Ahead of Festivali i Këngës 57 she won the wiwibloggs fan poll and was hugely popular with the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals. And during the grand final of FiK 57 Jonida Maliqi proved to be just as popular with Albanians, as she took her ethnic electro-ballad “Ktheju tokës” to the top of the scoreboard.

Now — in grand Albanian tradition — the song will undergo nips and tucks in the coming months to reach its fullest potential. But amid any and all changes, one thing is certain in Jonida Maliqi’s mind: the song must remain in Albanian. Our friends at Eurovision Albania first reported moments after the contest, when Jonida made her wish clear during the Post Fest show on Albanian television.

Composed and written by Eriona Rushiti, “Ktheju tokës” translates roughly to “Return to the Land” and speaks to the struggles of emigration from Albania, which has at times stemmed from civil conflict and the Kosovo War.

Speaking to wiwibloggs ahead of the final, Jonida made it clear she has been touched by the topic. She said: “It was very difficult for us — the immigration — as my sister lives in Cyprus. Maybe in every Albanian family we have someone outside our country. I feel it and they feel it. This song is my emotion.”

Her song is fitting given recent events at Eurovision: in 2018 the Albanian diaspora had a major impact on the song contest. Besides Eugent Bushpepa — who managed to reach a respectable eleventh place — two other Albanian-born talents made the Top 5 with critically lauded entries. They were Italy’s Ermal Meta and Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira (who, coincidentally, were both born in the city of Fier).

Keep in mind that the Albanian broadcaster, RTSH, is yet to confirm which language they want their artist to sing in and the artistic direction they wish to take. Jonida’s wish isn’t the final word, as the broadcaster typically has the final say. Just ask the country’s recent artists who have disagreed — often publicly — with the whims of state television. However, with the relative success they saw with the Albanian-language entry “Mall” in Lisbon, it’s hard to see them objecting to Jonida’s request.

Their English language entries have not had as much luck, with their debut entry, Anjeza Shahini’s “The Image of You” being their only English-language entry to figure in the top ten. Mixing Albanian and English has not seen much success either, with their only two instances of multilingual entries failing to make the final in 2007 and 2011.

If the song is kept in Jonida’s native tongue, this would mark the sixth time overall that the Balkan country goes with an Albanian-language song, and only the second time they would send back-to-back entries in Albanian. Before Eugent’s “Mall”, there was “Identitiet” in 2013, followed by their best scoring entry to date, the emotionally-charged “Suus”, that shot all the way up to fifth place in Baku.

What do you think? What does Jonida’s song need to reach its full potential for Tel Aviv? Do you want it in Albanian or in English? Let us know in the comments below!

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EyalGeoJo.Oh I've been waiting for this Russian Fla-la-lagExcited for FIK Recent comment authors
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Eyal
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Eyal

Those are good news!

Oh I've been waiting for this Russian Fla-la-lag
Guest
Oh I've been waiting for this Russian Fla-la-lag

Don’t fix what’s not broken. Keep it up!

Excited for FIK
Guest
Excited for FIK

Yes 🙂 you fix the mistake the war was in kosovo and a civil unrest in Albania so glad to see this ?
I would prefer the song in Albanian.

Loin dici
Guest
Loin dici

I love the idea of English-ing ‘Ktheju tokës’ to generalize the message to a wider audience, yet Albanian’s fluidity and pronunciation made it something more special. Albanian is one of the most beautiful we’ve ever heard of, and IMHO changing it to English doesn’t help to improve the song.

Geo
Guest
Geo

She won’t pass the semifinal, anyway. It was about time for Albania to make a change, to send an up-tempo song (the last time they send a dance song was in 2010!!!!) But nah, that corrupted jury sticked to their usual plan: a boring, dramatic ballad sung by a screaming diva. Nothing new to that (Aurela Gace, Rona Nishliu, Hersi Matmuja, Elhaida Dani, Eneda Tarifa, Lindita and now Jonida). For the love of God, send an uptempo track, they had plenty to choose from (Soni, Dilan Reka… Even Mirud was better)… Well then, maybe in late 2019 they’ll finally make… Read more »

Russian Fla-la-lag
Guest
Russian Fla-la-lag

Uptempo tracks can be bad too

Loin dici
Guest
Loin dici

Well, that’s what the FiK juries loved. Grow up and embrace it.

