This week, Albania kicked off the national final season with Festivali i Këngës 58. And with that, we have the first entry for Rotterdam. Arilena ara won the national final and will head to Rotterdam in May with her song “Shaj”.

Arilena’s song was one of the favourites going into the contest. It was among the Wiwi Jury’s favourites for FiK58 and was the second favourite of wiwibloggs readers to win FiK58 in our recent poll.

The “Shaj” performance was followed by the audience enthusiastically chanting the star’s name, showing that it was one of the strongest performances in an already strong year.

Arilena got her start by winning the X Factor Albania in 2012. She has since gone on to establish herself as one of Albania’s leading music stars.

Second place went to Elvana Gjata, who had been a hot favourite to win the contest with her song “Me tana”. Third place went to Sara Bajraktari with her song “Ajër”.

The 12 competing acts performed their entries live, accompanied by the RTSH Symphony Orchestra. The finalists were assessed and voted on by an expert jury consisting of Greek Eurovision songwriter Dimitris Kontopoulos, Melodifestivalen producer Christer Björkman and Iceland’s Eurovision Head of Delegation Felix Bergsson, along with two Albanian jurors, ethnomusicologist Mikaela Minga and writer Pita Petro.

The Albanian-born Greek singer Eleni Foureira took to the FiK stage for a mid-show performance. She performed her singles “El ritmo psicodélico” and “Tómame”, reprised her Eurovision 2019 interval act over of “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” as well as a medley of “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This”, “What is Love” and of course her Eurovision hit “Fuego”.

Sanremo star Giusy Ferreri also made an appearance during the interval act. She performed her new single, “Momenti perfetti”, her breakthrough hit “Non ti scordar mai di me” and a medley of her hits “Novembre”, “Roma-Bangkok”, “Amore e capoeira” and “Jambo”.

Also performing was Albanian musical legend Ema Qazimi, the winner of Festivali i Këngës 20, back in 1981.

The Festivali i Këngës version of “Shaj” is under three minutes, meaning it won’t need to be cut down for Eurovision. However, it is not known if any other changes will be made to the song ahead of Rotterdam.

Albania is known for Eurovision revamps of their FiK winners. While in the past, some songs have been given English lyrics and a different sound, the recent Eurovision success of “Mall” and “Ktheju tokës” has proved that what works at the national final can also work at Eurovision.

Festivali i Këngës 58 – grand final running order

  1. Valon Shehu – “Kutia e Pandorës”
  2. Sara Bajraktari – “Ajër” (third place)
  3. Robert Berisha – “Ajo nuk është unë”
  4. Tiri Gjoci – “Me gotën bosh”
  5. Bojken Lako – “Malaseen”
  6. Arilena Ara – “Shaj” (winner)
  7. Gena – “Shqiponja e lirë”
  8. Kamela Islamaj – “Më ngjyros”
  9. Albërie Hadërgjonaj – “Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua”
  10. Elvana Gjata – “Me tana” (second place)
  11. Olta Boka – “Botë për dy”
  12. Era Rusi – “Eja merre”

What do you think? Does Arilena have what it takes to give Albania its first Eurovision win? Tell us your thoughts below!

Follow all of our Albania Eurovision 2020 news.

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Berner
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Berner

everyone is waiting for Elvana
with arilana no interest! better without albania this year?

poe-tay-toe-chips
Guest
poe-tay-toe-chips

I’ll be honest, I don’t really like it that much. But…I guess i’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that the song is probably a lot better if you speak albanian?

ESCJudge
Guest
ESCJudge

I hoped for Era Rusi as her song is the only one I have downloaded… Well… that says something.

Arilena’s “Nentori” is magical and still a favourite on my playlist, but this 2020 entry will not be included.
For me a possibility that Albania won’t qualify in 2020 is bigger than in 2019…

Denis
Guest
Denis

Oh, Albania sends another screaming woman singing big ballad. How original..
It seems to me Albania doesn’t want modern up tempo songs to represent them. They seem to have a different view of what ESC is
..

