Albania’s Festivali i Këngës starts tonight, offering three big nights of epic Albanian songs, one of  which will also be Albania’s entry for Eurovision 2019. But which song should make it to Tel Aviv? The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has listened to all the studio versions of the songs.

Like last year, the late release of the songs hasn’t given us enough time listen to and review all the songs to the usual Wiwi Jury standard.

Instead, our 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 57 favourite. So, which were the songs we’d like to see at Eurovision? Read on to find out!

Antranig

1. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”

There are six really good songs in Albania — the five I have listed here and Orgesa Zaimi’s “Hije”. There isn’t much to separate these six songs for me, with Lidia’s vocals, Artemisa & Febi’s duet and Soni’s attitude all key highlights. If I had to choose one winner though, it would be Jonida Maliqi. The song starts with an eerie echoing beat which is reminiscent of Dami Im’s “Sound of Silence”. It is a lot more dramatic though, with experimental flourishes complementing killer vocals. I’ll be happy with any of these six entries but Jonida offers Albania a modern experimental track that they’ve never had in their arsenal up to this point.

2. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”
3. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”
4. Klodiana Vata – “Mbrëmje e pafund”
5. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”

Barnabas

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”

The dark horse of last year’s edition takes us on a musical journey in “Hije”, showcasing her huge talent as she sings, raps, and even just recites in a fusion entry that blends together funk, ’80s synthpop, and edgy nu-metal. With the recent changes to FiK, hopefully Orgesa will get staging centred around her, because I’m sure she’ll make a huge show on that stage. Next stop, Tel-Aviv? I am FiK-in buying that!

2. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”
3. Alar Band – “Dashuria nuk mjafton”
4. Klodiana Vata – “Mbrëmje e pafund”
5. Bruno Pollogati – “Nuk ka stop”

Luis

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”

I like six or seven out of the 20 songs that Orgesa has mixed into this track. “Hije” doesn’t even come close to “Ngrije zerin”, but this year’s field is way weaker. The positive things about this entry is that it stands out immediately and has immense potential, knowing Orgesa’s quirkiness and attitude. It is a borderline trainwreck at the moment, but Albanians are experts of remastering entries, and they surely could give this song the drive it needs and a cool music video by March.

2. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”
3. Dilan Reka – “Karma”
4. Bojken Lako – “Jeto jetoj”
5. Mirud – “Nënë”

Lukas

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”

Finally Albania is giving us some very strong entires to choose from. Orgesa Zaimi, with her song “Hije”, stood out the most and is my number one for this selection. There is just something very edgy and unique about her voice and performances. This song has a very interesting beats and keeps my interest throughout. I love that it is mostly in Albanian and Orgesa is serving some strong attitude. Everything just sounds so cool and modern. Orgesa says she’s not going to lose her cool, so fingers crossed that maybe 2019 will be her year to shine at Eurovision.

2. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”
3. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”
4. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”
5. Mirud – “Nënë”

Deban

1. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”

A richly textured mood piece that tugs deeply on my emotions. Aurel’s voice conveys a balanced sensitivity within its distinct quality. Beautiful, soaring and magical at the same time, “Të dua ty” is undoubtedly a masterpiece. Aurel’s skilful tone and demeanour is first rate. If this represents Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest, expect a top-ten finish.

2. Mirud – “Nënë”
3. Klodiana Vata – “Mbrëmje e pafund”
4. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”
5. Kelly – “A më ndjen”

Chris

1. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”

An ethno-pop banger with some minor hints of Rona Nishliu? Sign me up. Jonida stands head and shoulders above what can only kindly be described as a mediocre field at FiK this year. Whilst the song isn’t Eurovision-ready just yet, Albania have a fairly positive track record when it comes to Eurovision revamps. If “Ktheju tokës” has some epic staging (that it wholly deserves), this could easily deliver a rich result for Albania in Tel Aviv.

2. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”
3. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”
4. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”
5. Bojken Lako – “Jeto jetën”

Lucy

1. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”

This was a difficult one to shout as I adore Orgeza, but Artemisa’s vocals are just gorgeous on this; they are so lifting and crystal clear much like her entry in FiK 56. Though this song is significantly more contemporary, certainly aided by a hint of rap from Febi Shkurti. I think this is the most realistic to be successful on a Eurovision stage, with its anthemic vibes and its potential for good staging, plus a “ohhh-ohh-ohh” hook never hurt anyone. Though no matter what, if this wins… Keep. It. In. Albanian.

