Azerbaijan began their Eurovision journey strong, however in recent years have faded away from their powerhouse status. Hoping to return to the Top 10 is Nadir Rustamli, who will sing the ballad ‘Fade to Black’ at the contest this year.
Song and Vocals
Azerbaijan waited until the very end to release their entry this year, but was it worth the wait? Fade to Black is a decent track, but follows on trend with many of the same criticisms I’ve had about the nation in recent years. Once again, the nation outsourced the songwriting and as a result, it lacks some authenticity.
Fade to Black is a track that comes across as more style than substance. Lyrically, it’s hard to really connect with a message, but rather the song seems as if it was written solely to show off Nadir’s vocals. It’s not until the end of the first minute that we begin to hear some vocal variation, and then the song begins to build. The final 30 seconds of the song is one big vocal flex, but with that said, should Nadir pull this off, it’s going to be very impressive.
Azerbaijan is relatively early in the running order this year, and on first appearances it doesn’t seem like an ideal spot for the nation. Looking into it closer, it may work in their favour. We begin with the more energetic tracks of Finland and Israel, leading into the wildcard entry of Serbia. Coming after these entries with a well performed ballad (albeit 3 minutes of lyrical fluff) may prove to be a good contrast.
Performance and Act
I don’t think Azerbaijan always nails their staging, but I think this track is an easy one to stage in a way that really elevates the song. I can imagine that Nadir will be on stage alone, which is certainly the most suitable choice. It would be good to see dark lighting to start, then quick moving lights and cameras as we reach the final moments of the song.
I don’t dislike this, but I also don’t love it. It falls directly in the middle, and I would generally say that audiences may feel the same about this. In the context of the semi-final, there are better ballads, however being Azerbaijan I would not rule this out of the final. This certainly could be the song that people underrate going into the contest, but the live performance elevates and impresses.
Song and Vocals
The Azeri song is somewhat similar to the Australian one. I haven’t heard Nadir perform live again, but I expect his strong and raw voice to be impressive in a live performance. I think he has been selected based on that. When it comes to the lyrics of the song I am very critical. It comes across to me as random English lines connected to each other. I’m having a hard time getting connected to this song because of that and it feels like the song has been written to prove how good this guy can sing.
Performance and Act
There were years when Azerbaijan were top of the bill when it comes to staging their acts. They need to do such a trick again to get this song to make a lasting impression from the fourth starting slot. I have faith in the Azeri delegation and this singer, but at this point I think other nations have better odds based on what we know thus far.
With their qualities I would never write off Azerbaijan beforehand. We haven’t seen their visuals and act yet and the vocalist could be impressive and strong, making the cut. For a real high result I think this song is too weak. I base that on the message of it (is there one?) and the build-up which feels like a showcase to let Nadir prove his vocal qualities.
Average Score: 6.2/10