Next Up: 2021 – Azerbaijan

Samira Efendi won Azerbaijan’s traditional preselection-behind-closed-doors. Broadcaster Ictimai seems to have found back its eagerness to compete at the highest Eurovision levels. They will send Samira Efendi after all next year, and expectations will be high.

In today’s episode we look at Azerbaijan in 2021. For a full review of their potential entry for 2020, check out this article on our partner website Eurovision Union. Check out our thoughts for next year below.

Key takeaways: Accessible ethnopop

For a few years, Azerbaijan made Eurovision life difficult for itself with farfetched entries such as “Skeletons” by Dihaj (the girl with the horse). In 2020, Ictimai planned to go back to the genre that the Caucasus country does best: ethnopop. And why ever doubt a winning strategy? Some of the best Azeri entries ever were ethnopop.

Samira Efendi is also a classic example of an Azeri pop star playing to her strenghts: a beautiful woman with a very strict vocal and athletic training regime since she was a kid, at one of the top musical institutes in the country.

How to proceed with Samira Efendi in Eurovision 2020?

The danger of the rigidly trained Azeri musical academy, is that it produces entries which are “too good to be true”. Their sometimes overrehearsed artists struggle to connect with the European televoter on an emotional level. Samira Efendi faces this same danger. Therefore, the Azeri delegation came up with a plan: Samira would pronounce the “R” in Cleopatra in a very unique accent, to give her something unique and unpolished.

The problem with this strategy? It was completely fake. Samira does not have an accent, and in the original version (which you can still find on YouTube) there is no rolling “R” in Cleopatra. This does not make the singer more believable; if anything, the effect is the opposite.

Our advice for Eurovision 2021:

  • Give Samira Efendi another strong and catchy ethnopop song (much like “Cleopatra”)
  • Include Samira in the staging brainstorm, so that she can showcase more of who she truly is
  • No more pronunciation gimmicks

This was supposed to be Azerbaijan’s Eurovision 2020 entry

About “Next Up: Eurovision 2021”

In our series Next Up: 2021, we look ahead to the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. After the cancellation of Eurovision 2020, all participating countries now face the choice: Stick with their Eurovision singer, or come up with a new preselection or internal selection.

We make an analysis based on what we know so far. What will this country do, or most likely do? And is that the wise choice, looking at the fact that the Eurovision Song Contest remains a music competition?