Tomorrow night, Thursday 19 December, the long-running Albanian song contest Festivali i Këngës will kick off its 58th edition. Over three nights, 20 acts will compete, and the winner will go on to represent Albania at Eurovision 2020. But who should win that ticket to Rotterdam?

The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has listened to all the studio versions of the competing songs. We’ve each listed our top five songs from FiK58 along with a review of our absolute favourite. Where there any surprises in this year’s line-up? Read on to find out!

Antranig

1. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

Who are you and what have you done with FiK? Usually there’s one or two decent songs in Albania but this year there’s about 15. That said, there’s still one song standing heads and shoulders above the competition. Elvana Gjata brings something fresh to Albania — transitioning from ethereal to banging. Also major props for “Me tana” being the first-ever FiK entry written this side of the industrial revolution.

2. Wendi Mancaku – “Ende”
3. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
4. Gena – “Shqiponja e lirë”
5. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”

Barnabas

1. Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandorës”

Eugent Bushpepa is back, and he’s back with a bang! The rock maestro who represented the eagle nation back in Lisbon is competing at FiK as a composer this time, and he has put together a powerful symphonic metal anthem for the raspy-voiced Valon. We may have been wishing for rock acts like Floor Jansen or Within Temptation to compete at Eurovision, but we might still get that kind of musical geniality from Albania in Rotterdam! The song operates with a killer riff, keeping up a tempo that even excuses the missing guitar solo (which would have been in there in a longer version perhaps). Now all I need is the juries not to screw it up on the big time. Rock on, Valon (and Eugent)!

2. Kanita Suma – “Ankth”
3. Renis Gjoka – “Loja”
4. Eli Fara & Stresi – “Bohemë”
5. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”

Lucy

1. Aldo Bardhi – “Melodi”

I’m absolutely here for this complete bop with a soul/funk flair! When listening to this for the first time, I shan’t lie, I was moving. It got me instantly obsessed with its vibe and the “ani, ani, ani, ani” hook pulled me in further. Throw in the perfect instrumental fling past the chorus and I’m sold. It’s also worth mentioning Aldo came second in The X Factor Albania and also this year took part in Kenga Magjike 2019. Thus, Aldo is not shy of the camera, and he puts on one hell of a performance. I cannot wait to see him break out the moves to “Melodi”.

2. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen”
3. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”
4. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
5. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”

Sebastian

1. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

All aboard the Elvana hype train. “Me tana” is a hark back to what made Eurovision great –  a foreign language, visually appealing, ethno-banger which introduces a cultural sound to a non-familiar audience. In a national selection which can be often criticised for sounding dated (cue FiK guitars), Evlana brings a youthful fire and reinvigorates the Albanian sound. She finally brings a modern pop sensibility. The appeal is more in the production and instrumental, but no doubt Elvana’s stage presence will be a welcome addition.

2. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
3. Era Russi – “Eja merre”
4. Gena – “Shqiponja e lirë”
5. Aldo Bardhi – “Melodi”

Luis

1. Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandorës”

An epic rock anthem for Albania? Yes, please. “Identitet” needs to be avenged, and “Kutia e Pandorës” might be the song to do it. This song ticks all the boxes of what this genre demands, and many times success doesn’t come by innovating, but by mastering a formula. Valon’s rich and deep voice fits perfectly the vertiginous instrumental, and it gives this entry a sense of strength and aplomb. I can’t wait to see the Festivali i Këngës orchestra playing this song: it’s bound to be a bombastic performance.

2. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”
3. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”
4. Eli Fara & Stresi – “Bohemë”
5. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen”

Esma

1. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

This year, Albania is giving us some very strong entries to choose from. Yet, there is one fan favourite that really stands out in the 58th edition of Festivali i Këngës and it’s Elvana Gjata with her song “Me tana”. This song combines the Albanian language and culture beautifully and you can hear that there is an amazing production behind it. “Me tana” has great potential to do well with the Eurovision audience and juries!

