trWiwibloggs continues our series where we pile on the love to all competing countries in Eurovision. Today we head to Baku to delve into the Caucasus gem that is Azerbaijan. From feathered falsetto angels to a suited and booted horse, they’ve brought all sorts of imaginative sights to the contest, as well as some unforgettable vocals.
The Land of Fire started off amazingly in the contest but have recently seen a slight drop in results. Despite this, no-one can deny that they have brought some of the highest quality to the contest every year (I’m looking at you, Dihaj). Here’s a list of some of the epic reasons we love Azerbaijan.
1. They’re great at bringing ethnic flair
When Azerbaijan want to bring something with a taste of home, they do it fantastically. Some of the best examples are when the balaban (an Azerbaijani wind instrument) is used in “When the Music Dies”, and when a Turkic banger was sent in the form of “Always”.
2. They know how to work a gimmick
Whilst the term ‘gimmick’ can be seen as a negative word, when it comes to Azerbaijan, it’s guaranteed to be fabulous. We love the way the delegation have brought trapezes, chalkboards and a man in a box (more on that later) to the show, bringing unforgettable creativity to their staging plans. A great example would be Dihaj performing “Skeletons”, bringing the chalkboard, with a dancer donning a horse head and suit on a ladder. Not your everyday performance.
3. Maximum effort provided from the start
We’ve had high-quality performances since Azerbaijan’s debut back in 2008. They even managed to walk away with top 10 finishes in their first six contests! The impressive run was something to be marvelled at, considering even after that they never stayed behind in the semi-final until this year, when their first non-qualification occurred. A genuinely great run, for an amazing team.
4. Everything about “Always”
In 2009, Aysel and Arash brought “Always” to Moscow, and the performance really showed the continent what Azerbaijan can do. They got their first top-three finish in the contest, and the video is still one of the Eurovision YouTube channel’s most watched. To this day, there are 31 million views there, with a 23 million on the record label’s version. The catchy song has serious party vibes and is a staple in the Euroclub and at Euro-themed nights around the continent every year.
5. Dedicated fans
Any fan of Eurovision that uses social media (or has seen our comments section, of course) is aware that the Azerbaijani Eurovision fandom has some of the most passionate fans anywhere in the world. They love their acts and really rally behind their country at every edition of Eurovision. Despite the long journey, many make it to stadiums and arenas around Europe every year.
6. Starting a certain trend
Moldova 2013, Russia 2015, and Estonia 2018; what do they all have in common? They all used projector dresses, and who started that trend? Ah yes, Sabina Babayeva from Azerbaijan, back on home soil in 2012. The projector dress really has become a staple at Eurovision which pops up regularly, but it was the team behind “When The Music Dies” that started the Eurovision trend.
7. Farid Mammadov’s man in the box
In 2013, Azerbaijan came second in Eurovision with ‘“Hold Me” by Farid Mammadov. The song was catchy, and he was looking sharp on stage, but the great result can be partially attributed to the magnificent staging, where a man in a glass box mirrored all of Farid‘s actions, whether that was on his side, upside down or the right way up. It was an incredible sight to behold, and it really paid off in the voting.
8. Azerbaijan get the best in
When it comes to putting together an epic stage show, Azerbaijan regularly put together a highly professional team who’ll really make audiences say ‘wow!’. In 2010, Safura‘s performance was choreographed by JaQuel Knight, who created the “Single Ladies” dance for Beyoncé, as well as Britney Spears’ Circus tour. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, they then used Lukas MacFarlane (winner of So You Think You Can Dance in the UK) as a dancer in Vienna to accompany Elnur Huseynov as he sang “Hour of the Wolf”, along with French dancer Julia Spiesser.
9. Songs with meaning
When Aisel came to Lisbon with the track “X My Heart“, we were all shocked when she didn’t qualify from the first semi-final — the first time this has ever happened to Azerbaijan. However, this didn’t take away from the fact her song had a beautiful story behind it. Aisel’s husband had passed away in recent years, so the lyrics “I hear you wake, I can see you when I dream” certainly took on new meaning. We can imagine this was very emotional for her to sing this, but she did so amazingly, looking angelic and gorgeous. We loved the performance, and we hope to see new projects from her soon.
