The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals — has been busy reviewing the first ten acts of Festivali i Këngës 54. Today we turn to Kozma Dushi, Ogresa Zaimi, Adrian Lulgjuraj, Dilan Reka and Luiz Ejlli. In case you missed our earlier reviews, you can check out the first ten acts here and here.
Kozma Dushi – “Një kafe”
Ramadan: Kozma Dushi’s songs in Festivali i Këngës always surprise me. “Një kafe” is fun and will make the jurors tap their feet. But can they take a song called “A coffee” seriously? I can’t. This song is for the ancients…
William: Appropriate for a nursing home or an elderly centre, but not for Eurovision. This is the kind of song that gives FiK a bad reputation: it strives to be modern, but ends up in a bygone era. Not even a disco ball is gonna save this one.
Robyn: A disco track from someone old enough to remember disco the first time around. This song could be quite cheesy, but somehow Kozma gets right into the song and makes it cool. I’m not sure if this would do well at Eurovision, but I’m happy with it in FiK.
Antranig: This sounds like it should be used as the opening track for some Albanian game show. Unfortunately, it has no chance of being the opening act at Eurovision. It’s fun on first listen but it’s not a genuine contender.
Wiwi Jury Score: 3.94/10
Ogresa Zaimi – “Një shishe në oqean”
Ramadan: “Një shishe në oqean” sounds like a song you’d find in a Disney movie. I’m not the biggest fan of ballads, but I really enjoy listening to this. I feel like I’m on a ship, on an adventure!
William: The title means “A bottle in the ocean.” That’s cute. What’s not cute is that the accordion and swirling strings at times make me feel seasick. Her sound and performance bounce between swashbuckling pirate and piano bar diva. It’s just too disjointed and frenetic to stomach.
Robyn: This song starts off sounding like a generic ballad, swirling strings and all, but then things get interesting with the chorus. It becomes lively and sassy, bringing a very theatrical sound to the song. This ought to be a fun performance at FiK, but I don’t think it’s suited for ESC.
Antranig: The first five seconds had me worried we were in for a boring ballad. Then the accordion came in and this really took off when we hit the chorus! The French influences come through strongly. This is different to everything else and will def stand out.
Wiwi Jury Score: 6.31/10
Adrian Lulgjuraj – “Jeto dhe ëndërro”
Ramadan: Yet another rock song from Adrian Lulgjuraj, and I’m just not feeling it. His voice works well, but that doesn’t make “Jeto dhe ëndërro” fit for Eurovision. Sorry ’bout it.
William: The chorus isn’t terrible, but the verses really are. The first 90 seconds are beyond mind-numbing. I really don’t have the patience to think of something clever to say, so in short: This needs to go.
Robyn: What happened to the cool rock dude from Malmö? The soft-rock style of this song reminds me of Christian rock from the 1980s, an inoffensive song with a bland, uplifting message. Even the classic Albanian guitar solo feels very polite.
Antranig: I can’t connect with this at all. The festival has other songs in a similar genre which are much stronger. This song has little chance of standing out.
Wiwi Jury Score: 3.5/10
Dilan Reka – “Buzëqesh”
Ramadan: I hated “High School Musical,” and “Buzëqesh” is definitely high school. Dilan Reka has a powerful voice that deserves more than this cheap Broadway rip-off.
William: It’s a song called “Smile” and for the first thirty seconds I think that I might. But the “High School Musical” vibe soon degenerates into a directionless cut-and-paste job. Nice voice, nice start, but little else.
Robyn: There’s way too much going on with this song, throwing in elements of a sad ballad, Broadway, pop, rock ‘n’ reggae and a bit of gospel choir for good measure. It’s a mess and ends up losing focus from all the genre switching.
Antranig: Dilan’s entry is easily my favourite entry by a male singer in the entire festival. The guitar solo feels a bit unnecessary but his voice is easy on the ears and when it finishes, I am left wanting more. It’s really good!
Wiwi Jury Score: 5/10
Luiz Ejlli – “Pa mbarim”
Ramadan: “Pa mbarim” is one of the better entries in Festivali i Këngës 54. That intro is so ALBANIAN. Even though it sounds like it’s from the 90s, this is totally my style. Luiz Ejlli is a great performer and I can see this appealing to the jury. That said, this song isn’t for Eurovision.
William: WTF is that electronic dog whistle doing at the beginning of this? It does nothing to prepare me for the track that follows and it is beyond irritating. Luiz has a nice voice, but this song sounds like a mish-mash of Il Divo and dated rock, neither of which I like.
Robyn: I quite like this song, mainly because if you add some harmonies and a funky remix, you’d have a late 1990s boyband song. It has attitude and plenty of potential for dramatic ESC staging. The question is: has Luiz overcome that flaw that kept him out of the final a decade ago?
Antranig: I consider this a dark horse to win it all. It offers plenty of drama and the background music is very strong. It’s definitely one of the better entries in the competition.