At Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon, they failed to qualify to the Grand Final for the very first time. But Azerbaijan’s fire is still burning. Now INFE Azerbaijan — an authority on all things Eurovision in the Land of Fire — have shared what they say is the list of the last 15 artists who are still in the running to represent the country next year in Israel.

Azerbaijan had the odds stacked against them in 2018, having to perform first in a very tough semi. Not even Portuguese singer Rui Andrade, who joined Aisel as a backing singer on stage in Lisbon this year, could help to overcome the bloodbath we all remember in Semi-Final 1.

But that isn’t stopping the Azeri broadcaster iTV from trying to do better at Eurovision 2019. After an open call for applications, the first audition reportedly took place on 20 November behind closed doors. Following subsequent rounds, 15 candidates are still in the running. Time to take a closer look at them.

Samira Efendiyeva is not only a talented singer — she also loves fashion. The girl has class and a fierce look – we’re getting some Lindita Halimi-vibes looking at her Instagram feed. When it comes to her musical career, Samira has participated in Azeri Eurovision selections a couple of times already. She made a big impact at Böyük Səhnə, Azerbaijan’s national final. Now she gives it another shot. Samira really wants to be on that stage in Tel Aviv, y’all!

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Tofig Hajiyev has many talents. He works as a presenter, has starred in movies and is, of course, a singer. He studied at the Azerbaijani State University of Culture and Art. After Dihaj and Ell & Nikki adopted stage names we wouldn’t be surprised to see him slaying as Mr. ToTu if he makes it to Tel Aviv.

Maryam Shabanova is a name some of you might remember. She tried to represent her home country back in 2010 when Safura made it to Eurovision in Oslo. She came second and continued to developed as an artist, songwriter and composer. Maryam still wants to be at Eurovision and has delivered some sensual jazzy pop-songs in the past in both Russian and Azeri. Maybe 2019 will be her time to shine.

Emilia Yaqubova is another singer who feels the Eurovision desire deep within. She also competed in the 2010 national selection but didn’t make it to Oslo. But guess what… that didn’t stop her from following her dream of working as a singer! Emilia even won the first edition of The Voice of Azerbaijan and took part at Zhara Fest 2017, where our Deban interviewed her.

The full list of the 15 acts reportedly in the running for Eurovision 2019 are…

  • Emilia Yaqubova
  • Samira Efendiyeva
  • Huseyn Abdullayev
  • Narmin Behbudova
  • Altun Zeynalov
  • Ruslan Alishan
  • Sarkhan Jafarov
  • Rilaya
  • Maryam Shabanova
  • Vlada Ahundova
  • Tofig Hajiyev
  • Narmin Karimbayova
  • Elvin Novruzov
  • Dadashova
  • Narmina Seyidova

The list does not only show that Narmin/Narmina are very popular names in Azerbaijan but also that everyone of them brings a lot of experience with them. In fact, all of the artists have previously taken part at The Voice of Azebaijan, a Eurovision selection or a Turkvision selection.

With that in mind, we can say they really want to do Eurovision and will try to bring the trophy back to the Land of Fire. After placing in the top 5 every year between 2009 and 2013, Azerbaijan hasn’t had much success recently. Perhaps one of these acts can help them find their feet again.

The broadcaster iTV has stated publicly that they will choose the lucky act representing them in Tel Aviv internally. The song will be chosen by a selection committee behind closed doors. In the past Azerbaijan has not only reached out to international songwriters but also chosen songs written by Azeri songwriters.

Are you excited to see who the Land of Fire will send to Israel? Who is your early favourite and what kind of song do you expect from Azerbaijan in 2019? Let us know below.

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Il peut
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Il peut

I assume this year Mariyam Shabanova will present Azerbaijan since she is Jew.

Eyal
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Eyal

I hope Azerbaijan does well in TLV! I love their songs. They always manage to bring good ones to the show.
Good luck!

Loulou
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Loulou

None of them

aaon
Guest
aaon

I was really hoping for Safura to return…well…they’ll send a good song and qualify this year

Ani
Guest

when will they announce the representative?

Dave
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Dave

Azerbaijan always sends good entries so I’m definitely looking forward to this.

José
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José

Send Rilaya, Azerbaijan. I’ve competed in a fan contest with her song.

Shanfa Chai
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Shanfa Chai

Azerbaijan should just let the selected artist to do his/her own thing instead of hiring Swedish songwriters again. No more formulaic pop songs please!

Purple Mask
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Purple Mask

Considering that iTV have 15 artists that ALL have prior experience with Television talent shows, the broadcaster perhaps missed the boat a bit – this might have been an easy line-up for a National Selection talent competition show. But anyhow, an internal selection is what they have gone for, and there’s nothing we can do about it now.
There’s so much talent here – just put the right song with the right singer, and this one will be fine. Sorted.

OohHoney
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OohHoney

“having to perform first in a very tough semi” hmm. Facts are facts, performing first was never the issue to overcome. They gave a talented jazz singer the most generic song I’ve heard since Demi in 2017. So let’s hope they don’t make that same mistake again next year.

Jo.
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Jo.

I do think she would’ve taken Saara’s spot in the final if Aisel had performed later. However, you can’t rely just on that to qualify, and “X My Heart” was a rather weak entry. The NQ was justified.

Tomas Davitt
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Tomas Davitt

Norway performed 1st in the second semi final and won it

Roma
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Roma

2nd semifinal was really weak though. We all knew Norway would be in the final. And Azerbaijan vs. Finland in the first semifinal was inevitable.

ask_67
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ask_67

This is the biggest problem with ITV . They dont let singers do what they want

KESC
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KESC

https://youtu.be/WJF5Z1WRcqw Btw that’s the song. Such a masterpiece!

Pablo Nava
Member

Oooooh, I knew one of those names from prior!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Phd4lhfq608

KESC
Guest
KESC

Samira Efendi is my favourite. I’ve listened to a couple of her songs, and they sound beautiful in Azeri language. Plus, she can sing live as well, so Ictimai better chooses her.

Btw, as far as I know Rauf and Faik, an Azeri duo, are in the running as well. They have a Russian song about childhood and it already has more than 40 million views. I would love to see them as well.