10. They snatched victory in 2011 — a very tough year!
The Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf in 2011 was a 43-song packed edition, with epic tracks such as “Popular” by Eric Saade and “Lipstick” by Jedward, yet a simple ballad by Ell & Nikki is what took the microphone trophy home. “Running Scared” had gorgeous staging with white fashion and a breathtaking pyro-curtain. Whilst the win is considered controversial in the fandom sometimes, it took the contest to Baku the next year and we got to see the Land of Fire show us their beautiful country, with the inaugural event at the new Crystal Hall.
What are your favourite performances from Azerbaijan? What is their best staging? Let us know down below in the comments!
Read more Azerbaijan Eurovision news here
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Thank u !Love from Azerbaijan!
I have to say that in recent years Azerbaijan kinda lost their fire. Samra’s Swedish Miracle 2016 and ,,X my heart” were such painfully boring and unoriginal Songs… And let’s be honest, ,,skeletons” tried to be very edgy and Special, but it kinda failed. In my opinion the stage around Skeletons was really bad. They tried to bring some artistic message when there wasn’t one…. BUT before 2016 I actually love almost every song by them (Except Running scared and of course Start the fire, which was pretentious at its best). My favourite by them has to be their 2013… Read more »
Thank you wiwibloggs for all. ?we love you
Oh yes, my thoughts about Azerbaijan.
I am not really impressed, yet not really disappointed with Azerbaijan. The Azeris surely tried hard and be consistent, sending high-quality entries, but it became all too predictable since from 2009 onwards they always (yes, always) asked help from the Swedes, and this disappoints me to a degree.
My favorite entry was ‘Skeletons’ (besides of its epicness, I can see effort from the Azeri side by having Isa Melikov composed it), but I’m really eager to see an Azeri lyricist from 2019 onwards.
I thought their winning entry in 2011 wasn’t as good as some of the other songs Azerbaijan had sent. Not a bad song though.
I’m watching Eurovision since 2016 and none of the recent Azeri entries impressed me to be honest. They just send OK entries, like “hey we’re here too”. But I LOVE all of their songs from 2008 to 2013. Especially 2012! That one’s just FANTASTIC!! I could easily say that it’s one of my favourite Eurovision songs. On the other hand their 2011 song wasn’t as strong as 2009, 2010, 2012 or 2013 songs. They were just lucky I think. Most of the performances in 2011 are just weak. Italy could take it too. They were close anyway.
What I love about Azerbaijan is: 1. How they manage to make me like their entry almost every single year. 2. This crazy – awesome staging in 2008 with the angel and the devil. 3. The staging generally. They go for it most of the times. I remember in 2013, this clever but not too overstaged performance. In 2016 this ” too much of a staging” but it looked good. 4. The beautiful logo and slogan “Light your fire”. One of the most interesting and creative we’ve seen in the recent years. 5. The ethnic vibe. However, I don’t think… Read more »
I seriously hate how articles about some countries like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Sweden, Russia etc. get so many negative comments every time. Some of you guys are killing the eurovision spirit srsly.
I think those are Armenians. Azeris and Armenians always leave negative comments under the articles/videos of each others’ countries. They are like enemies lol.
Call it backlash! These are some of the most successful countries in the contest. Successful, but not always deservedly so. For instance, Azerbaijan is one of my least favourite countries @ Eurovision. And their first entry is my alltime least favourite Eurovision song. There was nothing about it I liked: not the song, nor the singing, or the costumes, or the haircuts… literally nothing. In comparison, Piero Esteriore & the MusicStars’ “Celebrate” was a masterpiece.
They always send good entries to Eurovision, though it kinda feels like they have given up on ESC already. I love their songs from 2012, 2010, 2013 and 2009.
