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Azerbaijan’s Aysel and Arash have delivered what may be the finest rehearsal of Eurovision thus far. Their performance of Always was spectacularly staged, with the LCD screen featuring erupting volcanoes, pulsating red lights and non-stop fire. Aysel looked stunning in a glittery white dress, and the duo didn’t miss a note or a step—not even when Aysel ran up a metal staircase in heels (Greece’s Sakis Rouvas wasn’t wearing heels and he still managed to stumble during today’s rehearsal). Their solid performance has made them one of Wiwi’s favorites ahead of the semi-finals.

Why Azerbaijan May Win:

(1) Arash is already a star throughout Europe. His self-titled album went gold in Germany, Russia, Slovenia and Greece, and his single Boro Boro went gold in Sweden. His videos have also appeared on MTV in more than 20 countries.

(2) Arash grew up in Sweden. He’ll likely grab votes there in addition to the countries listed in (1). Add those to the votes Azerbaijan will get from the former Soviet Republics and they are guaranteed a Top 10 finish.

(3) This duo speaks English as well as any entry in the field. The lyrics sound completely natural, so look for votes to come in from the UK and Ireland too.

(4) This is the only memorable duet in the entire field (Armenia’s sister act is just bizarre).

(5) The staging is fantastic. There is a lot of variation—from fiery reds to mellow blues—and Aysel and Arash do a great job of using the entire stage. Plus it builds slowly. You aren’t even aware that there are back-up dancers at the beginning.

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Setting Europe on fire

Setting Europe on fire

When asked recently if they would bring some Azeri heat to Moscow, Azerbaijan’s sultry duo warned fans to pack their fire extinguishers: “We will set the stage on fire in every way you can imagine it, that I can promise,” Arash told web site Eurovision Song Contest Today. And AySel’s thoughts? “The fire of our passion will make all Europe hot.” (Read the full interview here.)

It’s not just hot air. Arash and AySel have explosive chemistry. Their song Always feels completely sincere. When Arash sings, “I believe I’m addicted to you, In your eyes I see dreams coming true,” you really do think he’s a psycho-obsessed-stalker who needs to hit it or quit it (Note to single ladies: if some dude says he’s addicted to you, you need to run). Both of them speak fantastic English, and unlike, say, Romania, you can understand everything they say. AySel, 20, spent the 2005-2006 school year at Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas. So she can probably sing in Spanish, too.

Anway, AySel and Arash have been campaigning hard in Bucharest for the past two days. On April 29–today–they’ll be performing at a Eurovision Preview Party in Sweden. If you’re there, please send reports on how they perform live. (Click here to see how their single Always is doing on the iTunes charts)

Here’s their video. Note the flames! What do you think? Is their passion real? Do you think Azerbaijan can win its first ESC title?

Is AySel Eurovision’s sexiest woman? Click here to find out.

Is Arash Eurovision’s sexiest man? Click here to find out.

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