albania

Wiwibloggs continues our series looking at the countries currently competing in the Eurovision Song Contest and the reasons why we love them. Albania has graced the Eurovision stage on 15 occasions since their debut back in 2004. A country of contrasts, the land of the eagles has reached the heights and hit the lows.

They’ve mastered the art of getting the attention by (usually) being the first country to select their participant, and then being among the last to present the final version of their entry which may sound like a completely new song. Today, we give you 10 reasons to love Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest.

1. Festivali i Këngës

The one and only. Festivali i Këngës is Albania’s longest running music festival, predating the country’s participation at Eurovision by four decades. But ever since Albania’s debut at Eurovision, the festival has served as their selection as well. Albania’s Christmas gift for Europe is three or four shows packed with classic ballads, rock power and several bops a year. It’s usually the first selection of the year, and Eurovision fans crave for FiK to begin: it means the game is on.

2. They can hold the long notes

As Eugent Bushpepa proved this year, if there’s something Albanians don’t run short of, it’s vocal power. Usually. In fact, Albania has an impressive record: two of their Eurovision entrants held notes longer than 10 seconds: Rona Nishliu in 2012, and Lindita in 2017, who set the all-time record for the longest note at Eurovision: 20 seconds. Those lungs could inflate a hot air balloon!

3. Their selection process brings double excitement

Albanians know how to keep the buzz about their entry. For one, their song is the first one to be chosen most years. But then, three months later, BOOM! They bring their revamp. Some years there’s not much difference, like in 2013; other years it’s a very wise move, such as 2009, 2010 or 2015… and then there’s 2014 and 2016. Let’s just say those experiments didn’t live up to Hersi and Eneda‘s skills.

4. Their music videos are the most diverse thing ever

Albanian videos are hit or miss. Sometimes, they bring little pieces of audiovisual art, like in 2010, 2012, 2015 or 2018 to name a few; other years their videos are so crappy you have to love them. I’m looking at you, Aurela Gace. Remember those five flying Aurelas dressed like eagles? And what about Kejsi Tola dancing on a ’90s chroma? Or maybe the pink folds of Eneda‘s cape looking very feminine?

5. They give their singers extreme makeovers

It’s obvious that Festivali i Këngës is not a fashion show, but listen, most of the times the outfits are a bit too much. Which is weird because at Eurovision, the Albanian acts are usually on point in terms of clothing (let’s leave Elhaida’s dress for the Eurovision final out in this statement, shall we?) This creates WTF comparisons, for example, Olta Boka‘s radical change.

…or Juliana Pasha‘s. Yes, that’s the same person in both photos. And the left one was taken before the right one.

6. They’re not afraid to be authentic

Albania has displayed their rich heritage many times at Eurovision — they even sent a song called “Identitet”! We saw Albanian folk music in 2006 with Luiz Ejlli and at least some hints of it on their 2005 hot mess performance. We’ve seen many eagles, and even Hersi proudly had her country’s two-headed eagle ‘tattooed’ on her back.

7. Their backing vocalists and dancers also have their moments

Even though Albania has never sent a group to Eurovision, only one of their entrants — Rona Nishliu — has been alone on stage. To garnish their performances, Albanians have done absolutely everything: from a group of dancing accountants providing the backing vocals for Anjeza Shahini, to whatever it was that Ledina Celo‘s troupe was doing behind her. We’ve had dramatic guitar and violin solos, intense hand choreography, and the sassiest backing vocalists ever: Juliana Pasha‘s trio in 2010. They deserve their own show.

8. Guitar solos

If Albania is known for something, it is for their love of guitar solos. Year after year, we’re delighted with almost 20 FiK entries, out of which at least 15 contain a classic rock guitar solo. Some years, one of them even reaches Eurovision, and it gives glorious moments like Identitet’s pyro-guitar solo!

9. Rona Nishliu

Let’s be honest: most of the countries would not dare to send “Suus” to Eurovision. But Albania did it: they gave us a modern classic. And we gave them their best result ever and their first Barbara Dex Award. Më ler ni te qaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaj. 

10. Kejsi Tola’s weird and wonderful staging

In 2009 Moldova went for a traditional folk style and so abandoned their status of having the craziest stagings at Eurovision. So Albania came by and said, “hold my beer”.  They decided to send 16-year-old Kejsi Tola on a fantastical journey joined by twin elves and a man disguised as a turquoise disco ball. What a glorious three minutes of television.

Bonus fact! Albania has never sent a group to Eurovision

Albanians have done Eurovision solo or in a duo, but the land of the eagles has never taken a group to the Eurovision stage. Despite regularly having bands like Na or LYNX at their national final, the Albanian jury has never picked any of those. Will it be time for a group in 2019?

