It’s the time of year when the Post-Eurovision depression is in full swing, but there’s no better cure than to reminisce! Together with ESCDaily Editor, Dennis Van Eersel, we will be discussing each of this year’s competing nations – from their results to how we think they could improve in the future!
Predictions, Personal Scores and Results
Results: 20th place, Final
A: I went into the contest unimpressed by what Azerbaijan had to offer this year. Their entry felt like a carbon copy of their 2020 entry, and it just lacked that spark that Azerbaijan had in their early days. However, the live performance exceeded my low expectations for the nation this year. The vocal performance really made the song come alive, and while the visuals still felt undercooked, I think overall it was a decent showing from Azerbaijan. Results-wise, it wasn’t the best result for Azerbaijan, but I think it was on-par with what it should have been.
D: The final result for Efendi is about what was expected before the contest: a finalist with a result in the middle of the pack in the final. When it comes to their presentation I was curious whether Azerbaijan would milk out the theme in their staging too much. They did not, they were some ethnic references, but they kept it basic enough to keep the whole entry accessible for a wide audience. Azerbaijan came up with an inoffensive entry.
A: Middle of the pack is the best way to describe it. The song was certainly inoffensive, and the staging just did enough. It was enough to avoid a repeat of 2018.
How do you personally feel about the song for Azerbaijan at Eurovision 2021?
A: I was quite harsh on the song in my reviews, but the live performance helped me to enjoy the song a bit more. It’s not the type of song that will be on repeat on my playlists, but if I was to hear it again now, I wouldn’t press skip.
D: Mata Hari is not a song that I will play for the upcoming years to come. It’s a thin gimmicky pop song. Definitely not bad and I did not dislike the song, but it will not be an entry that stands the test of time for me. It was a decent entry, well staged and performed by a singer who deserves a song with more meaning to it.
Could Azerbaijan have done anything different?
A: While the song did have some ethnic elements (a big plus in my books), I think the song still lacked some authenticity. Knowing that the song was written by an international team, rather than an Azeri team just never made sense to me. Realistically Azerbaijan has often looked elsewhere for songwriters, and for the most part it has worked for them, but I would really love to see something truly authentic from the nation, especially with Turkey no longer in the mix, there is a void that could easily be filled by Azerbaijan.
Dennis touched on this point above, and that’s knowing that Efendi deserved something better. In hindsight, Azerbaijan could have really excelled with an authentic ethnic ballad, something Efendi is known for. It’s a missed opportunity. Why be good when you can be great!
D: When Azerbaijan just entered Eurovision they always came up with songs with something extraordinary to stand out. Usually combined with some true Azeri ethnic elements in it as well. Right now they have gone a bit too mainstream to stand out in a final field, in my opinion. I also agree with what Anita writes above, Efendi is a schooled classical singer and I am sure she can perform more difficult songs than ‘Mata Hari’. I would really like to see Azerbaijan come up with a song that makes a more true emotional connection and see if they can impress in that style of Eurovision-songs as well.
A: I think we’ve touched on a lot of those points in the previous question, but overall, I think internal selections are working well for the nation. They don’t struggle with vocalists, and even if the songs are lacking, we know we are guaranteed a great singer from the nation. I think the key thing is reigniting that spark they had in their earlier years. However, I feel it’s safe to say that an international songwriting team is a likely choice for Azerbaijan in future years.
D: In their early years Azerbaijan was so hungry for success in the contest, of which they were so proud to be a part. I think as they have been a present factor at Eurovision for many years now, winning the contest and getting many more good results, this eagerness is not there as much as in the first years. My suggestion would be to start at the top of the organization and broadcaster Ictimai needs to find new fresh people with the will to get Azerbaijan back on top again. I am sure they can do it again.
Which was better, the live-on-tape performance or the actual performance?
A: The live performance was better, with the camera work a bit too bouncy in the live-on-tape. I also think Efendi’s vocals were better in the live performance, coming across as much more effortless and smooth. The concepts were definitely in place by the live-on-tape, but were elevated with the bigger stage. I still can’t say I love the staging in either, but the live performance trumps the recorded performance.
D: I think the actual performance was smoother, with a better connection with the backing dancers. Overall, the finetuning of the act and extra additional camera shots was just better than what Efendi’s team came up with in the back-up tape. I also have the feeling that they added some extra vocal power in Rotterdam, because in the back-up tape Efendi was the only vocalist in most parts of the song, giving it a rather thinner sound than in Ahoy.