2. Orgeza Zaimi – “Hije”
3. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
4. Lorela Sejdini – “Vetmi”
5. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”

Jonathan

1. Dilan Reka – “Karma”

After sending some quite dramatic and emotional songs over the past eight years or so, it wouldn’t hurt Albania to loosen up and get in the party spirit. Dilan would provide a great change in dynamic for the country at the contest and “Karma” is already three minutes in length so doesn’t need a massive revamp to cut it down. Add the lights, the LEDs and the backing dancers and I’m ready to put my dancing shoes on and boogie the night away in Tirana.

2. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
3. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”
4. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”
5. Alar Band – “Dashuria nuk mjafton”

Josh

1. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”

The moment I heard the opening beats, it gave me chills! From the driving drum rhythms to the traditional flute melodies, to Jonida’s passionate vocals, the song seems to convey the emotional and painful (yet resilient) history of the Albanian people in song. The electronic notes throughout also help give it a more current sound and lift it from just being a “paying tribute to our traditional musical history” theme. I can only hope the staging/costuming lifts the song in the way it deserves!

2. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”
3. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”
4. Klinti Çollaku – “Me jetë”
5. Mirud – “Nënë”

Sebastian

1. Mirud – “Nënë”

Although it can straddle the lines of monotony at times, there’s no denying Mirud’s voice is something fine. He blends low tones with high falsettos, and soft tones with powerful – making this song a whole vocal package. Its strength lies in its Albanian authenticity — so please don’t FiK this around with an English translation.

2. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”
3. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
4. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”
5. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”

Robyn

1. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”

There’s a lot going on in “Hije” and in a lesser song it could risk being a bit mish-mash. But “Hije” feels like it’s taking the listener on a journey. There are nods to the traditional FiK orchestra, the ever-present Albanian guitar and some ’80s house piano and turntablism (why not!). But the star of the song is Orgesa. She serves loads of attitude and promises to deliver something amazing at the live FiK shows. It would be an unusual choice for Eurovision, but I’m ready for it.

2. Dilan Reka – “Karma”
3. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”
4. Klinti Çollaku – “Me jetë”
5. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”

Jordi

1. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”

Lidia Lufi’s modern yet alternative offering serves a unique flavour, but not without traditionality and some rewarding ethnic sounds. It is by far one of the most different entries in FiK 57, along with its memorable and explosive chorus. This song manages to grab the listener’s attention to some extent and has a good edgy vibe. If performed well, it has lots of potential. And I’m not leaving without mentioning song’s aesthetic instrumental break! Please, yes! It’s a grower!

2. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”
3. Eranda Libohova – “100 pyetje”
4. Mirud – “Nënë”
5. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”

Kristin

1. Marko Strazimiri & Imbro – “Leyla”

As soon as I heard the very first notes, I knew that Marko and Imbro were offering me something completely different and not to mention beyond beautiful. This is the only song from FiK 2018, that I’ve put on repeat, and rightfully so, in my humble opinion. The ethnic flute, the atmosphere of the song, their amazing vocals — everything just works and makes this song worth every single second. Cannot wait to see how they will stage this, because given the right staging, this could be the ultimate dark horse. Oh, and no transferring over to English — a big no-no!

2. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”
3. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”
4. Alar Band – “Dashuria nuk mjafton”
5. Dilan Reka – “Karma”

Mario

1. Dilan Reka – “Karma”

Dilan Reka is one of my favourite FiK vocalists ever! He sings like a hot knife through butter and “Karma” proves his abilities well. The ’80s disco vibes makes it a clear stand-out from more traditional entries, and the Albanian language seems to flow smoothly for such fast number. With some equally engaging staging this could be a dark horse at Eurovision — just think of Lithuania 2012! Bonus points for avoiding the regular guitar solo.

2. Marko Strazimiri & Imbro – “Leyla”
3. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”
4. Mirud – “Nënë”
5. Aurel Thëllimi – “Të dua ty”

Pablo

1. Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”

I read once that we would only see Soni Malaj in FiK if it was sure she would win it all. With a song like this one, she can stock up on the confidence. This string-and-brass musical trip takes all the goodness of Ledina Celo’s “Tomorrow I Go” and pushes it into this day and age. Ethnic, addictive and powerful, this diva brings some serious Balkan power to the table. I’m daydreaming about how would the staging for this would look in Tel Aviv.

2. Klodiana Vata – “Mbrëmje e pafund”
3. Dilan Reka – “Karma”
4. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”
5. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”

What are your favourite FiK 57 songs? Who do you think should represent Albania at Eurovision? Share your thoughts below!

