First up from the Caucasus countries is Azerbaijan, the only one of the three to have won Eurovision. They’ve generally had a good record at the contest, but last year notoriously qualified for the grand final without getting a single point from the televote! How will they got in with the new semi-final voting system? Well, they’ve taken a different direction to previous years, and it will be twins TuralTuranX seeing if they can win that public vote and keep up Azerbaijan’s excellent qualifying record.
Tural and Turan Bağmanov submitted their song, “Tell Me More”, to the broadcaster as part of an open submission process for composers. They were subsequently shortlisted as one of five potential entries and ultimately were successful. For the first time, Azerbaijan has an entry written and composed solely by Azerbaijanis, and indeed it will be sung by those songwriters. It’s not just the move away from mostly Swedish writers that is different, it’s also quite a break in musical style – this is a very laidback indie rock-pop song that is distinctly Beatles-like and British in its sound. I am sure that is not completely unconnected to the host city being Liverpool…
This has risen quite a bit in my rankings since it was first released – I’ve appreciated more its relaxed feel, and the fact it’s a different genre and far more lowkey than the other entries. Also I think it’s a great step forward for Azerbaijan to be sending homegrown singer-songwriters, even if the product feels more like a UK sound with no Azerbaijani instruments or music being used. My principal gripe with this is the spoken word/sort of rap part near the start – I could do without that I think.
Given this is the first home-written entry by Azerbaijan, it feels quite a shame it hasn’t landed at all with the fandom, bumping along near the bottom of the Eurovision scoreboard app. To be fair, this isn’t the sort of song or genre that tends to do so well on that app, and I think fans of Azerbaijan as a Eurovision country expect and prefer a different style and genre.
Azerbaijan normally bring some impressive staging but I will say that even with that, and perhaps broader appeal outside the fandom than people expect, it’s facing an uphill struggle to qualify. The boys have been sandwiched between two big songs in the running order which will do nothing to help people remember and Azerbaijan has few televoting allies in this semi. Non-qualification does seem likely but I do hope that won’t put the broadcaster back to paying Swedish writers and composers to produce their entries.
Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2008
Appearances (excluding this year): 14
Best result: Winner 2011
Last year’s result: 16th