Category Archives: Albania

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. Read the rest of this entry

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. Read the rest of this entry

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. Read the rest of this entry

Preview Video Mania!

Like I said a few days ago, now that most of the 2012 Eurovision entries have been released to the public, their official preview videos tend to follow nipping at their heels.  Now that the official Eurovision YouTube channel is getting in gear, we’re beginning to see tons of these new promotional clips from all over the continent, with many more to follow.  Let’s take a little audiovisual jaunt through Europe, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Albania has decided: Rona Nishliu to Baku!

After a marathon 20-song final and jury vote, we have a winner!  Representing Albania in 2012 (and hoping for a return to the Finals) will be Rona Nishliu with “Suus”.  After a jury-led vote, Rona took a commanding lead, grabbing five sets of maximum scores from the seven-member jury.  She also took the jury’s award for “best interpretation”.  Here is her dramatic performance from the semifinal:

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Sneak Preview: Albanian National Final

After two semifinals and a 50th-anniversary retrospective, the final night of Albania’s Festivali i Këngës is scheduled for Thursday night.  The winner (and, therefore, song for Baku) will be selected by a 100% jury vote from the twenty songs in the final.  However, as is seemingly customary for Albania in recent years, there are often drastic changes from what wins in Tirana and what gets to the ESC.  Changes in arrangement, timing, and language are not uncommon…what you see is not necessarily what you get! Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 1)

Like many Eurovision fans and fanatics (myself included), the period between the end of May and the beginning of December is often a melancholy bit of time while we wait for news on the next year’s edition and constantly re-hash the events of the past.  For me, this is the perfect time to look back on the songs that didn’t quite make it to Düsseldorf this year; some of these also-rans are just as entertaining or endearing as the tunes that made the journey to the main event.  Out of the forty-three nations that sent songs to Germany this year, thirty-four of them had national selections (and the rest, like France, Belarus, Turkey, et cetera, were internal selections made behind closed doors).  Needless to say, there’s a lot of ground to cover!  So, starting alphabetically…

Albania: For me, the Albanian Preselection (or Festivali i Këngës) is one of the more underrated events of the Eurovision year.  It occurs early in the ESC cycle (generally falling around Boxing Day), and it tends to involve both young, fresh faces as well as veteran performers.  This year’s FiK winner was Aurela Gaçe’s “Kënga Ime”, which eventually became the epic, aquiline “Feel the Passion“.  However, in second place this year was the lovely duet “Ende ka shpresë (There is Still Hope)”, written and performed by Alban Skenderaj and Miriam Cani.  

I don’t know if this song would have been translated into English (as so many other Albanian entries have been over the past few years), but if it had, it could have possibly given Azerbaijan’s Ell and Nikki a run for their money.  
(And, for the record, another personal favorite of mine was Kamela Islamaj’s “Jetova per te dy (I Lived for Us)”, which came in 10th place in the FiK.  While it might not have gone over as well in the ESC as “Ende ka shpresë”, I absolutely love Kamela’s soulful, bluesy, voice.)
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Follow Up Single Time, Part 2

As the weeks progress, more of Eurovision’s Class of 2011 are continuing on with their careers and releasing their next singles.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Dino Merlin has followed up his 6th-place finish in Germany with his new single, “Undo”.  Despite the title, the song is in Bosnian, unlike his ESC-entry “Love in Rewind”.  Dino is actively touring this summer, and will likely release his next album in early 2012.

Albania’s preeminent diva, Aurela Gaçe, has collaborated with local rapper MC Kresha to bring the world their new single, “Cash”.   It might not harness Aurela’s epic vocal prowess in the same way that “Kënga Ime/Feel the Passion” did in Düsseldorf, but it’s still a fun listen, and any video that has echoes of “Tron” gets a thumbs-up in my book:

Norway’s Stella Mwangi, who shockingly missed out on this year’s Final with the peppy, Afro-inspired “Haba Haba”, has picked herself up, dusted herself off, and is continuing on with her career.   She released her new album, “Kinanda”, on June 10th, and has already released the video of “Haba Haba”‘s follow-up, “Lookie Lookie”:

Finally (for now, at least), 2011’s Dutch representatives 3Js have also released a new single in the past few days (although sharp-eared Eurofans will recognize “De Stroom” as the runner-up in this year’s National Selection). 

