AUSTRALIA’S inclusion this year’s Eurovision Song Contest as a wildcard entry may have caused quite a commotion within competition circles and Europe as whole, but many of this year’s contestants are actually hoping for an Australian victory.
One of them is one of this year’s favourites: Azerbaijan’s entrant Elnur Huseynov.
Speaking to the Star Observer, he gushed at the mention of Australia’s representative Guy Sebastian, and said he followed Sebastian’s career for years.
“He showed me some of his performances on YouTube, including his time on [Australian] Idol and I was really shocked like, ‘oh my god, really? Wow’.
“I thought this guy is really good so I started to follow his career from then. It’s a huge deal for Australia that he’s here but just as an artist outside of the competition I have a great detail of respect for him.
“I was very happy to find out the news about Australia but it was a bit of a surprise. You’ve got such a nice song this year and a great artist so you actually have a great chance of winning… and if you win, I would be happy for Guy and Australia.”
Huseynov’s song Hour of the Wolf was — for Eurovision fanatics — unsurprisingly written by Swedish songwriters, one of which was responsible for 2011’s Azerbaijani entry Running Scared by Ell and Nikki.
Huseynov’s song has been tipped as another Eurovision winner for the eastern European nation.
Despite this, he still found that he had a deep affinity for the song.
“I do have a great connection with the metaphor of the wolf in the song because I see wolves as an advanced dog and I absolutely love dogs, they have to be one of the best animals in the world,” Huseynov said.
“I do see that I have something inside of me that could also be a part of a wolf, like strength and determination so I really relate to this animal.
“I checked my star signs quite recently and according to some American Indian astrology, my closest animal match is in fact a wolf, which just really surprised me.”
A recent trip to an animal refuge saw Huseynov come to face-to-face with his song’s namesake.
“I was in Amsterdam and went to an animal refuge there and saw some wolves there,” he said.
“I wanted to get really close to them but the people there told me not to get too close as they could be aggressive.
“I just went up to one and started playing with him and he was licking me just like a normal dog. We were just so close and playing and all the time I was thinking, ‘this is a wolf, I can’t believe this’. I would have never have expected it.”
Performance is half of the key to a winning Eurovision song and as most keen competition followers will know, Azerbaijan has certainly become renowned for their show-stopping stage acts.
This year is no different, with an intimate dance duo performing alongside Huseynov — who made sure he had some form of creative input into it.
“I was very lucky enough to meet my choreographer who is very experienced at Eurovision… So when we sat down to come up with ideas and brainstorm, I already found that we have many things in common,” Huseynov said.
“After our first rehearsal I picked out parts that I thought worked and things that didn’t, and to my surprise our choreographer thought the same.
“We both pointed out the ideas that we thought were weakest or the best and that really made me feel that what happens on stage isn’t just the choreographer’s work, but mine too.”
During the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, along with the music, global attention was focused squarely on Azerbaijan’s human rights record — especially LGBTI and women’s rights. Loreen from Sweden and Norway’s Tooji made headlines for standing up for the maligned communities.
Huseynov’s song has won the support of many LGBTI-skewed Eurovision websites and blogs, with many awarding him the competition on song alone.
In addition, Huseynov is more than happy to embrace and acknowledge his LGBTI fans for their support.
“I’m very pleased and very happy and thank my gay and lesbian fans so much,” he said.
“I have friends who are gay, transgendered and lesbian and to me, regardless of their sexuality, they’re just great people for me to care about.
“For me [and my approach to sexuality], it should really just be about people as people and love for everyone. It’s really amazing that I have gay fans and I really appreciate it and thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
You can watch Azerbaijan compete in semi-final two that airs live on May 22 AEST at 5am on SBS or watch the delayed broadcast later in the evening.