Azerbaijan have had a short but fairly successful history at Eurovision, especially in their early years where the nation rarely found themselves out of the top 10, and even scored a win on their 4th participation. It’s clear to see that in recent years, success hasn’t come easy for Azerbaijan, and last year marked the first year that the nation had failed to qualify for the final. Hoping to return to the final this year, the nation decided that Chingiz would be the representative, and he will be singing the song Truth at Eurovision, but will it bring Azerbaijan back to the final?
Song + Vocals
After many successful years at Eurovision, Azerbaijan have lost their way a little bit. After Farid Mammadov’s 2nd place finish in 2013, the nation has failed to crack into the Top 10, and based on the songs they have sent, it’s unsurprising. Although some of the songs since then have been among favourites of mine, specifically Miracle, what has lacked in these entries is any sort of cultural identity. Azerbaijan has such a rich music culture and so many different instruments could feature in their entries, but more often than not we see the song writing duties handed over to a team from outside of Azerbaijan. Occasionally we will see some cultural elements come through, but I really do think that it is one of the factors that prevented the nation qualifying last year.
Have they learnt their lesson this year? I’m not too sure. The song Truth does have a slightly more prominent cultural feel about it, but is still fairly international, unsurprising since it was written by iconic Eurovision song writer, Borislav Milanov among others. I would love to see Azerbaijan take a risk by including national language in their songs, even if it’s in the framework of a pop song like this. Knowing Chingiz’s normal flamenco style plays a part in this as well, as I think that he has totally lost his musical identity in this song, as did Aisel last year.
It’s not all bad though, and if we look at the song as a whole, it is a catchy entry. It can get a bit repetitive, but not so much that it becomes irritating. The small ethnic elements we get, especially towards the start of the song are gold, and they do contrast well with the overall modern feel of this song. The chorus is definitely the earworm portion of this song, and it’s nice to hear that contrast from verse to chorus where Chingiz uses falsetto.
I would say one of my biggest criticisms of this song however is that the lyrics are terribly hard to understand, and this is as an English speaking listening to a song in English. I’ve listened to this song a reasonable amount, and I’m still never 100% sure of what he is saying other than the repeated phrase ‘shut up about it.’ This feels a bit problematic.
Act + Performance
Azerbaijan have selected an interesting act with a unique musical style, and again it’s disappointing not to see more of that through this song. I had the same complaint with Aisel last year, and I don’t see the purpose of selecting someone of a certain style only to give them a generic pop entry.
Moving on from this musical beef, it’s good to see that Chingiz has a lot of charisma through his performance, or from what we have seen in his music video and his acoustic rendition of Truth. I would say that at times he seems overconfident – confidence is good, but too much can come across as smugness.
I’m not too sure what their approach will be for Eurovision, but I’m sure we will see something conceptual on stage as per usual. Horse heads and chalkboards, trapeze, glass boxes – anything goes for Azerbaijan. As long as they keep it dynamic, it will be a nice way to finish the semi-final.
The chances of Azerbaijan qualifying seems fairly high, and I would be surprised to see them fail to qualify again. This is a likeable and inoffensive pop entry that is most certainly going to benefit from closing the semi-final. It’s hard to say where it could place in the final if it makes it there, but I would suspect somewhere in the top half of the table.