When Turkey crashed out of the Eurovision 2011 semi-finals, sister state Azerbaijan picked up the pieces and ran to victory with Ell & Nikki’s “Running Scared”.

And ever since then singer Nikki — real name Nigar Jamal — has enjoyed celebrity status in her homeland, where she’s a firm member of the A-list and a stalwart of prestigious events from the Islamic Solidarity Games to Zhara Fest.

Over the summer the queen of Eurovision 2011 caught up with wiwiblogger Deban on the red carpet at Zhara Fest, sounding off on everything from her friendship with Dima Bilan to the fact her face can be found on an Azerbaijani stamp. We’re ready to send those letters!

“It feels really good,” Nikki says of her duet with Dima at Zhara Fest. “I love Dima because he is a really nice guy. We are very good friends. It’s a pleasure for me to work with him.”

Does she ever discuss the song contest with the Eurovision 2008 winner?

“Sometimes when you go back to the memories — all those feelings when he won, when I won. He was a singer before he won so his life didn’t change that much. But my life changed completely.”

It’s no joke. Following her victory Nikki, who moved to London in 2005, returned to Azerbaijan as a major celebrity.

“When we won we’ve been everywhere,” she says with wonder still written on her face. “Wherever you go you can buy the cup with our face, the shirt with our face, everything was with my face. I got used to seeing my face everywhere. And when you put on any channel they showed [the performance] everywhere.”

The TV offers and appearances have come thick and fast since then. Some of her bigger gigs include serving as a judge on the 2014 edition of X Factor Turkey, and headlining the closing ceremony of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku last summer.

With all this going on, does she still have time to watch Eurovision? And what does she make of the 2017 edition?

“I do watch,” she says. “To be honest I thought that Bulgaria would win. I really liked his song.”

“I really liked [Azerbaijan’s] song, but I wanted something more on the stage to be honest. But I love the song.”

Given her reality show experience on X Factor and her own turn on the Eurovision stage, Nikki knows a thing or two about what makes a star.

“Not just voice — something new, something different, something really interesting,” she says. “If it’s a really good voice with nothing to say, it’s boring. There are a lot of people who have very good voices.”

Are you still listening to “Running Scared”? And which of Nikki’s songs is your favourite? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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39 Comments on "Nigar “Nikki” Jamal: I thought Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov would win Eurovision 2017"

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Steve
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No wonder why people hate her song. And her vocals were mediocre at best. Azerbaijan had better entries tho. They made efforts to take the prize by bribe in different years, but couldn’t as they had stronger contenders. That year there was no absolute favourite.

I still believe that Turkey and Armenia were eliminated from the semis (both had this experience only ONCE), so that Azerbaijan takes their votes easily. Why did Stockselius resign? Because of the corruption scandal with Azerbaijan.

I hope the disclosure of Azerbaijani laundromat will stead light on this bravery adventure as well.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/04/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-azerbaijani-laundromat

Mariana
Guest

Everybody with good ears thought that Bulgaria will win. That’s why it was on second place in the betting odds since the day it was released as a song. Number 1 was Italy, number 3 – Sweden. All of a sudden, a few days before the finals Portugal scored to number 1 in betting odds. Seems that suddenly the song has changed for everyone’s ears. How does that happen!? Well, they just saw the artist and the circumstances. They suddenly liked him.
And Bulgaria stood in second place till the very end.

Mariana
Guest

I am not saying that Portugal is not good but sometimes liking a modern pop song is better than pretending you understand some old-fashioned native-language “art” only because it is different. Different doesn’t always mean better than a generic but very nice pop.

M_K
Guest

Oh, I didn’t realise that she was actually sending us a message in 2011. I must have missed that.

oggy
Guest

Azerbaijan should send Azeri Song. Not English…

Thank you Portugal broke Azerbaijan domination in Eurovision 2017…

Ethan1994
Guest

“Thank you Portugal broke Azerbaijan domination in Eurovision 2017”
Wut? Azerbaijan haven’t been in the top 5, or even the top 10 since 2013. Hell, they nearly failed to qualify for the final in 2015.

NodikoGEO
Guest

“Coming from someone who can only sing decently on acoustic versions and spent the whole 2011 performance out of tune? Of course …” But that’s what she meant. The voice is not enough to be a star. “There are a lot of people who have very good voice,” she said, if you read the article. She doesn’t even say that she is The Voice Azerbaijan or Europe or sth. Anyway, your comments are too harsh sometimes (especially when it comes to Eastern European countries.)

Valdez
Guest

Agree, she said that voice is not everything, nothing arrogant. And she said nothing bad about Salvador, why so defensive Salvador fans? So what if she liked ‘Beautiful mess’, if she would have said that she liked ‘Occidentali’s karma’ or ‘City lights’ nobody would care, but when somebody says something good about 2nd place, Salvador fans are in alert, as if Kristian still can take the trophy from Salvador.

Clara
Guest

I hated the 2011 results in general, but was okay with Running Scared winning.