Read more Albania Eurovision news here

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FIK BluesAngiePJamesJavierpp77 Recent comment authors
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FIK Blues
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FIK Blues

Albania sends a lot of diverse acts. All singers have been very professional, even the ones that have just been discovered by talent shows, and the performances can be anything from really touching to really cheesy and fun. Sometimes what happens is that fans dislike the song or the changes during the actual competition, and then when they go back and look through the years, they end up liking the songs and performances. Like Kejsi Tola’s performance, I remember it did not impress that many people at first, but then over the years it has become a favorite just for… Read more »

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

Albania is relatively new to Eurovisionm compared to other countries. But everyone loves Albania already.
They’ve given us great female vocalists (still can’t understand 2012’s song success despite amazing vocals)
They’ve offered maybe the most memorable staging for me which was 2009.
They are always the very first to choose their entry.
They are known for the revamps which aren’t always good.

pp77
Guest
pp77

For me best 3 song from Albania 2010 than 2012 and 2005. I also like song from 2008,2009,2015,2018
With song from 2010 they deserved to be in TOP 5 that year.

Pablo
Guest
Pablo

There are millions of reasons to love Albania in the Eurovision. However, the main ones are as follows: 1. “Festival i Kenges” is the third oldest televised song contest in Europe (since 1962), following Eurovision and Sanremo. 2. “Festival i Kenges” is the only one to still maintain a conductor and a full live orchestra, hence being superior in quality and the costliest one in Europe as well. 3. Albania is the only participating country to have never subscribed to any Eurovision trends. They provide high art – not troll acts – and they are determined to promote and protect… Read more »

Javier
Guest
Javier

I agree with you. BTW, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen (since 1958) is older than Festival i Kenjes.?

Pablo
Guest
Pablo

@Javier: No, “Melodifestivalen” was broadcast only on “Sverige Radio” – not their television. “Festival i Kenges” is the third-oldest TELEVISED song contest in Europe.

Helmet
Guest
Helmet

I thought Melfest was first broadcast on TV in 1960?

ESC Freak
Guest
ESC Freak

The first TV broadcast of “FiK” was in 1958. The festival simply rebranded in 1962. However, if we want to nitpick like that, then “Festival i Kenges” began as a radio broadcast in 1949 (though only with five songs) thus being the first ever song contest not just in Europe but in the world!

Helmet
Guest
Helmet

Thanks ESC Frank! Wow Pablo, did you know this?

Pablo
Guest
Pablo

I did, Helmet, though it is important to highlight the fact that the first televised edition of “Festival i Kenges” in 1958 was aired on “Televisioni i Populit” (English: People’s Television) and not in “RTSH” that replaced it in 1960 and which is Albania’s public broadcaster to this day. “TIP” existed between 1950 to 1958 and telecasted five hours a day (mostly news and educative programs) and the first edition of “Festival i Kenges” in 1958 began as a New Year show with three songs. However, the contest’s radio broadcast had began as early as 1949 and that served as… Read more »

Javier
Guest
Javier

@Pablo OK I Know, thanks.

Eastman
Guest
Eastman

Why does Sanremo’s orchestra and conductor not count? Do they have to use a cut-down orchestra because of the small venue size?

ESC Freak
Guest
ESC Freak

Because “Sanremo” does not use a full-size orchestra. In fact, most of “Sanremo” participants sing over an instrumental and use pre-recorded backing vocals. That is not the case in Albania where apart from the HD broadcast and other technologies, everything else is done manually and 100% live at “Festival i Kenges”.

Tosi
Guest
Tosi

Yet they frequently deny that glorious orchestral sound by revamping to an inferior English pop version for Eurovision. Heartbreaking! I wish Albania would have more faith in the song arrangement that wins the national final. #bushpepa #nishliu

Loin dici
Guest
Loin dici

Oh, Albania—the country of sizzling vocals and amazing pipes!

Camilla
Guest
Camilla

Eugent Bushpepa is my winner this year. I don’t understand Albania, but I’ve read the translated version of the lyrics of his song Mall and felt so touched. Beaides, Eugent’s powerful voice really shocked me.

kspz
Guest
kspz

just 1 fact: two from particips are from Kosovo

Joe
Guest
Joe

Now I can comment! Good. Like I said before, a very underrated country that’s starting to get its groove back. Lots of strong vocalists from Albania, none more so than Rona Nishliu and her crazy but wonderful performance in 2012, still my favorite.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Let’s hope that 2018 was a new beginning for Albania, and not just an isolated case.

