So after Ukraine picked Mariya Yaremchuk to go to Copenhagen on Saturday, it’s time to see who will be selecting their artist for Denmark in less than five months time. So which countries will be in the spotlight this week?
Like our NF preview last week and indeed, for every upcoming NF preview, we’ll take on this challenge like so – we’ll preview each national final that will take place each week, giving you our opinions on a few of the songs and then predict how well we think said songs will do, and of course predict who will take the title in the National Final and represent their country in Denmark in no more than 134 days time. We’ll also refer back to our Possible Artists articles (where possible), contrasting the artists to our personal choices and finally, put them in our Eurovision context – where we predict how well they do in the actual competition. Once the artist is chosen, we’ll write a review article of the happenings of said national final and tell you guys how well we think the winner will do at the actual Contest. Of course, your views are always appreciated, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of the national finals and who’ll take the title! So, without further ado…
This week’s calendar:
28th December 2013 – Albanian National Final (Festival i Këngës)
The most notable national final of the year, Festival i Këngës is indeed Albania’s national final.. and let it not be said that the competitors have really strong songs, so the Albanian public have their work cut our for them! Keeping with tradition, the final is being held at the end of December a few days after Christmas (let the holiday pass first RTSH, eesh!) at 9:45 pm CET – 8:45 pm for us who are in the GMT area.. and like most years, it will probably run for an unidentified number of hours – they have to cut that show down! The national final is seeing a couple of returning artists, but it’s up to their song and their vocals to seal their fate – and that goes for everyone! Of course, along with Ukraine with the idea of selecting the song in December, this gives the Albanians five months to work on the song like Mikhail Nekrasov worked on ‘Gravity’ to create the final masterpiece for the Queen that is Zlata Ognevich. However, you can’t find the songs on Youtube at the time this is posted, (*cry*) but we’ll talk about the artists instead, which you can find here thanks to the lovely people at EscToday – thanks a million guys! Here’s what we think!
Reviews and Predictions:
Rory – Well because the songs haven’t been released, there’s not much to talk about in terms of the national final, but I’ll do my best to give my opinion on what we already know – which hopefully is a great deal!
Looking at the participants list, I can see that there’s definitely an overuse of the letter ‘X’ – seriously people, lay of the x! As for the participants themselves, the fact that some artists are returning doesn’t mean that they’ll win the festival again – anyone remember Kejsi Tola? She won the whole thing in 2009 but only came fourth in the last edition twelve months ago.. Mostly, it will depend on the vocals of the contestants, so these guy should bloody well be practising for this, because this could be the start of an international career for a good few of them.. well not Frederic and Luiz! They’ve had a shot at it.. and Eurovision has gotten them some fan following across the continent, but now it’s someone else’s turn!
As for who I think will take the title; well, it depends once again on the vocals on the night and indeed the song itself. But if I was to put a name on it – even though we haven’t heard the songs yet – I would probably go for Venera Lumani and her co-singer Lindi Islami. I’ve heard Venera before when she was taking part in the Albanian version of The Voice and to tell you, I’m not surprised she won – her version of “River Deep, Mountain High” is really amazing! Other than her and Lindi, I would also back Luiz Ejilli. Even though he’s a returning, if his song, ‘Kthehu’, is anything like “Zjarr e ftohtë”, I’ll be happy with him going to Copenhagen, but if he goes, he’ll have to move more than he did in Athens.. and maybe they’ll make a better music video! Good luck to them all and hopefully the best song will win.. if they release the songs by then!
James – I’m disappointed but not entirely surprised that the individual entries aren’t available on the internet as of yet, although that in itself makes me more likely to tune into the show prior to Saturday night, if only out of curiosity! As a result, as I’m sure Rory has already mentioned, all we have to go on are a list of names and unfathomable song titles.
From this list of names, however, one stands out a mile above the rest for me: Blerina Braka. She’s a bit of a star in her homeland – in the sense that she has a number of successful contemporary musical creations to her name already, something which isn’t always guaranteed with FiK participants. Indeed, the last two years, Blerina has taken part in the Kenga Magjike festival, which generally attracts the best of the best when it comes to Albanian professional music.
So, what can we expect from her? Looking back into her repertoire, it seems that – as may be assumed to be interlinked with her blonde bombshell appearance – her forte is mainly uptempo dance music, often in collaboration with rappers who look like mafia bosses. Very typical in the Albanian music scene. However, she has also been a purveyor of those enchanting guitar-led ballads with an abundance of “dashuri” in the lyrics – very “been-there, done-that” but nice nevertheless. Bearing in mind this IS Festivali I Këngës, I’s guess that’s the kind of song our Blerina will be singing, however, I’m personally still hoping for a fantastically catchy slice of dancepop like “Zogu Ti“!
Other than that, Venera Lumani may be one to watch, given that her previous experience on “The Voice” will mean she’s fresh in the public conscience. And of course, the returning contestants from 2006 and 2007 – I’m not personally expecting much from either of them, but you never know…
One of our earlier posts, James compiled a Possible Artists article for our choices for Albania, in which our primary artist was Maya Aliçkay, with Aurela Gaçe’s sister Blerta closely following behind as our secondary choice. Sadly, this time, none of our choices were selected to take part in FiK, but if they did, they would definitely be opening themselves to a larger audience and therefore, gaining a larger fan following. But this year just won’t be the time they’ll be doing all this.. oh well, there’s always next year, eh?
Given that once again, all the songs are in Albanian, there’ll be a large chance that when one of those songs is selected to represent Albania, the language won’t change. The last time something like that was done, it was Aurela back in 2011 – and even then, the song wasn’t completely changed to English, which is probably a good thing. Recently, a pattern has started to emerge with Albania’s qualification; they fail to qualify every other year and since ‘Identitet’ didn’t qualify in Malmö, could this mean that Albania will qualify for the final in Denmark? Well, one would sincerely hope so. Albania have given us some absolute choons over the years, from ‘It’s All About You‘ to ‘Suus‘, the most unlikely song you’d think would be an awesome track.
Because we have no idea what the songs sound like, it’s incredibly hard to tell whether Albania would be faced with qualification or not. But if we believe the pattern of qualification, it’s possible that Albania will qualify for the final – that being if Albania decide to put on a spectacular show, as they always do. When it comes to the vocals, it’ll be anyone’s guess but if the song is right, the vocals will be right too. Let’s just hope the best song wins.. and what do you think about Albania? Could they keep up their track record?
Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I’m not normally interested in the Albanian national final, but if Frederic Ndoci is in it, how couldn’t I watch it? I loved ‘Hear My Plea’ and hopefully, his song in Festival i Kenges will be just as good!
Ilias Kozantinos from Cyprus: I hope Albania does better this year than it did last year. They deserve a good placing by now.. maybe even a victory! Let’s hope these guys will be like that in the live show…
Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: I am quite disappointed, I wish for Albania to use Kenga Magjike as selection for Eurovision, for there are many better artists than Festivali I Këngës. I still hope for a great song from Albania!
So once again, the fans are backing who they know and sticking with the returning artists, but it can’t be denied that expectations are high for Albania to do well next year in Denmark.. but who will go on behalf of them? Well, we’ll find out on the 28th of December. In the meantime, what do you think of the choices RTSH have made for FiK? Who do you think will win the national final and how do you think they’ll do in Copenhagen? Be sure to tell us what you think below!