Festivali i Kënges is a bit like your old grandma-knitted Christmas jumper. As much entertainment as it gives you to see it every December, it also kills you a little bit inside each time you have to wear it. But then, one day, you stumble across this new Christmas jumper store, selling shiny, colourful, exciting, new jumpers that can spare you the annual embarrassment at the family Christmas party. Well Albania, that jumper store is called Kënga Magjike, and that Christmas party is the Eurovision Song Contest. Here are 10 reasons why we think Albania should swap their Eurovision selection method from FiK to Kënga Magjike.

1. ALBANIA’S UNSUCCESSFUL HISTORY

Albania’s track record at Eurovision is among the worst of any country currently competing in the competition. Over the past 10 years, Albania have collectively scored a measly 345 points in Eurovision grand finals. To put that into perspective, this years’ winners – Sweden — have scored a grand total of 1503 points in the grand finals of the past decade. That’s over quadruple Albania’s total! If that doesn’t tell you they need a change, I’m not sure what will.

2. SONG QUALITY

In 1964 the FiK jury decided that all the entries were so awful that no-one deserved first place – therefore a second and two third places were awarded. Ouch! Song quality, obviously, is a subjective matter, but one scientific method we can use to prove our point is Youtube. Just search ‘Kënga Magjike’, and you’ll find endless videos with view counts in excess of 1 million. For Festivali i Kënges, on the other hand, you’ll very rarely find a video with over 10,000 views. The sad truth is that the song quality in Festivali i Kënges is really quite poor – whilst the standard in Kënga Magjike is 1000x higher, with many songs going on to become national hits. Below I’ve compiled a video comparing the usual style of popular Albanian artists, compared with their FiK entries. It’s quite telling…

3. BIGGER ARTISTS

Over time, Festivali i Kënges has received an ever-decreasing amount of interest from popular artists in the region. In 2014, 2015 and now 2016 we’ve seen a line-up of artists that (excluding the GODDESS that is Elhaida Dani) is less exciting than Rambo Amadeus’ toenail collection. However, as one thing goes out of fashion, another thing must come in. On the other side of the rainbow, Kënga Magjike attracts the big guns, with names as big as Genta Ismajli, Besa, Young Zerka & Nora Istrefi entering year after year.

RONELA HAJATI - MOS MA LSHO Kenga Magjike 2013 ( Netet Finale - Pallati Koncerteve )

4. THE ORCHESTRA

Whilst some argue that live orchestra is a beautiful element of the contest, the truth is that it just ain’t practical for Eurovision. The majority of modern music relies on synthetic sounds in order to make it sound even vaguely contemporary. Therefore, Festivali i Kënges only really leaves scope for orchestral ballads or rock songs – which, when faced with Europe’s electronically produced music, sounds very dated. The only other national selection to employ a live orchestra is Skopje Fest in Macedonia – and they’ve qualified once in the past 8 years. Kënga Magjike, however, allows the use of playback, allowing a far greater range of songs to compete. If you ask me, this modernisation is Albania’s key to escaping the bottom of the leaderboard.

5. THE ELECTRIC GUITAR

Anyone who has watched the show will know the importance of the electric guitar in Festivali i Kënges culture. You’ll be watching an entry, possibly even thinking “hey, this is a cute ballad” – and then it comes. Deep down you always knew it was gonna happen, but the aggravating ring of FiK’s most beloved instrument never ceases to annoy. Fairplay: an electric guitar in a rock song. But when it appears in every darn entry it’s just ridiculous. Fortunately, in Kënga Magjike the participants can resist the temptation to whip out their strings and totally confuse the message of their song. And I can confirm that it is NOT missed.

