Earlier this morning the Wiwi Jury—our in-house panel of music unprofessionals—headed to Azerbaijan to admire the nation’s oil reserves and to review Farid Mammadov’s Eurovision 2013 song “Hold Me”. After hearing him perform did we wrap our arms around him? Or were we ready to push him away? Read on to find out…
HK Dick: For me, this is the one to beat. Azerbaijan has found another cracker in the bushy eyebrowed Farid. Following a simple piano intro, Farid displays a lot of emotion in delivering the fairly simple lyrics which are easy to remember and to sing along with. Azerbaijan are bound to have terrific staging (which helped propel Ell & Nikki to success) which will appeal to large swathes of Europe. I don’t really want to go to Baku again so soon (unless they have cheaper hotels now) but I see Eurovision heading way out east again in 2014.
Wiwi: From the moment I heard this song I knew that Farid Mammadov had a chance of winning Eurovision 2013. The song manages to appeal to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. It’s got an R&B soul yet feels somehow genre-less. You could hear it at a high school prom in America or re-mixed as a dance anthem at a club in London. You could hear it at a bling wedding in Istanbul or at the climax of some romantic comedy starring Jennifer Anniston. And you can most definitely hear it being sung at the 2013 Eurovision Winner’s Press Conference. Among the other front-runners there are plenty of naysayers: Folks say that Emmelie de Forest’s “Only Teardrops” is generic; that Anouk’s “Birds” is suicidal and boring; and that Cascada’s “Glorious” is a rip-off of “Euphoria”. Farid’s song offends no one, which may be enough to help it climb to the top in Malmö.
Alexander: Azerbaijan has once again delivered a ballad that is both beautiful and catchy. Farid Mammadov has excellent stage presence, although his live vocals are somewhat questionable. I do have to mark Azerbaijan down for always outsourcing the writing and production of their Eurovision entries. Usually they outsource to Sweden, but this time it was to the famous Greek composer Dimitris Kontopoulous. When are you guys going to send a song from your own country? The only time you did this was in your 2008 debut! Despite that, “Hold Me” is still a very nice song to listen to, albeit highly formulated.
Mr Häggkvist: Azerbaijan has found a way to do well at Eurovision—and they keep doing the same thing. Stage a 100-week-long national selection, pick an artist and then choose a foreign composer (who usually writes a ballad) and that will lead to a top 5 finish. “Hold Me” is the brother of “Drip Drop”, “Running Scared” and “When the Music Dies”. What can I say? Farid is a good singer, “Hold Me” is a good song, and it might surprise all of you in Sweden. But I don’t see this as real competition this year.
Bogdan: I’ve loved this song from the very first listen. It has a nostalgic quality to it. For some reason I think of (don’t laugh) Jacques Brel whenever I listen to it. Farid Mammadov also has good looks on his side, which is definitely a plus. However I am worried about his vocal abilities since I heard the actual live version of “Hold Me”. It is the only problem I have with this song. Hopefully Farid will prove me wrong come May, because the song is brilliant.
Deban: Note to Farid Mammadov: Learn lessons from Donny Montell 2012. Just because ‘Love Is Blind’ doesn’t mean you need to wear a blindfold on stage and attempt to somersault. Why is Eastern Europe so literal? If this song is to be taken seriously, please get rid of the writhing ballerina in blue. She’s an unnecessary accessory! Moving on, this is a good pop number. I love the subtle elevated key change, akin to ‘love being a mountain, and climbing up to the highest of the world’ . Unfortunately, the song has serious elocution issues, which, had I not consulted the lyrics sheet prior to reviewing this, I would have come up with totally new meanings. This needs to be totally ironed out before May. If that’s achieved, we have a serious crown contender in this track. Although Mammadov is lacking in the obvious star quality of Sabina Babayeva, one thing he does showcase is genuine angst. “Hold Me” really touches the soul, and the pain he communicates whist singing it, lingers in vision and in audio.
Vebooboo: “We’ve hit our load, about to explode”—I can’t think of more appropriate lyrics to describe what all of gay Europe will be thinking when they catch a glimpse of this muscle-bound hunk on the stage in Malmo. With muscles like that he can hold me all night long! Looks aside, this is actually a good song, and Farid can sing. At times it gets a bit repetitive and it isn’t the exactly the catchiest, but things get switched up nicely around 1:30. I have no desire to return to Baku in the next couple of years—it’s so expensive!—but I do hope this song gets a top 20 place as it deserves.
Wiwi Jury Verdict: 7.29/10
Wiwi Jury Final Ranking: #6 out of 39 contestants