Azerbaijan’s Samira Efendi competes in tonight’s Eurovision final

The Eurovision Song Contest is back after a year’s enforced absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty three countries will compete in Saturday’s televised final, among them Azerbaijan.

Representing the Turkic republic is 30-year-old singer Samira Efendi, who impressed with her live performance of Mata Hari at the first semi-final on Tuesday, booking her spot in tonight’s grand final in the process.

Sung entirely in English, the seductively uplifting song about Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan and spy Mata Hari has themes of female power. Samira explained the inspired behind the song and its lyrics.

“It is very important to talk about strong women in order to remind our beautiful ladies that despite the fact that we still live in a world full of prejudices, a woman can do anything and female power cannot be compared with anything.

“And if suddenly you do not have enough inspiration now, let the stories of strong women in history become the source of that very charge of energy with which you can cope with everything and achieve even bigger success,” said Samira.

She faces strong competition in tonight’s final, with the entrants for Italy (2-1) and France (3-1) the bookmakers’ favourite to win. Samira’s odds of 150-1 are, however, better than the UK odds of 250-1, according to Paddy Power.

Hoping to feature in the upper part of the Eurovision results table this year is James Newman, who co-wrote ‘Waiting All Night’ – a huge hit for Rudimental in 2013. The Brit award winner will be singing catchy pop song Embers on Saturday, which Newman co-wrote.

Azerbaijan made their debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, and they’ve qualified for every final since then except 2018. They won the Contest in  2011 with ‘Running Scared’ performed by Ell & Nikki.

The UK last won Eurovision in 1997, when Katrina and the Waves became the runway winners at the final with their song ‘Love Shine a Light’, scoring a whopping 227 points.

The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final will take place on Saturday 22 May 2021 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Coverage on BBC 1 starts at 8pm.


Main image, top, of Samira Efendi for Eurovision 2020, photo © Farhad Ali / İctimai TV