2. Kanita Suma – “Ankth”
3. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
4. Wendi Mancaku – “Ende”
5. Era Russi – “Eja merre”

Åri

1. Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandorës”

The Bushpepa-penned progressive symphonic metal track “Kutia e Pandorës” is coming to take FiK by storm. In an edition with many dull and generic songs, this one is honestly leagues above the rest (even though I love several other songs in this edition). All that’s left for me is to hope that the jury will be a metal-friendly one.

2. Kamela Islamaj – “Më ngjyros”
3. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen”
4. Renis Gjoka – “Loja”
5. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

William

1. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

Elvana isn’t just giving him her all, she’s giving her all to us. “Me Tana” is an ethno-banger that showcases the rhythm and sounds of the region while giving Elvana enough space to show off her intoxicating voice. The transition from the meditative intro to the sensual verses is perfect. My two reservations about the song are that the instrumentals drag on a bit and that there isn’t yet a memorable climax. Thankfully it’s currently 40 seconds too long for Eurovision. The edit will, no doubt, make the song tighter and more compact. And hopefully they’ll throw in a MOMENT toward the end. Do that and Albania will be on to a very competitive song for ESC.

2. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”
3. Gena – “Shqiponja e lirë”
4. Kanita Suma – “Ankth”
5. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen”

Erdi

1. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

For years, Albanian Eurovision fans have been waiting for Elvana to represent Albania at Eurovision — and now is definitely the right time. If Elvana wins, it will change the way Albanian artists see Festivali i Kenges and may attracted even bigger names. “Me Tana” is a bop and this is what Eurovision fans need the most. Elvana has the talent and experience to represent Albania in the best way possible.

2. Kanita Suma – “Ankth”
3. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”
4. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
5. Albërie Hadërgjonaj – “Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua”

Tom

1. Kanita Suma – “Ankth”

Albania, I take my hat off to you – what an incredible year of songs! My winner is Kanita Suma with her incredible power ballad, “Ankth”. Even though I do not understand the language, I can feel her emotion, her pain, her passion and her drive building through the song. This song doesn’t need any backing dancers or flashy effects — it is pure, raw and an emotional roller-coaster. I see a spotlight, I see her alone and I see her winning FiK58 – I love it!

2. Wendi Mancaku – “Ende”
3. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
4. Elvana Gjata – “Me Tana”
5. Aldo Bardhi – “Melodi”

Robyn

1. Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandorës”

Maybe it’s my teenage metalhead phase reemerging, but I love what’s going on with “Kutia e Pandorës”. There’s some nice crunchy rock happening, with orchestral interjections reminiscent of Metallica’s symphony orchestra album crossed with a 1970s Bond score. And then there’s that groovy 1970s disco bassline. On top of it all is Valon’s enticing rock growl, bringing menace and gravitas to the performance. I’m ready for this Pandora’s box to be opened in Rotterdam.

2. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen”
3. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”
4. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”
5. Kamela Islamaj – “Më ngjyros”

Florian

1. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana”

“Me tana” might be the most promising song to enter FiK in recent years. While past Albanian entries were often given a refresh before the contest, Elvana Gjata delivers an extremely contemporary piece of music. Its striking ethnic touch from the Albanian language could be played in clubs, at Eurovision parties and would be a great way to begin the new decade for Albania.

2. Era Russi – “Eja merre”
3. Arilena Ara – “Shaj”
4. Albërie Hadërgjonaj – “Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua”
5. Kanita Suma – “Ankth”

What do you think? What are your favourites from FiK58? Who should win the ticket to Rotterdam? Tell us your thoughts below!

Read more Albania Eurovision news here

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Mara
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Mara

My winner: Elvana!!!
Complete my top 3: Era and Gena. Gena’s song might not be popular but pay attention to it people

Catriona Colville
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Catriona Colville

Shame no one voted for Gena as their favourite.

FYROM
Guest
FYROM

Me tana is of course the best option by far for albania but unfortunately she has no chance of winning. Its probably gonna be arilena or Kamela

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

Elvana won’t win because she made the mistake of going for uptempo dance pop which never does well in Fik

Anita
Guest
Anita

I am team Pandorës 😉

Milan
Guest

If I am allowed to say, there is one name that makes it in in every top 5 list, but nowhere is no.1 and that is Arilena Ara.
That girl has potential, she is amazing and I am sure she would give the best result for Albania to date.
I really hope she will be Jamala of FiK and win everything.

