“Festivali i Këngës 58” – Review

Welcome to my review of  “Festivali i Këngës 58”. The songs are available right here

“Festivali i Këngës 58” is Albania’s National Selection for Eurovision 2020. 20 artists will compete for the right to represent Albania in Eurovision 2020.
The festival will be held on the 19,20,22 of December 2019.

fik 2020 colors

The songs will be presented in ABC order of the artists first name:

#1. Albërie Hadërgjonaj –  “Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua” (Eng: Where to find someone to love)

Albërie Hadërgjonaj

Albërie Hadërgjonaj is 45 years old Albanian singer. She rose to fame at the age of 12, where she won an award in a Yoguslavian competition. She has participated in the well-known festival “Kënga Magjike” on some occasions. One of them was in 2011, where she was awarded for “Kontributi në Kënga Magjike 2011” (Eng: Contribution to the Magic Song 2011). In 2015, she competed again in “Kënga Magjike”. She ended in 4th place and received “Çmimi I Kritikës” (The Price of Criticism):

In “Festivali i Këngës 58”, she will perform “Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua” (Where to find someone to love):

The song is opened with a gentle piano playing. At the beginning, Albërie sings in a low key, and sometimes almost whispers. In the pre-chorus, she raises her key and voice. After the chorus, there is a beautiful instrumental section where we can hear the orchestra. Afterward, the song transforms into a rock ballad and she uses hoarse voice. More musical instruments are being added, where the dominant between them is bagpipes. The dong has a traditional structure of an Albanian ballad that is part of  “Festivali i Këngës”. However, the song may be a little old-fashioned for Eurovision 2020.

#2. Aldo Bardhi – “Melodi”
Aldo Bardhi.JPG

Aldo Bardhi is an Albanian singer who became famous after taking part in the second season of  “X-Factor Albania” that occurred in 2012-2013. Aldo was mentored by Soni Malaj (that competed last year in “Festivali i Këngës 57”). He ended as a runner-up, where the winner was no one else than Arilena Ara who will compete against him in “Festivali i Këngës 58”

Aldo Bardhi will perform the song “Melodi”:

It’s an up-tempo electro Pop song that stands out in the variety of the songs. The majority of the lyrics are in Albanian, but there are some English words especially in the chorus. The beginning resembles the 1980’s style. The beat of the song integrates well with the whole package. The song contains computer-processed vocals that should be changed before the live show.

#3. Arilena Ara – “Shaj” (Eng: Swear)

Arilena Ara

Arilena Ara is 21 yeard old Albanian singer and recording artist. She rose to fame in 2012, when taking part in the second season of  “X-Factor Albania” that occurred in 2012-2013. Arilena was the winner of the season. In 2016, she competed in “Kënga Magjike 2016″ and ended in 3rd place in the final. Moreover, she was awarded “Best Ballad” of the “Kënga Magjike 2016″:

Arilena Ara will perform “Shaj” (Swear):

It is opened with a captivating violin playing. Arilena sings with her warm and sable voice. Thereafter, the melody is based on piano while Arilena sings powerfully. Her vocal range is impressive. The pre-bridge is exciting: It is an instrumental section where the backing vocalists sings “Shaj” with guitar and piano that is replaced with a violin solo. In the end, she is screaming “Shaj”. This is a song that you imagine works perfectly on stage. The final outcome is beautiful and powerful Rock – Soul ballad that has all the drama and catchiness that needed for Eurovision.

#4. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen” (Eng: She left me unseen)

Bojken Lako

Bojken Lako is 44 years old Albanian Rock singer, musician, and pianist.  He is considered one of the pioneers of Albanian Rock Music. Bojken is a familiar character in the Eurovision Related artists’ since he has participated in “Festivali i Këngës” in different attempts. He has participated in “Festivali I Këngës” in the years: 1999, 2001, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018. Moreover, in some other editions of the festival, Lako was the musical producer of the festival, such as in 2010.

Here is his performance from last year edition:

In “Festivali i Këngës 58″ he will perform “Malaseen” (She left me unseen):

The beginning of the song contains a repetitive beat that preceded the singer singing. Like always, Bojken sings in a low key. In some parts of the songs, he talks instead of singing. The melody contains also flute playing alongside with drums and piano. The song is too long for Eurovision, so it will be revamped if needed. In my opinion, the melody is stronger than singing. The pre-chorus part may be described as a little bit aggressive. The combination of the different parts of the song is sometimes foreign and unnatural.

