The random number generator has spoken, tonight we look at the host’s entry. As host, Azerbaijan gets a free pass to the final, but judging by their scorching record since debuting in 2008, they hardly need it. They’ve got four top 10 finishes out of four entries, and I’d be reluctant to bet against them with this song. Their Eurovision Midas-touch in the last five years gives them an invincibility only Greece can surpass, is it out of the question that Baku’s Crystal Hall will get to host a second show in 2013?
Azerbaijan know what they are doing. They have effortlessly delivered modern-sounding entries with broad enough appeal to get the whole of Europe voting. The oil-rich nation has certainly made no secret that it can throw money at an entry, after Safura’s expensive show including a dazzling light-up dress (it’s classier than it sounds), and choreography from the guy who did Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video. It finished fifth, not a position to be sniffed at, but the ‘Land of Fire’ remained undeterred, and got its victory in Dusseldorf last year.
There’s a potent mix in this year’s entry, power ballads are a tricky one of pull off, but as Safura’s “Drip Drop” showed, Azerbaijan are sure as hell going to make it work. A laid-back ballad, with that mournful Azeri instrument making sure there’s no mistake of whose entry this is. This is just a nod to the traditional music of Azerbaijan, after all they want to appeal to everyone and be respected as a modern nation.
If Sabina can carry off the vocals, and the staging is good, I can see this really threatening the top 3 on the night. Not my personal top 3, mind, even though it’s a strong entry. A stylish video certainly, looks fantastic.
It’s only a shame that the ongoing situation with Armenia eventually led to them withdrawing, it would have been great to see Eurovision succeeding where years of diplomacy had failed. But we are left with an empty chair at the Eurovision table instead.