6. PERFORMANCE

The performance element to Festivali i Kënges is, to put it bluntly, non-existent. With the artists putting in no attempt to visually entertain us (as well as little effort to musically entertain us), the show is a painful 3 hours of drably dressed Albanian singers lingering around a grey LED screen. What’s more, the winner turns up in Copenhagen with little artistic direction, whilst the countries who thought through their stage presentation in the national final (Sweden, Denmark, Belarus) rock up and steal the show. In Kënga Magjike, however, the story couldn’t be more different. Extravagant costumes, stunning LED imagery and dancing Winny Poohs. Now tell me, would you ever see this in Festivali i Kënges?

7. THE JURY

In a contest where the outcome is chosen 100% by jury vote, you’ve got to pick your panel carefully. Unfortunately, this appears not to be RTSH’s forte. In 2015, for example, only two of the seven jurors were under the age of fifty – one could’ve easily mistaken the jury table as privilege seating for Buranovskiye Babushki’s fanbase! Among the jurors last year we had a man who won the eighth ever contest (we’re now on number 55), an Albanian filmmaker and history scholar (!?) and, surprise surprise, a darn electric guitar player!!! In Kënga Magjike, however, the competing artists vote too, immediately lowering the average age by about 2000 years.

8. CORRUPTION

On the Albanian flag you will see a black eagle. Well, the history of Festivali i Kënges certainly ain’t no white dove either. Take 1963 — a contestant was prosecuted by the government… for mispronouncing a word! Or 1987, when minutes before the winner was to be announced, Albania’s First Lady decided she didn’t like the jury’s choice and insisted that a different song be chosen. And then there’s the 1999 incident when the jury votes were incorrectly counted and Aurela Gaçe, Albania’s 2011 representative, was initially denied her victory. Furthermore, in 2007 Manjola Nallbani claimed that RTSH sabotaged her entry, as her voice was neither heard in the arena nor on TV. This same year, Blero withdrew from the contest, claiming that the top 3 is decided before the show, and that he had been asked for a large sum of money in exchange for securing his victory. Hmmmm…

9. CULTURAL DIVERSITY

In order to participate in Festivali i Kënges, all artists and composers must have Albanian citizenship. This excludes artists which are part of the Albanian diaspora in countries such as Switzerland, Macedonia and the USA – home to many of the country’s most popular singers. This means no Bebe Rexha, no Eleni Foureira and no Rita Ora. And whilst we’re all for home-grown songs representing their country, the composers rule does eliminate the safety net of Thomas G:Sson when RTSH have nothing good up their sleeve *cough* ALWAYS. Kënga Magjike, however, is renowned for uniting Albanians from all over the globe, as well as allowing foreign composers to collaborate with artists. Diversity is the way forward, y’all!

10. 2015’s SUCCESSES

This year Albania chose their artist through Festivali i Kënges, but selected their song internally. The result? Albania’s first ever real fan-favourite. Elhaida was topping polls throughout the season and even ranked 9th with our Wiwi jury. After qualifying for the grand-final for the first time since 2012, Albania went on to achieve ninth place in the televote as well, proving that without FiK, they actually have the capacity to send an appealing, quality pop song. What happened with the juries this year, however, was a different matter…

 

I appreciate that Festivali i Kënges is a 50 year-old tradition, and probably something quite special for Albanians. The truth is, however, that this relationship with Eurovision just isn’t working out. Sometimes you need to say goodbye to that beloved old jumper just replace it with something new.

Do you agree? Have your say in the poll below:

How should Albania select their entry for Eurovision 2016?

Follow all of our Albania Eurovision news here

 

14 Comments
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Jeffrey
Jeffrey
4 years ago

Albania’s first ever real fan-favourite??? That’s overreacting. It has never beaten the classic Suus.

AM Casablancas
AM Casablancas
4 years ago

I think Fik it’s great for choosing ballads, but last year they had lindita, a very uncommon choice and a fan favourite and the jury smashed it. I agree the Fík it’s corrupted and jury shouldn’t take 100% of the decision, but the songs you put as an example for the other format are pretty BASIC and dull. Perhaps Fík it’s the right way to go but power to the people, less corruption and more song diversity could help boost the confidence of the NS.