Start A Fire is their best song so far for me… so sad it flopped and started the negative trend for Azerbaijan in ESC…
On one hand they are very typical but on the other – so damn catchy! I like almost all of their songs 🙂
They have good result from 2008 to 2013 in period with some scandals with them about how they colect points from some countries with televote and with juries. After espeically scandal after 2013 (wiwiblogs writes about that) they result droped so hard. And every year we had Armenia was on bottom both with juries and televote. And one year police call people who voted for Armenia at Eurovision . My TOP 3 song from Azerbaijan 1. 2017 (they deserved to be in TOP 5) 2.2012 3.2015 Overrated in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 Underrated in 2015,2017 Don t deserved to be… Read more »
its called cheating lol they bought all their results between 2009-2013
Y’all should check out this BBC Panorama exposé “Azerjbaijan, the Eurovision’s Dirty Secret”!
Mods, please don’t delete…
Speaking personally, I do not love Azerbaijan in the contest, and take grave exception to No. 10 on the list. Close examination of the results reveals vote-swapping/buying that is utterly outrageous, preposterous and totally beyond credible. Even up to recent contests there has still been “what the fcuk” out-of-nowhere 12 points for Azerbaijan. They have used the contest to promote their amoral regime internationally (they had little name-recognition and who could place them on a map?), they joined the EBU purely for this reason, so they could hijack the contest. They have done the same with countless other competitions, Formula… Read more »
Completely true (excluding the last paragraph, which is matter of personal taste). Also, let’s not forget that the EBU was aware of everything and just sat there and watched, helplessly (carelessly?).
About how 2011 is tough or not, it is objectively tough. I’ve listened to tracks of 2011, and finding the songs full of diversity in genres and types of performers, even if most performances ended up in the dance section. Nearly every performer stood out with a high-quality music for its times. The seasons I found weak was actually 2010, 2014, and 2017.
2011 was diverse yep but there wasn’t winner vibes anywhere. That’s why the results were so split and we came up with a defult winner.
2017 for instance was weak yes but we had a few strong potential winners unlike 2011 (2015 is a similar scenario).
“Skeletons” and “When The Music Dies” were their best entries yet, in my opinion. I feel like a lot of countries screw up on home ground (including Sweden in 2013), so that was definitely well done. For me, 2011 was a well executed chance victory for lack of a real knock-out. I know many thought it was a strong year, for my taste it was the opposite. Their 2016 entry is their worst one by far and should not have qualified, thus I feel like Aisel this year was the wrong “victim” of their first non-qualification.
Skeletons was just generic and pretentious as usual. And even boring. That’s why it came bottom in all televotings + didn’t chart anywhere. Total fail
A prefer an honest fail than a bought victory.
Skeletons placed 11th in the televotes, I wouldn’t say that’s bottom.
id love to know azerbaijan’s real results if they didnt buy every position they placed between 2009-2013
Then why do you keep following the contest which is so unfair? You’re ridiculous.
because i love eurovision? Just cause azerbaijan cheat it dosent ruin esc for me it ruins esc for them so shut up.
Ok, let’s see. So according to your brilliant logic a country has cheated on this contest for five years in a row and they did not get neither punished nor warned, nothing at all. And are you telling me you love that contest? Do you even understand that if that was true, any country, any year could get behind the contest and nobody would say a thing about it?? But of course you love Eurovision, so what if some countries cheat, right? Come on man..
So then what’s your reason for watching every year then, Jack? You’re aware of Azerbaijan’s cheating ways too (which has been proven through evidence and a number of red flags) so why are you asking him why he watches when we could ask the exact same question to you? Stop being a hypocrite.
I personally don’t believe it all. We all know that there are countries like Azerbaijan, Sweden, Russia, Armenia etc. which gets much hate from the fans and it’s obviously because of their good results. They’ll say anything to show the above mentioned countries’ results invalid in Eurovision. In my opinion all these vote buying myths are unreal. I am sure at least some other countries would have already withdrawn from the contest for the same reasons if any of these accusitions were true. They are paying to participate in this event, why would they waste their money if they knew… Read more »
My mood seriously varies when it comes to Azerbaijan’s entries. Sometimes I think they live up to the hype, other times I think they’re big cliched gimmick-fests. Sometimes, when I look beyond the gimmicks, I’m impressed by how much the song holds up (especially Skeletons), but stuff like Start a Fire or X My Heart could’ve been sent by anybody. I also (regardless of whether or not it was bought) think Running Scared was a very good song that nevertheless was not winner caliber, but that sums up a lot of the entries that year (although I’d have been just… Read more »
Azerbaijan only sends beautiful songs and hot singers.