Kirby
Guest
Kirby

FiK should install televoting once and for all. How come just 5 people decide for a whole country!

Leo M
Guest
Leo M

She has an amazing voice but it’s a pity about the song. It’s good but nothing special about. Sounds like a song we have heard at Eurovision hundreds of times before

Teddie
Guest
Teddie

At least this is miles better than that shawarma bop everyone’s going nuts about

Malo
Guest
Malo

It’s the first time ever, that I feel fine with all the dislike towards my country’s song. I even supported Eneda after the revamp in 2016 (I was delusional I guess). So this is a new low. And I Love Arilena, just not the song. And it’s not about Elvana either, I think she dodged a bullet by not going to Eurovision.
At least I hope they come up with some staging, that might help.

mia
Guest
mia

That’s what you get when you sign Mikaela Minga and Petro as Juri members: both pretensious “intelectuals” that think the “Ballad” of Arilena ist highly intelectual compared to the “tallava” of Elvana. Provincial Intelectual attitude! Elvana’s song brought life, joy and colours – it would have done well at the Eurovision. On top of it stands Elvana itself, very sympathetic and warm. Lovely! Arilena has a great voice – she didn’t deserve to go with such an avarage ballade to Eurovision. Singing it in English is a big mistake – may be it is though as a career booster for… Read more »

T.J.
Guest
T.J.

Albania needs a very weak semi to qualify with this!

Mr X
Guest
Mr X

Only good luck with Greece, Italy, North Macedonia and Switzerland in the same semi final or a very high jury voting can save Albania. English (almost) never helped this country for qualifying.

Sun
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Sun

Same old boring ballad.

Teddie
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Teddie

Well, an old boring ballad won Eurovision this year, so go figure

Polliu
Guest
Polliu

You should have your ears checked. Arcade is a current and catchy pop ballad. This is another Eurovision screaming woman dated ballad.

Héctor
Guest
Héctor

Albania is that person who always stick to the same s*it but expect things to go better. There you have your yearly kind of dated Albanian power ballad sung by a diva with flawless vocals. Everything is correct, but just the same. I’m not sure where do they get those jurors but every year they show how classic and outdated they are. I mean, I didn’t like “Me tana” at all, but it was enjoyable. It wouldn’t have won but it would have been something different to what they are used, sticking out from their comfort zone. Elvana, Era Rusi… Read more »

EProduc
Guest
EProduc

Bjorkman gave Elvana 18 points (along with two other internationals) and Arilena 13 points. It was the Albanian jury member Mikaela Manga who only gave Elvana 2 points and Arilena 13 points that caused Arilena winning. So get your facts right before making any assumptions about Sweden wanting to sabotage Albania lmao. FiK however, was corrupt and rigged.

Typhlosion123
Guest
Typhlosion123

Mikaela actually gave Arilena 18 and Elvana 2 and tried to give Elvana as little as possible and Arilena as much as possible to make Arilena win. Cuz if she gave Elvana 6 or more, Elvana still would have won cuz all of the foreign juries gave Elvana the maximum amount of points and so she had to give Elvana as low as possible to assure her chances of making Arilena pass.

Ashton
Guest
Ashton

No EProduc was right, Arilena got 13 from Mikaela. Mikaela gave her 18 to Bojken Lako’s ‘Malaseen’.

Nicolas
Guest
Nicolas

You know what, the irony is that Elvana was in 1st place for the 3 international juries. Shaj won only because some personal vendatta ? from an albanian juror by giving her only 2 points !

Jack
Guest
Jack

I can only hope that karma does justice and Arilena flops big time. So the public wanted Elvana, international juries wanted Elvana and one lady decides Elvana won’t go. Oh Albania…

Esc1234
Guest
Esc1234

Arilena will have Eneda tarifa fate: Female ballad, revamped in English, without staging and with a big dress. We all knew how this ended up.

