The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — are re-assembling to celebrate the 2010s. In this decade, we’ve seen some of the most iconic performances of all time, not limited to competing songs either. Today we head to Malmö Arena to review Farid Mammadov from Azerbaijan, with his powerful ballad “Hold Me”.

It had only been a year since Azerbaijan hosted the contest in their capital city Baku, but they’d evidently got the taste for success at the contest and wanted it back ASAP. In 2013, Farid Mammadov was given some of the most extra staging of all time. It featured a duplicate Fahrid inside a glass box, miming his movements in reverse, even turning upside down as Farid stood atop the box.

Fahrid’s lover from the lyrics appears in a scarlet dress with a train longer than the height of the Flame Towers back home (may not exactly be accurate there…), who flirted with both metaphorical-box-Farid and then real Farid, to show love being freed. Hey, the staging was even good enough for Chinese TV to borrow for a bit (ahem). It was Azerbaijan’s last top ten result until Chingiz took their slot back this year. Are we still obsessed with the insanity of that acting, or did we escape that box and run?

Farid Mammadov – “Hold Me”

“Hold Me” reviews

Antranig: Azerbaijan is one of my favourite countries at Eurovision and almost all of their entries have been incredible. The one main exception is this one. I see no appeal in this song whatsoever. All I get from this entry is a whiny guy gyrating against a box while singing a generic piece. Chingiz did the Azeri hot guy act better. Samra did the Azeri Scandipop reject song better. And Ell & Nikki did winning better. Luna moon me up and let’s move on.

Score: 2/10

Pablo: This is one of the cases of an iconic performance of an average song. Many Eurovision fans can recall the one act with the one dancer in the one glass box, an amazing mix of kitsch and edge. While there is little technically wrong with any aspect of “Hold Me”, it all just feels hollow, as if it didn’t stand the test of time well. Voting controversy aside, this is Azerbaijan at its most plastic; impressive at first view, but dwindling in retrospect.

Score: 6/10

Sebastian: “Hold Me” is a clear example of a fairly average song on paper, being amplified and using its best assets to turn lemons into lemonade. That said — it has aged incredibly well, with a timeless performance that shows off charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. Whether you loved — or hated — this song, you cannot deny that Azerbaijan made the best out of this package and deserved their top three finish.

Score: 7/10

Calvin: A painful throwback to love songs from the 2000s mixed with a cliché staging. I still don’t get why box-mirror-man had no microphone in his hand or did I miss the artistic reason behind that? It is entertaining, I have to admit that. It just feels like a bunch of former contest ballads were mixed together with new staging. An old recipe can’t create a contemporary song.

Score: 3/10

Katie: Does it get more Eurovision than Farid Mammadov and his glass box full of roses? I don’t think so. It makes me very happy that Hold Me is a song people haven’t forgotten and it’s still always referred to as one of the most memorable stagings of recent Eurovision years. Farid told a story during his three minutes on the Eurovision stage and performed with emotion and conviction. This is something that artists are still trying to master to this day. If Azerbaijan want to see Eurovision return to Baku any time soon, I think their 2013 entry is something they should look back on and take notes on. This is how to sell a song, this is how to sell a performance, this is how to get a podium finish. 

Score: 7.5/10

Tom: My mum’s favourite Eurovision song ever. Not sure what that means exactly but this passionate power-plea from Farid Mammadov and his man in a glass box is iconic. I can’t imagine how long it took to rehearse this to make it look as slick and as effortless as it did on the night, but it was totally worth it. Of course it is very easy to ignore the song and just focus on the bloke in the box but Farid does such a good job to not be upstaged, usurping the prisoner with his powerful vocals, stage presence and perfect story telling to still make this performance about him. Emotional brilliance.

Score: 8.5/10

In the Wiwi Jury we have 24 jurors but only have room for six reviews. The remaining scores are below:

William: 6/10

Robyn: 5/10

Angus: 4/10

Lucy: 3/10

Jonathan: 7.5/10

Bernardo: 6/10

Deban: 7/10

Luis: 4/10

Oliver: 3/10

Kristin: 7.5/10

Edd: 5/10

Lukas: 8/10

Barnabas: 8.5/10

Florian: 6/10

Steinunn: 5/10

Natalie: 7/10

Julian: 5/10

Charlotte: 6/10

We have removed the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. This is to remove outliers and potential bias. We have removed a low of 2 and a high of 8.5.