Eyal
Guest
Eyal

I love Albania because it’s a beautiful country with very nice and warm people. I loved visiting that country and will hopefully be back!!

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

From the vocally flawless masterpieces Suus, Mall and Zëmren E Lamen Peng to the absolute bops Carrey Me In Your Dreams, I’m Alive and It’s All About You, Albania is diverse and very strong! Too bad their 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2016 entries were such disasters. Vocally they are always strong, and their songs are either really good or really bad. FiK is always a great wake-up call that Eurovision is coming up, and there are always some really good songs in there. The Albanian revamps are notorious for a reason tho, the slayed with Mall but the butchered Bote… Read more »

James
Guest
James

From my understanding, Lindita intended ahead of time that “Bote” would be in English if she won. If I read it right, she wrote the English version first, and then the one in Albanian which she submitted for Festival i Kenges.

Reality Checker
Guest
Reality Checker

It says everything about the lack of quality of your song when you have to brag about how long can hold a note (2017), but the 2012 version of that was bad ass because she had actual substance. Personally, I liked 2015 a lot, but the performance was more miss than hit.

ESCFan2009 (male, 22, German)
Guest
ESCFan2009 (male, 22, German)

Now the melody of their 2010 entry is sticking in my head for today 🙂 It’s all about you… nanananana… I love it! 🙂

JEFFERSON
Guest
JEFFERSON

I love Albania, since its debut the only music I do not like is 2007, they are in my final of 2004,2005,2006,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2014,2015,2016,2017 and 2018. 2013 I like it too.

Fredrik
Guest
Fredrik

The backing vocalists for Ledina Pasha should every song have 🙂

Albanian
Guest

Juliana not Ledina ???

Herr Frau
Guest
Herr Frau

That guy in the teal suit still gives me the creeps!

Erasmus
Guest
Erasmus

TBH I just think they should switch the selection method. And I don’t mean by this that they just cancel FiK, because I know it has long history and I respect it, but this festival is costing Albania to send modern/popular acts. I know that Era Istrefi probably doesn’t want to do ESC, but they have many other great acts.

Dave
Guest
Dave

There are other countries to send modern/popular acts. Albania is doing something special.

Loin dici
Guest
Loin dici

I agree to disagree, though, FiK’s history and acoustic uniqueness made it something as special as Melfest and Sanremo, something that is close to this age’s Eurovision fans.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

They had modern acts at FiK 2017, such as Orgesa and Lynx. What they really need to change is the jury panel, filled with people ready to accept those acts.

Eee Pee
Guest
Eee Pee

Just thinking about the quirks of FIK. Every year it is fun to see the backing singers looking glamorous but wearing giant headphones. Also how they put the drummer in a box because he is too loud! No shade though – Albania don’t take the headphones to Eurovision, unlike Slovenia 2015!!!

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

They should keep singing in Albanian (Elhaida was special)
Albanian is such a beautiful language and it works perfectly, Suus and Mall were flawless <3

LavliAzeriBoy
Guest
LavliAzeriBoy

Albania is one of my favorite Eurovision countries, but sometimes they make me mad with their song translations. They just don’t get it that they are doing much better with songs in Albanian than in English.

Albania’s 2008 entry (yes, “Zemren e lame peng”) is my all time favorite Eurovision song ever. I know it’s kind of a random choice for many people, but I LOVED it since first listen. I also love their 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and of course 2018 entries. I loved “I’m Alive” too. But the live performance was really bad IMO.

James
Guest
James

Another bonus thing I like about Albania: All their English song titles sound like names of romance novels with Fabio and a random lady gracing the cover: “The Image of You”, “One Night’s Anger”, “Carry Me in Your Dreams”, “Tomorrow I Go”, “Feel the Passion”, and “I’m Alive”, et al.

😀

Kio
Guest
Kio

Did you diss Elhaida’s gorgeous look on there? Shame on you…

Eee Pee
Guest
Eee Pee

Alot of people say ‘it is time for X country to win Eurovision’ well I think it is time for Albania to win! FIK always has good songs but they need to stop “de-vamping” them. I hope the success of Suus and Mall will give Albania the confidence to keep the original lyrics and not mess with English. Albanian is a beautiful language!

Jack Lawson
Editor

I’m so glad you used the video of Ngrije Zërin for Number 1! Orgesa Zaimi has one of the best songs of the 2018 National Finals season!!

Eastman
Guest
Eastman

I won’t hear a bad word said against Hersi and One Night’s Anger – the calm, peaceful core of Eurovision 2014.

Free your mind from the doubts that are tickling
Free your heart and let the peace enlighten your feelings
Sun will rise and the light will be clearing
The tides of the night
Keep calm and think twice