2013, 2nd place, 234 points)
Yes, it’s very cheesy this one but you can’t deny Farid is VERY easy on the eye. It was runner up although this was the year marred by the accusations of vote buying. Still, you can’t but help the classic Eurovision combo of man in a box, man on top of a box, and lady with unfeasibly long dress train…
2. Elnur & Samir “Day After Day” (2008, 8th place, 132 points)
This was Azerbaijan’s first ever entry. It’s a bit bonkers, but I enjoy this as it’s a bit different and certainly made a splash. Elnur came back in 2015 as a solo artist, though didn’t make the top 10 on that occasion.
1. Aysel & Arash “Always” (2009, 3rd place, 207 points)
Classic ethnopop for my number one and I don’t think this will come as much surprise that it’s my number 1!
What do you think? Would you have put any of the four songs that missed out in the top 5 instead?