The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals — has already listened to the first 15 songs from Albania’s upcoming FiK 54 semi-finals. You can see the current reviews and rankings here (if you dare). Today Aslaidon Zaimaj, Egzon Pireci, Erga Halilaj, Sigi Bastri and Jozefina Simoni face our unforgiving jurors. Are any of them likely to make the final? Let’s see…
Aslaidon Zaimaj – “Merrmë që sot”
Ramadan: Easily one of the most modern songs in this year’s Festivali i Këngës — and one of my favourites. You’d think a song with so many different styles wouldn’t work. But for me “Merrmë që sot” works perfectly.
William: Two words: Identity crisis. (And it’s not just because he looks like Marija Serifovic). There’s no cohesion and I think they’d struggle to choose a 15-second clip for the video recap as they journey from clangs to bangs and beyond. This goes for everything and ends up with nothing.
Robyn: This song throws in a lot of different styles (house, hip hop, rock, dub step) but it works because Aslaidon keeps a consistent attitude. The song needs to lose a minute for ESC, but “Merrmë që sot” is easily one of the catchiest songs in this year’s semi-finals. It could be really thrilling live.
Antranig: This is relatively fun and it never gets boring, but it lacks the firepower to be a real contender. It’ll be forgotten amidst some much better entries.
Wiwi Jury Score: 7/10
Egzon Pireci – “Triumf”
Ramadan: This song might be old fashioned, but it’s so Albanian I cannot resist it. If this wins it would need a massive re-work because it would definitely struggle at Eurovision in its current form.
William: Annoying strumming. Poor verses. No climax. Bizarre instrumentation (electric guitars, a timpani and salt shakers?!). I just can’t access this on any level.
Robyn: “Triumf” takes about 1:30 to get going, and even then it doesn’t really get going. Even though the chorus sounds like it should be big, it doesn’t go big enough. For a song that’s about triumph, it doesn’t feel very triumphant.
Antranig: This song defines average. I’m not bored, but there’s no hook. The choruses pick up nicely but that doesn’t make up for the rest of it. Nothing spectacular.
Wiwi Jury Score: 4.81/10
Erga Halilaj – “Monolog”
Ramadan: I haven’t really enjoyed Erga’s other Festivali i Këngës entries, but I really enjoy “Monologo”. Erga’s powerful voice fits perfectly with this. Unfortunately the iconic FiK guitar doesn’t. I’m sure Erga Halilaj will give us an outstanding performance, but the song drags too much to be considered a contender.
William: I hate this style of music and I don’t like the chatty verses. But Erga oozes soul and, in the rare moments the song lets her showcase her vocals, as from 1:46 to 2:02, she’s a woman in control and I’m happy to follow. Not a winning song, but a winning performer for sure.
Robyn: I’m not really a fan of this genre of music — the big emotional ballad — but songs like this always do well with certain ESC audience types, so there’s no reason why Albania couldn’t do reasonably well with it in Stockholm. But they could do better.
Antranig: Erga has the powerful vocals to carry this song and I think she could be a dark horse to win it all. It would certainly do better at Eurovision than a lot of the other entries at FiK, so Albania wouldn’t be doing much wrong by sending this.
Wiwi Jury Score: 7.13/10
Sigi Bastri – “Ëngjëll i lirë”
Ramadan: “Ëngjëll i lirë” is a very emotional song and I can feel Sigi Bastri’s pain. The song is about Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach. It’s not the catchiest song out there, but it sure is memorable. It’s definitely one of my favourites!
William: Finally — someone who is bringing well-measured drama! The chorus hits you like a bat out of hell and the wall of sound gives me major feels. I think it loses steam in the final minute, but perhaps she’ll be magical live.
Robyn: This works. A modern song with decent, passionate vocals from Sigi. The musical accompaniment sounds a bit cheap in places, but that can easily be fixed. The next step is to see how this works when it’s performed live.
Antranig: This is one of the best entries in the field. The choruses fire up spectacularly and if Sigi performs it well live, it should have a chance at victory. I wouldn’t be at all disappointed to see this in Stockholm!
Wiwi Jury Score: 8.13/10
Jozefina Simoni – “Një det me ty”
Ramadan: I really enjoy “Një det me ty” and Jozefina’s lovely voice. But that guitar solo really doesn’t fit. There’s something missing and I don’t know what it is. Hopefully Jozefina does and will bring it to the live shows.
William: A mediocre song, but one that could fly with the right vocalist. Jozefina has a sexy voice — it sounds like she smokes — and the timbre works well with the rock sound that leans toward the dark and mysterious. I wouldn’t download this, but if she rocks an LED and some smoke I might clap politely.
Robyn: There are some interesting things happening with the melody in the verses and the chorus ends up being big and dramatic in a good way. The mix of strings and rock sounds works — even the obligatory Albanian guitar solo doesn’t feel especially out of place, though it would surely be first to go in the three-minute edit.
Antranig: This is a powerful song and another one of my big favourites. Jozefina connects with the music and the change of pace after the first chorus takes this to another level. The guitar solo works very well for this song: please don’t cut it out for Eurovision.