Eurovision 2021 top 39 countdown #31: AZERBAIJAN – Efendi – Mata Hari

A returning 2020 artist, Efendi was internally selected both last year and this year, finally getting her chance to go to Eurovision after being in the frame for several years. The broadcaster has kept to the format used last year, as “Mata Hari” is another slice of ethnopop, and has involved a similar production team. It even references last year’s song “Cleopatra” in the lyrics, and like that song, this is once again, in my view, a lot of cynical nonsense that will do better than I think it deserves.

My assessment may sound a little harsh but I don’t think it’s an unfair one – it’s catchy in its way, but it feels a very cynical exercise. I do enjoy the instrumental drop though and the use of Azerbaijani musical instruments – it redeems this from an even lower placing! I get frustrated with the obvious and heavy use of elements/vocals that will ultimately be done as pre-recorded vocals.

My views on this though are a moot point probably – popularity in the fandom isn’t always a guarantee of success at the contest, but I suspect in the case of this song, it will translate to some success at least. Azerbaijan rarely make a mess of the staging and production of the live performance (even if it means masking the featured artist’s voice for backing singers!) so that pedigree combined with the undeniable catchiness of the song does suggest we may well be seeing this in the grand final on the Saturday.

Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest

Flag of Azerbaijan

First entered: 2008

Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 12

Best result: Winner 2011

2019’s result: 8th

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