Wiwi Jury verdict: 5.77/10

What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!

See all of our Wiwi Jury of the 2010’s rankings here

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Purple Mask
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Purple Mask

This is a song that works very well on paper, but once you get someone to record it you realise how silly and over-the-top it all is. Looking back, what is really outstanding is how the staging, the choreography and the live vocals are all of extremely high quality. It was really only the song itself that didn’t appeal to everyone. Note: During the Choruses, Farid has to sing a melody that suddenly leaps up the interval of a 7th just after the words “Hold Me” – it not only places the drama lyrically in the wrong place, but it’s… Read more »

Davve
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Davve

Very weak.. and dumb song

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

This was the fourth year in a row that Malta gave Azerbaijan 12 points!

Does nobody find that vaguely suspicious?

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Of course not. Malta just loves Azerbaijan’s always brilliant entries so much. Everyone knows that.

Saney
Guest
Saney

5.77? c’mon,………….. so good! Epic ballad, great vocals, amazing staging, what do you want more

Nicola
Guest
Nicola

I’m a little bit puzzled as to how this song scores lower than Italy (2011). ‘Hold me’ is a much stronger package and song. Is that just me though, or is the Wiwi jury missing something?

Toinousse
Guest
Toinousse

Because Italy 2011 was an authentic piece of music while this was a dated love song?

Gorilla716
Guest
Gorilla716

The song is okay but it’s definitely overrated and did not deserve 2nd place. Relied too much on the staging and the song wasn’t as good as Gravity, I Feed You My Love, Love Kills, or L’essenziale (all of whom finished lower). 7th place probably would have been a more appropriate placing.

Saney
Guest
Saney

absolutely not… This was a great ballad, drama, great vocals and staging

Alex
Guest
Alex

I don’t understand why EBU have never reveal full results. Same for 2010-2012. At least we know some jury votes. 2013 voting had some flaws though. For example, Slovenian voting. Ukraine went from getting 12 at SF to 0 in GF. We know Slovenian jury in 2013 and they had Ukraine 8th in GF so it means Slovenian televote suddenly didn’t vote at all for Ukraine in GF which is weird. Another case is Azerbaijan giving 0 to Russia. Ukraine and Russia had to be for sure Top 2 with Azerbaijan’s televote so either Azerbaijan’s juries ranked Russia dead last… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

You see that happening a lot in the voting under that system. Ireland and the UK both had Poland getting top marks from the televote and finishing bottom with the juries which canceled it out from scoring anything.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yes Ik. Juries could sink any song with that voting system and cancel televote opinion.
That’s why Azerbaijan’s jurors had to place Russia last in 2013. Or UK voting as you said in 2014. Or Spanish jurors with Romania in 2013. There are a lot of cases.

Lars
Guest
Lars

Other than their 2011 entry, everyone knows this song cheated their way to the second place in the 2013 grand final. Because, why did EBU still not reveal the split votes of the juries and televotes until now? Why was there that accusation about Azeris paying Lithuanian students to vote for them? Why did Bonnie Tyler overhear Russians complaining to Azeris about why they didn’t vote for them? This song is forever tainted in the whole history of Eurovision for this country’s dishonesty in the contest.

Shixian
Guest
Shixian

Azerbaijan’s 2013 result should have been disqualified! Unfair to Ukraine and Norway who should have finished 2nd and 3rd.

PP77
Guest
PP77

For me best 3 songs from Azerbaijan are from 2017, 2012, 2015 then 2019. Worst song from 2014 , 2018 and then winner from 2011

Darren
Guest
Darren

Completely overrated result in 2013. There was no way that could have finished in the Top 3. Staging was good but song was blahhh. I remember being genuinely worried that Eurovision was going back to Baku that year, which wouldn’t had been such a problem if the song wasn’t so bad, considering 2013 was a great year forthright likes of Ukraine, Norway, Ireland (who didn’t deserve last place) etc. I also remember how I found it funny that a country that is often accused of homophobic attitudes sent such a homoerotic entry that year. Plus side, Farid was an absolute… Read more »

