FiK, Yeah! Herciana Matmuja wins in Albania
There we have it, people…the second song of the Eurovision 2014 roster, and the last new entry we’re likely to hear in 2013. Live from the Pallati i Kongreseve in Tirana, the 52nd annual Festivali i Këngës brought together 16 songs, all fighting for national glory and a ticket to Copenhagen.
Despite a number of very strong entries, there could only be one winner. After the seven jurors gave their points, Herciana (“Hersi”) Matmuja claimed the victory with “Zemërimi i një nate”, or “One Night’s Anger”. Picking up three top scores from the judges, she led by 24 points over her nearest rival, “The Voice of Albania” alum Klodian Kaçani.
The studio version can be heard here.
The 23-year-old singer from Kukës, near the border with Kosovo, has tried her hand at the Festivali i Këngës a number of times. First appearing in the Youth Division of the 2006 Festival with “Ah Jetë, Oh Jetë“, she made her debut in the adult division of the contest at the 49th FiK (held in 2010, in preparation for the 2011 contest). She came in 11th place with “Me cilin rri ti dashuri“. The next year, she returned with “Aty ku më le“, coming in joint-last place with nul points. Undeterred, she came back with a vengeance last year, coming in third with “Kush ta dha këtë emër?”
As I mentioned in my previous piece, Albanian entries often go through some form of adaptation before they hit the international stage. (Compare the original version of 2011’s FiK winner, “Kenga Ime“, with its Eurovision adaptation, “Feel the Passion“.) Here are a few reasons why:
- Like Italy’s Sanremo festival, winning songs are chosen in the context of national tastes, rather than “what would sound good for Eurovision”. What would work in Tirana might not be a great fit for a Danish audience, and some tweaks in the arrangement might be in the cards.
- Also like Sanremo, the Festivali i Këngës is one of only a few National Finals where an orchestra plays live. For all we know, the official studio version of this song might be more synth-based arrangement that wouldn’t have been conducive to the FiK format.
- “Zemërimi i një nate” clocked in at over 3 minutes and thirty seconds on the Festivali i Këngës stage, and will have to be trimmed.
- Language choice is also up in the air…will Hersi keep it in Albanian (as was the case in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2013), go bilingual (as was done for 2007 and 2011), or swap it to English (or even Italian, as Hersi has been educated in Rome?).
Qualification for Albania has been somewhat hit-or-miss in recent years, alternating between making it to the Finals and not. With the withdrawal of Croatia and Turkey (two of Albania’s biggest point-sources), and the continued lack of RTK (the Kosovar broadcaster) in the voting mix, it’s hard to tell how this will place. But we’ve got a lot of ground to cover over the next few months, with dozens of songs still to come in.