Preview: Final of Festivali i Këngës
For some, the week or so between Christmas and the New Year is a time of quiet reflection, figuring out the goals and resolutions for the twelve months to come. For others, it means finishing up the copious leftovers from the holiday meal and wondering how long it will take the neighbors to take down their fairy lights and inflatable reindeer. For those in the Eurovision community, however, there’s one added tradition, nestled lovingly between the Christmas crackers and the New Year’s champagne: Albania’s Festivali i Këngës. A tradition nearly as old as the ESC itself (but only used as a National Selection since the country’s debut in 2004), the 52nd Festivali i Këngës (literally, “Festival of Song”) brings together both musical veterans and fresh faces in a multi-day event that the entire country tunes in for.
After two presentation shows held earlier this week, Saturday will mark the Final of the competition, where sixteen songs will vie for the victory (and a ticket to Copenhagen). For viewers without access to RTSH on their televisions (which is, let’s face it, most of us), live streams will be available at eurovision.tv, the network’s live stream, and via this link. The show begins at 20:45 CET.
The performers are:
- Herciana Matmuja – “Zemërimi i një nate” (One night’s anger)
- Besiana Mehmeti and Shkodran Tolaj – “Jam larg” (I’m far away)
- Luiz Ejlli – “Kthehu” (Come back)
- Frederik Ndoci – “Një ditë shprese” (One hopeful day)
- NA – “Jehona” (Echo)
- Klodian Kaçani – “Me ty” (With you)
- Venera Lumani and Lindi Islami – “Natë e pare” (First night)
- Blerina Braka – “Mikja ime” (My friend)
- Xhejsi Jorgaqi – “Ëndërrat janë ëndërra” (Dreams are dreams)
- Xhejn & Enxhi Kumrija – “Kur qielli qan” (When the sky cries)
- Lynx – “Princesha” (The Princess)
- Marjeta Billo – “Ti mungon” (You’re missing)
- Sajmir Braho – “Grua” (Wife)
- Rezarta Smaja – “Në zemër” (In the heart)
- Edmond Mancaku and Entela Zhula – “Vetëm për ty” (Only for you)
- Renis Gjoka – “Mjegulla” (Fog)
There are two Eurovision veterans among the contestants: Luiz Ejlli (2006) and Frederik Ndoci (2007), neither of whom qualified to the Final. (Incidentally, no Albanian male singer has ever made it out of a Semifinal, going 0 for 3, while the ladies are 6 for 7.)
Songs chosen from Festivali i Këngës often undergo changes between their selection and their presentation on the international stage. As FiK is one of the few national finals with a full orchestra, many songs will be rearranged in order to fit Eurovision’s recorded-music only format, as well as its three-minute time constraint. Furthermore, six of Albania’s ten entries were adapted (at least partially) into English for the international competition. While we may have a winner tomorrow night, we might not know its arrangement until as late as March…patience will be a virtue.
But until then, sit back, finish up some of those Christmas cookies that are sitting in the kitchen, and enjoy the show!