Azerbaijan first appeared on the Eurovision stage back in 2008, where the nation debuted with a Top 10 result. The nation has since proven to be a tough competitor, having won the contest 3 years after their debut. Top 10 results have been a common occurrence for Azerbaijan, and the nation has failed to qualify for the final just once in their history. This year, Efendi will return to represent Azerbaijan with the song Mata Hari. Will we see Azerbaijan finish in the Top 10 once again?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
While reviewing Cleopatra last year, I hoped that this year we would see a song richer with cultural identity rather than an internationally bought, pre-made pop song. The dream unfortunately did not become reality, as we see essentially a carbon copy of Cleopatra. In some cases, nations with returning artists have returned with similar songs due to the artist’s personal style, but with Efendi, we know she is capable of providing vocals to a range of styles. What stopped the nation sending a ballad this year? With hindsight, this would have been the perfect year for Azerbaijan and Efendi to send an epic ethnic ballad to contrast all the upbeat songs of the year.
In comparison, I do think that I prefer Mata Hari marginally. With that said, it feels like there are only marginal differences between her two entries. Both songs follow the stories of historical figures, both songs have basic, repetitive choruses, and both songs feature ‘that’ voice prior to the chorus. The lyrics of Mata Hari literally say, ‘Just like Cleopatra’, and that about sums the song up.
Will the similarities between the two songs really affect her chances at Eurovision this year? Realistically, a majority of the viewers tuning in this year won’t have watched last year’s songs, so no, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem. I expect that Azerbaijan will qualify fairly confidently.
Performance and Act
As both Efendi entries have been internally selected and released with a music video, we don’t really know how they plan to stage the song this year. Something similar to the music video would probably be effective, with the focus on lighting and choreography. Azerbaijan has what it takes to stage a successful entry, and while I don’t necessarily think this year’s song is the best in the field, the staging will most certainly elevate the song to create more of a performance piece.
I’m unimpressed with Azerbaijan this year, as I have been in their past few participations. I’d enjoy something that feels a bit more authentic, but perhaps that’s just me. Regardless of my own feelings towards this song, I am certain that we will see the nation in the final, and maybe a mid-table finish will follow in the final.
Song and Vocals
The entry for Efendi is almost a duplicate of her song for 2020 ‘Cleopatra’, though it is a weaker duplicate. Of course, the millions of people watching the song in May, will not know this. It’s hard for me as a community member to judge ‘Mata Hari’ on its own merits, but overall I am not impressed and think it is a messy composition with a lot of distracting stuff. About the live vocals I cannot say anything yet, since we haven’t heard Efendi perform her song live yet.
Performance and Act
The same goes for the act and performance, of which we haven’t seen anything. It would make sense if Azerbaijan goes over the top when it comes to clothing and styling and goes full Mata Hari-era in their visual performance.
Azerbaijan gives us an entry with a unique hook and if they present it according to that style, it will definitely stand out. I doubt if that will be enough for a high place in the final, because the song itself doesn’t have a lot of depth for me. I am not ruling out qualification from the semi final at this stage though.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 5.1/10