The Wiwi Jury — our in-house team of music unprofessionals — is reviewing and rating the 39 competing songs in Eurovision 2021. Next we turn to Azerbaijan where Efendi has “Mata Hari”. Were we captivated by this seductive spy? Read on to find out!
Efendi – “Mata Hari”
“Mata Hari” reviews
Deban: Azerbaijan does not play! And neither does Efendi —who isn’t here to experiment with musical styles. “Mata Hari” sounds like a hidden track on the “Cleopatra” EP. The emerging Azeri star knows what her fans demand, and she is serving it! Fusing Oriental sounds, and lyrics referencing the title of her previous entry, Efendi cleverly makes new garments out of old fabric. Expected, but ingenious at the same time, “Mata Hari” gets straight to the point. It doesn’t come with any singer-songwriter stripes, or a meaningful message, it is simply crafted for a top spot in the Eurovision Grand Final.
Erdi: Is this the Azerbaijan we all miss? Definitely. Mata Hari is the energetic song we all want to listen after a really hard year. The song itself has a very nice tempo and when you look at the richness of Azerbaijani music, this song is just a very nice mix of traditional and current styles. I really like to see Azerbaijan going with this style.
Jordi: “Cleopatra” was a bop, and Efendi knows it. “Mata Hari” seems to be capitalized on the same trend. It invokes energy, has an infectious sound, involves choreography and holds the same oriental feel. As “Mata Hari’s” first verses already perceive, Azerbaijan has again not come to play, but to slay. The dynamics in this song are really impressive. Every verse seems to have its momentum, with a final that — rest assured — will be epic on stage. Perhaps, this song has less grip than her last year’s entry. But if she manages to deliver, Azerbaijan could secure a great score.
Oliver: Try to refrain we may, but comparisons to 2020 entries are inevitable — and frankly, necessary — when the new songs reference their predecessors as heavily as this. If “Cleopatra” was the whole three-bird Sunday roast, “Mata Hari” is the week-old leftovers without any of the trimmings. There’s no elevation here. The song is laden with bland material that focuses too heavily on artificially recreating what made “Cleopatra” so great, with recycled elements thrown in for the sake of self-indulgent reference. Comparisons aside, “Mata Hari” is still a weak track. There’s not much pull, the chorus feels empty and the vocal isn’t all that impressive. And to top it all off, the lyrics are embedded with countless annoying and frustrating historical inaccuracies. There’s no doubt she’ll deliver an excellent stage show in Rotterdam. But Efendi can do better than this.
Luis: “Mata Hari” is the epitome of fast-food music, and honestly, that’s what we need in the middle of a pandemic. It has urgency, a vertiginous pace and a strong hook: everything that makes a perfect piece of disposable pop. But make no mistake, Efendi does bring some extras which help this song excel in its genre: the rich traditional instrumentation, the Azerbaijani sentence and the nod to “Cleopatra” are candy for the fans. And I’m buying all of it.
Efendi – “Mata Hari” rankings
In the Wiwi Jury we have 24 jurors but only have room for five reviews. The remaining scores are below:
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 3.5 and a high of 9.
Wiwi Jury verdict: 6.57/10
What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!
Wtf. This song is a real bop and deserves a 10. How can u give it 4??? It screams Eurovision, positive vibes and a very good stage atmosphere. Some of the “jury” guys should really consider changing the profession, or hobby whatever.
My personal favorite is Ambesia, but Mata Hari will burn the stage. ?
I give it a 6.5! We really try to judge the song without thinking about last year, but it’s impossible. I loved Cleopatra! Mata Hari is a good song, but doesn’t have the same impact, the empowerment message, the instrumental that really builds to somewhere! It’s really similar, but not so well crafted & executed as last year, that tbh, was already kind generic, but with a lot of potencial. The lyrics are super catchy, but maybe because it’s repetitive & too simple. That ending is really cool tho and I wish the whole song would have that power! And… Read more »
Finally, a single line in Azeri. How laughable it was that Bulgaria sang in Azeri before Azerbaijan did, especially as it’s a language with huge potential for ethno-bops in the future, similar to Turkish of course. Take that risk and sing in your mother tongue, you might be surprised!
