The Wiwi Jury has now reviewed 20 of the semi-finalists competing in the Albanian national festival Festivali i Këngës 54 (you can see the complete rankings here). Today, our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals turn to the next five songs from Lind Islami, Nilsa Hysi, Teuta Kurti, Florent Abrashi and Revolt Klan. Did their tunes slip down easy…or were we left gagging? Read on to find out…
Lind Islami – “Për një mrekulli”
Ramadan: “Për një mrekulli” reminds me of lot of Belgium’s Eurovision 2010 entry. Lind Islami really excels with ballads — this one included. I’m not sure if the FiK jury is going to love this, but with a good revamp this could do a Tom Dice.
William: I want to like this, but something isn’t clicking. It may be the lack of originality, the fact this sounds like so many other ballads we’ve all heard before, or the annoying drums that prevent me from swimming in his lovely voice. I’d strip back the production and let him shine a bit more.
Robyn: It’s a fairly standard ballad, but those insistent beats keep it interesting and add an edge. I’m not quite feeling it, but it does have a lot of potential.
Antranig: This is extremely cute and very reminiscent of Tom Dice. I think he could do really well with the right staging, so I hope they get that aspect right.
Wiwi Jury Score: 6.38/10
Nilsa Hysi – “Asaj”
Ramadan: This song has been on repeat ever since the FiK 54 songs were released. Something about this compels me to play it again and again. Nilsa’s lovely voice amazes me — and this song is the perfect platform to show it off. It’s definitely one of my favourites. A revamp could do wonders to an already wonderful number.
William: This is one of the more current tracks in this year’s field. Sadly it’s a bit repetitive and lacks the emotional oomph needed to elevate it beyond disposable pop.
Robyn: “Asaj” is a modern pop track, and I’m even getting a Rihanna feeling in places. There are some interesting textures in this song, things done with layered vocals. I’m not sure how all the effects will turn out live, but it seems very promising.
Antranig: Once I realised the chorus was not Nilsa calling out desperately for Essaï, I realised this is my personal favourite. This is absolutely flawless and I would be overjoyed if Albania sent Nilsa to Stockholm.
Wiwi Jury Score: 7.63/10
Teuta Kurti – “Në sytë e mi”
Ramadan: I’m slightly disappointed, honestly! I was expecting Teuta Kurti to emerge as one of my favourites, but this song just doesn’t take her there. It drags on for too long, but her powerful vocals do save this to some extent. It’s got major potential, but it’s too late to fulfil it.
William: This goes on a bit, and not even all the squealing and oooing and assorted vocal flourishes can save it. There are, however, moments when her voice makes me go “wow” (1:40 – 1:42, for instance). Hopefully the live performance will elevate this.
Robyn: I can’t wait to see this live, because Teuta sounds like she’s a very physical, very emotional singer, using everything she has to get those notes out. While a song like this is never going to trouble the top of the ESC scores, it’s quite a mad and fun experience.
Antranig: This is a song with plenty of potential. With the right staging, it could be a contender to win the festival. She has some of the best vocals in the competition — no doubt!
Wiwi Jury Score: 7.19/10
Florent Abrashi – “Të ndjek ç’do hap”
Ramadan: The song is enjoyable, but that’s all I’m afraid. It’s dated and lacks that X Factor. Florent Abrashi is a great singer who deserves a modern song. C’mon, Albanian composers!!
William: I’m so bloody sick of dated rock and guitars at FiK. Please just cut and paste all my previous comments about all the other entries that sound exactly like this. DONE.
Robyn: This is so old fashioned, so ’80s. I appreciate the energy and drama of the performance, but the song itself has little appeal.
Antranig: This song goes places I wasn’t expecting it to go. The violin works wonders when it comes in between the first chorus and the second verse — I just wish there was more of it. The ending is terrific, though! It’s good enough to warrant a second listen, but it’s not a contender for the ticket to Stockholm.
Wiwi Jury Score: 3.44/10
Revolt Klan – “Dashurinë s’e gjejmë dotë”
Ramadan: A nice, modern Albanian pop/R’n’B song. If Festivali i Këngës had televoting, this would easily win. It’s enjoyable, but isn’t one of my favourites.
William: A lovely opening with soul and sweetness ruined by an R&B transition to spoken word and rap. Those genres are bad enough in English, but at least I can understand them. Here I can access nothing — the melody, the words, the meaning. I think if they cut out the chatty parts (and the electric guitar) this could fly. As it stands now, it’s sinking to my bottom.
Robyn: There are some good segments in this song, but overall it doesn’t quite come together and ends up feeling much longer than three minutes. I’m willing to accept that cheesy guitar solos are an integral part of modern Albanian pop, but the solo in this song feels like padding, rather than an essential part of the song.
Antranig: There is way too much going on in this song. They seem to have taken elements from several different genres and tried to build a patchwork quilt but it feels, well, patchy. The choruses are very good and the rest is mediocre at best.