On 6 October, İctimai TV announced their selection process for Eurovision 2011. In this preliminary phase of the national selection, İctimai chose 100 hopefuls to participate in the process. The broadcaster called for participants that must stand out for their "beautiful voice, dance ability and stage culture". On 19 October, İctimai TV announced that they had received 120 submissions for national selection. One of the candidates is 20-year-old Ilgara Kazimova, daughter of the renowned Azerbaijani pop singer Aygun Kazimova. The candidates also included previous years' applicants: Azad Shabanov, Aynishan Quliyeva, teenage quartet Next, Chingiz Mustafayev, Arzum, and Seyran Ismayilkhanov who resides in Germany, as well as Elnur Hüseynov who represented Azerbaijan at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 as part of a duo having been placed eighth. Other first-time contestants are Khayyam Nisanov, Nurlan Novrasli, Khayyam Mustafazadeh, Khana Hasanova, Sabina Babayeva, Diana Hajiyeva, Sevinj Aghashirinova, and others. Submissions came from abroad, including Nigar Jamal and Nicola Barclay from the United Kingdom, Tarik Yigit from Turkey, Sultan Mashadiyev and Tahir Guliyev from Russia and Gunay Alakbarova from Finland.
In November 2010, İctimai TV released more information on their selection. 77 people would be fighting for the ticket to Eurovision in Germany. 11 participants would appear on air every week. By the end of each week the jurors and the audience would select the only participant who would advance to the final, where seven singers would compete. The candidates would perform a foreign song on Monday, an Azerbaijani song on Tuesday, a Eurovision entry on Wednesday, a song of their choice on Thursday, and on Friday the winner would be determined.
On 6 December, Nicola Barclay, who came second in the third semi-final, has been granted a place in the final as a wildcard. The jury decided that Nicola deserves another chance as they were "amazed" by her vocal skills. Similarly on 24 December, Eldar Gasimov was granted the wildcard and won a right to compete in the final. In the final, seventh semi-final, Nigar Jamal received the third and final wildcard, also granting her a place in the final which would now involve 10 people and not 7, as planned originally.
On 4 January, representative of Azerbaijan's official Eurovision broadcaster Ictimai TV Natig Abdullayev announced changes to the original plan of holding the final among winners of the seven semi-finals. According to him, from 10 January to 14 January, 10 winners of the semi-finals would compete in an intermediate selection phase which would determine 5 finalists. Of these 5 finalists, one would be chosen by the jury in February to represent Azerbaijan in Eurovision. These changes and her illness have forced Scottish singer Nicola Barclay to pull out of the competition.
On 11 January, the organising committee of Eurovision Azerbaijan announced a call for submissions for the song that would be performed by the Azerbaijani representative. Both national and foreign composers were invited to submit their songs, and one song would be chosen by an internal committee. As of 25 January, the organising committee had received 15 submissions, coming mostly from Azerbaijan, as well as from Spain, Greece, Romania, and Australia.
Azerbaijan competed under number 18 in the second half of the first semi-final of the contest, on 10 May, and qualified for the final. They went on to win it with 221 points. A later review of the split voting showed that the juries placed Azerbaijan second (behind Italy), but that the televoting carried the song through to first.
With their entry only receiving 5,14 points per country, Azerbaijan holds the record of the lowest average score for a winning song under the current voting system (in place since 1975). Since the introduction of semi-finals and of the split jury-televoting system, they are also the first winner not to achieve first place in their semi-final (which was won by Greece), and not winning according to the juries' ranking (which placed Italy first).