Azerbaijan is sending a ringer to the contest; will he come home with a year’s supply of hosting responsibilities?
Song Title: “Hour of the Wolf”
Artist: Elnur Hüseynov
Semi-Final: Second, Position #11
Last year’s entry: “Start a Fire” – Dilara Kazimova (22nd Place)
Last year’s poor showing was out of character for Azerbaijan. Since entering the contest in 2008, they’ve finished in the top ten all but once, winning the 2011 contest in Düsseldorf, Germany. For political reasons, I’ve found it hard to enjoy Azerbaijan’s entries, but there’s no denying they know how to craft a successful Eurovision song. Their stagecraft isn’t too shabby, either — 2013’s “Hold Me” made quite the spectacle out of a simple plexiglass rectangle. For 2015, Azerbaijan is sending Elnur Hüseynov, one half of their debut entry, to try and reboot this once-successful franchise. Will it work?
Begrudgingly: yes. This entry has pretty much everything covered: a handsome and experienced young performer with great emotional and musical range, an operatic and dramatic song about survival (…I guess?), a key change almost exactly two-thirds through the song, a crew of great backing singers that let the lead voice just float over top near the end, and a big climax followed by a gentle finish. The one big question left to answer: what will this performance look like?
Unfortunately we still don’t have an official performance video. Hüseynov recently posted a live performance on his official YouTube channel. It confirms he has a great voice that can fill an arena, especially when supported by strong backing vocals, but given this country’s track record, I can guarantee you he will not be just walking around the Eurovision stage. Azerbaijan has something up their sleeve, I’m sure of it, and they’re smart to hang onto it until the real competition. This is already a very good entry that will have no problem qualifying through to the Grand Final. But with some of their usual stagecraft, Azerbaijan could find themselves on the top five once again, perhaps even seriously contending for next year’s hosting duties.