Hada
Guest

This woman needs to keep calling herself “Nikki” if she wants an international career

Valdez
Guest

ha ha ha … only an american would see it that way.

Valdez
Guest

…I mean, her name doesn’t have 2 letters g.

AngieP
Guest

Not my favourite eurovision winner, I must say. But I’m ok with their victory. 2011 was a year with no clear favourites.

Henning
Guest

Azerbaijan 2011 is the worst Eurovision winner of the modern era. Italy’s song was far superior.

Anabela
Guest

Russia 2008 was the worst IMO. Azerbaijan 2011 was nice, it was very romantic and looked beautiful.

Monia
Guest
Running Scared was a great song, but their live performance wasn’t that great… Azerbaijan without gathering many 12 points like other winners (Rybak, Loreen, Conchita, Mans and so on), they won by gaining rather 8 points by most of the countries: 3 x 12 points (Russia, Turkey, Malta); 5 x 10 points (Ukraine, San Marino, Romania, Croatia and Moldova); 10 x 8 points (Austria, Iceland, Cyprus, Poland, Georgia, Albania, Portugal, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia); 2 x 7 points (Slovakia, Hungary); 3 x 6 points (The Netherlands, France, Belarus); 2 x 5 points (Finland, Greece); 4 points from Israel; 2… Read more »
Gorilla716
Guest

Running Scared wasn’t my favorite of 2011 but I still think it was a deseved winner. I think a lot of the hate is mainly due to Western Europeans angry that a Eastern European counry won.

NodikoGEO
Guest

I was happy when they won, because I didn’t want Italy to win. I didn’t like Italy 2011 AT ALL!

amahnv
Guest

Actually I think a lot of people hated the song and the staging. It was all very generic, but at the same time cloying. That was my opinion and I was not alone. Obviously some people liked it, but – ugh.

jawnbc
Guest

““If it’s a really good voice with nothing to say, it’s boring. ”

As opposed to a really unreliable voice with a lot of backup singer assistance? My dear you are no person to judge singing…

Valdez
Guest

I know their victory is controversial, but I like everything about their act, including the outfits.
And when she is talking about the boring good voice with nothing to say, she is talking about XFactor, and the criteria it should have, not about any esc artist.

Denis
Guest

Calm down Salvados, she didn’t say anything about him. She said that about Azerbaijan’s entry. Learn to read before commenting, and stop being so defensive! It’s allowed to criticize Salvador, he’s not that high and mighty. Even though she didn’t criticize him

Jonas
Guest
I don’t actively dislike her personally, but it still makes me sad that she will forever have the prefix of “Eurovision winner” before her name – considering her talent and stage presence is mediocre (at best), and the song is just dull. Yes, six years on I am still bitter and will never accept that notorious cheaters Azerbaijan won on merit. Oh, and yes, Portugal did deserve to win, but Nikki should know better than most that the most deserving does not always win. Sweden would probably be tied with Ireland right now for most wins if her team had… Read more »
Grande Amore
Guest

You can’t blame Azerbaijan for not letting Sweden win in 2011. If it had not been Azerbaijan it would have been Italy since they came 2nd, not Sweden.

Jonas
Guest

Not necessarily, since all of the points that Azerbaijan stole should have rightfully gone to Sweden, pushing them up to first place – I have no way of knowing that for sure, of course, but if the points had been rightfully allocated then the scoreboard would have looked completely different. Italy may not have been in second place.

Marc
Guest

Azerbaijan might have cheat in 2011 yes, but we can say the say about Sweden and juries in 2015.

Anabela
Guest

I loved their winning entry, that was really beautiful. But I pretty much disagree with her, Salvador deserved to win, so he did.

Paul D.
Guest

She wasn’t talking about Salvador guys…

Alex
Guest

Wiwibloggs, you made it seem like she was talking about Portugal when she said “If it’s a really good voice with nothing to say, it’s boring.” because that’s the subheadline of your article… however, you commenters who thought she was talking about Portugal (she wasn’t) should more carefully read the article!

TheDrMistery
Guest

Stupid. Lame. Pointless.

Olga
Guest

Bulgarians are so whiny…ugh.

Mariana
Guest

She IS not Bulgarian, so why do you mention Bulgarians here at all??
I bet I am the only Bulgarian in the comments.
Brains!

gaby gusto
Guest

… said a woman whose vocal abilities are mediocre at best. haha

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

I love the good sis Nikki but woo thank heavens she was wrong, Salvador was a deserving winner.

Ronda
Guest

Love her! I still listen to their winning song.

Ronda
Guest

But I actually disagree with her. Portugal was a well deserved winner.

HubertZnajomski
Guest

I love “Running Scared”. It’s a good winner. Deserved 1st place 🙂

Karen Trezayetia
Guest

I agree for me they are one of the best winners this century! Well deserved first place. Also i agree with Nikki in that,I also think Bulgaria should have one this year (2017)

MrBrightside
Guest

You guys must kidding.