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.

Score: 10/10

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.

Score: 9.5/10

Dilara_Kazimova_Azerbaijan_Eurovision_2014_mainAngus: 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’.

Score: 6/10

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.

Score: 5/10

http://youtu.be/K9ufcDOPLTE

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.

Score: 9/10

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.

Score: 6/10

Dilara Kazimova

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.

Score: 7/10

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.

Score: 5/10

Dilara Kazimova

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.

Score: 7.5/10

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!

Score: 3/10

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.

Anthony: 8/10

Francheska: 3/10

James L: 5/10

Maxim Montana: 7/10

Mario: 7/10

Mike: 8/10

Sami: 5/10

Zach: 8.5/10

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.

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Sal
Guest
Sal

Ramadan gives 10 out of 10 to Azerbaijan? how unsurprising…
Nice ballad but not close to be perfect or a winner of an ESC.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

Light a fire, start a fire – she sure did. However, I don’t think this was a performance that was the level of serious arson. It was a beautiful ballad but this fire was no more than a small campfire where I roast my teeny tiny marshmallows for my hot chocolate, as I yawn a big yawn and get ready to snuggle up with my teddy bear in my tent. Paula Abdul gives this a 7.88/10.

Rogie
Guest
Rogie

Very nice
Like the arrangement
Like the nod to last years winner, “and maybe Teardrops…”
Expect to see this in the Final and am sure the staging of this will be spectacular with pyros and flames.

Miksi
Guest

You do not call this one boring and you called Montenegrian song boring? Likee seriously? o_O

Dan
Guest
Dan

I want Iran to be part of ESC as well XD they would join Armenians and would put Azeris in their place XD @Bogdan how much money did you get for your sentence .I see you want another controversy? .I think you need to stop with your blogging career and learn people’s culture properly ; ) Let me tell you that Balaban and Duduk are the same thing .Balaban version is mostly used in Iran. But well Some nations enjoy stealing it XD Is it soo hard to search about it ? Thanks to ESC, Now I know even more… Read more »

Chesco
Guest
Chesco

She has a beautiful voice and the song is deeply felt, the notes soar gloriously. However, there is a certain degree of artificiality which just doesn’t seem to convince and kind of falls flat…Pity, it could have been so much more

H.K. Dick
Guest

I sometimes wish Azerbaijan and Armenia would leave Eurovision so we don’t have to endure their petty squabbles every year.

Over the years I’ve believed Azerbaijan have thoroughly deserved their excellent high placing, quality ballads (though not necessarily matched by vocals). However Start a Fire just doesn’t ignite me. It’s nice to listen to but I really couldn’t tell you how it goes after listening to the other entries.

bronx NYC
Guest
bronx NYC

She’s got powerful voice and she looks like Gloria Estefan.
I like this song more and more. Get all my votes Miss Azerbaijan!

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Leon, I don’t know him, and I’m not aware of his scoring system. So I will keep my predictions to myself.
Actually the flag doesn’t determine any law, in fact the constitution does.

Leon
Guest
Leon

@Rashad – I was only pointing out to a possible biased view that may be held by someone due to their religion. I don’t think that’s offensive in any way, what’s offensive is this person giving 0s and 1s to all the songs reviewed so far but gives Azerbaijan a solid 10/10 review. That’s complete BS. And yes, Azerbaijan is a muslim country. Whether one chooses to practice Islam or not, Azerbaijan does identify itself as a Muslim country for point of reference please take a look at your flag.

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Leon, maybe THEY don’t have an official language in the US. But language and religion are two different things. You can’t ask every single person whether he/she’s a Muslim, a Jewish or a Christian as no one is obligated to officially indicate his/her religion in Azerbaijan. So these statistics cannot be accurate. But that’s right, the majority is Muslim (without numbers).
The offensive part is bringing religions into discussion, and trying to predict someone’s religion by his name.

Leon
Guest
Leon

@Rashad – Yea, and English is not the official language of United States but what language do we most commonly speak in the US? You guessed it. Factually, 93% of Azeris identify themselves as Muslim and 99.2% of the country’s population comes form a Muslim background or is Muslim. I didn’t intend to offend anyone, but I think I have a point here.