#5. Devis Xherahu – “Bisedoj me serenatën” (Talking with serenade)

Devis Xherahu.JPG

Devis Xherahu is 43 years old Albanian singer. Devis Xherahu has appeared in various festivals where he had a lot of success as well as in various shows. In 1993 he won the first prize at the Albanian Serenade Festival. In 1997, he emigrated to Greece, where he continues a musical career. In 2011, he participated in “Kënga Magjike” where he performed his song “Akoma se besoj”  and was awarded the best ballad:

Devis Xherahu will perform “Bisedoj me serenatën” (Talking with serenade):

It’s a dated Balkan ballad. The melody is based on guitars and piano. As promised in the title of the song, the song talks about serenades, and therefore it has Latin elements. The peak of the song arrives only at 3:00, which is too late to impress the listeners. At the peak, the melody blends into the violin. The ending of the song is totally a serenade. The song has it’s uniqueness, but for me, it is just not enough.

#6. Eli Fara & Stresi – “Bohem” (Eng: Boheme)

Eli Fara&Stresi

Eli Fara is 52 years old Albanian Folk and Serenata singer. She is one of the best-known Albanian singers. She received the honor of being named “Merited Artist of Albania

Eli Fara.jpg

In 2012, she participated in “Kënga Magjike”, where she performed the song “Romale”, together with GRUPI MANGAVATU:

Arkimed Lushaj known as Stresi is 33 years old Rap and Hip-Hop Albanian singer. He began his career as a singer in 2008. Along his career, Stresi has received a lot of love from the Albanian audience. His videos on YouTube have millions of views.

StReSi

He has participated in “Kënga Magjike”  the years 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018. In his attempts in 2010 and 2015, he was awarded for “Best Hip-Hop”:

In “Festivali i Këngës 58”, Eli Fara and Stresi will perform “Bohem“:

The song is opened with a classical guitar playing. In the beginning, Eli sings in the genres of Folk- Country- Serenata. When Stresi part starts, it transforms into Rap. Afterward, the song gets more traditional vibes. Latin elements include also in this song. The two singers almost don’t sing together. From a specific point, Eli mainly sings “Jam E Jam E Jam E Jam” and part of the chorus. Unfortunately, the combination of the two singers doesn’t serve the song. It is like a battle between modern and traditional, where there are no winners at all.

#7. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana” (Eng: With all)

Elvana Gjata.JPG

Elvana Gjata is 32 years old Albanian singer, songwriter, actress, model, and businesswoman. She is regarded as Albanian diva and one of the leading figures in the regional music industry. So far, she has released 4 studio albums, the first in 2007 and the latter in 2018.

Through her career, Elvana has participated in a variety of Albanian music festivals. She has participated in “Kënga Magjike” in the years 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009. In 2007, she came 3rd in the final, while in 2009 she was the runner-up

In 2003, she participated in “Festivali i Këngës” when she performed “Prane Teje”.

Elavana is considered one of the most successful singers in Albania. Her songs tend to achieve millions of views within months on YouTube.

Elvana Gjata will perform “Me tana” (Eng: With all):

The song starts with the acapella of Elvana. One can think that the song is a ballad, but after few seconds it transforms into an up-tempo Oriental Pop. The singer fulfills well her vocal abilities. The song has a  “Fuego”/”She Got Me” style. It may and even must include dancers on the stage. Some clapping and a catchy beat build the chorus. I would revamp the song, so the chorus will include bass or electric guitar. It’s a good song, but I’m not sure how original it is. The Genre is familiar with the kind of fons that Turkey and Greece tend to send for Eurovision in the previous decade (2000-2009).  Nevertheless, I’m sure that she will end in Top 3 in the festival and even more: Elvana is a contender to win “Festivali i Këngës 58”.

 

#8. Era Rusi – “Eja Merre” (Come and Get It)

Era Rusi.JPG

Era Rusi is 34 years old Albanian singer. Her main Genres are Pop Rock, Soul, and Dance. She has participated in “Festivali i Këngës” in the years: 2005 and 2008. Moreover, she competed in “Kënga Magjike” in the years: 2008,2010,2011,2012,2016 and 2018. In her 2010 attempt, Era was awarded for best vocal but ended in 16th place. In her 2011 attempt, she was awarded for “Television Price”. In 2012, she came 16th and was awarded for “Çmimi Çesk Zadeja“.

