Some of the returning artists to this year’s Eurovision decided to go in a completely different direction from their previous entry (See: Australia). Others took what worked and reshaped it in ways to freshen it up for 2021 (See: Lithuania). And still others took the basic template of their 2020 song and pretty much just reused it (See: Estonia.)
Azerbaijan decided to take that last route by photocopying “Cleopatra” and slapped a new historical figure on top of it.
“Mata Hari” hits all of the same beats as “Cleopatra,” right down to the deep chanting part. Efendi even finds a way to work in her rolling Rs when she gets to namecheck Cleopatra in the pre-chorus. It’s like a sequel to a movie that tries to recreate what made the first one work, but it can’t quite recapture the surprises.
Now, how much that matters to a general audience who only tunes into Eurovision on a Saturday in May is debatable. I would assume most people aren’t intimately familiar with all of the Song Contest entries before they watch. So maybe “Mata Hari” will sound fresh and Efendi will come off as a proper Eurovision diva.
But as someone who fully dives into national final season and listens to entries I don’t even like over and over again so I can write about them, I find “Mata Hari” so devoid of originality that I can’t take it seriously at all.