Kermit
Kermit
4 years ago

JohnUK _ I agree with your first part. Usually the FIK.versions are better – more interesting and differently – musically that the finished ESC-products. Might have to do with the editing…down to three minutes. Often songs end up as sounding more streamlined and boring, which is a pity.

An electric guitar is NEVER wrong in ESC though! No ,atter…far too little of it. And far to little rock in egeneral.

Bronson
Bronson
4 years ago

FiK is a joy to watch in its own right – but you are right, it is far too outdated for a modern competition like Eurovision. Kenga Magjike is run by TV Klan though, so it’s not necessarily that they don’t want to use it as an NS format but it’s simply due to politics. Unless RTSH withdraws and TV Klan shows interest (which the former seems to be never), Kenga Magjike will never be of any use to Eurovision. It’s sad, because I love Kenga Magjike entries and they are of a high quality that could constantly bring Albania… Read more »

JohnUK
JohnUK
4 years ago

I think you missed out the fact Sanremo use an orchestra.Doesnt seem to of done Italy any harm in ESC. A lot of Albania’s problems havent come from the Fik version of the songs but the re-write version’s.The re-writes have tended to wash away all the ethnic charm and ended up with something bland.Thats not down to the Fik selection, but poor producers working the re-writes.Hersi was a great example where the re-write destroyed the original song. I cant see a poor version of MF doing Albania any favours though i 100% agree with the electric guitar point.It seems to… Read more »

beccaboo1212
4 years ago

Kënga Magjike

Kermit
Kermit
4 years ago

We have actually heard many dance / rnb / electropop songs in FIK, which I think has incorporated the orchestra well. They use singback partly too. So I think it works. And I think it’s OK that at least ONE country has an orchestra. I like to see it, it gives a more “musical focus”. And it doesn’t have to be dated (OK though, some FIK-ballads are a bit dated and boring….I admit!) I think with the HUGE traditions FIK has – it’s like the Albanian San Remo – I doubt they will change much. And personally – I think… Read more »

Ronaldo
Ronaldo
4 years ago

FiK is easily the worst national selection. Period. It needs to go.

Hannes
Hannes
4 years ago

I would very much like them to change to Kënga Magjike if they could, if they could stop with the playback… 😛

deli
deli
4 years ago

Your argument against Orchestra fails when we could hear Belgium 2015 or Norway 2013 with the orchestra. Moreover, Sanremo and MGP 2015 proved that I can work out.

‘Fairplay: an electric guitar in a rock song’. All songs with an electric guitar doesn’t imply a rock song. And a rock song can be arranged without any kind of guitar. It is more about the spirit.

Kermit
Kermit
4 years ago

Seriously…point 6 – what are you on about? a VERY good thing with FIK is that the focus is on the MUSIC – not some silly OTT, overly glamourous freakshow on stage! As things should be – in the music contest! It makes the performances much more worthy, eranest, stylish….just BETTER! They don’t care about glamour – they care about music – which is good! What an overly glamourfocused way of thinking! And point 5….I like the sound of the electric guitars. And I actually like how – a perhaps otherwise boring – ballad is “lightened” up by a good… Read more »

Eris
Eris
4 years ago

Kenga magjike has lame songs. At least the singers in Festivali i kenges can SING.. as for the jury deciding the winner. Well in kenga magjike the winner is decided by the other singers. Who has fame ,power and friends will win . So no difference..

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
4 years ago

Out with the old, in with the new.

But seriously, Albania will never win Eurovision under the FiK vehicle. It’s like a horse and Cart compared to MelFest. Which is like the Ferrari of Selection methods.

PP
PP
4 years ago

Festival have long traditions in Albania. I don t like only why juries decide the winner of contest and many times members of juries are old people best 50 % juries with many younger members of juries and 50 % televote . Second suggestion not only sing in albanian language, give oportunity to singers to chose language . Third allow composer from world to submit songs and allow to singer from different countries to sing at national festival. No only composer from Albania or from another countries with albanian passport and singer from Albania or singer who have albanian passport.… Read more »