Geo
Guest
Geo

You grow up… Oh, you’re already old…I forgot! Well, that old, comunist jury must be replaced at once, we’re not in the 90’s anymore. Their goal shall be the qualification, not just the participation. Same song every year: ballad, sung by a female. Last year was a miracle exception, a male. But still a ballad. Time for a change, after so many ballads 8 years in a row

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

They sent a rock song sung by a guy, but that was a long time ago, in 2018 I think.

Geo
Guest
Geo

Read above, dear. Already said it was an exception in 2018, a male… But still with a rock ballad. Use reading glasses next time you wanna seem to be smart pants..

Eastman
Guest
Eastman

If this is a song with a lyrical message intended only for an Albanian speaking audience, then it doesn’t need to be translated. If Jonida wants the message to be understood by a larger audience, then it would help to have at least some of the lyrics in English (eg Romania, Ukraine 2016) or to use some sort of on-screen translation (eg Italy 2018).

Translating the whole song into English would weaken its message.

Gorilla716
Guest
Gorilla716

Everyone is raving about how great this song but I find it quite dull and forgettable. It reminds me a lot of Greece’s song last year and we all know what happened to that. I’m expecting a similar fate to Albania this year unless all of the other countries send crappy songs.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Don’t touch the song, don’t u dare, Jonida!!! Just hire a better stylist. That hairstyle and the dress from FiK performance looked… ok, I won’t say that because I’m a good boy.

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

Smart move. Three entries went English (2 of which even dumped the excellent music they had, to be more “pop-friendly”) and flopped very hard.

Davve
Guest
Davve

Then she can forget placing high!

Pollaski
Guest

Awful hot take is awful.

SLsosjvs
Guest
SLsosjvs

I would like to hear 2 versions, one final version in albanian and the second to be in the ‘1944’ style, so that only the chorus is in Albanian. After that I would decide (based on reaction from the public) which one to send. I don‘t think that saying any way of a english version is bad, bc I really think the melody itself can make or brake the performance.
As of now I would like the song to be in albanian, but I don‘t know how the average european would react to it.

Hello
Guest
Hello

Not to be rude or anything, but in my opinion she needs a new hair stylist… I mean that “Cleopatra-looking” hair makes her look much older than she really is. In the first picture she has a lot better hair style. I won’t be mad if she keeps her hair the way it is tho, it’s her hair after all… (P.S. Sorry for all this drama xD)

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

They should keep it in Albanian and tell the story of the song by the staging
Ktheju Tokës is going to remain one of my favourites of 2019 and that’s for sure!
Also, can somebody tell me what does Suus mean? I couldn’t find a translation to this word :\

Bernis
Guest
Bernis

Suus isn’t an albanian word, but it means” Personal” (in latin I think).

albo
Guest
albo

It’s latin for “Personal”

Eastman
Guest
Eastman

‘Personal’ is the official translation of the song title, but in Latin ‘suus’ means ‘his/her/its/their own’.

avner
Guest
avner

This is not an either / or situation – we can have both. Keeping it mostly in Albanian but at times replacing “Ktheju tokës tende” with, say, “come back to your land” can make the song way more communicative. I understand how romantic the “all original language” idea is, but this song has a strong textual message that should be conveyed to the international audience.

Nikki
Guest
Nikki

I agree, the song has that magical quality that songs like Mall, Amar pelos dois and Origo have and that work better on a native language (and minority one like Albanian is) that in English.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

wise decision

Cleo
Guest

It sounds good but I cannot understand a word, and I feel like I should. So I would prefer English or even combination of both languages. People should understand if song has such a powerful story and background.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Or you can just google the lyrics, you can do it in less than 5 secs…

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

This song simply wouldn’t work in English. Most of its charm comes from the fact that it’s in Albanian.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Very good. There’s no way a translation could do any good on such a finished and soulful product. I’m really getting into the vibe of the song now and actually can’t remember a better season opener than this one. But it took me a couple of times of listening, which the important 50% don’t have at Eurovision.

GUEST
Guest
GUEST

GOOD DECISION !

Rasmus
Guest
Rasmus

Not to translate this is the right decision. In english this would sound very light i think. More true emotions now :). It grows on me. I think we will see Albania go to the final :).

Fast Food Music Lover
Guest
Fast Food Music Lover

She kinda looks like Cardi B during the national final.

Talentina Monetta
Guest
Talentina Monetta

I think she looks like Natalia Kills

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Don’t tell Natalia about that, or she’ll make a scene…^^

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

Viva la diva! Cleopatra!! xD

Rome
Guest
Rome

Everything’s great as it is. What needs to be changed is the staging and her own look.