Mirëmbrëma Evropë ! As we continue on with our Country Profiles, we move on to the Land of Eagles — Albania — which today celebrates the 102nd Albanian Independence Day! Fantastic time to do a Country Profile on Albania, no? Since debuting in 2004, Tirana has had a mixed record, defined by hits and misses. Albania has not brought a victory home yet, but could 2015 be their year?
The national broadcaster of Albania in Eurovision, RTSH (Radio Televizioni Shqiptar), applied to be a part of the Eurovision Song Contest 2003. Unfortunately it wasn’t accepted for that edition as it was too full, so they debuted in 2004 when the semi-finals were introduced. Albania uses the long-running traditional live festival Festivali i Këngës to pick their entrant to send to Eurovision and have used it to select Albania’s Eurovision entries ever since.
Albania is known to revamp their entries. At Festivali i Këngës the songs are longer than the 3:00 minutes allowed by the EBU. Sometimes Albania even changes the song’s language to English. In fact, Albania has changed the song’s language 6 times. Interestingly, the Albanian language gave Albania its best result so far (5th) with Rona Nishliu with her entry “Suus”.
In Festivali i Këngës 42, the young and talented singer Anjeza Shahini was the first Albanian artist to represent the tiny Balkan country in Eurovision. Their debut entry was “The Image of You”, which qualified from the semi-final in Istanbul and finished 7th in the Final. This would give Albania another chance to be in the final in 2005, as it secured them an automatic place in the final for Eurovision 2005.
The following year, the tiny Balkan country entered with “Tomorrow I Go” performed by Ledina Çelo and finished 16th. In the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, Albania started to lose its way – failing to qualify with “Zjarr e ftohtë” sung by Luiz Ejlli. The Land of Eagles ended up 16th place. Albania would not qualify to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest until 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Olta Boka represented Albania in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest where at the time tensions were still high between Albania and Serbia. Kosovo, an Albanian-majority state of Serbia at the time, declared independence on 17 February 2008, before Serbia hosted Europe’s favourite TV show. However, at Festivali i Këngës 46, the result of the juries that selected Olta Boka was controversial and rumours arose that the final two judges intentionally awarded higher markers to Olta Boka in order to avoid sending Flaka Krelani and Doruntina Disha to Eurovision. RTSH declared that Olta Boka’s victory wasn’t rigged and she sang for Albania!
Albania would continue to qualify until 2011 when one of the most famous singers in Albania, Aurela Gaçe, failed to send Albania to the final. In 2012, they were back into the finals and got their best result to date with the super-power ballad “Suus”. The song is sung by Rona Nishliu and came 2nd in Semi-final 1 and making it just into the top 5 in the Grand Final. Rona Nishliu made Albania a hit again. However the great results did not last long, with both the 2013 and 2014 entries for the tiny Balkan country failing to qualify.
2014: Hersi with “One Night’s Anger”, 15th place in the semi-final with 22 points
2013: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko with “Identitet”, 15th place in the semi-final with 31 points
2012: Rona Nishliu with “Suus”, 5th place with 146 points
2011: Aurela Gaçe with “Feel The Passion”, 14th place in the semi-final with 47 points
2010: Juliana Pasha with “It’s All About You”, 16th place with 62 points
2009: Kejsi Tola with “Carry Me In Your Dreams”, 17th place with 48 points
1. How many times has Albania qualified for the final since debuting? 5 times. 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
2. How many sets of “douze points” has Albania received since 2009? In the Finals : Macedonia (2010), Italy, Macedonia, San Marino and Switzerland (2012)
In the Semi-finals: Greece and Macedonia (2010), Greece (2011), Austria, Azerbaijan, Italy, Montenegro and Switzerland (2012) and Montenegro (2014)
3. Who has Albania awarded their recent “douze points” to since 2009? In the Finals: Greece (2009), Greece (2010), Italy (2011), Greece (2012), Italy (2013), and Spain (2014)
In the Semi-finals: Greece (2009), Macedonia (2010), Turkey (2011), Montenegro (2012), Macedonia (2013), and Montenegro (2014)
4. How long did Rona Nishliu sing the famous “Suus” high note for? 8 seconds!
BEST SCORING ENTRY:
2012: Rona Nishliu with “Suus”, 5th place with 146 points
In 2011, Albania failed to qualify, a disappointment after qualifying from 2008 to 2010. The next year Rona Nishliu entered the 50th edition of Festivali i Këngës with a very touching song with a Latin title “Suus”, which translates to “Personal”. It is a very touching song that indeed touched many across Europe. The song was certainly memorable and unique, and while many didn’t believe it would qualify, it came 2nd in its semi-final, giving Albania its best Eurovision result to date. It even led to the creation of the Rona Nishliu Award for Best Live Vocals.
