Azerbaijan were one of those nations who from the get go, just completely understood Eurovision and what it would take to achieve good results. They made their debut in 2008 and finished with a respectable 8th place, but little did we know at that time that Azerbaijan would go on to have incredible success in the years to come.
Today we are looking more specifically at their second Eurovision entry, being Aysel & Arash with the song Always. We know that the song finished in 3rd place which was their best result thus far (although we know now that they have achieved both 1st and 2nd places since) but did that performance deserve a Top 3 finish?
Rarely does a Top 5 or Top 3 completely satisfy me, and usually there are one or two entries that I don’t really understand how or why they achieved that result, and as much as this may be a controversial Eurovision opinion, this song is one of them.
I mean, I get why it finished in 3rd place. Eurovision 2009 was a pretty questionable year in terms of the music quality, at least from my perspective and arguably the results were still somewhat dictated by that very 2000’s approach of the kitschier the better. Always definitely falls into that category, as it’s the loud, bordering obnoxious ethno-pop banger that most people would love to love.
The performance certainly added to the ‘loudness’ of this performance, with props, dancers, wind, fireworks and fire all distractions from a fairly repetitive entry. Did they perform it well? We’ve seen better, but the performance as a whole is a televote magnet.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of this song, I can appreciate that they did feature those ethnic elements in the song, which as we know Azerbaijan seem to be phasing out in more recent years. Although Eurovision 2009 wasn’t the most memorable edition for its music, looking at the results, the voters did clearly appreciate these hints to traditional or ethnic sounds with many of the finalists featuring some link to the nation they were representing whether that was the actual style of song or the language featured.
Between the two big ethno-pop songs that finished in the Top 5, with the other being Turkey, I’d prefer Turkey’s entry, but like everything with Eurovision, it’s all personal taste. All I know is that this song isn’t making its way into my playlists!
I’m giving it a 5/10.
Artist: Aysel & Arash
Final Ranking: 3rd in the Final