If yesterday’s nation Ireland are the fallen champions of Eurovision, I’d say Azerbaijan have started down the road to being such an unstoppable Eurovision force.
Debuting in 2008, not only does Azerbaijan have a 100% qualification record (though Russia, Ukraine, Romania & Greece have maintained this since 2004), they have never missed the top 10 and furthermore finished in the top 5 every year since 2009. These five years have taken in every top 5 finishing position, including of course their victory in Dusseldorf, winning the 2011 contest and bringing the contest further East than it’s ever gone.
That’s a lot of pressure for any Azeri representative to bear, but Dilara Kazimova is the one who has to bear it. Selected via the lengthy Böyük Səhnə selection series, Dilara came to my attention with a particularly spirited performance of Shirley Bassey & Propellerheads’ “History Repeating” during the heats.
The final song “Start a fire” is a lot more straightforward, a very stripped down piano ballad, with the occasional bit of balaban (that Azeri instrument they always use, Wiki tells me). My problem is that I can’t understand a lot of the words with her accent, and it’s quite a heart-tugging song when you read the lyrics.
It’s about how the world is full of bad things, a few examples given, but the slightest light might start a fire and bring change. An unexpected sentiment from one of the reportedly more repressed nations in Eurovision, but it’s delivered tenderly.
Of all their entries, this feels to be the least obvious qualifier. I suspect Dinara will need a great vocal and an eyecatching performance to be noticed between Russia & Ukraine’s uptempos either side of it in an already crowded Semi 1. Could she pull it off?
If it was nearly any other nation I’d probably say no, but it would be a brave soul to bet against such a bulletproof track record.
For reviews of ALL the competing entries in the 2014 contest, as well as coverage of all the national finals and all sorts of other news, please visit my Copenhagen 2014 Hub by clicking the link, or the “Copenhagen 2014” menu on the top banner, or the “#Joinus” crystal on the left-hand bar.