Our friends in Albania haven’t been at the Eurovision game all that long, but some of their songs have made a lasting impression. On this National Day for the land of Skanderbeg, we take a look at some of the 13 songs they’ve sent.
First, we must start with the début entry, from 2004. The song itself had a cutting-edge video, made in what looked like a large lock-up garage in a better part of Tirana. Anjeza Shahini was the performer, and managed to come up with the goods in Istanbul. She finished fourth in the single semi-final, and managed a very credible seventh place in the Saturday night Grand Final. Here’s that performance.
As you may know, Radio Televizioni Shqiptar uses the Festivali i Këngës (FiK) to select the song. You might be disappointed to know that Këngës is not a place, but merely means song. FiK has been going since 1962, so is ideal as a ready-made selection show. The last edition of FiK was won by Eneda Tarifa with the song ‘Përrallë’, translated into English as ‘Fairytale’. A song with this title did well for Norway once, so the omens seemed good. Sadly, the people of Europe didn’t agree, and she failed to make it out of the semi-final.
Next, we redress the balance a little, with a male singer. They’ve been thin on the ground over the years, but I’ve picked ‘Zjarr e ftohtë’ from 2006 because it’s in Albanian and also because of the outfits adopted by some of Luiz’s cohorts. They should have enough to pull in the votes, but maybe in these days of English taking over, something in Albanian wasn’t quite what people had in mind as a winner.
In 2009, Kejsi Tola won the honour at FiK with Më merr në ëndërr. Having learned a lesson from sticking to English, she reworked her song as ‘Carry me in your dreams’ in Moscow. This fared much better, finishing seventh in its semi-final and getting through to the final. Kejsi was potentially upstaged by her backing dancers, with green gimp suits never being the same again. And as for dancing twins, this song has everything.
Finally, there’s only one song to finish with, and this is Albania’s best ever finish in the 13 attempts. The song had a title in Latin, thus avoiding the English or Albanian quandary, although the song was itself in Albanian. And what a song. It had the works – from a vocal perspective. High notes, passion, crying, everything. By now, you’ll have guessed the song is ‘Suus’ by Rona Nishliu. She made the stage her own, and drew you in in her three minutes on stage. She came second to the Babushki in her semi-final, and managed to finish fifth in the Grand Final, only four points behind Azerbaijan. So turn up your volume and enjoy her song.
But what is your favourite Albanian song through the years? Is it one of these, or something else that I may be saving for a future article? Tell us what you think.
Author: John Stanton
Source: Eurovision Ireland, Youtube