Azerbaijan participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, making their second appearance at the contest. Arash and Aysel Teymurzadeh represented Azerbaijan at the contest as a duo after Teymurzadeh was internally selected by the Azeri broadcaster, İctimai Televiziya və Radio Yayımları Şirkəti (İTV). Initially Arash was the author of the selected song and was later invited to perform it alongside Teymurzadeh.
A multi-artist national final, similar to last year's Land of Fire, was planned to be held by İTV. However, after the quality of the entries was deemed poor, İTV decided to hold an internal selection for the artist that will represent Azerbaijan in the 2009 contest.
On 17 January it was revealed that Aysel Teymurzadeh, a nineteen-year-old R&B singer, has been selected to represent Azerbaijan at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russia. She was selected by a seven-member jury appointed by İTV. A press conference was held by İTV later on in the day, Teymurzadeh was presented as the Azerbaijani representative. On 5 February it was announced that the same jury unanimously chose the song Always written by and performed as a duet with Iranian-Swedish singer and entertainer Arash among 30 proposed songs sent to an open call.
Aysel and Arash in the Green Room during the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow.
As part of their promo tour, Aysel Teymurzadeh and Arash visited Slovenia, Romania and Sweden before heading to Moscow for their final rehearsals.
The international team behind AySel & Arash included experts from Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, UK and Azerbaijan itself. The outfits Aysel Teymurzadeh and Arash wore on stage were designed by the Swedish couturier Lars Wallin.
During the rehearsals in Moscow, the Azerbaijan representatives were visited by the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Azerbaijan's entry was regarded as a favourite and had been predicted by many as being likely to finish in the top five in the final.
Since Azerbaijan is not one of the "Big Four" nor the host of the 2009 contest, it had to compete in one of the two semi-finals. According to the draw for semi-finals, Azerbaijan competed in Semi-final 2 on May 14. The country was seeded 11th in the order of performance. During the Final on May 16, the Azerbaijani duo finished third with 207 points. Televoters awarded the Azerbaijani entry 2nd place, while the juries ranked Azerbaijan 8th. The combined result was the third place.
Azerbaijani entry received votes from 34 out of 41 countries of the Contest, Azerbaijan excluded. Azerbaijan's third place is considered a great success for the country, which participated in the contest only for the second time.
AySel & Arash became the winners of the 4th Annual ESC Radio Awards in the category of the Best Group.
After the finish of Eurovision 2009, some Belarusian media reported that unknown people allegedly paid Belarusian students to vote for Azerbaijan, and supposedly even transported them to the Belarusian-Lithuanian border in 10 buses. The cost of whole action is claimed to be about 55 million roubles. They voted for Azerbaijan with the help of Belarusian SIM cards and then received Lithuanian cards to do the same. “Always” received high votes from Belarus (10) and Lithuania (5), being even ahead of Russia in Belarus. The head of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Belarus, which numbers tens of thousands of people, Natik Baghirov said that he did not know anything about the action, and that the song received support from the entire Europe, not just Belarus and Lithuania, while Sergey Malinovsky, Belorussian jury member of the Eurovision, openly doubted that such vote irregularity could take place, and believed that the Azerbaijani song received public support because of its catchy melody and good performance. However, European Radio for Belarus had an unofficial confirmation from the Minsk auto parks that they do it every year for various countries.
Following the protests of Azerbaijani officials, Eurovision’s Russian hosts removed from the video of the Armenian performers the image of the monument We Are Our Mountains, which is located in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. In response, the edited image was used as a background by Armenian Public Television during the announcement of the voting results in Armenia.
State surveillance and questioning of voters
In August 2009 a number of Azerbaijanis who had voted for Armenia's entry during the contest were called in for questioning at the Ministry of National Security in Baku, during which they were accused of being "unpatriotic" and "a potential security threat". One of those questioned later said that he was told by his interrogators that they had the names and addresses of 43 Azerbaijanis who had voted for Armenia.