Most Memorable Lyrics: Më lerni të qaj, të qaj, të qaj (So just let me cry, cry, cry)
WORST SCORING ENTRY:
2007: Frederik Ndoci with “Hear My Plea”, 17th place in the semi-final with 49 points
“Hear My Plea,” performed at Festivali i Këngës 45 as “Balada e gurit” (The stone ballad), won the contest and gave Frederik Ndoci the Albanian ticket to Helsinki for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. The song was performed both in Albanian and English. However they did not impress European viewers! Hear My Plea did not qualify for the final, making Albania miss the final once again. The song is one dramatic ballad, with the powerful Albanian singer Federik dying to bring his lover back.
Most Memorable Lyrics: Hear my plea; Take the longing of my heartbeat; Make the melody
What has #TeamWiwi got to say on Albania in Eurovision Song Contest?
TEAM WIWI SAYS:
Gökhan: When you say Albania, I always think about FiK and talented singers. Albania always sends so many talented artists. Like Anjeza Shahini or Hersi. But Rona Nishliu is a legend. ‘Suus’ is one of my favorite songs from Albania. It touches my soul with good lyrics and one magnificent voice. If you like orchestras, you should watch Festivali i Këngës. I know that so many people will support Elhaida Dani this year. She is another talented artist who will participate in the FiK.
Mario: Albania may not be my favorite Eurovision country, but I appreciate them for sending strong vocals and bringing authenticity to the contest. A lot of you may disagree, but my favorite entry from Albania must be the one from the so-called “screaming lady” and her wonderful song “Suus”. That lady and her voice are something unbelievably fantastic from outside planet Earth. Her opposite would be the duo Adrian and Bledar and their song “Identitet”, which in my opinion is an unsuccessful interpretation of ex-Yugoslav rock songs. Okay, I appreciate that Albania invested big on the memorable fireworks at Eurovision 2013, but the song was just going nowhere. And finally, one of my greatest injustices since I have been a hardcore fan of Eurovision is Aurela Gace not qualifying in the Grand Final. Gosh that song was the bomb!
Sopon: Ah, Albania. One of my top countries, if not my favorite, in the contest. They always find something a little funky, or retro, or at least memorable to bring to the game, and that sets them apart from their former Yugoslavian neighbors. Four Albanian entries take a place in both my heart and my top 10 favorite songs in Eurovision: Anjeza Shahini, Aurela Gaçe, Rona Nishliu, and Adrian & Bledar. Anjeza kept her performance simple and the song was not bizarre, but very catchy. Plus, her backing harmonies were amazing. Aurela, Adrian, and Bledar both brought hard rock to the contest, my favorite genre! I still jam out to “Feel The Passion” when I get the chance, and my dog has probably heard me try to screech out “I’m like an eagle in the open sky”, or mess up my awful Albanian when singing to “Identitet”, one too many times! “Suus” is another favorite, if only for the reason that Rona was able to convey such emotion alone on stage so perfectly. Albania’s sole flaw was this year, however, when they practically took a dump on the masterpiece that was “Zemerimi i një natë” and transformed it into the awful “One Night’s Anger”. Not cool!
Bogdan: Albania embodies what I love about Eurovision: completely unknown (to me) singers taking the stage of the national selection and occasionally taking Europe by surprise. Obviously, when you say Albania in ESC, you automatically think of Rona Nishliu, whether you love or hate her song. I am one of those who love-love-LOVE “Suus”; its success in Baku certainly propelled Rona’s country to the status of potential winner in the future. I also like Aurelia Gaçe and I do hope that she will come back with a better song. I have a soft spot for Hersi’s voice too and I find it unfortunate that her beautiful song got lost in translation. All in all, I am always excited to see what Albania will send to Eurovision next. It’s one of those countries who is bound to send something memorable, one way or another.
Zach: My favorite Albanian entry would have to be “Feel The Passion”. Aurela has an amazing set of pipes, the song was really catchy, and I loved the inclusion of the snippet of Albanian, really tied the entry together. One of my favorite non qualifiers, and she was so close!! My least favorite is definitely “Identitet”. Kejsi Tola had an entry that would’ve continued Albania’s success after Rona brought them to the Top 5 in Baku, but they picked a duo of “rockers” who really didn’t rock my world. Hopefully they don’t ever pass up an amazing song like that ever again.
William: When I think of Albania, I will always think of Juliana Pasha and her back-up violinist who appeared to have been electrocuted just before taking the stage. Love it. I love that her electro-dance number had a religous message — who’d of thought?! — and that she made an 80s-sounding song sound current. I still don’t know how she did that! Perhaps my biggest WTF moment in ESC history is when Kejsi Tola stood on a wind machine in a pink tutu. I just love it.
Oh behalf of the wiwibloggs team, we would like to wish all Albanians, wherever they are, Happy Albanian Independence Day! Gëzuar Dita e Pavarësisë shqiptare të gjithë shqiptarët kudo në botë!
Who was your favourite Albanian artist? Let us know in our poll below!
Albania at Eurovision: Who was your favourite act?