MyName
Guest
MyName

Another FIK….another dated, pompous, unoriginal boring ballad winning…..again. And again. *sigh* Such a wasted oppotunity! This is the kind of ballad that is so cliche in ESC. Just dull and generic. She might be pretty, but that’s all. Albania is one of my least favoruite ESC-countries, with all those powerballads. Such a pity, FIK is a great contest. NOT a Christmas gift from Albania this year either…Won’t be surprised if this is the song I will like the least of ESC 2020

Merry Christmas to others…..let’s forget this sad thing and enjoy the festive season!

Malo
Guest
Malo

Have you liked any of our entries? Just curious 🙂

ralphdoesralph
Guest
ralphdoesralph

i think that arilena deserved to win, the vocals and the stage were amazing and really worked on her favour,and dont forget Tamara song was also an underestimated song at the beggining but with the right stage she reached top 2 with jury. On the other hand elvanas song was great but very similar with “Fuego” and “Replay” and in my opinion she would not be able to sing and dance at the same time just like eleni did,and this kind of song requires, she only danced in the end when she didnt have to sing. What really worries me… Read more »

Dawid
Guest
Dawid

300 comments in a few hours. Why? Have I missed some drama perhaps?

ere e erre e
Guest
ere e erre e

Can we have a reaction to Vincent Bueno?
Of course not.

Milan
Guest
Milan

Why would we react to Vincent Bueno?

Dani
Guest
Dani

Can anyone guess what is the original English lyric in “Shaj”?
“Try”, “Cry” probably something like that.

Colin
Guest
Colin

My guess is ”cry”. The word rhymes perfectly with ”shaj” and can serve a similar purpose in telling the story. ”Try” and ”why” would rhyme just as much, but I don’t think it would sound as haunting as ”shaj / curse” or ”cry”. I think that the title ”curse” will be mentioned once or twice, continuing the recent trend of ”Arcade”, ”Limits” and ”On a Sunday”.

Jakub
Guest
Jakub

Not bad but nothing special as well…Era Rusi was wayy better

Balint
Guest
Balint

I loved Me tana, however, Shaj is also a fantastic song, and it deserved the win as well.

ADutchPerson
Guest
ADutchPerson

Although I was rooting for Me Tana, I’m not surprised Shaj won. It’s jury bait for sure and yet another balkan ballad. Doubt it’ll do better than Ktheju Tokes if I’m honest. At least with Me Tana Albania would send something different as what they usually send for once. Shaj is definitely not a bad song, but I don’t think it’d make a difference at Eurovision as Me Tana would have done.

Brooklyn
Guest
Brooklyn

Good for her! But elvana could’ve done better for Albania this year

Milan
Guest
Milan

“Having been able to do better” is not the point. The point is that you send what you want and don’t care too much for the result – this is where diversity comes from. Congratulations for not opting for the obvious choice. My choice was Kamela Islamaj by a landslide – but this is also worth listening to (I liked Valon Shehu too).

Malo
Guest
Malo

The thing is, it’s not what the majority of Albanians wanted. Just two jury members.

Sam
Guest
Sam

Just when you thought ‘Shaj’ was gearing up into full swing, You didn’t expect Arilena to hold that high note for so long at the end of the pre-chorus. The sudden change in pace after a moment of complete silence picks up with a beautiful toned-down violin interlude leading to the final chorus/post-chorus with additional backing vocals and tonal sounds complementing the melodic theme of the chorus. It’s very risky to change course just before the final chorus and still be able to make it outshine the previous verse-chorus-verse-chorus progression. My only reservations are that I don’t particularly understand the… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

Honestly, this is the best ballad Albania has sent since Suus, and Arilena’s voice and stage presence are stunning. I think the jury made a great choice. This is better than “Proud” and “Kruna” from this year. Hopefully the lyrics are as powerful as they should be in English – a direct translation doesn’t look like it would really work. I’m pretty sure that no song revamped since its initial release has won Eurovision since 2008, so Albania should be careful not to deviate too far from the original idea (remember Albania’s entry “Fairytale”?). I would honestly prefer that it… Read more »

ere e erre e
Guest
ere e erre e

Elvana Gjata had a bad staging. What outfit was that for the dancers? Not for a family show. Enough with swimming suit on stage to pretend it’s empowerment.

