When Ell and Nikki from Azerbaijan ended their performance in Dusseldorf hugged in front of millions of viewers, a deafening roar was heard in the arena. This was probably a clue for the upcoming as the duo finished the night with the Eurovision trophy in their hands. This meant that the third contest of the decade will be hosted on the other side of Europe, in the land of fire, Azerbaijan.
In order to host the shows, the Baku crystal hall was announced as the contest’s venue. The venue was chosen out of two other venues. The venue itself was yet to be built when it was announced as the official venue. Although the venue held a capacity of twenty-three thousand viewers inside it, only sixteen thousand seats were in use. The contest was set to take place between the 22nd and 26th of May with the Semi-Finals taking place on the 22nd and the 24th and the Grand Final taking place on the 26th. In order to host the shows, three hosts were chosen. Winner of the 2011’s contest Eldar Gasimov was joined by Azerbaijani TV presenters Leyla Aliyeva and Nargiz Birk-Petersen to host the three shows.
That year’s slogan was “Light your fire”. The slogan was inspired by Azerbaijan’s nickname “The land of fire”. The postcards started by showing the artist and its on-stage team moments before going on stage followed by a transition in the form of flames with the country’s flag and the country’s name handwritten next to it. The postcard continued by showing a different side of Azerbaijan for each country. Each of these videos started with “Land of […]” with a different aspect of Azerbaijan and its culture in every postcard. The postcards served as a tool to promote the country and its tourism to a wider audience.
The participation rate for 2012 stands for forty-two countries following the return of Montenegro to the contest and the withdrawal of Armenia and Poland. This record is lower in one country from the highest participation rate which was achieved in 2011 and 2008. The contest was originally set for forty-three participating countries. Yet, with the surprising withdrawal of Armenia in March 2012 the list was shortened to forty-two countries. The withdrawal came following some anti-Armenian statements on behalf of the Azeri president in February that year. Poland’s withdrawal was due to the hosting of the UEFA football championship along with Ukraine who did participate that year.
Each Semi-Final consisted of eighteen countries. In resemblance with the two previous years, the top ten highest-ranking countries qualified to the Grand Final. A low qualification rate was marked among the former Yugoslav countries with only three out of the six participating countries qualifying. A higher rate was marked for the former USSR countries with five out of the eight participating countries qualifying to the final. The Scandinavian countries held an impressing qualification rate that year with all of the countries with the exception of Finland qualifying to the final.
In similarity with previous editions, Baku saw the comeback of multiple former participating artists: Well-known Serbian singer and song-writer Zeljko Joksimovic would make his comeback to the contest after representing Serbia and Montenegro in 2004, composing the Bosnian entry in 2006 and the Serbian entry in 2008 as well as hosting the 2008’s edition of the contest. Slovenian representative for 2009, Martina Majerle came back as a backing vocalist for Slovenia. Macedonian singer Kaliopi came back after her participation the pre-qualifying round in 1996. Icelandic singer Jonsi would come back after representing his country in 2004. This time he will be joined by Greta Salome. The Irish Duo Jedward came back for the second time in a row.
Languages played a major role in that edition of the contest. Although the majority of the songs were sung in English with some of them being translated to English before the performance in Baku like the Icelandic entry “Never Forget” which was originally named “Mundu Eftir Mer” (Icelandic for “Remember me”), multiple languages were used: For the first time since 2008, the Albanian entry was sung fully in Albanian. After two consecutive years having its entry fully or partially in Greek, Greece sent a song which was sung fully in English. The song’s melody had Greek notes in it. The Romanian entry “Zaleilah” was sung in both English and Spanish. For the second time in the contest’s history, Finland sent an entry fully in Swedish. This was also the first time the Swedish language was used since 1998. Russia’s entry “Party For Everybody” was sung in both English in Udmurt. This was the first time Udmurt was used in an entry. For the first time since its debut, Georgia used Georgian for a part of its entry. The record-breaking entry for that edition was the Bulgarian entry “Love Unlimited” which was performed by Sofi Marinova. The entry was sung in Bulgarian. Yet, it contained not less than ten other languages in it as the chorus contained words in Greek, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Romani, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, Azeri, and Turkish.
Halfway through the voting process, the winner was already known to all. With 372 points Sweden managed to get their first victory since 1999. Loreen and her entry “Euphoria” grabbed the trophy with a margin of 113 points between them and runner-up Russia who got 259 points. Sweden got eighteen sets of 12 points while runner-up Russia only managed to get the Ukrainian 12 points. Second runner up Serbia who got 214 points, got four sets of 12 points out of which three came from former Yugoslav countries. Host country Azerbaijan along with Albania closed the top 5 with 4th and 5th position accordingly. It is also the first time since 2004 where the host country got ranked in the top 5 in the Grand Final. Euphoria became a popular Eurovision entry among the fans and outside the Eurovision world. It remains a fans favourite to our days.
Watch the voting process here:
Watch the winning entry here:
The Eurovision in Baku was the very first Eurovision I watched. Since then I haven’t left the world of Eurovision for a day. Which memories do you have from Baku? Share them with us in the comments section!