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Leon, you’re mistaken. Azerbaijan is not a Muslim country as there’s no official religion of the state. Actually Azerbaijan is the sixth least religious country in the world after Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Czech Republic.
Well, I know religion is very important in your country, but sorry, in some countries it is not. So Wiwibloggs is not the right place to discuss beliefs (it’s not the first time, and it’s been used in an insultive way many times by a group of people). And predicting someone’s religion by his name and making him anounce his beliefs is pretty offensive.

Kensuke
Guest
Kensuke

Can’t believe wiwi juries placed this higher than rise up

Timselvision
Guest
Timselvision

Great song, would be a perfect #3 or #2, but no winner in my opinion. But it´s a very good song, absolutely a contestant again. A 9.0 in my opinion.

Leon
Guest
Leon

Ok. I don’t really take the wiwi juries seriously nor consider their opinion to be an indicative of an expert’s opinion, but I think two reviews should have been left out: 1. Romadan – I never thought this individual was capable of giving anyone anything above a 0. But not surprised, since the name is very similar to the Muslim holiday and this individual gave a 0 to the Israeli entry, so it’s not surprising that the reviewer gives Azerbaijan, one of the very few Muslim countries in the contest a 10. Obviously a biased view. 2. It is people… Read more »

MoOn-FLoWeR
Guest

YES MY NICE DILARA<3 <3 AZERBAIJAN <3

Xaris
Guest
Xaris

Azerbaijan shouldn’t be in Eurovision. They’d be in TURKvision
.

Christoph
Guest
Christoph

5/10…

Leon
Guest
Leon

Beautifully produced ballad but lacks variation in melody. Nice voice but not enough to make it a great memorable winner. 7/10

carl of U.S.A
Guest
carl of U.S.A

Erk,I think armenia will win this year because Armenian Lobby works hard for it and i don’t think so that azerbaijan will win because Armenian Lobby is richer than Azeri Diaspora….

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

A very good entry. After my first listen and viewing, I have her qualifying 3rd out of the first round, and finishing 8th overall.

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

The first time I heard this song, I thought it was quite boring and unremarkable. But it’s grown on me and I really like it now. The trouble is, viewers will only hear it once, so team Azerbaijan will need to work hard for the song to have a memorable impact in Copenhagen.

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Marcelo, good luck with that. I hope you’ll succeed.

Marcelo N
Guest

Thanks, Rashad!
I’ve actually been working on song lyrics for a while. I may muster the courage to find a composer to submit one or two for next year’s ESC 😉
Nite nite

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Marcelo N, this is actually a beautiful poem. You should keep posting more. You should also submit lyrics for Eurovision (some countries do ask for songs). Maybe next year’s Azerbaijani entry will be written by you. But you’ll have to introduce yourself as a Swedish. Hahah, just kidding.))

D
Guest
D

My number two of the year. Don’t really want Azerbaijan to host it though.

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

@Marcelo N, that’s right. Small simple people carry big dreams and hopes. We can’t say what thunders are striking in their minds, we just know what we see.
Dilara’s Amsterdam performance was a disaster, because she couldn’t hear her voice due to technical issues. But I’ve seen her Boyuk Sehne performances where she sings live. She was doing really well.
Here’s another live performance of hers singing live. youtube.com/watch?v=177mBnhSJ0w This is actually a very old video in a contest held among ex-Soviet countries. But this is one of my favorite traditional Azerbaijani songs, just wanted to share.

Marcelo N
Guest

@ Rashad – If you care to have a look at my blog, you’ll find a poem I’ve just republished (I’d originally posted it last year). It will ring a bell regarding the lyrics to “Start a Fire” in some ways. I’d appreciate your view on it, it is called “Unsung” 😉

Marcelo N
Guest

A big THANKS to the Azeris commenting so far!! We can all read and appreciate respectful opinions, devoid of fanatical blabbing. Thank you, really. @ Rashad – I feel the same as you, mostly in the very same way, about the song! I have nothing to do with the Azeri culture, nor the Armenian or Iranian or whatever for that matter. What strikes me about the lyrics (and hence I stated it was quite poetic) is that the words and images supposedly intend to have us wondering about people, simple people, everyday people -just like us- and our lives/choices/fate. That… Read more »

Dan RO
Guest
Dan RO

It’s a good song, but not as good as When the Music Dies. I would really like to see somerhing different from this country.

