Initial Review: “Fade to Black” by Nadir Rustamli (Azerbaijan)

While Armenia made the Eurovision world wait until the Friday after the delegations met in Turin to release their song, Azerbaijan decided to give themselves the weekend as well, meaning that it was over a week after the national finals ended before we heard “Fade to Black”. This is a tactic various countries have used in the past, and there’s no real evidence it does much more than irritate the fandom who just want to complete their playlists and start listening.

There are four big ballads sung by men in this year’s semi-finals — three of them are in the second one (Australia, Poland, Azerbaijan). Fortunately, they don’t sound too alike, although it will be interesting to see which one(s) the juries favour. Nadir Rustamli has a raspy voice which can go from a serenade to a soaring roar at will, which is perfect for the specific emotional charge of this dramatic song about a break-up. The lyrics are a bit awkward at times (“it hurts so fast / when love goes bad”) but otherwise it’s easy to follow and the music has an epic feel to it.

Despite a dominant period from their debut in 2008 to 2013 in which they finished in top 10 each year (and won in 2011), Azerbaijan have only managed the top 10 once in the last seven contests. They are reliable qualifiers though, and I don’t think this entry should have too much trouble finding its way to the final. Once there, I suspect we’re going to have a situation where there are too many emotional men about, and they won’t all fit in the top 10 — at this stage, I’m not sure on which side of the equation Rustamli will find himself.