This morning the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — scaled the Flame Towers in Baku and looked out to the Crystal Hall Arena. Ah, memories. After taking some selfies we reviewed Elnur Huseynov and his Eurovision 2015 song “Hour of the Wolf”. Did his passion make us growl with pleasure? Or were we left snarling? Read on to find out…
Azerbaijan’s Eurovision 2015 song
Reviews: Elnur Hüseynov with “Hour of the Wolf”
William: The search for love and fulfillment defines the human experience. It’s also what drives “Hour of the Wolf”. Over the course of three minutes Elnur uses his smokey vocals and rather impressive register to tell the story of his personal reckoning with loneliness and hurt. In the video, momentary glimpses of women from his past remind us that relationships may die, but their ghosts live on. Meditative and moving, grand yet intimate, this song is more poetry than pop: “I once met peace, he said that he, Soon would have the answers to this hurt, And my mind was made up, I would never give up.” Beware of wolves. If Elnur is any indicator, they’ll take a bite out of your heart.
Robyn: Earlier in the year I’d heard rumours that Azerbaijan had given up on Eurovision, but it turns out they’re still bringing their A-game. This is easily the best Azeri/Scandinavian collaboration since their 2011 win. The song is laden with hooks and great melodies, and Elnur brings his Voice-winning talents. It’s an emotional journey in the best possible way. If they can replicate that gospel choir sound, this is going to be massive on stage. Oh, and a key change? Lay it on me.
Kristin: Historical event happening for me here: I am absolutely head over heels in love with the Azeri entry! The melody is amazing, the chorus is nothing short of a masterpiece and Elnur’s voice sends shivers of satisfaction down my spine. This is without question top-three material. Thank you Azerbaijan for stepping up your game, and thank you, Elnur, for dumping the dentist with the lion mane and the shrieking voice. You don’t need a sidekick anyway.
Deban: Elnur ditches Samir and arms himself with a five-star composition, maintaining Azerbaijan’s ongoing committment to quality. “Hour of the Wolf” is the most appropriate metaphor for the tortured emotions that one experiences in relationships. Hüseynov soars beautifully on this ballad, and employs complimentary backing vocals which actually add to the performance rather than distracting from it. The lyrics are poetry, the instrumentation is considered and the pauses are brilliantly timed. But ultimately Hüseynov’s vocals drive it all.
Live: Elnur Hüseynov at Eurovision in Concert
Angus: Elnur’s voice is gorgeous and nothing can take away his vocal abilities. “Hour of the Wolf”, however, falls flat. It lacks the punch of past Azeri entries and most closely resembles “Start a Fire” in its emphasis on steadily building to a climax. This doesn’t stand out from the crowd and Azerbaijan will have to fight hard to make it out of its semi-final again.
Bogdan: “Hour of the Wolf” is a very good song in the studio version, but the live performances that I’ve heard so far are disappointing. Elnur’s vocal gymnastics tend to hurt the song. He’s no longer competing in the Voice of Turkey and he should let the song shine, not his voice, by dropping the unnecessary melismata. Also, he should keep his eyes open when he sings, otherwise he’ll lose the audience and important points in the process. Case in point…
Elnur Hüseynov: Live at the Gala Concert Moscow
Chris: Try as I might, I just can’t get excited by “Hour of the Wolf”. It’s an enjoyable enough three minutes when it’s on, but it’s also incredibly forgettable. Judging by his live performances, Elnur seems to know this and has been trying a whole host of vocal tricks to beef it up, with so-so results. He’s going to have to try and find more solid ground when he gets to Vienna. I see Azerbaijan struggling to make the top ten once again, particularly with other male solo acts drawing the attention.
Max: I’ve never been a big fan of the Azerbaijani contributions to Eurovision: Even Elnur’s first attempt in 2008 was a big no-no for me. But finally, after eight years, the self-confessed Land of Fire is one of my faves. The gospel elements of the chorus compliment a lyrically strong tune that has all the power needed to light up a European microstate! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we return to Baku in 2016 thanks to this haunting ballad filled with passion, sorrow and a whole lot of soul.
Interview: Elnur Hüseynov at Eurovision Pre-Party Riga
Denise: OMG! I’m so in love with this song. I didn’t have high hopes as I absolutely detested his 2008 entry. Hearing this song for the first time made me Google him to see if this is the same Elnur as back then. The song is simply amazing and we all know Elnur has a great voice. The choir adds something special. I am a little worried about making five backing singers sound like a choir on stage, but hey, it’s Azerbaijan. They know how to make magic.
Padraig: After years of OTT decadence, the Azeris decided to tone things down in Copenhagen. Alas, they turned the dial a tad too far and sent us all to sleep. Oh well, at least they seem to have learnt from their mistake. “Hour of the Wolf” is free from the kitchen sink approach of previous Land of Fire entries, but at the same time you can’t call it boring. Elnur’s vocals are awesome. You really need to hear them live – I have and was blown away. The song itself is equally stunning. Safe to say the Azeri machine is back on track.
Our first reaction (15 March)
Our jury consists of 29 people, but we only have room for 10 written reviews. Here are the remaining 19 scores.
William C: 6/10
To reduce potential bias, we drop the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. We removed a low of 3 and a high of 10.