MoMo
Guest
MoMo

Awwh this is a beautiful song. I really like it. Made me smile. I hope it does well. Defo got my vote

Erk
Guest
Erk

Dilara can win the contest because Azerbaijani and Turkish diaspora are strong in Europe. On the other hand this song has a very strong feelings. Lyrics are really good and meaningful.

ESCFan
Guest
ESCFan

It’s ok but nothing more. It is too difficult for Eurovision. Azerbaijan should have a better song!

NargizAZE
Guest
NargizAZE

I love this song, and it’s not because I am Azeri. I used to dislike most of our entries (2008, 2010, 2013), but this year’s entry of us I really love. This is one of my favourite songs of Azerbaijan along with “When the Music dies”. Dilara got great voice, and it makes the song sound wonderful, also glad to hear balaban in this song, sounds really beautiful, imo. Good luck to Dilara. 🙂

My Top 5:
1. Hungary
2. United Kingdom
3. Armenia
4. Azerbaijan
5. Israel

Wergie
Guest
Wergie

Caps lock won’t help to make Iranian Balaban, (which is variation of Armenian Duduk) an azeri national instrument. Bagdan is nothing but an ignorant person, who didn’t even to get his facts straight. Suggestion: Wikipedia would be the easiest way. ps: when this instrument was mentioned by medieval Armenian historians, no such nation as ‘Azeri’ existed. So cut the bs) About this swedish song. (Thanx to Ramadan for mentioning about swedish songs lol) Its classy, but a bit boring one. Dilara has a lovely voice, although i didn’t like her live performance. But ok, It was just EIC, i now..… Read more »

Maybezz
Guest
Maybezz

4/10 boring

carl of U.S.A
Guest
carl of U.S.A

WELL DONE BOGDAN!YOU REALLY HAVE NEWS FROM REAL HISTORY.BALABAN IS AZERI INSTRUMENT..

Thiefo
Guest
Thiefo

I know this is probably just me, but all the azeri entries always sound the same to me, always a ballad! Maybe that’s why the only azeri entry I truly love is Aysel & Arash’s Always (and even Day after Day from 2008 was by far more interesting that their latest entries), I hope Azerbaijan dare to deviate from the same formula they’ve used for the past 5 years and take the “risk” to follow a different approach next year (if we don’t go to Armenia, that is ;P) but given it has worked for them every time, I doubt… Read more »

Nikos
Guest
Nikos

Ramadan strikes again….

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

I don’t think I can comment objectively on our entries. And I believe I am kinda “over-sensitive” with the Azerbaijani entries, especially when they contain traditional elements like this year’s Balaban. So I’ll just say it. Dilara’s got such a sexy voice that I can listen to whatever she sings. The song actually tells the story of many people. This is weird, but I’ve always thought of it. When I pass by people on the street, I just think whether they are happy with what they’ve become. Are they what they’ve dreamt of for all their lives? What dreams did… Read more »

Agatha
Guest
Agatha

1.5-2/10

Marcelo N
Guest

I need to hear her singing this live in Copenhague. Her Amsterdam lacklustre performance a few days back (earpiece incident or not, it was WEAK) almost crashed the song and most definitely left me doubting after I’d managed to really like the song. The song is intelligent, has some interesting lyrics (almost poetic) and the sound it takes to be likeable. I won’t comment on Azerbaijan’s fixation with imported songs (do they have their own composers?), imported choreography, imported clip directors. I need not remind people around here that their winning song didn’t have anything to it, and that its… Read more »

Xaris
Guest
Xaris

Play fair Azerbaijan otherwise we will kick you out.

Wergie
Guest
Wergie

Bagdan is an ignorant lamer. Balaban is just Iranian variation of Armenian duduk. So haters, how you called them were right, you ‘unbiased’ idiot.