In “Festivali i Këngës 58″, she will perform “Eja Merre” (Come and Get It):

It’s an oriental Pop Soul song. The song stands out with his rhythm and the pronouncing of words and sounds. The melody is based on guitar on the verses, while the chorus is based on an electronic rhythmic beat. The structure of the song lifts it up. Era improves how versatile she is in her singing. The atmosphere of the song is spiritual, nature and forest. It’s one of the most special songs o the festival in the current edition.

#9.Gena – “Shqiponja e lirë” (Eng: Free Eagle)

Gena

GENA is the nickname of Briken Lito, 48 yeard old Albanian singer. He is a cultivator of light Albanian popular music and recently started following in the footsteps of foreign Rap and Hip-Hop singers. So far, he has released 16 studio albums.

In “Festivali i Këngës 58”, he will perform “Shqiponja e lirë” (Eng: Free Eagle):

It’s an old fashioned Balkan Rock song. I wouldn’t define the song as a ballad, but rather up-tempo. The title of the song reminds an eagle which is one of Albania national symbols. The melody is based on piano, drums, and an electronic beat. In the chorus, backing vocals are being added to the song while singing the “OOOO” part. There is an instrumental section of Plucked string instruments in the middle of the song. The atmosphere reminds the football stadium. Ironically, the best part is the instrumental section and “OOOO” part, which make us doubt the real existence of the song as a singing unit.

 

#10. Kamela Islamaj – “Më ngjyros” (Eng: Colour Me)

Kamela Islamaj

Kamela Islamaj is 32 years old Rock, Pop and R&B singer. She rose to fame, after participating in an Albanian Talents show: “Ethet e së premtes mbrëma”. In December 2009, she participated in “Festivali i Këngës 48”, where she performed “Gjëra të thjeshta“(Eng: Simple Things) which led her to finish 3rd in the final:

In 2010, she participated in “Festivali i Këngës 49” and performed “Jetova për ty” which led her to end in 10th place in the final. A year after, she participated in “Festivali i Këngës 50” and performed  “Mbi yje” and finished in 6th place in the final, which means she has participated in “Festivali i Këngës” 3 times in a row and all of them qualified for the final.

In “Festivali i Këngës 58”, Kamela Islamaj will perform “Më ngjyros” (Eng: Colour Me):

It’s a James Bond dark Rock Soul song. The song is modern and Kamela‘s voice fits the song flawlessly.  She decorates her voice in a sophisticated way. The melody starts with piano playing. The interpretation is American in some way, while the Albanian language emphasizes the beauty of music. On one hand, It’s a  radio-friendly song. On the other hand, it’s a typical pub’s song. The last minuted os the song includes saxophone playing which blends the song into the Jazz & Blues Genres. For me. ut’s the best song that Kamela has ever sung in the “Festivali i Këngës”. Moreover, it may be the dark horse that no one gamble on.

 

#11. Kanita Suma – “Ankth” (Anxiety)

Kanita Suma

Kanita Suma is 18 years old North Macedonian – Albanian singer. In December 2016, Kanita launched her single “Don’t Let Me Go” which became very successful not only in Albania, but also in Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, and Greece. In all of the countries, the song was in the Top 10 songs of the Shazam app:

Kanita Suma will perform “Ankth” (Anxiety):

It’s a Pop Soul ballad. The melody is based on piano playing. Kanita warps the song with her powerful voice. You can feel her deep connection to the lyrics. The song is one of the modern songs of the festival. The production of the song isn’t too bombastic and this is one of the advantages of the song. The last half-minute of the song is the dramatic one: It begins with an instrumental section. thereafter, backing vocals are being attached.

 

#12. Kastro Zizo  – “Asaj” (Eng: Her)

Kastro Zizo

Klevis Bega (known as Kastro Zizo) is 35 years old singer, songwriter, actor, TV presenter, and dancer. In 2016, he has participated in the Albanian version of “Your Face Sounds Familiar“. There he performed as various artists, one of them is Conchita Wurst (Eurovision 2014 winner who represented Austria):

In “Festivali i Këngës 58”, Kastro Zizo will perform “Asaj” (Eng: Her):

 

The song starts with a group of female backing vocalists. And once again, we have an old fashioned Balkan ballad. Zizo’s voice is hoarse and suitable for Rock songs. As the song continues, Zizo sings more powerfully. It lives between the smoke of Rock and fun vibes of entertainment. One of the advantages is the saxophone solo which appears almost at the end.  However, the final outcome is nothing different than other Balkan ballads that we tended to hear. In fact, it’s a little bit boring.