Read more Albania Eurovision news

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Tibor
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Tibor

I haven’t listened to all the songs in depth, but my first impression gives an edge to Mirud, although live his vocals and sound mixing were off, but that can be worked on. It’s a stunningly beautiful song and works grandiosely in the studio cut. Orgesa Zaimi’s studio cut is also great, I particularly like the pre-chorus. But I’m neither very fond of her live performance nor of her Yoko-Ono-clone-style stage outfit (what was she thinking?). Jonida Maliqi also caught my attention at first, I very much like the verses but the chorus is a huge let down. And her… Read more »

Evan
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Evan

My ears love Mirud and “Nënë,” but my eyes are absolutely obsessed. Boy is coooot.

Semione
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Semione

I think Orgesa sang the best, but Jonida will likely win. Soni will have to correct the vocals if she wants to win.

Anna
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Anna

My Top 3:
1. Mirud – Song-wise it never caught my attention tbh. But WOW!! That performance was really good. Though I think there were some sound issues, but he still was very good. Bravo!
2. Jonida Maliqi – I love the song and the performance was good. But I think that I don’t like her stage presence. 🙁 She also had some sound issues btw.
3. Lidia – She also was very good at live and the song is interesting.

Sabrina
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Sabrina

It will be hard for any country to have as many good options as Albania. My favorites: Jonida and Mirud. They sound grandiose and classy. Both seemed to have some sound issues tonight, so we’re still to see their whole potential. I would love to have Orgesa in Eurovision, but I guess her entry is too edgy for FiK. Lidia’s song sounded way better live, the studio version needs some polishing. Aurel did great also, his song came alive with the choir and the orchestra. Klinti has great vocals, though his laid-back style favors Mirud in comparison. There’s also Soni… Read more »

Lourdes
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Lourdes

I so agree with you. Mirud is also 1 of my favorites, although there were some issues and he looked a bit nervous and insecure. I hope he improves tonight. I also looove Ktheju tokes, but for some reason I didn’t like Jonida. Her voice put me off at times and I felt a bit cold during her performance. If only Lidia would have Jonida’s song! It would have been perfect 😀

Sabrina
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Sabrina

Always nice to see you here, Lourdes! I was under the impression that both Mirud and Jonida faced sound mixing issues. His voice is more powerful, so he was able to deal with them better than Jonida, whose voice was lost into the background. It would be interesting to see Lidia singing her song, but there’s something about Jonida’s voice that really fits it. I hope she does a better job on the next nights.

aline
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aline

My favorite is Michele Cuveliers or Aline Van Rossem

Dave
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Dave

My old Eurovision fan senses tell me that Mirud will win after tonight’s live performance LOL. He killed it despite the technical issues. Jonida disappointed me tho. :/

Colin
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Colin

Good selection. My favorites are:
1. Mirud
2. Jonida
3. Artemisa & Febi
4. Aurel
5. Eliza

Rome
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Rome

Mirud should win! D:

Lourdes
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Lourdes

Miruuuuud!!!! Albania please!!!!

Aytek
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Aytek

What a beatiful festival for Albenia. Lot of good songs and hard to pick a winner. I hope this year albania gets a place in top 10 at Tel Aviv ! Congrats from Turkey 😀
By the way my favourite is Mirud ! I hope he wins the Festival and represent his country with that beatiful and meaningful song and of course with his magical voice.
2nd : Aurel Thellimi
3rd : Jonida Maliqi
4th : Eranda Libohova
5th : Artemisa Mithi and Febhi Shkurti

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

oh Aurel is such a grower…

Héctor
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Héctor

I was expecting more support towards Mirud, but…

Polegend Godgarina
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Antranig starting the season with taste and quality! I didn’t expect the Ogresa stanning at all tbh.

PP77
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PP77

My TOP 3
1.Jonida Maliqi (with her Albania from 7 to 10 from place in final)
2.Eranda Libohova ( from 10 to 14 place in final)
3.Klodiana Vata ( from 12 to 16 in final)

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

Mirud can pull off a 7-10 result too but yeah, these four are the only possible finalists.

Jo.
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Jo.

ESC Potential:
1. Mirud (ESC Top 10 song, epic, familiar)
2. Klinti Çollaku (Modern, fresh, R&B flavour, radio hit)
3. Jonida Maliqi (Jamala-ish, Middle-Eastern, modern yet traditional)
4. Aurel Thëllimi (emotional, gripping chorus, reformed piano-ballad)

All 4 in Albanian, no English is needed. My 5th place goes to Orgesa, but I don’t think her song would do very well in the contest.
Overall, great selection!

olvresc
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olvresc

Am I the only one who thinks Hije is so so very bad?

Escfan
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Escfan

Omg no I think the same. Orgesa was great last year but her song this year has gone down in the quality as the general quality of the selection has gone up