TheSneakyHider
Guest
TheSneakyHider

TEST

Joe
Guest
Joe

Let us attempt to look past the fact that they blatantly cheated with the televote (juries, I don’t know, but the televote definitely swung it in a few places). How’s the song? The song itself I kinda like. It’s got fundamental similarities to the North/Northeast European pretty boys and their more successful entries, but I like his voice a lot more than others (say, Dima Bilan). The staging is much too over-the-top for my tastes. I give it a 7/5.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Though I will say, if you break it down, the places where it got 12 aren’t hugely surprising. Except maybe Austria. Otherwise, getting 12 from friendly countries is pretty par for the course. If they got top marks from, say, Belgium or Switzerland, I might raise my eyebrows ever so slightly.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

They also got 12 points from Malta…for the third year in a row! Malta, with its relatively small televoting population…that’s not suspicious, not at all! The Maltese just have a thing about the Azeris, obviously.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

It wasn’t surprising that Malta gave them their 12, because it was the fourth (!) year in a row that they had done so. Malta, with it’s relatively small televoting pool. Don’t you find this at all suspicious?

I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself, I posted a similar comment yesterday but it disappeared. 🙁

Saney
Guest
Saney

Seriously? Dima Bilan has great vocals

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

Unforgettable staging, but the song is cheesy as hell. I guess it wasn’t their intention, but I love how the man in the glass gimmick goes from dark and dramatic to absurdly funny during the performance. And then comes the woman with the endless dress. And it ends with a moment that always kills me, with the man in the glass looking at her too. Of course, it shouldn’t be even near the top of scoreboard, but every Eurovision needs its memes, so I’m glad someone came up with the idea.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

The song is decent enough without being anything special. Farid performed it really well and the staging was class. Overall, as a package…I can appreciate it. Worse songs have done better, that’s for sure.

Skiwalko
Guest
Skiwalko

I HATE this song. It represents Azerbaijan at its worst – pretentious, unbelievably dated, soulless, calculated and pathetically trying to hide a weak song with a staging so over the top that it hurts your eyes. It’s like a beautiful box of chocolates, except that all the chocolates inside expired 20 years ago, and they taste like plastic.
2.5/10 (#33 in 2013) [Farid’s and dancers’ decent performances prevented it from getting a 1]

Vlad
Guest
Vlad

Worst song of ESC2013 after Israel

Tajikistan
Guest
Tajikistan

All I remember is the Azeri team flying to Lithuania and paying random people to vote for them, and then magically we was giving them our 12. That’s the only way people here will remember the song by

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

0/10

Julia
Guest
Julia

He should have won in 2013!great ballad , strong vocals and amazing staging

Graph
Guest
Graph

I agree! This is my favorite song from Azerbaijan of the decade.

asuma
Guest
asuma

Fokas Evangelinos best stagings :
1. DoReDos
2. Farid Mammadov
The guy in the box is his inner self, what he really feels.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

So he feels the same just the other way around? Just kidding.

Africavision
Guest
Africavision

I’m not a fan of this song, but the staging was good, up until the point the girl walked in and ruined the gay love story.

Africavision
Guest
Africavision

At that point, I was just like “uhm gurrrrl, who you??? Stage invader, perhaps???” and then I slowly realized this was no gay love story after all, and I was done with this song lol. It’s every gay man’s worst nightmare… Your man leaving you for a woman… So thanks Azerbaijan for that! lol

pepe
Guest
pepe

It is beyond me that there were zero consequences for the Azerbaijani broadcaster for the cheating they did. I am sure that the reason the EBU didn’t reveal the split vote that year is because of the cheating. I wonder, is there a possibility that Azerbaijan had won the televote that year?

Gigii
Guest
Gigii

Actually, no. Denmark won the televote they revealed the split voting but not by points, they revealed it by the average ranking, because of the new way of ranking the entries not only taking the top 10 in consideration, but instead the full list of 26 countries in the final.

Tajikistan
Guest
Tajikistan

By that, it meant that on average a song was the __th most liked entry across Europe. On average, Denmark was the favourite, but point by point we’ll never know, it seems likely Ukraine or Azerbaijan could’ve taken the televote point by point. I highly doubt point by point Ireland finished 14th with the televoting for example

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

It’s not quite true to say there were zero consequences. Sure, they should have been thrown out and their results nullified – but at least from 2014 onwards there was more scrutiny and new rules in place. A co-incidence they stopped doing so well after that? I don’t think so.

