Eurovision 2018 Review: Azerbaijan – Aisel – X My Heart

Azerbaijan sticks to international pop formula with Aisel
It seems that Azerbaijan lost the Eurovision plot slightly in recent years. They set the bar extremely high for themselves though with six consecutive top 10 finishes in their first years (of which 5 times top 5, including one victory). In the past four years they have not made it into top 10 again, but as they always reach the final at least, they do better than most other countries. The Azeri team has been shopping internationally for songwriters again. They selected pop star Aisel with the track ‘X My Heart’ (Cross My Heart), written by Dimitris Kontopoulos, Tim Bran and Sandra Bjurman.

Greek composer Kontopoulos reached Eurovision success with Ukraine (Ani Lorak’s 2nd place with ‘Shady Lady’ in 2008) and Russia (Sergey Lazarev’s ‘You’re The Only One’ reached 3rd place in 2016) and made Azerbaijan runner up in 2013 with Farid Mammadov’s ‘Hold Me’. Last year he wrote Greece’s uninspired cliche dance song ‘This Is Love’ which reach 19th place. The good news is that ‘X My Heart’ definitely is a step up from said entry last year. The production is more contemporary and refined, the chorus more powerful and memorable and I am counting on Aisel to deliver a better vocal performance too.

Having said that, the lyrics of ‘X My Heart’ seem a bit silly at some points too and it might be too Eurovision by the numbers to truly stand out. I don’t think Azerbaijan will match their successes of the first years with this, but it is another respectable entry that will most likely land them a spot in the final again. I can already imagine this infectious chorus going off both on the Eurovision stage and in the Euro clubs!

Review of Semi Final Performance:
The organization of the contest chose Aisel from Azerbaijan to open the contest with her uptempo pop tune ‘X My Heart’. The Azeri beauty normally performs jazz music, but the song she ended up singing on stage is Lisbon is tailormade for Eurovision. We hear a light electronic production, a catchy enough chorus, some empty lyrics and pretty decent vocal work. The mostly white staging with a simple choreography and some projections looks nice enough. Still I felt nothing watching her show and listening to the tune. The same seems to have happened to the rest of Europe as her decent, but predictable song and show was not enough to get her into the final. It turned out Azerbaijan finished in the 11th spot in the semi final.


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