And who is the author??
azerbaijani instrument balaban??? LOL
?t doesnt matter. Azerbaijan is a strong country in the ESC. You cant change it
I don’t want to change anything, and I can’t of course. Everyone has different tastes, you can’t force me or others that they are strong.
What about the instrument, you said it doesn’t matter??? It does matter for real owners of DUDUK – Armenian ancient national instrument.
I just want to say the author … Go and learn from famous bloggers how to take a neutral position in such circumstances. For example Nas Daily, who were in Armenia recently.
Dear Rick, some people close eyes on that fact >_<
One of my favorite countries in Eurovision. Though they are not as good as they used to be during 2009-2013 years, they keep sending decent entries. Hopefully they will bring something powerful to Tel Aviv next year. A song in Azerbaijani language with some ethnic flavours would be amazing. My Top 5 of Azerbaijani entries: 1. When the Music Dies 10/10 (One of my favorite songs ever) 2. Always 10/10 (still listen, fantastic song) 3. Hold Me 10/10 (nice song, unforgettable staging, good vocals and dude, he’s so hot!!) 4. Drip Drop 9/10 (I loved the song, but the performance… Read more »
lol i think in #10 you mean they /bought/ the victory as we all know now..
It’s ironic how since the Lithuanians exposed their (already blatant) vote buying in 2013, they haven’t seen the light of the top 10 while before that they’d reach it every year.
I feel like they should stop calling Swedish songwriters, as it doesn’t do the trick anymore. All the Azerbaijani fans I’ve talked to are tired of these song choices, and we’d all rather see something more representative from them – not necessarily singing in Azerbaijani (which is an odd-sounding language for music), but even something remotely Eastern-sounding like “LoveWave” would do.
They should buy their songs in Turkey rather than Sweden.
Turkish industry is really powerful.
It would be more effective than keep sending boring generic songs made in Sweden with no identity
I think they should write their own songs, not buy them elsewhere.
Yes, I noticed that too. Maybe the 5 years punishment will be over in Tel-Aviv.
A shame they were never actually punished in any way for their actions.
The only country that has never sent a bad song, in my opinion.
Not when Start a Flop exists.
I thought the song was okay, the singer was the problem. Especially with a ballad, the singer should least understand or even know the words she’s singing.
They always send good songs, strong vocalists and awesome staging, but the one and only time they sent a really lame song, bad vocals and basically no staging at all, they win! I still can’t get over that. I think that’s why that song is so cotroversial with ESC fans. Just like Estonia who won with their worst song. Dihaj with Skeletons was overall their best entry, shame it didn’t even get to Top 10. And Aisel was actually quite good, it was just a very tough semi.
Estonia 2001 is still the 4h highest score ever in televoting.
Whole continent voted for it and agree.
Azerbaijan 2011 is not even in the Top 50. It was a default winner
You can’t compare.
And Everybody is far from being Estonia’s worst entry
Azerbaijan 2011>>>Estonia 2001
The former is a decent romantic ballad that actually created a moment. The latter is silly tbh
Honestly, I’m gonna stick up for Estonia here. I thought it was way catchier. Not a masterpiece, but I’ve listwned to it way more than Running Scared.
2001 is the second worst winner, followed up the all-time worst in 2002.
I don’t rank 2011 and it is illegitimate and we will never know who actually should’ve won that year. Probably Sweden, who would now tie with Ireland with 7 wins. Eric Saade when introducing Jon Ola Sand in 2013, said “the man I once wanted to kill” and I can see why.
2001 is mistery for me , who voted for Estonia, we had so much better song from Slovenia, Greece,Spain, Germany…
2002 Latvia won only thanks to very good stage perforamance.
Azerbaijan won in 2011 thanks to Turkey not qualify for final, RAI delegation said that RAI don t wann to win (and they won juries points) after that we have 2 option to won Azerbaijan or Sweden but Sweden was no gets so many points from juries that year. Sweden from 2012 was pushed so hard with juries points every year .
2011 a tough year… Hmmm no.
Anyways, my faves are 2012 and 2015.
All they need to do now is send a song in Azeri/Azerbaijani and everything will be A-OK.