A Winner in Albania: Adrian & Bledar’s “Identitet”
A marathon of a National Selection took place in Tirana’s Pallati i Kongreseve tonight, as Albania became the next nation to select their song for the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö. After three and a half hours worth of performances, commercials, retrospectives, and voting, we finally have a winner, and therefore the fifth song to add to ESC 2013’s lineup.
Congratulations to Adrian Lulgjuraj and Bledar Sejko for their ethno-rock entry “Identitet (Identity)”, which won a decisive victory over sixteen other competitors in the Final, including such Eurovision alums as Anjeza Shahini (2004), Kejsi Tola (2009), Sokol Marsi (lyricst of 2011’s “Kënge Ime/Feel the Passion“) and Florent Boshnjaku (composer of 2012’s “Suus“)! Adrian and Bledar will be the first male voices heard from Albania since 2007, when Frederic Ndoci failed to take “Hear My Plea” out of the Semifinal stage.
Despite only having participated in Eurovision since 2004, Albania’s Festivali i Këngës has been a part of the nation’s cultural landscape for the past 51 years. The tradition continued tonight in Tirana as the finalists took the stage, all in the hopes of winning one of their nation’s most prestigious musical prizes. Much like Italy’s Festival di Sanremo, while a Eurovision participant is chosen through the event, the emphasis is really much more focused on choosing the best song by their own cultural standards, with the ESC as a bit of an afterthought. Songs in the FiK can stretch beyond Eurovision’s three-minute limit, incorporate a live orchestra, and can only be performed in Albanian. By the time these songs reach the international stage in May, they are often re-arranged, translated, truncated, and geared towards a more Pan-European audience. It’s tough to say if and how “Identitet” will change by the time songs have to be solidified in March, but at the very least, we’re hearing something different from Albania than what we’ve been used to in recent years. And I, for one, rather like it.