More new versions and videos released!

As expected, Albania has revamped their entry for Düsseldorf.  What was once Aurela Gaçe’s “Kënga Ime” is now “Feel the Passion”:

I feel like I’m in the minority here, but I loved Aurela’s song the first time I heard it, and this revamp only solidifies my position.  Aurela is this year’s diva, and whether she wins or not, she is making this her show.  (It’s funny, though; I was talking with my friend Slavi yesterday before we saw the new video or heard the translation, and I told him how I imagined that the clip would somehow involve Aurela standing on top of a mountain or other high point, a wind machine fluttering around some epic dress, and an eagle soaring.  I should have placed money on it!)

On the other end of the Eurovision world (geographically speaking), the Icelandic representatives have released the English-language version of “Aftur Heim“, “Coming Home”.

It seems that “Aftur Heim” was, in fact, originally written with English lyrics, with the text eventually refined by the wife of the late Sigurjón Brink.  The song was performed in Icelandic for the National Final, as per the network’s rules, but the door was always open to have it performed in English.  We all know the story of Sigurjón and his tragic passing by now, but hearing this song in a language that I can understand just makes the whole thing even more powerful.  “Coming Home” is performed admirably, and is truly a celebration of Sjónni’s life and work.

Also releasing an official video clip is San Marino’s Senit, with her ballad “Stand By”:

(Sharp-eyed ESC fans might recognize some of the same landscapes and landmarks as seen in MiOdio’s video for “Complice“.  Then again, considering that San Marino is only about 24 square miles (61 sq km), that’s not too difficult.)

Only slightly bigger, at 121 square miles (316 sq km), is Malta, which coincidentally also released their official preview video today for Glen Vella’s “One Life”:

(It appears that half of Malta’s population took part in this year’s National Selection, and the other half appears in Glen’s video!)

Finally, Croatia’s new preview video has been released: Daria Kinzer’s “Lahor” “Break a Leg” “Celebrate”!

I’m sure more videos are coming down the pipeline within the next few days, as the official “Heads of Delegation” meeting is happening now in Düsseldorf.  We’ll also have the official draw for the running order tomorrow afternoon (or, for me, morning!).  Even though Preselection Season is officially over, there’s still lots to do before the First Semifinal on May 10th!

It’s Aurela Gaçe for Albania!

Well, the 2010 Festivali i Këngës has just wrapped up, and with a commanding victory, Albania has decided that their representative in Düsseldorf will be Aurela Gaçe, with her song “Kënga Ime (My Song)”.  The 36-year old Aurela is no newcomer to the Albanian music scene; she won the FiK in 1999 and 2001, soon before her nation took part in Eurovision.  Albania, in the past, has taken advantage of the long time frame between their National Selection and Eurovision itself to edit, remix, and even translate their song into English (which shouldn’t be difficult, as Aurela currently resides in New York), so it’s hard to say what Albania’s final version will look and sound like.  As it now stands, the song is over the 3 minute time length that Eurovision rules enforce, so something will have to change from the original version to the one we’ll see on stage in Germany.

(I’d normally post the video of the song here, but it seems that most of the versions of “Kënga Ime” that were on YouTube or DailyMotion have either been removed or have disabled embedding…but here’s a link!)

What do you think?  How does it stack up to last year’s entry, “Nuk Mundem Pa Ty/It’s All About You” from the lovely Juliana Pasha?  It came in 16th place in Oslo’s final, after a 6th place semifinal finish.  Do you think Aurela will be able to best Juliana’s benchmark, or even the national-record 7th place, set by Anjeza Shahini’s “The Image of You” back in 2004?  I like the drama that Aurela brings to the song (not to mention her incredibly strong vocal prowess), and I’m still looking for lyrics to connect to the powerful melody.  Let’s see what the future holds for this one!