When it comes to punching above their Eurovision weight, few countries have been as successful as Azerbaijan. They joined the Eurovision family in 2008, and until last year, had never failed to reach the final, winning it in 2011 and making the top five for five editions in a row. Their fortunes have dipped since that spectacular start, and last year they failed to make the final for the first time, but this year’s contender has the potential to return Azerbaijan to the top table at Eurovision.
Chingiz Mustafayev, who was born in Moscow, won the Azerbaijani edition of Pop Idol in 2007 at the age of 16, and is a well-known performer in Azerbaijan. More significantly, he is heading to Tel Aviv with a competitive song. Truth is an intriguing alternative pop song with an edgy aspect that should stand out from the crowd, and the early signs from rehearsals were positive. The staging has been handled by the production team responsible for the 2017 Azerbaijani entry, and they’ve gone for a striking neon-coloured backdrop and an eye-catching show that features robot arms, laser projections and a little drama, all designed to stick in the memory of juries and television audiences.
Besides the quality of the song, the Azerbaijani entry could also have an advantage with its position in the running order. Chingiz is set to sing last in the second semi-final, giving him maximum opportunity to make an impression on juries. All of which helps to explain why Truth has been gaining ground in the betting markets over the last few days, with bookmakers taking no chances. Betfred has Azerbaijan priced up at the 12/1 mark and that price may well contract further over the course of the week, as Chingiz looks a good bet to progress from Thursday’s second semi. And, given the nation’s Eurovision track record, many punters will be watching this one closely.