A Word on “Ethnic” music
So, you may have noticed in my last post that I was somewhat hostile in my choice of words towards this year’s Azerbaijani entry. The reason for that is because of last year’s viewer comments from people claiming to be from Azerbaijan. Many of these people whined about the jury not giving more points to “ethnic” or “folksy” songs like Turkey or Azerbaijan, and instead awarded them to “generic, American-style pop songs like France and the UK.” For starters, I believe the juries awarded the most points to Norway, Iceland, and Turkey, first. Secondly, if any countries were true to themselves, it were France and the UK. France sent a song, in French and in a distinctly French, cabaret style. No other country is more closely tied with cabaret music than France, and there’s no mistaking that S’il Fallait le Fair came from France. Furthermore, musical theatre started in London. It became popular in London. Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, probably the most famous and successful musical composer is himself a Briton. Not only that, their singer came from: their own country! My Time was incredibly British as it was written in the same musical theatre style that made London’s West End so famous.
Conversely, Azerbaijan sent a generic pop song written by a Swede. Not that Always is a bad song, but adding a couple of tribal-esque drum beats does not an ethno-folk song make. Azerbaijan probably had the most “American” sounding pop song in the competition in 2009. If Azerbaijan wanted to send something more ethnic sounding, maybe they should incorporate Mugham style into their entries. Or, they can stick to sending crazy, unique entries like they did in 2008 that are unlike anything else (to their credit, Elnur and Samir did incorporate some of the throat trills indicative to Mugham).
Moral of the lesson, Azerbaijan has three choices: 1) sending something truly expressive of their culture (look at the Moldovan, French, Portuguese, or even, gasp!, the Armenian (the very same one that supposedly got forty people called in for questioning) entries from this past Contest in Moscow). 2) go back to sending original, unique entries (look at Bulgaria, Sweden, and Slovenia from this year). Or 3) continue to send generic pop songs that will extend your success, but not whine about other countries doing the same thing (especially when those countries aren’t even doing it!)
By the way, the juries gave “fewer” points to Azerbaijan this year because Arash was not that great of a singer during the Contest and the song was unoriginal.