ESCFan2009
Guest
ESCFan2009

Hm. I don’t care about the song tbh. The whole 3 minutes I’m looking at the acrobat in the box who delivers very well (and looks quite handsome ^^). So I’ll give this a 7/10 which seems to be very kindly in relation to my other votings, but these are fair points to award the acrobat for me. Songwise it would be 5/10.

James
Guest
James

I can imagine Farid have spent a lot of time trying to nail enunciating those English lyrics despite not speaking the language. While I can hear some twang from his natural accent at times, he hid it very well, courtesy of having the original Alex P(-anayi) guiding him as he did recently with Chingiz Mustafayev.

With that said, his Turkish version is quite interesting to listen to.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Will always be known as the one who cheated. Overall, meh song.

Milan
Guest
Milan

Meh, yes – but cheated? I’ve certainly never heard of that.

Ziv
Guest
Ziv

I almost forget about this song, but when I saw this article, the only thing that came to my mind is that one or two years after it had achieved the second place in Eurovision, a Chinese singer copied the staging 100% in a new year show with a totally different song, but did it worse.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

The worst of the 80s. How this finished second will forever be beyond me, I’m honestly just glad that it didn’t win. It’s Dima Bilan 2.0. The song is unlistenable.
And as for the stage show, first I was thinking he was flirting with the man in the box and it was some “Set fire to the rain” quote. I’m still not convinced it isn’t.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

The worst part for me was how Dima who spoke no understandable English at all tried so hard and failed so hard to sound American: ‘Impassibel’.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

I have honestly repressed most of the memories of the 2008 contest.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Come on now. Oro, Senhora do mar, Hold on be strong, The fire in your eyes, the Albanian one, Era stupendo and Let me love you were all awesome. I just repressed my memory of the voting, like so many other times.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

Sorry. I’ll give you “Fire in your eyes”, but other than that, I have only two guilty pleasures I occasionally listen to, but won’t defend in public. And the rest is silence.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I knew it. You also like Vodka. It’s awesome!

ESCFan2009
Guest
ESCFan2009

I still love Greece 2008 and Latvia was quite entertaining 😀

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

Getting a migraine just thinking about these two … :/

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Vodka helps. Vodkaaaa, that’s the secret word…

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I’m so sorry for the good songs that did not come third, but this did. It really was a mystery to me. lol

Azaad
Guest
Azaad

This and When The Music Dies are how you do melodrama well. Cheesier than cheddar and feta stuffed ravioli baked with mozzarella and Gouda, but it still works.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Interesting, I’d never compare those two. I actually liked ‘When the music dies’ a lot. To me, it was a song that could stand on its own and I occasionally listen to the studio version. I found its melodrama quite organic. It just occurred to me that I like a lot of 4th places. I could be way more positive if we reviewed those. lol

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Staging, staging, staging. Cheating, cheating, cheating. I’m not impressed. And I sure am glad for Denmark 2013 preventing the worst. But the Azerbaijani regime sure trains their puppies well and Farid must have rehearsed this endlessly. Chingiz is my favorite, though. His song was somewhat okay and with his participation, there was no bad aftertaste regarding voter fraud. That we know of.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

It might have been slightly more tolerable if they could have at least cheated their way to victory with a song like Chingiz’s instead of Running Scared. Of all their entries, that is probably the worst and that’s their winner…

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Certainly. Chingiz is very talented. But for someone like Nikki to win was a bad joke. Also, after 2013’s discovery, Azerbaijan’s seemingly obligatory top 5 places ended, which hardly looks like a coincidence. Now they actually have to work like the others, instead of just blowing their money on god knows what. Also, during Azerbaijan’s hosting gig, the regime managed to completely unmask the EBU’s incompetence and laziness. They were like “Sure, yeah but uhm… what can we do about it?”

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Azerbaijan only joined the EBU for the express purpose of hijacking the contest. When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

KESC
Guest
KESC

Honestly, your comments are full of hatred against Azerbaijan.
You may not like the country, its songs or whatever, but there is absolutely no reason to call out such kind of hate towards a country.

They haven’t even reached the TOP 10 for 5/6 years, so chill, it’s just a song contest in the end!

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

I do hate Azerbaijan’s involvement in the contest, due do their complete lack of respect for the rules or the other EBU members. Please don’t confuse that with any bad feeling toward the ordinary people of Azerbaijan, the songs or the artists.