Poor Aisel. It must be wretched to take a song which is out of your usual style with such a personally tragic subject matter and then have to deal with being your country’s first ever NQ. Especially when Azerbaijan won with an even more insipid song.
Don’t forget Aisel, she was full of talent and joy and ended up as Azerbaijan’s first and only NQ…
Its simply fabulous
Im gonna be very and brutally honest with you. This song just doesn’t stand out. From the vocals to the repetitive words, I feel like this song is a recycled version of ‘Cleopatra’. I feel as though efendi could’ve not picked a historical character, but instead experimented with other things, such as most artists this year which I was very happy to see. I firmly believe that we shouldn’t give a spotlight to a singer like Efendi, just like we didn’t give a spot for Galasy Zmesta. Eurovision is a peaceful contest that reunites people, but looking at these two… Read more »
Too pretentious in my opinion. It tries hard to hit every point but end up being formulastic and artificial. It is also way too similar to “Cleopatra”. It’s not a bad song per se but it lacks any soul or meaning. It does have an interesting arabic vibe, which isn’t original by any means but adds some flavour.
Azerbaijan falls to my 25th place.
8. Sweden (7.25)
12. Czech Republic (7.25)
15. Ukraine (7)
17. Belgium (6.75)
19. Norway (6.75)
25. AZERBAIJAN (6)
26. Latvia (6)
28. Russia (6)
34. Serbia (5)
36. Albania (4)
I can see why people would like it, but it’s not to my personal taste. I don’t like the ethnic instrumental in particular. It’s in my 28th position.
This is just awful.
Since your review contradicts mine, I must ask, if that’s not an ethnical break, how should I call it? Though we agree in the important thing: this is not ethno-pop, but pure pop with some ethnic hints (the same would apply to San Marino, which in my opinion did it better). Nothing wrong with that, of course, even if I also agree that the fandom tends to be lenient about this style.
Oh, I love that particular sound bit, I should get myself a 39,99-Middle-Eastern-extension-pack! 😛 Though even if it’s not played on a real instrument (the way it “dissolves” in the end, it’s indeed probably just electronic) and added by someone without a connection to Azeri traditional music, isn’t it still an ethnical touch? I get your point, I agree it’s a way to mask a “assembly line styled production” with something that’s exotic for Westerners’ ears, but isn’t it better than just sounding like any “neutral” overproduced universal-sounding song? I think it adds some character to it. Though as I… Read more »
I mean, what you are basically describing here is the audio/musical version of a white girl dressing up in a sari for an Instagram photo. 🙂 Is that really what we want?
No it isn’t, because I’m not incentiving any kind of cultural appropriation. If Efendi is from Azerbaijan and represents Azerbaijan, why can’t she have a song that uses local sounds, even if used as, using Tibor’s words below, an accessory. Obviously, I would prefer if she found a way to showcase their culture in an organic way. But between a basic pop song that could be found anywhere in the world in the exact same shape and one that uses some local flavor even if just as a bait to seduce foreigners, I still think the second one is a… Read more »
Aww Tibor :’)
Again: what you want (and probably also what Trina and Darren want) are the same thing I want: genuine songs genuinely influenced by local culture. I just gave my highest grade to Ukraine, after all. I’m not the enemy here! 😉 But at the same time, I disagree that any attempt of using ethnic hints is necessarily insensitive, cynical, random and/or lazy. Of course it would be better if producers went for someone playing an actual instrument than just going shopping for a sound bit. Anyway, this discussion wouldn’t even exist if some countries simply valued local songwriters and went… Read more »
Loved the use of “omaga”! My reaction came from the fact you were focusing too much on what we disagree on and less about what we agree which is the most important here. But don’t worry, because I haven’t taken it as an attack, sorry if I mislead you. 🙂 I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on the topic. About this particular bit of this particular song, it isn’t obvioulsy an example of hard work and creativity, but I think it fits it and adds something to it. Even more if we consider Mata Hari’s past as an… Read more »
What’s interesting about the subgenre “Efendi’s songs about female historical figures” is that it’s burlesque enough to be snubbed by those demanding finesse and too chaotic to be properly radio-friendly. Here, the insistence on evoking “Cleopatra” prevented it from finding its own identity. The result is entertaining but uneven. The ethnic break on the 2min mark and that “turbo” ending are fresh. Sadly they hadn’t put equal effort in the chorus or in the lyrics, that reinforce stereotypes about its muse. 6.5/10
Couldn’t have worded it better! I absolutely agree.