#13. Nadia & Genc Tukiçi – “Ju flet Tirana” (Tirana is Calling)

Nadia & Genc Tukiçi

Genc Tukiçi is an Albanian – French pianist and composer. Nadia, a young singer, is his daughter.

In the beginning, Nadia talks. Thereafter, she starts singing with an angel voice. Genc joins with his low voice. The duet has an orchestra of backing vocalists. The melody is based on piano, drums, and violin.  The Genre is an Opera – Musical ballad. Nadia‘s voice great and have the opposites characters than Genc’s. It’s better than expected, but still not good enough. My main criticism is about how kitschy and too sweet the song is.

#14. Olta Boka – “Botë për dy” (Eng: A World For Two)

Olta Boka

Olta Boka is a 28 years old singer. She is well known for representing Albania in Eurovision 2008. At first, she had participated in “Festivali i Këngës 46” and won. Therefore, she had the right to represent Albania in Eurovision 2008. Olta was one of the youngest Eurovision artists ever since she participated in the competition at the age of 16. She qualified for the final of Eurovision 2008 and ended in 17th place:

So far, she has released 11 studio albums. She has participated in “Kënga Magjike”  in the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. In the years 2009 and 2011, she was awarded for “AMC Prize”. In 2010, she was awarded “Best Ballad” and in 2013 he was awarded “Best Performance”.

Olta Boka will perform “Botë për dy” (Eng: A World For Two):

It’s a decent Classic ballad with Rock elements. The melody is based on a violin and piano. The song isn’t catchy and it takes time to let it grow on you. The chorus is strong and exciting and has a magic that doesn’t work in the verses. I think that a massive revamp is needed here. In the end, Olta sings powerfully. To sum up, the song has an unfulfilled basis and namely a great singer who isn’t exhausted.

#15. Renis Gjoka – “Loja” (Eng: The Game)

Renis Gjoka

Renis Gjoka is a 32 years old Rock singer who is active since 2012.

It’s a rock ballad. The melody is based on electric guitars and synthesizers. The composing has foundations of the 1980’s. Renis Gjoka is an excellent rock singer. The production is satisfying. However, the verses are a little bit effortless, while the chorus is great. The instrumental part that comes after every chorus lifts the song up. The electric guitars get their respect. If the verses will be revamped, then the song will be more interesting.

 #16. Robert Berisha – “Ajo nuk është unë” (She is not me)

Robert Berisha

Robert Berisha is a singer that active since 2016.

It’s a Balkan ballad. the song is opened with a female backing vocalist. My impression is that Robert is a pretty weak singer. He hasn’t the suitable charisma or charm that must-have for standing on the stage. The song itself is just basic, without any special moment or effects. I don’t see any chance that it will stand out.

 

#17. Sara Bajraktari – “Ajër” (Eng: Air)

Sara Bajraktari

Sara Bajraktari is 15 years old singer. She started singing at the age of 7. In 2017, she competed in the pre-contest of Albania to be selected as Albania Junior Eurovision 2017 representative. She ended in 2nd place and therefore didn’t represent Albania in Albania Junior Eurovision 2017.

In 2019, she competed in “Kënga Magjike 2019” and performed the song “Me vonë”:

Sara Bajraktari will perform “Ajër” (Eng: Air):

It’s a sad and gentle ballad. The ballad is based on acoustic guitar. Vocally, the singer does her job fluently. A the end, backing vocals are being added to the song, while Sara sings from her heart.  The performance will lean on the softness and emotions of the singer. The song as a musical unit is very basic and forgettable. We face one of the cases where the singer is bigger than the song. It can do a little better than expected if her performance will be strong enough. However, it’s not the right horse to run with.

 

#18. Tiri Gjoci – “Me gotën bosh” (Eng: With an Empty Glass)

Tiri Gjoci

Tahir Gjoci (known as Tiri Gjoci) is 26 years old Albanian singer. His musical career began at age 14. Tiri has participated in various competitions: In 2016, he was the winner of the 5th season of “The Voice of Albania”. In 2014, he was a part of a group that participated in “Kënga Magjike 2014 and was awarded for “Best Group”.

