Azerbaijan - Phill Beames

On 8th March Azerbaijan revealed their internally selected choice for this years Eurovision entry – 27 year old Chingiz Mustafayev singing “Truth” written by Bulgarian-Austrian composer Borislav Milanov of Symphonix International.

The ethnically Azeri singer was born in Moscow and moved to the smaller Azeri city of Qazax in north-west of the country when he was 6, later moving to Baku with his mother and sister at age 13. Musical from a young age he won the Azerbaijani reality music show New Star (a version of Idol) at age 16. In 2013 he represented Azerbaijan at the New Wave music competition in Latvia (later won in 2017 by DoReDos). In 2016 he entered The Voice Ukraine and was part of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s team until he was eliminated in a battle round.

Since then he has continued to release music with a distinctive flamenco sound with his band Palmas and more recently as a solo artist.

He was shortlisted late last year by Ictimai TV along with Tofiq Haciyev, Leman Dadasheva and Samira Efendi as the countries representative.

Local and international composers submitted songs for consideration up until Feb 7. After this all shortlisted artists recorded demos of a selection of submitted songs with Chingiz and Truth emerging the victors. Since then the song has evolved as more Azeri elements were added to the sound. Truth is about a dishonest, toxic relationship and exploring the response to betrayal and was co-written with Trey Campbell (Equinox), Bo J, Hostess and Chingiz.

Milanov is a Eurovision veteran who has been part of the songwriting team for Poli Genova’s “If Love Was a Crime”, Equinox’s “Bones”, Kristian Kostov’s “Beautiful Mess”, Tijana Bogićević’s “In Too Deep”, Jana Burčeska’s “Dance Alone” and Cezar Sampson’s “Nobody But You”. Last year he got engaged to former Georgian entrant Tamara Gachechiladze.

Of the choice of Chingiz, Milanov admits he was uncomfortable at first "Initially, I was a little nervous about how Chingiz would perform the song, since he comes from a different musical background. But meeting him totally changed my mind. He's so passionate about music and his own culture. We even added some unique elements of traditional Azerbaijani music, which worked brilliantly to make the song an authentic fusion of Azerbaijan and the West".

The video clip was filmed and produced in Kyiv by Forside production and Front Pictures studio (Eurovision famous for creating the tree backdrop for Jamala’s winning entry) and features a shirtless Chingiz singing to the camera. Not sure what the rest of the film clip has to do with the rest of the song but its great eye candy.