In my bottom five (sorry sorry sorry!). I think it pretends to be (as like year with Cleopatra), but has no real essence . I’m lately quite against Queen wanna be entries (sorry! )
I read all the jury reviews for all the songs and wonder what people actually will vote for on the night of the contest. Will it be the technical merits of the song?, the background of the performer? The country they represent? Or maybe just the song they like the best? Musical taste is very personal, I really like this song, I am surprised others really dislike it so much but as I said music is a personal thing and all points of view are valid. I hope it gets to the final and does well there.
Wiwi Juries’ current TOP 10 Ukraine (7.32) Russia (7.18) Sweden (7.14) Azerbaijan (6.57) Latvia (6.34) Belgium (6.16) (=) Czech Republic (6.16) Serbia (6.09) Albania (5.89) (=) Norway (5.89) My personal TOP 10 Ukraine (My 7th) Belgium (My 10th) Russia (My 13th) Serbia (My 14th) Czech Republic (My 18th) Albania (My 25th) Azerbaijan (My 26th) Sweden (My 31st) Latvia (My 35th) Norway (My 39th) Opinion on AZE: I’m so glad the juries didn’t overrate this, phew. Ok, to be honest, the song isn’t terrible, kinda basic actually, but Efendi doesn’t deserve to be there competing. If EBU kicked Galasy Zmesta out… Read more »
It’s funny, you know. The real-life story of Mata Hari, or Margaretha Geertruida McLeod, if you will, could fully suffice for at least ten different songs. “A harlot, yes, but a traitoress, never”, she was a mysterious and far from one-dimensional figure. But “Mata Hari” isn’t really about Mata Hari, we all know that. Nor was “Cleopatra” about Cleopatra. What we got is a little tired, but still serviceable pop culture image of Mata Hari – a mischievous and ruthless seductress, about to steal your heart and secrets. And not even adding an Azeri proverb will hide it. Which is… Read more »
As usual, a really good review, Skiwalko. 🙂 This time, we share our ratings, even if I was so close of giving it a 7/10. It’s actually a really fun song, even if it admittedly is a popcorn fun. I expect the staging to elevate this. 🙂
A rare occasion where we 3 shared the exact same grade. Weeks ago, I would give it a 7 too. I guess it entertains like a 7, but has the substance of a 6, if you know what I mean.
I would totally agree with your assessment. It’s definitely a style over substance entry, but then again, I can find appreciation for these as well.
On that note, while Moldova is ”safe(er)” in semi 2, do you think that Cyprus, and to a lesser degree, Croatia and Israel, might present a challenge to Azerbaijan, or do you think that, ultimately, those votes will come regardless?
That’s a good question and a hard one to answer. I’m curious to find out if Malta will end up hurting the other bops in the semi by concentrating points. I can see this happening with the juries, but maybe the other bops that will end up hurting “Je me casse” score with the televote. From the group you mentioned, Cyprus is in theory the most competitive, because it’s right on the juries’ alley and Elena seems to be a convincing enough performer. So Croatia and Israel would be direct competition to Azerbaijan and we already know Albina and Eden… Read more »
Semi 1 is certainly the hardest semi we had since semi 1 in 2018. Malta and Lithuania are probably locked qualifiers, but other than that, anything could happen. The thing is, there are so many possible favorites (whether or not I personally agree with that), that I wouldn’t even talk about “shocking” NQs at this point. By sheer math, at least four fan-favorites *will* miss out, and if Slovenia (or even North Macedonia) surpass the expectations, even more. Out of these 16 candidates, there are 5 uptempo bangers with female performers – Malta, Cyprus, Israel, Croatia, and Azerbaijan (technically, we… Read more »
Deceiving to be ethnic, that’s why they called it Mata Hari – hahaha. It’s not what it pretends to be.
