Will Azerbaijan’s pseudo-scientific method gain them a second Eurovision win?
Since their 2008 debut in the Eurovision Song Competition, Azerbaijan has taken an almost scientific approach to the way they pick their Eurovision entries. The best local performers (which seem to come out of nowhere, as if lab-grown specifically for the purpose of representing the country in ESC) mixed with the best songwriting and production design money can buy has put the country in the top 10 every single year, finally winning in 2011. Since then, they’ve seemingly been just as hungry to prove they can still bring it, coming in second last year with Farid Mammadov’s “Hold Me”. Will this year’s entry, Dilara Kazimova’s “Start a Fire”, bring them their second win in 3 years?
There’s a nice bluesy/jazzy feel to “Start a Fire” that resonated well with me. Stefan Orn’s music and lyrics won Azerbaijan the competition in 2011, so it’s clear they’ve gone back to a source they know will bring them good results. A lot of the recent entries that have debuted for the first final have been mid-tempo ballads, putting “Start a Fire” amongst some challenging competition for the first semi-final, but I think as far as musicality goes, the song has what it takes to make it to the end.
Thanks to Boyuk Senhe, the program Azerbaijan uses to select its singer, we’ve seen Dilara’s performance skills. Whether singing “Mercy”, “History Repeating”, or (what I presumably thought was her official Eurovision song) “Impossible”, she’s got the stage presence to sell the song no matter what direction Azerbaijan decides to take for its song presentation this year. Last year, I found “Hold Me” to be pretty pedestrian amongst the competition, but a killer performance (which Azerbaijan always delivers) got them all the way to second place. Perhaps they’ll give “Start a Fire” the extra oomph it needs to go all the way to a second win.