NB. This version was published in September 2018 and has been replaced by an updated Top 5 songs from Azerbaijan.
Having updated the top 5 of their neighbour and rival, it’s now Azerbaijan’s turn to have their Top 5 updated. 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 few years, failing to make the final for the first time in 2018, but this update does include their 2017 entry.
While for a few years they were clearly aiming for the win, I’ve tended to prefer Azerbaijan when they’ve either stuck to their roots and bringing those ethnic sounds, and/or when they just go utterly bonkers/avant-garde with the staging and performance (as with my number 2 and 3 in this list).
5. 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! It’s far from the strongest Eurovision winner that there has ever been but it’s easy on the ear and pleasant enough.
4. 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…
3. Elnur & Samir “Day After Day” (2008, 8th place, 132 points)
This was Azerbaijan’s first ever entry. It’s one of their bonkers ones, 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.
2. Dihaj “Skeletons” (2017, 14th place, 120 points)
Speaking of the bonkers/avant-garde, 2017’s entry certainly fits with that criteria. I wasn’t a fan of this when it was released as a music video, but my view changed with seeing the actual live performance and staging. Completely mad yes, but underneath all the staging, I think it’s a good pop song too. Also possibly the first time we’ve seen a live use of a chalkboard on the Eurovision stage (as well as the man in horse head mask up a ladder…)
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!
Did Dihaj deserve her place in my updated top 5? Did Dilara Kazimova deserve to drop out of my top 5 (“Start a Fire, 2014)? Let me know in comments below!