They have a rich and artistic culture. I think they have more of a chance of being “accepted” if they actually embraced it.
I must say I’m happy this wasn’t that overrated. But the rating is still too high for me. This is absolute trash in my opinion and I’m not trying to be horrible. It isn’t in my very bottom but I can’t enjoy this song and I dont know why it is considered a potential winner. Shouldn’t even qualify for me.
Side note, the slow version is absolutely beautiful and if this was sent, even though it would probably flop, it would be way higher in my ranking.
Im conflicted because i personally really like this and want to see the song do well but at the same time i dont want someone like efendi, who promotes hatred and bigotry to qualify for the final
Newsflash, she shouldn’t. She should apologise. Most people didn’t know that Anxhela Peristeri had done blackface on Your Face Sounds Familiar, she very sincerely apologised and promised to become more aware. Efendi just stays bigoted. We love a bigoted queen… Go girl give us discrimination!
what did she do wrong? Why do you all hate her so much?
AZERBAIJAN – The Scooby Doo Gang approaches Mata Hari, takes off her mask and gasp, it’s the old Lady Cleopatra! Okay, it’s not that I mind as much, considering the 2020 songs never got to perform in the actual voting process. I am unsure whether it took a lot of creativity or very little to come-up with this. It certainly is a fan-service type of banger, and I see that it will likely do well. The tune has some neat ethnic elements, and the Cleopatra nod is cheeky, but fun. The lyrics are a tad less campy, but having Mata… Read more »
Ha ha… I posted it anyway. If I change my mind, I’ll just add the rating, but I’ll try not to (not before the live show, at least). 😉
I am still looking forward to what Wiwibloggers have to say.
Glad you liked it. 🙂
Nice to know I inspired you Tibor, thanks for quoting me lol 😉 jk
Fun by design. Rhythm, rhythm and more rhythm. It’s okay, but it has strong competition.
Agreed. It is hard for me to rate all these seductive bangers, as they are definitely competing for the same spots in a fun, but blatant way. Mata Hari is likely the most derivative one of them and thus, it’s the one with my lowest rating (although this is the rating I also gave to Fuego before the live performance, and look how she finished). However, I have to say that the live performance will make it or break it even more than it will songs of other styles. A good, energetic performance could lift this one up quite a… Read more »
The singer herself isn’t really helping anyone to like this, while she promotes violence and hate on her Instagram.
As for the song: it has a nice beat, I’ve always liked that dated 2000’s vibe in music, but other than that this just is not serving anything more than a migraine with the way she screeches Mata Hari.
You really thought this statement was a serve huh? Sadly the song isn’t even good enough to ignore Efendi’s politics, or the politics of the Azeri state. No song is. Azerbaijan’s participation at Eurovision always needs to be tempered with a dose of strong accountability. It shouldn’t be comfortable for them.
she called all armenians terrorists. she’s xenophobic and she’s brainwashed. don’t understand how people can support her.
I think Mata Hari was of Scottish descent so at least bagpipes would be a little authentic lol
It’s so reminiscent that your initial instinct was to just call it Cleopatra. 😉 I know that now it’s been edited, but seriously, this is just terminology we’re dealing with. Mata Hari IS Cleopatra, even if Mata Hari WASN’T Cleopatra, if you know what I mean. 😉
I know I’m going to get slated for this but I doubt Azerbaijan’s chances of making the final, to be honest. Cyprus is opening the second half of the first semi with more or less the same routine and El Diablo is a much better and more radio-friendly track (even if it’s a carbon copy of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance) than Mata Hari, and Albina from Croatia has something very similar as well. Eden from Israel will likely be accompanied by dancers on stage too (or present something more interesting), so the juries and viewers will not vote for four… Read more »
Cheap and trashy, also the word “bop” has lost it’s meaning if it’s used on this.
very good song
I give 10/10
Zahra Guliyevar? Well this person clearly isn’t from Azerbaijan..
33. Azerbaijan: This is a cheap copy of Cleopatra, which I also didn’t like (but at least it was a guilty pleasure for me). Mata Hari on the other hand is just bland. Nevertheless both Cleopatra and Mata Hari are too trashy and fast food music for me to like. I also find the references to the historical figures to be out of place and not representative of the actual historical figures.