Good luck from Montenegro Ari! ??

MaxHightower
Guest
MaxHightower

I know that Elvana is the undoubted fan favourite of the Fik58 but I would LOVE Kamela to go to Eurovision, its an extremely classy yet passionate song, and the rehearsal clip sounds AMAZING.

Dont get me wrong, I wouldnt mind it if “me tana” went to ESC, the same goes for Valon, Kastro Zizo and many many others. Well done Albania!

Alex
Guest
Alex

1. Arilena
2. Elvana
3. Kanita
4. Era
5. Alberie

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

https://zeri.info/kultura/313782/nje-grup-i-kompozitoreve-shqiptare-distancohen-nga-festivali-i-58-te-ne-rtsh/?fbclid=IwAR3Wrqvag5lxGXDMG3LgIWsYzReYJdgknzjbxmBueTrr8_yKx-0HL6gVbmU

it seems foreign composed entries aren’t being liked by other artists within music industry

so this isn’t good news for Arilena, Era, Kanita i kinda knew this would give trouble given it is a albanian music festival on it’s own too

Geo
Guest
Geo

It’s Elvana and…the rest. This time I have to agree with the Wiwi Jury

Akoc
Guest
Akoc

Me tana is awesome, but it’s another Fuego.. Don’t know..

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

no it isn’t, this beat of Me Tana is very typical in the current albanian pop scene

also Elvana is a very patriotic albanian, and yes her winning FiK could inspire new artists with more modern songs as well as more big name artists at that music festival to compete, and a modern song winning FiK and representing them at ESC is also good for them to move forward into new decade

Someone
Guest
Someone

Oh my lord I’m sick of this fuego comparing Stuff. People are literally comparing and saying Me tana, Elvana Gjata is similar to fuego. Like now every song with a beat drop is fuego.

Ndi
Guest
Ndi

Everyone that knows the albanian music scene and follows eurovision has always been super disappointed with FIK as the selection process, because it just wouldnt reflect the current trends in the alb music industry, but would just choose some outdated songs, FIK being an outdated concept itself. Finally Elvana enters the competition with a song that reflects her long established musical style (other similar songs of hers are A m’don, Njesoj) and everyone is calling it Fuego. I bet these people were always the first ones throwing the usual line “yet another screaming woman from Albania…” after outdated FIK selected… Read more »

Skiwalko
Guest
Skiwalko

Wiwi Jury’s ranking (points 1-5)
1. Elvana Gjata 37p.
2. Era Russi 23p.
3. Arilena Ara 21p.
4. Kanita Suma 20p.
4. Valon Shehu 20p.
6. Bojken Lako 13p.
7. Wendi Mancaku 10p.
8. Aldo Bardhi 7p.
8. Gena 7p.
10. Kamela Islamaj 5p.
10. Renis Gjoka 5p.
12. Eli Fara & Stresi 4p.
13. Alberie Hadergjonaj 3p.
Devis Xherahu, Genc&Nadia Tukici, Kastro Zizo, Olta Boka, Robert Berisha, Sara Barjaktari, Tiri Gjoci… I’m sorry… 0p.

Rasmus
Guest
Rasmus

Nadia & Genc Tukiçi – “Ju flet Tirana. I like that one. Yes its not for ESC but i think its nice:)

Thera
Guest
Thera

Loll, keep up the Bar Refaeli shade…

Rasmus
Guest
Rasmus

whats that?