Anisa
Guest
Anisa

She had 5 months to change the staging, big deal. FiK means SONG Festival, so the staging doesn’t really matter, unlike EuroVISION. Elvana’s song definitely had the most potential to bring a better result. While Arilena’s song is such a predictable one. Think of Eneda Tarifa and Lindita and there you go. Almost the same song, and it will have a similar staging too. I predict a NQ too.

Jalisse
Guest
Jalisse

I really like this song, and the performance is espectacular! So dramatic. I think it will do well in Rotterdam, but I agree it sounds similar to many other Albanian entries in the past. “Me tana” would have been a change, but this one is also great. I hope they don’t change it to English, it sounds great as it is.

Haute Galore
Guest
Haute Galore

Wow, another female singing a Balkan ballad. How original and very well done Albania!

MyName
Guest
MyName

Indeed!

Joe
Guest
Joe

Apparently Shaj is going to be in English for Eurovision. I’d be more annoyed except apparently (according to a comment here) it was in English to begin with and they just translated it into Albanian so it’d be eligible for FiK. Seeing as that’s the case rather than the (usually unfortunate) other way around, it doesn’t bother me so much.

Colin
Guest
Colin

If the song is originally in English, then I guess it should be performed in English in May. I am only sad for the fact that’s at least one language less to be heard on stage. Last two years made a slight progress in the direction of language diversity and I wouldn’t want it to revert to 2015/16 levels where there were maybe 5-6 songs not in English.
I am curious how ”Curse” sounds. And I am hopeful that Arilena Ara can pronounce English better than Hersi. Cause even if the lyrics are good, the mangled accent can make it weak.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

So was “World”.

Azaad
Guest
Azaad

Main difference with World is that Lindita speaks English at a nearly native level with a mild accent at most- the main issue with her song was that it worked far better with the orchestra, not the lyrics per se.

Bart From Holland
Guest
Bart From Holland

Elvana was in the audio record the best, but in live sound on stage it was false sung in moments, to be honest. The show was the best of Elvana, and it was still my favorite to win because it was catchy.

I Found the song of Arilena Ara emotional. She is a young new artist with talent. I loved her song ‘Nentori’, and i am suprised About ‘Shaj’, it is only this year no win for Albania i think. The song is a good ballad, only not memorial enough to make it win.

Geo
Guest
Geo

It was high time for an uptempo song from Albania, after 10 years of ballads. But no, once again…another screaming diva with an oldfashioned song. Remember, Albania 2020 won’t be North Macedonia 2019 and this won’t pass the semifinal. Mark my words!

MyName
Guest
MyName

I agree. But they e.g. had a great uptempo song in 2013 too, don’t forget 🙂 Their best entry by FAR! Some real rock…not all this balladdrama

Milan
Guest
Milan

So what if it doesn’t? We shouldn’t be so desperate for the result.

xoxo
Guest
xoxo

For those here who keep saying “Elvana should’ve won!1!1”, I just wanna say one thing

Hoes mad

xoxo
Guest
xoxo

No but seriously, Arilena won fair and square, get over the fact that your personal favourite didn’t win and there’s more important things in life we can move on to. I can’t wait until people go crazy to the song in May saying “Yas gurl slayyy”

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

It’s so interesting to see what happens next year when Björkman retires…. Who are all these haters gonna blame then?

Brooklyn
Guest
Brooklyn

IKR!

