On Thursday, the 2018 Eurovision national final season kicks off with the first semi-final of Albania‘s Festivali i Këngës 56, leading to the grand final on Saturday. And that can mean only one thing: it’s time for the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — to go to work!

This year, we’re doipng things a little differently with the FiK 56 jury. The songs were only released two weeks ago and there are 22 songs competing. Sadly, that wouldn’t give us enough time to listen to and review all 22 songs to the usual Wiwi Jury standard (we have day jobs, y’all!).

Instead, our 13 jury members have listened to all the songs but are just listing their personal top-five favourites along with a review of their absolute FiK favourite. So, which were the songs we’d like to see at Eurovision? Read on to find out!

Chris

1. Mariza Ikonomi – “Unë”

Whilst the Albanian female ballad is a trope that has been well played out in recent years, Mariza brings something new. The piano is a nice touch and Mariza avoids some of the overtly diva-esque notes that we saw in 2017. There’s a lot of good decisions made with “Unë”, which puts it just ahead of a fairly strong top group of songs.

2. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”
3. Inis Neiziri – “Piedestal”
4. Lynx – “Vonë”
5. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”

Edd

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”

This entry stands miles above the rest. Whilst the “French librarian has her first clubbing experience” look doesn’t quite work with drum and bass, there is great potential. With powerful backing vocals to lift the chorus and some epic staging, this could be Eurovision gold. The song could easily be a Rita Ora UK No.1, and Albania would be absolutely crazy to throw it away for yet another dated ballad. I just hope the live orchestra doesn’t kill it.

2. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”
3. Inis Neziri – “Piedestal”
4. Tiri – “Orë e ndaluar”
5. NA & Festina Mezini – “Tjetër jetë”

William

1. NA & Festina Mezini – “Tjetër jetë”

In a competition known for divas shrieking in pain, this pair takes a step back and turn down the volume. She sounds like a smouldering angel, he like an indie folk star. Together they set my heart alight and make me see unicorns running through fields of gold. A simple, feel-good song with an anthemic chorus, it comes with toe-tapping production that’s part rainforest, part tribal gathering and totally infectious. It’s not likely to win, but it deserves to be the next charity single for an Albanian NGO. It’s nothing but love from me.

2. Bojken Lako – “Sytë e shpirtit”
3. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”
4. LYNX – “Vonë”
5. Inis Neziri – “Piedestal”

Erdi

1. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”

“Mall” is so different, something that we haven’t heard in the festival. Eugent’s voice is no doubt the best Albanian male vocal here. Its melody soars between the Nordics and the Balkans, the best of both worlds. The only bad thing — the FiK version is over four minutes, which could mean a difficult Eurovision edit. But as it is, “Mall” is all but ready to hit the Eurovision stage.

2. Inis Neziri – “Piedestal”
3. Mariza Ikonomi – “Unë”
4. Artemisa Mithi – “E dua botën”
5. Manjola Nallbani – “I njëjti qiell”

Robyn

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”

FiK 56 is dominated by older male performers, which just makes the few solo female acts stand out. Orgesa brings a cool beatnik image but delivers a slick pop track with drum and bass styles. It wouldn’t even need the traditional FiK translation — the song is catchy enough that it holds up with the Albanian lyrics. But ultimately, it’s the only song in Fik 56 that I want to hear again.

2. LYNX – “Vonë”
3. Tiri – “Orë e ndaluar”
4. AkullThyesit – “Divorci”
5. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”

Jonathan

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”

Most of the FiK56 acts are far removed from contemporary, upbeat music, but then along comes Orgesa. “Ngrije zërin” is a clear stand-out track. It could easily be heard on European radio stations, and it’s telling that Orgesa is a radio presenter herself. The music video suggests Orgesa possesses the bundles of attitude this song needs to work live. Having been to Eurovision 2009 as Kejsi Tola’s backing vocalist, performing on a big stage should be no problem for her.

2. Inis Neziri – “Piedestal”
3. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”
4. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”
5. Lorela Sejdini – “Pritëm edhe pak”

Cinan

1. Inis Neziri – “Piedestal”

“Piedestal” is one of the best FiK songs ever! It’s not a typical ballad. “Piedestal” is absolutely memorable, which is important to stand out at Eurovision. It is easy to imagine Inis performing her song on the stage in Lisbon, filling the arena with that powerful voice. Best of all, “Piedestal” has sections that trigger goosebumps — love when that happens! Slay them, honey!

2. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”
3. Luiz Ejlli & Rezarta Smaja – “Ra një yll”
4. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”
5. Mariza Ikonomi – “Unë”

Antranig

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”

Naturally, my favourite FiK entry is the one that sounds the least like a FiK entry. “Ngrije zërin” sounds like a song that you might expect to hear from Norway or Sweden but certainly not Albania. It has the production value, a very catchy hook and a great beat. Albania has the ingredients for success with Orgesa Zaimi and she could definitely get them back to the Eurovision Grand Final.

2. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”
3. Lorela Sejdini – “Pritëm edhe pak”
4. Manjola Nallbani – “I njëjti qiell”
5. LYNX – “Vonë”

Sebastian

1. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”

The days of solo female power ballads from Albania is over — rock is in the house! “Mall” transforms the tired old soft rock style often wheeled out in Festivali i Këngës into something powerful and anthemic. Passionately delivered by Eugent Bushpepa, “Mall” is a definite grower and a true standout this year amongst old rockers and diva powerhouses.

2. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”
3. Manjola Nallbani – “I njëjti qiell”
4. Denisa Gjezo – “Zemër ku je”
5. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”

Marek

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”

In recent years, Albania has revamped slay-worthy Albanian-language ballads and turned them into cheap English-language pop. But now they have a song that will actually work as English pop. “Ngrije zërin” is a wonderful humpy dumpy song that could easily be switched to English and sound just as good as the original Albanian. I know I’m treating Orgesa like a winner but let’s be honest, she is. Congratulations!

2. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”
3. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”/Tiri – “Orë e ndaluar”
4. Lorela Sejdini – “Pritëm edhe pak”
5. Ergi Bregu – “Bum bum”

Jovana

1. Ergi Bregu – “Bum bum”

There’s something about “Bum bum” that’s strangely captivating. Is it the catchy rhythm? Is it the ’90s vibe that grooves with nostalgia? Or is it Ergi’s sweet yet powerful vocals? Quite possibly it’s the combination of all of that. Good luck, Ergi! I hope you make Lisbon go bum-bum!

2. Lorela Sejdini – “Pritëm edhe pak”
3. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”
4. Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”
5. NA & Festina Mezini – “Tjetër jetë”

Luis

1.  Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin”

This woman knows she’s got a great song and you can tell by her attitude. “Ngrije zërin” is catchy, memorable and uplifting, and Orgesa garnishes it with power and self-confidence. It is, by far, the most contemporary entry in FiK 56 and it’s one of the very few songs that is “Eurovision aware”. In the sea of screaming women, which the Eurovision semifinals have become lately, a random balladeer won’t survive. But Amélie Poulain’s dark sister might do it.

2. LYNX – “Vonë”
3. Bojken Lako – “Sytë ë shpirtit”
4. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall”
5. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”

Deban

1. Manjola Nallbani – “I njëjti qiell”

https://youtu.be/ILCG4Xkou0Y

Manjola Nalbani serves drama at the right temperature and works the wind machine like no other act. Her divalicious personality is EVERYTHING, yet she isn’t relying on this asset alone. “I njëjti qiell” as an entry is dynamite! A pop-opera tune with Eurodance stripes. Although it’s in Albanian, it resounds beyond Tirana.

2 .NA & Festina Mezini – “Tjetër jetë”
3. Genc & David Tukiçi – “Të pandarë”
4. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë”
5. Inis Neziri – “Piedestal”

What are your favourite FiK 56 songs? Who do you think should represent Albania at Eurovision? Share your thoughts below!

READ MORE ALBANIA EUROVISION NEWS

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Dona
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Dona

The winner must be one of these:
Inis Neziri – Piedestal, 10/10
Eugent Bushpepa – Mall, 10/10
Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije zërin, 10/10

Vanuatu
Guest
Vanuatu

My top:

1.- Grupi Na & Festina
2.- Eugent
3.- Inis
4.- Xhesika
5.- Orgesa

MAX
Guest
MAX

So, let’s say 1st place = 12pt, 2nd place = 10pt, 3rd place = 8pt, 4th place = 7pt, 5th place = 6 pt, then the WIWI JURY results are : 1 Orgesa Zaimi – “Ngrije zërin” (Raise your voice) 95 pt 2 Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall” (Yearning) 78 pt 3 Inis Neziri – “Piedestal” (Pedestal) 60 pt 4 Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë” (Forever) 56 pt 5 NA & Festina Mezini – “Tjetër jetë” (Another life) 34 pt 6 Manjola Nallbani – “I njëjti qiell” (The same sky) 33 pt 7 Lorela Sejdini – “Pritëm edhe pak” (Wait for me some more) 31 pt 8 LYNX – “Vonë” (Late) 30 pt 9 Mariza Ikonomi – “Unë” (I) 26… Read more »

