Azerbaijan left us waiting this year, with their entry for 2022 being announced last of all the 40 entries. Was it a case of saving the best to last or were they running scared? Well, in the end, they released something that was neither off the wall crazy nor a potential contest winner. Instead we have one of several “sadboi” genre songs, “Fade to Black”, sung by Nadir Rustamli, a former winner of The Voice of Azerbaijan.
Nadir is a 22 year old singer whose triumph in January this year in the second series of The Voice was guided by former Eurovision winner, Eldar. He was, as is usual for Azerbaijan, internally selected as their Eurovision artist, but at least his recent TV talent show win means he must have some home support and recognition. His song, “Fade to Black” is a classic male solo ballad, albeit with a long build up. It starts slow and remains lowkey for some time, before the orchestral and vocal crescendo in the latter half.
I’ve placed this pretty low, though I don’t actively dislike this. It’s just I find it quite hard to engage with it – maybe it’s the slow build up or maybe it was the fact we waited so long for the release it was a bit underwhelming. Nadir’s voice is likely to be impressive, but it’s a shame this feels such a manufactured and rather generic ballad. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we have (yet again for Azerbaijan) a Swedish writing team about this and there is little in this that could tie it to Azerbaijani musical heritage. A shame I think given that including elements of Azerbaijani music would allow entries to stand out more.
I can’t yet comment on his live performance of this song (at the time of writing this post anyway) but he will be performing live very soon at Eurovision in Concert. I don’t think there is a concern over his live vocals (except perhaps over annunciation) which makes a change to some other Azerbaijani entries but it’s not got a great spot in its semi-final running order – fourth between two distinctly memorable/different songs. Maybe that will help with the juries, but I think 2022 might be a rare year where Azerbaijan is not a favourite to qualify. However, I’m sure Eldar will still be advising him and that experience plus a potentially jury friendly performance may help in that attempt.
Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2008
Appearances (excluding this year): 13
Best result: Winner 2011
Last year’s result: 20th