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🇦🇿 Slideback Sunday: Show us the right way!

For this week’s edition of ‘Slideback Sunday’, we are travelling to Azerbaijan, a country which has a rollercoaster history in the Eurovision. We will be focusing on its debut song “Day after day” by Elnur & Samir. As the song and the performance symbolises fight between good and evil, this entry has a love or hate relationship among the fans.

Life like roller coaster

It feels unbelievable, that Azerbaijan is actually one of the youngest Eurovision family members. The Caucasian country debuted in 2008 along with San Marino and the only country who joined the family since then is Australia in 2015. And a line from my beloved Fusedmarc song perfectly describes Azerbaijan’s journey in Eurovision: life like roller coeaster.

Azerbaijan actually got off to a good start – the debut got them a place in top 10 and after that they achieved five consecutive top-five results between 2009 and 2013 with, including 1st place in 2011. Unfortunately, since 2014 the Land of Fire lost its fire: 4 years in a row they missed the top 10, but the biggest ‘oops’ happened in 2018 when for the first time country haven’t qualified to the finals. However, in 2019 Chingiz broke the curse by finishing 8th with “Truth”.

With great results came great popularity – Eurovision is extremely popular in Azerbaijan and it is even considered a “national pride”. Even though the contest is broadcast from after midnight local time (due to the time difference from Central European Time) since 2009 it has consistently been the most watched show on Azerbaijani television. There is a postage stamp dedicated to their victory in 2011 and to this day Baku 2012 is the most expensive Eurovision ever. Azerbaijan spent approximately 160 mln euros on hosting and managed to build a completely new, perfect Eurovision venue just in 9 months.

Day after day

Azerbaijan stepped to the contest on the right foot. First words in the first entry from this country will always be:

For peace we pray

Save us from all fears

Oh Lord! Save us!

That was crazy! For me this debut song feels as if Australia would have debuted in the contest with “Zero Gravity”. It also seems like Roko (Croatia 2019) saw this when he was 8 years old and made himself a promise to do something similar on the big stage. You can not be left without any emotions after watching this performance.

They have packed it all in here: rock opera, angels, wings, sparkling silver hair, devil, throne, fire, smoke wine, fireworks. And it totally worked back then: Elnur & Samir easily qualified to the final in Belgrade and finished 8th with 132 points. We have to keep in mind, that 2008 final results were based on televote only and I am certain this rule served Azerbaijan well. Even though Elnurs vocal performance was stunning, juries aren’t usually that keen on this kind of entries.

I remember seeing this performance live on TV in 2008 when I was 12 years old and I absolutely loved it. Back then for me it seemed original and fun, I even loved the song. Nowadays I wouldn’t add this song to my playlist I possibly cringe with this kind of performance, but hey, that was back in 2008. I still admire the work and passion Elnur and Samir gave to this performance and I think that this is a great introduction entry to the Land of Fire. By the way, Elnur (the angel) came back to the contest in 2015 and if you like to see him perform, you should check him out.

What does the team think?

Nick:

This song is everything I… don’t ever want to hear again. It makes no sense whatsoever to me that this was the first thing Azerbaijan wanted the world to see when it comes to their music: screechy, shouty, creepy and I was glad it was over after three minutes. Azerbaijan are often quite out there with their entries and it often pays off into delivering something that splits us all, just think of Cleopatra or Skeletons. This does too, but I’m on the side of the major nays when it comes to this. Wrong on every level to see this scoring so highly…

Borislava:

It’s easy to understate how much Elnur and Samir hit the ball right out of the park with their performance, even before you consider this was Azerbaijan’s first time participating in the contest. There is so much to unpack in both the vocal performance and the staging – the familiar theme of “angel vs. devil” enjoys a refresh, with the two pairs of dancers standing out on their own and interacting beautifully with the other as well. The vocals are strong, beautiful, and distinct enough to carry over the dichotomy of good & evil in the song, playing off each other but remaining well-defined. In fact, the sharp, operatic note at the beginning, paired with the rough, growling voice after reminds me of symphonic metal, which enjoyed similar dichotomies and was popular in the early noughties. Overall, this could have possibly gone so wrong, but instead it worked out perfectly.

Tom:

This song shows that you can pack A LOT into 3 minutes. Since the get go, Azerbaijan have been a powerhouse in Eurovision and this can be seen here, in their debut year. From a personal point of view, I much prefer male opera to female opera musically so this already ticks some boxes and bypasses other Eurovision greats like Elina Nechayeva and Malena Ernman. It may not be the most polished performance but it certainly packs a punch. The staging is a little bit of a mess – but that worked and fit into the carnage of a show that was 2008. So, all in all, I quite enjoy this entry. It’s definitely not in my top 10 entries of that year but it would probably fall somewhere in the rest of the top 20 for sure. Opera + power + flames = a rather successful debut.

Wiv:

This is among my very favorite debut entries! There was never any doubt that Azerbaijan was in it to win it when they joined the Eurovision family, and in their first attempt they definitely went all in. I love the way they incorporated elements of the traditional mugham in this operatic rock entry. As I’m a rock chick at heart, and I also appreciate entries that sound like their country, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I really like “Day After Day”. The video is a piece of art, and the way they managed to translate it into the stage performance was really impressive. I’ve heard people say that ‘the whole thing is a shouty mess’, and though I can see where they’re coming from I disagree with them 100%. The song is about the fight between good and evil, which really shines through both in the voices, music and performance. Out of the 13 Eurovision entries that’s come from Azerbaijan I really like five, and this is one of them. My favorite is “Skeletons”, and I also like “Hold Me”, “Hour of the Wolf” and “When the Music Dies” a lot. And I will never understand how they managed to win with “Running Scared”, as it’s one of my bottom three Azeri entries! (“Miracle” and “X My Heart” are the other two…)

What is your opinion on “Day after day”? Which team member do you agree with?  Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates!

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