Colin
Guest
Colin

Our first NF, so exciting! I re-listened to songs a couple of times and read most of the lyrics. Overall, the quality of the festival is good. There are no really bad songs. Most of them are quite pleasant and quite well written. Majority of them would probably sound ”dated” to an average ESC listener, since the Balkan music usually has that vintage quality even in modern days. Many of them are instrumentally something I could hear in a local restaurant or on a county fair. Interestingly, I don’t have one IT song that I think must win. That probably… Read more »

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

choosing Me Tana would definitely be a smart choice, and last entry from Albania which had me happy and dancing was Kejsi Tola back in 2009 it’s not a copy to Fuego, it has own typical current albanian pop beats and yes Elvana is one of biggest names in current music industry there her performance has a traditional albanian dance which also steers away from the ”fuego-she got me-replay” genre, but more into the ethnic dance-pop more authenticity, and also live orchestra brings it more power and her live vocals are also good i think it can come together tomorrow… Read more »

Rasmus
Guest
Rasmus

If there is one Diva in the lineup 95% of the wiwwibloggers ALWAYS have her as their number one. I dont really get that. It have happened many times before to. Is it the Diva thing that makes it automathic number 1 or what?

Just my opinion
Guest
Just my opinion

And a diva is not a compliment

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

uh music wise Elvana is a diva, but she’s actually quite down to earth and fun, which we saw in that interview (at the dance academy)

am i obsessed, yes but i just want her at ESC in my country

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Out of the rehearsals I’ve seen, the biggest (positive) surprise is Kamela Islamaj. I had it in my top 7 or 8 but maybe it should’ve been in my top 5.
Am still with Arilena for now!

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_35LnWuokg
rehearsal clip of elvana with live orchestra beat, her vocals sound good, instrumentals here are more authentic albanian which i love, and yes this makes me excited

if juries decide on complete performance, this has potential

but i am curious what Valon, Arilena, Kanita have come up with

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

barnabas and robyn served TASTE

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

I was kinda hoping Robyn would put Bojken first so that I could read a full paragraph about it. 😉

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

Bojken, the albanian jury pet, well sad to say he is at a disadvantage now with no albanian juries being involved in this edition

i kinda feel like RTSH want something modern now at ESC, i think with albanian juries elvana would’ve flopped, since albanian juries usually goes for more oldfashioned classic entries so anything what is that could be at risk of not placing very high

many of you can’t predict this years FiK, compared to the other years of this contest

Nick
Guest
Nick

Where is the love for Kamela Islamaj? Her song is great and judging by the rehearsal clips on Instagram, she will really make it pop live. Her voice is outstanding.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

her song doesn’t catch you on first listen which is a big no

almost similar jazz like Sennek (belgium 2018)

Colin
Guest
Colin

You are forgetting that most people loved Sennek’s song, only disliked that pedestrian performance in the semi.

Tedd
Guest
Tedd

Yes!! My absolute favourite from the first listen. I don’t see a lot of enthusiasm though so I don’t stan yet because I’m going to be disappointed like with sennek in ’18.

MyName
Guest
MyName

Yeah, let’s hope for Valon! Bringing more catchy melodic rock to ESC

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

why not just enjoy the music festival, i am regretting i have been stressing now

btw Elvana’s last album in 2018, had few pop-rock songs (some co-composed by darko dimitrov yes who now is at FiK for Arilena)

Valon’s brother Eni works for RTSH and does all of interviews with all participants, he even danced along with Elvana during those dance rehearsals

Valon could finish very high yes, maybe not win but still a respectable result in this music festival 🙂

NickC
Guest
NickC

I also want Valon to win, but I think Elvana will.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

Elvana won’t win, this sort of upbeat music of hers never wins in this music festival

so she stands no chance whatsoever

Kanita, Arilena, Valon are the real heavy favourites/contenders

Loin dici
Guest

I see Valon gettin a lot of love. The song rocks arse, though, and I would love to see it win, also.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Antranig’s shade on FiK is FIERCE.
Seriously, every year, it’s one of my three favourite NFs. Don’t think we’ve been listening to the same contest!

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

also him making it seem, Elvana’s the only song what stands out here lol

you want to go for most technically difficult song possible, since at ESC there are also juries you need to impress, and they won’t fall for a 2 lyric ”me tana”

even Gena’s is more technically demanding, challenging than me tana

but Kanita Ankth for the win of course

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

Tom is correct then, since the super-gorgeous talented Kanita had won

amazing choice from Albania anyway, ur onto a winner with ankth for sure

Loin dici
Guest

It seems fake though, somebody had checked the source further.

khan
Guest
khan

its fake and you’re probably the twitter user who made it since you keep talking about it lmao get a life