Earlier this morning the Wiwi Jury—our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals—went shopping inside Baku’s Flame Towers and enjoyed a meal of Pilaf with fragrant saffron, and juicy kebabs flavored with sumac, buglama and levengi. Then we reviewed Dilara’s Eurovision 2014 song “Start a Fire”. Did she leave us burning for more? Or did we choke on all the smoke and fumes? Read on to find out…
“Start a Fire” reviews
Ramadan: The Swedish composers have done it again! Pure class, magical, and wonderful — I really love the ethnic vibe. It reminds me a lot of Azerbaijan’s 2012 entry “When The Music Dies”, but it’s even stronger. The only limitation at this point is Dilara’s command of English, but hopefully she will improve on that before Copenhagen. This has to be in the Top 5. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re going back to Baku next year. This song is flawless. It gives me goosebumps. Outstanding.
Wiwi: Dilara sings about the ravages of our world, and the indifference with which man treats his fellow man. Yet amid all the turmoil and cruelty, there’s a light in all of us that we can choose to use for good: “Maybe nightfall darkens skies/ And maybe teardrops stain our eyes/ But may the slightest light start a fire.” With her rich, smoky voice and undeniable soul, Dilara starts a fire of her own. She stirs my emotions and channels the pain and frustation of forgotten and displaced people from Baku to Berlin to Birmingham. This is a difficult song with a difficult chorus. But if Dilara can hold her nerve and her pitch, I see Eurovision heading back to Baku in 2015. Given the strength of this number, it would be well-deserved.
Angus: After seven years, a Swedish-produced ballad with ethnic refrain is becoming tired and – dare I drop the b-bomb? – boring. Dilara wanted to start a fire but all she has here are the dying embers of the Azeri bonfire that has burned brightly since Aysel & Arash took to the stage in Moscow in 2009. A palpable lack of inspiration and innovation has knocked Dilara out of contention for winning because there are frankly better songs on offer this year. All that being said there’s little doubt Dilara will take the bronze home: the song formula may be tired but it’s repeat success is undeniable and Baku’s enormous annual vote-pull will land her in the Top Three irrespective of the palpable lack of substance in ‘Start A Fire’.
Padraig: During Böyük Sehne Dilara dazzled us with her covers of Adele and Duffy. Once she won, it seemed only natural that her Eurovision entry would be either a massive ballad or a sassy soul number. But instead the Azerbaijani delegation, in their infinite wisdom, decided to lump her with “Start a Fire”. By no means a dud, it is still a disappointment in comparison to what we’ve come to expect from Baku. Gone is the hallmark Azeri melodrama, and in its place is some rather unremarkable lounge music. However, as this is Azerbaijan, I fully expect Dilara to wear a dress of fire whilst balancing atop a replica of one of the flame towers, thereby restoring order to the Eurovision world.
Bogdan: I admit that I was biased against Azerbaijan because of last year’s voting scandal, but even so it was love at first listen for me when I heard their 2014 entry. This sweeping ballad does not sound like a Swedish production, thanks to the brilliant use of the balaban (which some Armenian
fans haters wrongly identified as their national instrument duduk), and Dilara’s warm voice, as well as the beautiful lyrics, will undoubtedly bring “Start A Fire” very close to the trophy, if not even to the Land of Fire. And I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in terms of staging, after last year! Azerbaijan is, again, the dark horse to watch.
Deban:I’ve always had a penchant for ballads, but they need to take me somewhere. This is beautiful to listen to, and much of it echoes the singer-songwriter qualities of Lianne La Havas. Sadly, it doesn’t really take flight. Unlike Sabina Babayeva who ‘tore it up’ on home soil, and put Azerbaijan back in the Top 5 spot in 2012, Dilara Kazimova will struggle to achieve a similar feat. Start A Fire would require ingenious staging and clever visual presentation to steal votes in Copenhagen.
Billy: Dilara has a beautiful voice, but the song could be a lot better. I like the ballad, but I wish the rhythm and pace varied a bit more. Building like that would make this even more touching. I like that addition of the traditional Azeri musical instrument. It fits more organically than the one used in 2012.
Katie: Of course Azerbaijan has sent a ballad to Eurovision. But this one is a bit boring. The first verse doesn’t build to anything and nothing exciting or unexpected happens. Although it does have the traditional Azeri feel that I always love to hear, everything feels a bit repetitive…and the singer doesn’t have the raw power of a Mei Finegold or Emma Marrone to pull off a song like this. Nevertheless, I reckon the staging is going to be Sabina Babayeva style and Dilara will get a great score in Copenhagen.
Patrick: Silent and beautiful sound from the land of fire. Azerbaijan – the country who never fails and always gets a place in the TOP 10. Dilara Kazimova is an amazing artist and Azerbaijan can be really really proud of her. She definitely was the best singer in Böyük Sehne and deserve it to represent her country. The song is just nice and the popular Azerbaijani flute-tunes – everybody use them for a song – makes it really touching. I’m a bit dissapointed of “Start a Fire” because sometimes it bores me a bit. The chorus is amazing and her voice is marvellous, but there are some moments when it laggs and just let you forget the song. All in all it’s an amazing song with a stunning artist and a very good apperance for Azerbaijan. Good luck Dilara – I’m sure you will get a lot of votes.
Vebooboo: For a song all about starting a fire, this song leaves me pretty damn cold. Dilara is pretty, and she’s got a voice (like every Azerbaijani entrant in recent yeras), but bring some energy to the stage, please girl! In a year overcrowded with ballads, this one just never really takes off. And Dilara better be careful not to pull a Zlata Ognevich and struggle with her earpiece on stage — the thing just did not want to go in her ear in Amsterdam. Well, Dilara, you can fix the technology, but I don’t think you can make me fixate on this lame and dull song. Next!
All 19 members of our jury rate each song. However, we only have room to share 10 written reviews. Here are the remaining nine scores.
James L: 5/10
Maxim Montana: 7/10
William C: 8.5/10
The highest and lowest scores are removed before calculating the final score. We have dropped a low of 3 and a high of 10.
The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 6.76/10
You can check out our latest Eurovision 2014 reviews and rankings on the Wiwi Jury page. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.