From the stage to the runway, Jonida Maliqi has been turning heads and perking up ears since the very beginning of the 2019 Eurovision season. An Albanian style icon and social media star with almost half a million Instagram followers (far more than any other woman competing this year), Jonida has made quite the name for herself as one of the most emulated fashionistas in Albania. But her talents reach much farther than television commercials and magazine covers.

Jonida has always been attracted to beauty, whether it manifests in clothing, art or music. But her first and true love is singing. She’s been doing it — and very well — for almost her entire life.

The Tirana-born stunner started her music career in 1993 at just nine years old. She had her Festivali i Këngës (FiK) debut in 1995 and has become a regular, coming second and third and even hosting the contest before taking home the trophy in 2018 with the song “Ktheju Tokës” — her Eurovision 2019 entry.

Translating to “Return to your land”, it’s a hauntingly emotional ballad sung entirely in Albanian. The emotion in Jonida’s voice is crystal clear. But to truly understand the meaning — and feel the power — you need to take a look at the lyrics, which we’ve translated into English below.

“Ktheju Tokës” English lyrics translation – Jonida Maliqi (Albania, Eurovision 2019)

“Ktheju Tokës”

Ti kendon edhe qan
Në duar lotët mbledh
I mban…

Një ditë jeton
Në tjetrën vdes
Sa mall, pak shpresë
I vetëm, pa identitet

Ktheju tokës tende
O njeri që zemrën lë peng
Ktheju tokës tende
Ti e di një zemër të pret

Një ditë jeton
Në tjetrën vdes
Sa mall, pak shpresë
I vetëm, pa identitet

Ktheju tokës tende
O njeri që zemrën lë peng
Ktheju tokës tende
Ti e di një zemër të pret

 

English translation

You sing and you cry
Tears collecting in your hands
You hold them

One day you live
The next day you die
Yearning, with little hope
Alone, with no identity

Return to your land
You left a heart behind
Return to your land
You know a heart awaits you there

One day you live
The next day you die
Yearning, with little hope
Alone, with no identity

Return to your land
You left a heart behind
Return to your land
You know a heart awaits you there

 

What do the Ktheju Tokës lyrics mean?

As you’ll be able to tell from the lyrics, “Ktheju Tokës” is more than just your average power ballad. It’s full of rich meaning, and rife with profound symbolism strewn throughout its poetic verses. The song laments the growing number of Albanians who are leaving their homeland and pleads with them to return. The lyrics seem to imply a sort of symbiotic relationship between Albania and her people — that Albania needs Albanians just as much as they need Albania.

Jonida, who could be imagined as a human personification of Albania itself, cries out like a desperate mother in search of a missing child. As she sings: “Return to your land, you left a heart behind”. But for Jonida Maliqi, “Ktheju Tokës” is more than just a global plea, it’s personal, too. Jonida herself has lost many people close to her to emigration, including her sister who now lives in Cyprus.

From Jonida’s perspective, Albania’s emigration crisis is more than just an Albanian issue, it’s a human issue. In a recent interview with Wiwibloggs, she explained: “In every country we have the same problem. We are all humans and we live in this earth. We need our country, our earth, our flowers our trees, because it’s our identity, our blood, our roots. Like gravity, we need our earth.”

This magnetic attraction between the human spirit and its homeland is painfully apparent in Jonida’s voice and it’s this raw and honest emotion that makes “Ktheju Tokës” such a compelling Eurovision entry.

It’s clear from the beginning of the song that “Ktheju Tokës” is darker than most Eurovision entries this year. The line, “One day you live, the next day you die, yearning, with little hope” is reminiscent of the dark opening lines of Ukraine’s Eurovision 2016 winning entry, “1944”. Indeed both songs are centered around a solo woman singing a mournful requiem to the souls of a tragedy that plagued, or still plagues, her home country, all imbued with personal tragedy. Perhaps whatever worked for Jamala in 2016 will also benefit Jonida in 2019.

The only entirely non-English entry in the second semi final, “Ktheju Tokës” is sure to stand out with its strong sense of Albanian identity and emotional delivery by Jonida Maliqi. And if Albania can manage to deliver an impactful stage show, perhaps with a few tricks up their sleeves, then “Ktheju Tokës” could be a real dark horse (or rather dark eagle) entry this year.

What do you think? Could Albania surprise? Spread those wings and sound off in the comments below!

14
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
SafiyaWhatErvinDawidTibor Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ervin
Guest
Ervin

She deserves to be in top 3

Dawid
Guest
Dawid

I regret that I’ve checked up translation, tbh

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

I really cannot relate to lyrics claiming a “magnetic attraction between the human spirit and its homeland.” This article and the way Jonida Maliqi speaks about this subject pretty much confirms the reservations I talked about in my review.

Hrvatska
Guest
Hrvatska

Very intrested message in song Ktheju Tokës a global problems Albania waiting a performance in stage

Alessio
Guest
Alessio

“Ktheju Tokës” could be a real dark horse 12 point from italy

Safiya
Guest
Safiya

I really like her voice, but this message just doesn’t appeal to me. As an emigrant myself, I don’t think about living in other country as something tragic and I still feel very connected to my homeland, even though I also feel like a citizen of the world. Of course, I can understand and respect the fact that some people need to leave their countries, even though they don’t really want to and that’s probably what the song is about, but still I can’t really relate. I want to like this son more, but somehow I just can’t connect. But… Read more »

Alessio
Guest
Alessio

if it is not tragic, we ask the people of Syria who flee without their will, we ask them if they do not want to live in their land but the boats to come to Europe we ask the people who left the family mother father brothers believe me six also happy where you live but your land is your land where you left your loved ones your loved ones your friends your relatives this is a message that not only touches albania but the whole world im from italy and i see that in my italy come more emigrant… Read more »

Safiya
Guest
Safiya

That’s why I said I realize that there are people who have to leave their country, even thought they want to and I respect that. I can, of course, speak only for myself and that’s what I did.

Safiya
Guest
Safiya

My parents live in another country but nowadays we have so many opporunities to communicate and travel that we talk to each other for several hours a day and see each other very often. Flights between different European countries often don’t take more than several hours. I still miss my parents and friends but I could as well in a live in the same country as them, but in a different city and it will still be the same. Of course there are different situations that make people suffer, so we all have different experiences.

Safiya
Guest
Safiya

Also the lyrics of the song make me feel that it refers to economic emigrants (as far as I know most Albanians emigrate because of unemployment etc.) and not to refugees, who really don’t have any choice to stay in their countries and have to flee. The land in the song is asking the people to come back and it seems that they actually have an option to do it. So it’s different than being a refugee. Also there is a part about lack of identity and I think that the identity is in us, so we don’t actually have… Read more »

What
Guest
What

Times have changed and not everyone will immigrate because of wars or political repression. A lot of people will immigrate for economic opportunities, marriage, etc. That’s the type of migration that a lot of smaller countries in Europe face, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Assad or Maduro forcing them out. Jonida’s sister married a Cypriot, so now she lives there. Does this mean that Jonida’s pain of being distant from her sister is any less painful than the split between families because some could escape a dictatorship and some couldn’t? Splits are splits and they hurt regardless of the… Read more »

alex
Guest
alex

Nice post. She’s in my top 5.

Hannah
Guest
Hannah

Queen Jonida! One of the best voices this year and an amazing song, I have high hopes for this entry

Ita¡
Guest
Ita¡

I have a much much better understanding and respect to her and this song. Beautifully written. I had this song ranked in my bottom five and now it’s a sure qualifier. And her voice. WoW!