WorldH
Guest
WorldH

Thanks for the recap 😉

Kris
Guest
Kris

1) Ngerije zerin
2) Mall
3) Piedestal
4) Tjeter jetë
5) E dua botën

Héctor
Guest
Héctor

Too much “Piedestal” here. Don’t you guys see it’s a Böte/Perralle 2.0?? It won’t qualify. Just an average song. Anyway, my top 5: 1. Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall” (7.5/10). Don’t know what he’s singing, but it makes me kinda nostalgic. Some “young blood” in FiK, which is necessary (I know he has partiicpated previously but his style is more fresh than the average male solo rock entry). I don’t really know if I like those high notes, but I’m pleased with the overall entry. It could be in a Disney adventures movie! 2. Xhesika Polo – “Përjetë” (7/10). Xhesika was… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

Out of the #1 picks from the jury members here, I’m Team Mariza. Wonderful voice. The other #1s don’t really stick out at all to me, except maybe Piedestal.

Macus (Day One)
Guest
Macus (Day One)

It has to be Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije zërin It is the only radio friendly, contemporary song and as we’ve seen that goes down well at Eurovision. (Belgium, Bulgaria etc.) It has elements of The chainsmokers, rudimental and that can only be a good thing. With some minor tweaking and good staging sung in either English or Albanian this could be a top 10 entry. Although we all know Albania will pick a woman with a ballad that will be translated to English and revamped so its so forgettable. I just wish Albania would use Kenga Magia instead of FIK… Read more »

Gwendal
Guest
Gwendal

Top 5: 1/ Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije zërin (8/10). Modern, fresh and so forth, but two problems for me: no real climax… and in the same genre, “S’te Fal” was better. 2/ Eugent Bushpepa – Mall (7). The only other suitable song for Albania in ESC 2018… for not being eliminated in SF. 3/ NA & Festina Mezini – Tjetër jetë (7). It’d be eliminated in ESC SF for sure, but it’s still a quality entry. 4/ Manjola Nallbani – I njëjti qiell (7). Lacks a slice of extravaganza, but it should do well. 5/ Artemisa Mithi – E dua… Read more »

Karl Fradgley
Guest
Karl Fradgley

Mall by a country mile ….. seriously.
It is not a Eurovision winner but on a non LED stage with a rock performance could well do a top 15

AM Casablancas
Guest
AM Casablancas

Orgessa and Inis are the only good artists, the rest is too outdated and boring. But the only one that could do work at eurovision is Inis.

D
Guest
D

1) Ngrije zërin
2) Mall
3) E dua botën
4) Orë e ndaluar
5) Piedestal

blondboybc
Guest
blondboybc

1) Eugent–loved it since first listen! Unique. Powerful. Anthemic. Unforgettable. Best voice. Hope they send this! 10/10
—————
2. Inis–somewhat cliche, heard it before, but great singer; could do well. 8.5/10
3. Orgesa–kinda groovy, catchy, but lacks the oomph needed. 8/10
4. Lynx–starts slow, improves over time, good vocals. 7.5/10
5. Xhesika–good singer, emotional, but lacking something overall. 7/10

Zolipop
Guest
Zolipop

Glad to see NA & Festina are not completely forgotten after all 🙂

TJ
Guest
TJ

How on earth can anyone say Piedestal was NOT a typical ballad???? This is EXACTLY the stuff Albania sends us for YEARS now! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING!
But I fear, we’ll get it again, and next year again, and again and again.
Puts me to sleep!

Arthur
Guest
Arthur

It’s not boring at all. It’s very rich, well-produced and not forgettable. It’s like you people are allergic to ballads and all of them sound the same to you. Trashy commercial pop is not good music you know

esc freak
Guest
esc freak

1. Inis Neziri
2. Orgesa Zaimi
3. Xhesika Polo
4. Mariza Ikonomi
5. Eugent Bushpepa

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

The 3 songs I liked: 1) Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije zërin: It’s cool, effective and totally different from what I would expect from Albania. Orgesa style and attitude alone could make her stand out in Lisbon. 2) Inis Neziri – Piedestal: If it was an entry for a different country probably I would be more excited about it, because it’s a good ballad (dated but good). The thing is Albania has overplayed this card. But if they want to play safe (on their notion of safe), I think Inis would be a fresh choice. It’s more remarkable than most of… Read more »

Erasmus
Guest
Erasmus

I don’t think that any of these songs is good enough for the final in Eurovision, espacially this year, which is going to be (I belive) one of the strongest years ever! Even the “modern” ones are dated so yeah. But for me Inis or Orgesa for the win, I belive they would not emd up last in the semis, maybe a 14th place for Inis and 12th for Orgesa.:)

