Azerbaijan was one of the strongest Eurovision nations after their debut at the contest back in 2008, however in more recent years, they have struggled getting the results they once consistently achieved. A top 10 finish last year was redemption for the non-qualification the year previous, but where would we have seen Efendi finish at Eurovision 2020, with her song Cleopatra?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
Cleopatra begins with an epic note, leading you to believe that we are about to enter into a three minute ethno-bop. To some degree, that would be right, but this song has so much more potential than what has actually been delivered. I like that first note, and I like the beat, but as soon as that first verse hits, I can’t help but be completely turned off this song.
What really bothers me about this song is that it sounds incredibly cheap, and I think that intensifies once the second verse hits. What is that beat in the background? This is based on the song alone, but the music video especially during that second verse fills me with a whole lot of cringe.
Samira Efendi has a great voice, but why does it have to be reduced to a song like this? It has some of the key elements of a song that I would usually enjoy, it has a slightly ethnic feel mixed with the classic pop beats, but this misses the mark for me.
Performance and Act
Knowing Azerbaijan, we were in for a great visual performance this year, and I can’t help but think that they would have really played up the Egyptian theme in the stage performance. It would all have been a bit cliche, and while it probably wouldn’t have helped me to enjoy the song more, it would have captured the televote.
Next Up: 2021
Somewhat unrealistically, I would love to see a national language song for Efendi in 2021. It has been confirmed that she will return, and I would love an upbeat song once again, but with much stronger Azeri sounds. I want to see their identity return to Eurovision, rather than an internationally bought, pre-made pop song. Not to say this is a bad thing, it works for some nations, but Azerbaijan has such beautiful instruments which could easily work well with her voice. A girl can dream.
I genuinely don’t feel confident that Azerbaijan would have qualified this year. We had no live performance to critique, and based off the song and music video, it just doesn’t scream confident qualifier to me. There were much better upbeat songs in this semi-final, but with a strong stage performance, it also wouldn’t have surprised me to see Azerbaijan reach the final.
Song and Vocals
Ethnic instrumentation, with an Egyptian vibe of course. When you see the song title ‘cleopatra’, this is what could be expected. I was curious to find out how the weird mummie-humming would sound in the live performance, but that will remain a mystery forever.
The vocals in studio are fine, but I wonder if this song could be performed live as well. Especially the bass and beats towards the ending are overwhelming.
Performance and Act
The Azerbaijani song has a clear theme, which lends itself for a staging that suited the Egyptian theme. Usually broadcaster Ictimai has had excellent stage designing, so I think they were already working on a total package for Rotterdam 2020.
Next up: 2021
It’s back to the design table for Azerbaijan. After internally selecting Efendi, and sticking with that choice, they need to come up with a new theme. Because I think their strategy will stay the same with this singer. Pick a song with a unique topic, that can have a special visual presentation to fit the total package.
The stats of Azerbaijan at Eurovision are amazing, and I think ‘Cleopatra’ would have been a very likely qualifier for the final. They would have had to have messed up their presentation and live performance an awful lot, should it not have qualified. I am not the biggest fan of this genre, but there is a market for themed ethno-pop at Eurovision. Let’s see what they will come up with next.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 5.5/10
What do you think of Cleopatra? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.