Malo
Guest
Malo

The jury members who actually sabotaged the results.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

Funny thing: Now that it’s all over and the annoying fanwanking and hyperventilating has stopped, I actually like ‘Me tana’, it’s stuck in my head as of this morning. 🙂
Kohën ndale ndale
Të shkoj ngadale ndale
O më ngadale ndale
Na na na na na
Annoying people can’t destroy catchy tunes, that is good to know.

Colin
Guest
Colin

I also like Me tana. I just didn’t find it to be shoulder above the rest of the competition, like many of the people did. With right editing cuts, it indeed could have been a top contender song in May. But so can Shaj if they keep it similar and work on staging. Sure, overhype can kill a favorite, unfortunately.

ere e erre e
Guest
ere e erre e

If the jury is corrupted, Christer Björkman would not have wanted international jury for his own country, Sweden. Think about it.

Erilana Gjergj
Guest
Erilana Gjergj

Have you ever watched Melodifestivalen LOL

ere e erre e
Guest
ere e erre e

Yes, why?

Colin
Guest
Colin

Because Melfest always uses international jury. Lol

ere e erre e
Guest
ere e erre e

Read again my comment. I’m talking about this very thing.

Kobe
Guest
Kobe

yawn

MiskyDisky
Guest
MiskyDisky

Three or four very strong songs in this final, so well done Arilena. The important thing now is DONT TRANSLATE IT!

Eurovisionfan12
Guest
Eurovisionfan12

Shaj was originally written in English, they just made an Albanian version specifically for FiK

ALEX
Guest
ALEX

It was really awkward to watch Arilena win! The whole thing was silly, why do a 3-night festival if the public can not participate. But you let 5 senior citizens make the choice without the public. I will NEVER vote for Albania again. The whole festival was a waste of time, especially for the rest of the candidates naively thinking they would have a chance to win.

James
Guest
James

Because it is, as you said, a festival. And FIK has also historically been utilizing a jury to choose its winner.

ALEX
Guest
ALEX

Is there a monetary prize for the winner? Thankfully there are more Balkan countries to look forward to. Bye Albania!

Gilad
Guest
Gilad

This is a great song, and this is not new that only jury vote, Btw FiK is not just for Eurovision is long time before Albania join Eurovision…

Milan
Guest
Milan

Why so negative?

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

3 of my favourite got the top 3, amazing! Just sad for Valon as he was amazing as well
People, get over Elvana now, you shouldn’t have hyped her that much because now you’re so disappointed
Elvana would have been a good choice but so is Arilena
She has strong vocals, the song is polished with a good build up, hopefully has a great meaning (I’m yet to check the translation) so she deserves it
In some way, it’s always felt like a battle between the two big famous singers Elvana and Arilena

Khazar
Guest

I’m so sad for Elvana. Ariana’s song isn’t bad but Elvana was better.

Alvarots
Guest
Alvarots

I just want to say something…
My vote was going to be for Me tana at eurovision 2020.As a promise if she won…but i knew stupid juroes will send other ballad more….Year after year ballads(And….I love it) but guys….This was the chance for send some different and explosive….
Now i will not vote albania….This really hurts me more that other bad eurovision things of other years…

And well….Good luck to Arilena…i think she will pass final; she was my 2nd choice and im not dissapointed with the song.I like it
But with me tana i fell in love.

From Spain

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

You know why no one should be taking your comment seriously?
Because this is just the first entry of the season, who said you would definitely vote for it? Exactly

Malo
Guest
Malo

Albania never really got points from Spain’s televote so your vote would be wasted anyway.

Loin dici
Guest

Elvana fans be burning this thread with seeming glory

Underneath
Guest
Underneath

Rigged, Elvana is supported by the Democratic Party which is in opposition, and Arilena is supported from the Socialist Party which is in power. The host and the producer of the festival openly support the neocommunist government that currently rules Albania.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

The question is ‘is the one way of rigging better than the other?’ or shouldn’t someone start trying to invent democracy?

