NF Review: Albania sends Hersiana Matmuja!

Oh hey there! So Festival i Këngës has just finished and I’m very happy to tell you guys that Herciana Matmuja will represent Albania in Copenhagen in May! It was a really interesting national final, but what did we make of the show and indeed, the decision? Well keep reading to find out!

Congratulations Herciana!
Congratulations Herciana!

We hadn’t heard the songs when we published our review article for the national final, so our expectations were yet to be set until Boxing Day when the whole show kicked off. Albania’s national final, although being dragged out across three days straight, isn’t the longest national final process of the season *ahem* Lithuania *ahem* but we still got to enjoy all sixteen songs, along with a few duets with previous Eurovision artists during the semi-finals. The show tonight, luckily, lasted for just over two hours and look-alikes featured quite heavily throughout the show (more on that later), but in the end, we found the artist: Herciana Matmuja with her song “Zemërimi i një nate”!

So just like our previous review article, we’ll give you a review of both the show and indeed the song itself, before asking the big question: how will the song do in Eurovision?

The song:

Like I’ve said many a time before, we hadn’t heard the songs until the actual show, but when “Zemërimi i një nate” came on as the opening song in tonight’s show, it was an interesting choice, but the crowd seemed to like it! The intro is a bit long, but I guess it prepares you for what’s to come. The song is very much an ethnic ballad sort of song, with some pop elements being included in various points of the song.

The fact that the song is in Albanian almost emphasises the ethnicity of the song, as it shows that a song can work if it stays in the original language. The performance will need some work definitely – we don’t want to see her just standing on the stage doing hand movements (we’ve had way too much of that), we need some more working of the stage! She also may need to work more on her hair and outfit too.. making that outfit a bit more colourful may help her stand out from the crowd in the semi-final, given she’s in a relatively bleak one. Otherwise, the song is actually really good and Mariya Yaremchuk is officially not out of the woods yet.

The show:

The national final itself wasn’t bad at all! Unfortunately, there wasn’t any interpreter for the livestream so we couldn’t understand what the hosts were saying during those times of banter, but at least one would have a basic idea of the script, as there’s only so much one can say about the finalists and how to vote etc. The show did provide some breaks for the viewers to relax/go to the toilet/make a cup of tea or whatever, but we were kept on track with the show as it moved along pretty fast, but the faster the better eh?

If you were following our Twitter feed during the show, I was providing my opinions on the songs, styles, and anything else that was majorly noticeable – for example, the fact that there were a few look-alikes among the candidates – Lindi Islami looked an awful lot like Marco Mengoni, whereas Marjeta Billo seemed to be resembling Chiara. It basically summed up what we thought about the national final.. oh, and the beginning of the interval act with the backing vocalists – I swear those dancers were Cezar’s backing dancers from Malmö!

The interval act – well, the multiple interval acts – were also pretty nice to watch/listen to. Firstly, the aforementioned performance from the backing vocalists avec semi-naked dancers was a pleasure to watch.. for many different reasons, if you know what I mean! As well as them, we were also treated to Elhaida Dani, a previous participant of FiK and the winner of the Voice of Italy, who sang a song that could have easily gone to Copenhagen regardless because it was such a better song than most of the others and then singing three other songs which were so well received by the audience, that it confirms she should have gone to the Contest.. and she’s only 20! And of course, the most talked about “special guest” of the night – Emmelie de Forest had to turn up and sing “Hunter and Prey” and quickly followed by the quickest interview ever and yet ANOTHER performance of  “Only Teardrops” (no surprise there) – it was probably the most anticipated performance of the night, as well as the only time we heard English in the show altogether.. Good on you Emmelie, even though you lip-synced!

For the presentation of the show, the show is quite old-fashioned to pick the song for Eurovision, but it’s proved to be quite popular for it’s selection..if it was up to me, I’d probably decided to use more modern contests such as  Kënga Magjike or Top Fest, as they have more of an audience. Other than that, I would say that Albania have done really well with putting on a show! The main performance area may need a bit more creativity, but I’d say they’ve done pretty good, so well done RTSH! Just shorten the show down please in future..and make sure the jury isn’t completely over the age of 50!

At Eurovision:

Along with Ukraine, the fact that they have three months to work on the song could both help and hinder their chances. It helps them because they can iron out any mistakes or imperfections they have with the song, but it could hinder the song too, because if they work on the song too much, it might make the song unrecognisable to what it was like in FiK and you don’t want to lose that ethnic feel to the song.

When it comes to Eurovision, however, because the song is very “different” to what normally is sent to the Contest, I have a feeling that they don’t have a great chance of qualifying if they’re drawn in a strong semi-final. The song would probably be considered too alternative by Europe and as much as it pains me to say it, I can already see this staying in the semi-final, but if they work on the song, I may be able to eat my words! But what do the fans think about Herciana?

Your views:

What do you think about Albania's choice?
What do you think about Albania’s choice?

Seth Wezendonk from the Netherlands: Great choice from Albania! I hope they keep it in Albanian though..

Peter Kleeman from Germany: It’s a very strange pick from Albania I think.

Orestis Moschonas from Greece: Albania will be out of the final FOR SURE!

Elvir Peleševic from Bosnia and Herzegovina: Albania is just horrible after first listening – this song is going nowhere.

So the fans also think that it won’t be doing too well either in Copenhagen, but the opinions of the fans could change as time goes on and they become more familiar with the song. Here at ESC Views, we like the song, but what about you? Do you like Herciana and her song or do you think another song should have won the festival? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

6 thoughts on “NF Review: Albania sends Hersiana Matmuja!”

  1. I became a fan of Albania’s entries in 2012 after Rona Nishliu’s “Suus” came fifth in Baku, Azerbaijan. Controversial, yes, but something about the song gripped me! I must admit that last year Bledar Sejko and Adrian Lulgjuraj’s “Identitet” was a bit heavy on the ears at first but the performance in the semi-finals had me impressed. And the song grew on me… but it didn’t qualify.

    I think this entry due for 2014 is somewhere inbetween the last two entries Albania came up with, and again I think it’ll be a grower on me… but will all viewers of the 2014 semi-final have already heard the song and given it time to grow on them? No. So… I’m not overly hopeful for them, as much as I like the language and see potential in the song!

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