Arthur
Guest
Arthur

You’re talking waayyy too soon

Erasmus
Guest
Erasmus

Maybe, Maybe not;)

Henry
Guest
Henry

Yes! Glad to see Orgesa on top on so many tops, her attitude is amazing.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

1. Manjola Nallbani
2. Orgesa Zaimi
3. Xhesika Polo
4. Genc And David Tukiçi
5. Ergi Bregu

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

Woah, so many mature acts here that it’s even refreshing 😀 1. Eugent Bushpepa – Mall 2. Redon Makashi – Ekziston 3. LYNX – Vonë 4. Voltan Prodani – E Pamundur 5. Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije Zërin As follows: 1. Interesting how they’re going to cut it. Works well as performed like that (leads by viewed numbers also). 2. Simplistic arrangement but still cool song that will benefit from becoming shorter. 3. Well accentuated pop-rock with rather cute male singer 🙂 4. I doubt it’ll make final with this simple perfomance and vocal but overall nice song. 5. I’m being… Read more »

Ju
Guest
Ju

1- Inis Neziri 10/10??????
2- Orgesa 10/10 ??????
3- Artemisa 9.5/10????
4-Xhesika Polo 8/10
5-Mariza Ikonomi 8/10

I’m not a big fan of Mall and Linx . Sorry

Demy
Guest
Demy

NA&Festina is without doubt song and interpretation a very touching song with great chance to achieve a great result in Eurosong!

Nikki
Guest
Nikki

Vonë and Mall for me. I love Unë but it’s four minutes long, they’d have to butcher it for Lisbon, and everyone knows how bad can that be.

ESCViking
Guest
ESCViking

Is Denise still with WiWi blogs?

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Oh, and my favourite is Eugent Bushpepa with “Mall”.

irish esc
Guest
irish esc

same i also love piedestal i feel like one of them deserves to win but i also really love vone and think it could do well in eurovision as well

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Just realised that I will be working through most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings! A bit annoying, but can’t be helped.

atalia
Guest
atalia

my top 5:
1. ore e ndalur
2. pritem edhe pak
3. ngrije zerin
4. vone
5. mall

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

It’s between VONË and Mall to me, but I’ve listened to 12 only. Why not rock like this?
VONË is already prepared in length and well structured, while Mall is better performed and makes more of a solid soundscape effect with emphasis on (seemingly confident) vocal play.

I’ll defo look forward for both of them. No idea on who’s gonna be favoured more with all those returnees…

Gobio
Guest
Gobio

1. Mall
2. perjete
3. Vonë
4. Pritem edhe pak
5. Tjeter jete

I REALLY want “Mall”, but I want mind any of my top 5. Picking ” Piedestal” would be another boring choice that would not account on the last mistakes that Albania made. Btw, does anyone know if the voting system is different this year or not?

Nacho
Guest

Inis stays true to her genre and is a complete package, but I’d really like one of the other upbeat ones like Orgesa to win and break Albania’s non-qualification and screaming ballad girl

1 Piedestal
2 Ngrije zërin
3 E dua botën
4 Vonë
5 Zemër ku je

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB1cpt3CfOo

danielv
Guest
danielv

1. Mall – absolutely the best song I’ve heard in FiK since I follow the festival!
2. Vonë – simply perfect, quality genre, not cliche sh*tpop
3. Piedestal – a bit cliche but still great song, anyway, I hope it won’t win, it’s overrated
4. E dua botën – also a great song
5. Ngrije zërin – not that typical Albanian song since it’s quite modern

ESCHK
Guest
ESCHK

I really hope Albania will send “Ngrije zërin” so they can have a contemporary and catchy song like in 2009, 2010, 2015 and qualify

ArmRus
Guest
ArmRus

“Piedestal” for the win plsss.

Pablo Nava
Member

I only got 3 that really struck me: 1. Lynx – “Vonë” (Easily the most ESC-ready of all. They got the feel of the song to a tee. Even if it could use some editing to really bring it to that catchiness level that Minus One had, this would be a really worthy entry) 2. Manjola Nallbani – “I njëjti qiell” (This… is a funny one. I think Lynx has the stronger song, but this is the one I enjoy the most! The weird space opera bridge, the ‘Swedish schlager/nostalgia’ queen vibe… it has a lot going on and I… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

Vone all the way… Plus, Edd is still at Wiwibloggs?

Catherine
Guest
Catherine

My favourite is NA & Festina

Jessica21
Guest
Jessica21

1. Piedestal
2. Mall
3. Ngrije zerin
4. Vonë
5. E dua botën

Jo
Guest
Jo

1 Vone
2 Mall
3 Une
4 Ngrije zerin

Mall and Vone are in my playlist. Une is too long, a cut would make it better.