Kaiser
Guest
Kaiser

LITERALLY the only reason Arilena won was because the director of the show is Arilena’s manager and are close friends since x Factor. I mean like wtf??? Look the truth is she is amazing singer but goddamnit Elvana had the chance to bring Albania in top 5. She did have a pop song which majority find cheap but Albania has never sent songs like these one. Arilena’s ballad is also cheap cuz its overdone many times. RTSH doesnt want to implement televoting because they want to choose the winnee by themselves. (altho they got the winner in Eugent and Jonida… Read more »

Kaiser
Guest
Kaiser

And one thing more Im sure that the swedish jury didnt vote for Elvana because he was afraid that Albania would compete with sweden. Very smart move would that be

EProduc
Guest
EProduc

Bjorkman gave Elvana 18 points (along with two other internationals) and Arilena 13 points. It was the Albanian jury member Mikaela Manga who only gave Elvana 2 points and Arilena 13 points that caused Arilena winning. So get your facts right before making any assumptions.

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

That’s kinda why I wanted Valon the most
However, Me Tana wouldn’t get the top 5, it’s not a bop like Fuego, Toy or She Got Me
It would have done nicely though

esc1234
Guest
esc1234

The voting system of FiK needs to change as well as the person who thought of inviting the guy who put Albania second in the running order last year.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

They’re like ‘thank you, please give us another number 2 death spot.’ 😛 And he’s like ‘sure, but only because you have such great artists.’ 😛

esc1234
Guest
esc1234

Its like he went there to choose the first filler song of 2020

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

International juries are becoming more and more clueless year after year. The should go back to a full Albanian panel next year.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

To be fair, Albania’s result in the SF along with the message of the song not being that clear to the general public made the #2 spot in the final’s running order pretty fair in my opinion.
BTW, I loved the song and it was in my top ten but I always had it down as a possible #2 candidate.

MyName
Guest
MyName

John Lennon sung about “power to the people”. Doesn’t apply to FIK. Instead, an incompetent agening jury, with obviously NO understanding of modern pop music (that has showed many times) descide. If I was from Alabnia, I would be annoyed. Ordinary people….why not let the general public decide. For the whole country. maybe we would have something else than bad powerballads? Some modern songs instead

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

I wanna say this to everyone thinking Elvana’s song was gonna be THE ONE to beat. Be honest it was gonna pull televotes yes but win? Highly unlikely.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

Delusional, really. And just because it’s the one song that is mildly, just mildly up-tempo. In March, after all the songs will have been released, much of the same people would have forgotten this song even exists.

ALEX
Guest
ALEX

unfortunately, we will never know if Elvana would have won ESC. But what we do know is that another screaming lady was picked and she will sing in English. Sound familiar? One night’s anger, WORLD, Hear my plea, feel the passion, FAIRYTALE, ex and soon “SHOUT”…….the NQ and losers, great voices…but horrible songs.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

I agree about most of the songs you mentioned. ‘World’ was especially horrendous and pointless. And I still feel nothing when I listen to ‘Shaj’. But I’m so happy for Arilena the artist. I hope they can do an Elhaida Dani and switch songs or at least massively improve ‘Shaj’.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

Btw, I’d like to see how the individual jurors voted. Can anyone help me with that or was that not disclosed?

Landon
Guest
Landon

She didn’t win.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Guest

I’m so happy for Arilena and I feel such Schadenfreude for all the intolerant whiners, you know who you are. You all deserve this so much. 🙂 I will say that I wish beautiful Arilena had a better song, also for her sake because I want to see her get Albania’s best result and that’s not going to happen with Shaj. Changing the song would be the best option. It’s not bad, it’s just kind of there and Arilena is the sole reason to keep hanging on. She is a great reason, of course. As it stands, I hope the… Read more »