After Azerbaijan’s travails at Eurovision 2022, you’d be forgiven for thinking that broadcaster Ictimai would be running scared, that the music had died, or that their chances had faded to black.

But according to Azerbaijan’s Eurovision Head of Delegation Vasif Mammadov’s statement to 12Xal, the Caucasus nation is confident that from 200 submitted entries, a song placing priority on local composers can be found.

“Our goal and desire this year is to play the music of a local composer at the competition,” said Mammadov. “Based on the selection process, if there are local and foreign songs that meet the same criteria, we will give priority to the local song. That is, we really want the music of the Azerbaijani composer to be played at the competition. Let’s show that we also have talented composers. I hope this will be an incentive for the coming years.”

Mammadov added that they expect to release the name of the internally selected artist as well as further song details by the end of January 2023.

With the exception of their debut year at Eurovision in 2008, Azerbaijan has relied on some form of internal selection or other to choose their artist and song.

In December 2022, Ictimai issued an open call for submissions with a deadline of December 31, 2022, and Mammadov stated that they had received more than 200 entries, mostly from foreign composers.

It was also revealed that the final composition would be produced by Eldar Gasimov, one half of Azerbaijan’s Ell & Nikki who won Eurovision 2011 with “Running Scared.”

Gasimov told Ictimai at the time, “Since the life-changing year 2011, I have been connected to Eurovision with many ties, and first of all, with unforgettable pleasant emotions. Now, the time (and the invitation:) has come to return to the ESC family again, in a professional sense. I accepted @ictimaitv.official offer to become the music producer for Azerbaijani delegation at Eurovision 2023. Honestly, there are a lot of things on my mind and in my heart, but there’s one thing I’m sure of – I do want to put my soul into this business again.”

Azerbaijan debuted at Eurovision 2008 and were early darlings of the contest, winning in 2011, coming in 2nd in 2013 and 3rd in 2009. However, form has been a bit shaky of late, with a non-qualification in 2018, and two relatively low placements in 2021 and 2022 at 20th and 16th, respectively.

Additionally, Azerbaijan’s Eurovision 2022 entry “Fade to Black” by Nadir Rustamli holds the dubious distinction of being the only qualifier for the Grand Final in Eurovision history to have received zero points from the televote in the Semi-Finals.

With the change of voting rules for the Semi-Finals at Eurovision 2023, Ictimai will have been made aware that their country is one likely to need a change of direction.

Do #YOU agree that Azerbaijan should prefer local artists and writers over foreign ones? Or given their televote issues in 2022, do #YOU think that choice should be secondary? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forum and Discord.

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