Azerbaijan’s Eurovision 2011 Entry

Azerbaijan was one of the more disorganized countries picking a song this year. They held a series to select a singer (one singer, most of us assumed), moved the dates of the final a couple of times, and in the end, the Azeri jury decided to send two competitors. After finding singers, they waited until pretty much the last minute to announce the song. But, no matter, it’s here at last.  Eldar Qasimov and Nigar Camal have been rebranded as Ell & Nikki Eldar and Nigar Ell & Nikki and their entry is called “Running Scared.”

It’s a puppy-love ballad duet, oh so in love but oh so scared. The song strikes me as very young. Thinking back to my own childhood, it’s a “slow dance” song they might have played at a school dance when I was 13 (but NOT by age 15 because we would have outgrown it by then).

[Having worked to develop surveys in tandem with 42 other countries, half of them European, I have experienced firsthand the pain that comes from trying to compare education systems across countries. I’m sorry, but I don’t know if school dances are permitted in secondary education systems in other countries.]

While listening to “Running Scared,” Chris and I were discussing that young teens were the likely target audience, but we also wondered if today’s youth will respond to it.  At this point, our 2-year-old son piped up “I like this one.”  So there you go, the youth vote.  As far as the grown-up vote, Ell & Nikki Eldar and Nigar Ell & Nikki are appealing enough in the recorded version of the song. It remains to be seen how the duo will do live, since neither inspired 100% confidence in the Azeri selection process–Nigar hit some sour notes in the Azeri national final, and Eldar’s version of “Milim” paled compared to the original.  Additionally, I don’t find the tune of “Running Scared” particularly memorable, just the sentiment behind it.

Since first entering the contest in 2008, Azerbaijan has made the finals every year, and every year finished in the top 10.  This is one of the weaker entries they’ve put forward, but underestimate them at your peril.