On Friday evening 22 acts became 14. And on Saturday, during a four-hour spectacle inside Tirana’s Palace of Congresses, Festivali i Këngës 56 reached its grand conclusion. Inis Neziri demonstrated powerhouse vocals well beyond her 16 years. Orgesa Zaimi worked her sexy librarian meets Yoko Ono styling to take us to the dance floor. And Bojken Lako delivered a unique brand of hipster rock that was somehow touching and stirring. But in the end Eugent Bushpepa lived up to days of hype, winning the night with his song “Mall”.
Ahead of tonight’s result, Eugent told the press that his song was written while he was performing abroad for several months. The song captures the longing he experienced and applies to anyone missing their beloved. “Nothing in this world can express the feeling when hearts join and beat like one,” he sings. “I’m away from you, let me fight when my powers are exhausted, I even dream it when I’m awake…”
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Eugent enjoyed growing support from fans and critics alike from the moment his song was released. Wiwiblogger Sebastian named Eugent his favourite prior to the semi-finals, suggesting that Eugent marks a healthy and welcome change for FiK.
“The days of solo female power ballads from Albania is over — rock is in the house!” he said. “‘Mall’ transforms the tired old soft rock style often wheeled out in Festivali i Këngës into something powerful and anthemic. Passionately delivered by Eugent Bushpepa, ‘Mall’ is a definite grower and a true standout this year amongst old rockers and diva powerhouses.”
Eugent becomes the first artist of Eurovision 2018 to have released his song. Of course, his current track is more than four minutes, which will force a revamp in order to fall within the three-minute rule at Eurovision. In many ways this gives him the opportunity to strengthen his song. A shorter version may actually give it more oompf and streamline the track. Albania’s revamps have had mixed results in years past, but given the strength of his existing instrumental this seems more straightforward.
FiK 56 results
1. Eugent Bushpepa
2. Redon Makashi
3. Inis Neziri
On Saturday morning, hours after the second semi-final, we ran a flash poll on wiwibloggs, collecting 2,810 votes from our readers in about 15 hours. Our readers placed Eugent on top with 38% of the vote, followed by Inis with 25% and Orgesa with 13%.
- Eugent Bushpepa, “Mall”: 1,069 votes (38%)
- Inis Neziri, “Piedestal”: 707 votes (25%)
- Orgesa Zaimi, “Ngrije zërin”: 376 votes (13%)
- Artemisa Mithi, “E dua botën”: 134 votes (5%)
- Mariza Ikonomi, “Unë”: 112 votes (4%)
- Manjola Nallbani, “I njëtji qiell”: 96 votes (3%)
- Tiri Gjoci, “Orë e ndalur”: 86 votes (3%)
- NA & Festina Mezini, “Tjetër jetë”: 63 votes (2%)
- Rezarta Smaja & Luiz Ejili, “Ra një yll”: 53 votes (2%)
- Denisa Gjezo, “Zemër ku je”: 37 votes (1%)
- Bojken Lako, “Sytë e shpirtit”: 29 votes (1%)
- Elton Deda, “Fjalët”: 17 votes (1%)
- Redon Makashi, “Ekziston”: 16 votes (1%)
- Voltan Prodani, “E pamundur”: 15 votes (1%)
Total Votes: 2,810
Do you think that Albania can make it out of the semi-finals this year? How much of a revamp do you want ahead of Eurovision? Do you hope the song stays in Albanian? Let us know in the comments box below.