Ranking along with the wiwi jury, and this is my ranking so far:
7. Czech Republic
I find mata hari really “cheap” but i really enjoy it and i would love to see it qualifying!
Over songs that aren’t “cheap”? No thanks.
I wouldn’t take a song this cheap into the final over those songs that clearly deserve that spot in the final.
While i know we should judge the song by this years field, I can’t help but compare it to “Cleopatra”. The problem here isn’t fast food music, that can be a guilty pleasure at the best of times, the problem here is the lazy attitude by the Azeri delegation. “Mata Hari” is basically “Cleopatra” just rehashed, to the point where the entire air of the song is the same, including the chanting and the mention of Cleopatra. Also, singing Mata Hari in an ethnic beat makes it sound exotic, but dies Efendi or the delegation even know who she was?… Read more »
2020 ofc not 2029 lol
Very very much so.
Antranig rating Czech Republic: “Benny Cristo has his own style, sound and personality and all of that is on show here. Lyrically, it’s full of cliches and feels like it was written by an overexcited teenager.” – 2.5
Antranig rating Azerbaijan:
One of the cringiest lyrics this year right after Cyprus and also quite generic song. – 7.5
Aren’t we coming through this every year though? Xd
Well Antranig is Armenian and the ethnic music from “Mata Hari” is close to the Armenian music so he may like more Azerbaijan’s entry than the Czech one even though he doesn’t like the lyrics, it’s totally fine
6,57/10 for the worst song in the competition? They must be kidding! This deserves no more than a 1/10!!!
Not a bad song, but nothing special. This is mostly a Cleopatra 2.0
That’s why I give this a 6.5/10
6.Azerbaijan – Efendi – Mata Hari – 9/10 – confident and provocative with engaging ethnic elements and banging club tendencies, this song knows what it is and delivers 100%. Mata Hari may seem like an obscure person to focus on but I very much enjoy the resonance. The cultural appropriation, the feuding countries, the vilification of female sexuality, it all serves to exemplify that our ancestors have trodden these paths before. And those meaningful layers have such a glossy, glossy facade. So if human beings insist on repeating those mistakes, at least I can dance along.
I really enjoyed Truth’s performance and it was high in my ranking, but Chingiz was full of himself, I never liked that attitude
Wasn’t he also hateful for gay people
I don’t know that, now I dislike him even more
20) Azerbaijan –
On first listen, this one left me rather cold. After a few more listens I did warm to it more, but it still feels to me like something’s missing. It felt like nothing much was happening until the end, which doesn’t exactly help its case either. I do appreciate the little nod to Army of Lovers, though! A decent song, but to me a shadow of what Cleopatra was. 6/10
let’s be honest, with a song as weak as X My Heart, there isn’t any performance that would have allowed Aisel to qualify
I agree. but the song also did her no favours, and if I remember right I think she didn’t even want it
Aisel herself admitted later that she wasn’t really into the song either since she is normally a jazz singer.
Aisel has much more potential. Her own songs are by far better than X My Heart.
Actually had she not drawn the running order spot 1 , she would have qualified !
14th: Azerbaijan. Might be controversial, but I actually really like this song. Is it simple? Yes. Is it basically a revamped Cleopatra? Probably. But is it catchy and good? Yes. At first I wasn’t completely sold on Mata Hari, but with the Azerbaijani sentence and the instrumental break combined, it quickly became something I enjoy listening to. The amount of Azerbaijani flavour in this is just insane. And that moment in the song before the final chorus where everything drops out and Efendi’s vocals (reversed, I believe) start rising in the background as she says “Just like Cleopatra, let’s start… Read more »
The song is nice , dance along , has strong ethnic instruments even. What’s missing for me is a good climax and ma ma ma mata Hari is repeated way too many times. The instrumental drop is the best 3 seconds of this year’s ESC though . Cleopatra was better for me. This is just a bit lower as I get a feeling of seen that.
We need bops and this song techincally has everything we need but somehow it does not really speak to me. I’ve listened to it only a few times and I don’t really feel like listening more… It might come alive on stage, though.