In 2016, Tiri came back to “Kënga Magjike” and performed “Pa Ty Nuk Mund“:

In 2017, he has participated in “Festivali i Këngës 56 ” to represent Albania in Eurovision 2018. Tiri performed the song “Orë e ndalur”. He qualified for the finals but didn’t reach the Top3.

TIn addition, Tiri isn’t a stranger to the Eurovision stage. In 2019, he was one of the backing vocalists For Jonida Maliqi in Eurovision 2019:

Tiri Gjoci  will perform “Me gotën bosh” (Eng: With an Empty Glass):

It’s a light Pop Rock song. Tiri has a stable voice that fits the song. The melody is based on basic piano playing. When listening to the song, you realize that the main instrument is not a piano or a guitar, but Tiri‘s voice. The verses and the chorus connect together, but the chorus is better and catchier. Tiri‘s voice explodes about 2:30, which is a little bit too late. I think that Tiri will improve the whole package if he will sing more powerfully on stage.

 

  “Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandor

Valon Shehu.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valon Shehu is a 35 years old singer. He has competed in “Kënga Magjike” several times, in the years: 2007, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017.

In 2016, he ended in 8th place and was awarded “Best Male Voice”

Valon Shehu will perform “Kutia e Pandor (Eng: Pandora’s Box):

It’s a rock (almost hard one) song. The song was composed by Eugent Bushpepa (who represented Albania in Eurovision 2018). Valon uses his hoarse voice. The melody is based on electric guitar and bass. The chorus is too shouty. The instrumentals sections between the chorus and the verses are excellent. I would like to say that rock songs can be great even without a competition of shouting. The song has got a potential: it’s not generic, it is mysterious and composed well. However, the singing should be reconsidered.

 #20. Wendi Mancaku – “Ende” (Eng: Still)

Wendi Mancaku

Wendi Mancaku is an 18 years old Albanian singer. In September 2012, she has participated in the pre content for selecting a representative of Albania in Junior Eurovision 2012. She ended in 2nd place. In 2013, she has participated in the Albanian version of “The Voice Kids”  and ended in 2nd place in the final. In 2015, she came back to compete for the right to represent Albania in Junior Eurovision, but she ended in 3rd place.

In 2018, she competed in “Kënga Magjike 2018” where she sang “Ëndrra Ime”:

 

Wendi Mancaku will perform “Ende” (Eng: Still):

It’s a soul ballad. The melody is based on piano and computer-processed elements. The style of the song fits more to Junior Eurovision than Eurovision. Something feels uncooked in the song and in her singing. The final outcome is not bad at all, but it requires some shaping and more intention.

My personal ranking will be:

#1. Arilena Ara – “Shaj” (Swear)

#2. Kamela Islamaj – “Më ngjyros” (Colour Me)

#3. Era Rusi – “Eja Merre” (Come and Get It)

#4. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana” (With all)

#5. Tiri Gjoci – “Me gotën bosh” (With an Empty Glass)

#6. Aldo Bardhi – “Melodi”

#7. Renis Gjoka – “Loja” (The Game)

#8. Kanita Suma – “Ankth” (Anxiety)

#9. Olta Boka – “Shkrime në mur” (Writings on the wall)

#10. Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandorës” (Pandora’s box)

#11. Wendi Mancaku – “Ende” (Still)

#12. Sara Bajraktari – “Ajër” (Air)

#13. Albërie Hadërgjonaj – “Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua” (Where to find someone to love)

#14. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen” (She left me unseen)

#15. Nadia & Genc Tukiçi – “Ju flet Tirana” (Tirana is Calling)

#16. Gena – “Shqiponja e lirë” (Free Eagle)

#17. Devis Xherahu – “Bisedoj me serenatën” (Talking with serenade)

#18. Eli Fara & Stresi – “Bohem” (Boheme)

#19. Kastro Zizo – “Asaj” (Her)

#20. Robert Berisha – “Ajo nuk është unë” (She is not me)

 

My prediction will be that the winner is one of the three following singers: Elvana Gjata, Arilena Ara, Era Rusi

I live in Israel and watch Eurovision since the early 2000s. I work as a mathematician but have a big interest in singing, music, and writing

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