Tonight, Albania’s long-running song festival Festivali i Këngës will kick off its 59th edition. As well as showcasing the best of Albania’s music stars, the contest will also select the act that Albania will send to Eurovision 2021.

While the FiK is a little different this year — with the show held on an outdoor stage and performances prerecorded earlier in the week — there is still plenty of top talent in the lineup. The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has listened to all 26 competing entries and ranked our top five songs. Who does the jury think should head to Eurovision?

Deban

1. Inis Neziri – “Pendesë”

Inis Neziri, Albania’s New Wave and Golden Stag winner makes a return to Festival i Këngës. However, this time, it would be a lot harder to rob her of victory. Her power ballad shifts between low and high registers, whilst creating a beautiful cinematic atmosphere. When “Pendesë” doesn’t tug on your heart, it makes you stop and listen to your heartbeat. Ballads arriving at Eurovision often create a genre congestion — repetitive, predictable and often languid. Although Inis commits to this genre without any musical surprises, her voice is undeniably magical, the song’s theme of regret is stirring and her stage presence is captivating.  Should this advance beyond FiK, expect a Eurovision 2021 top-ten finish.

2. Mirud – “Nëse vdes”
3. Era Rusi – “Zjarri im”
4. Anxhela Peristeri – “Karma”
5. Gjergj Kaçinari – “Më jep jetë”

Diego

1. Mirud – “Nëse vdes”

The previous edition of the festival opened a window for a musical revolution and in this edition, it is Mirud who wants to revolutionize the contest with a song that shows us his personal style and essence. A mixture of folk with modern rhythms that makes us mentally travel to those small Albanian and Kosovar towns. We know Mirud for his impeccable vocal technique and this year he returns more confident and mature, with a personal and very dramatic message like the one that many of us must face at some point in our lives, an epic and mysterious introduction that ends in a marvellous rhythmic explosion. We know that his live performance will not disappoint us musically and vocally.

2. Gigliola Haveriku – “E lirë”
3. Inis Neziri – “Pendesë”
4. Wendi Mancaku – “Si ajo”
5. Era Rusi – “Zjarri im”

Luis

1. Era Rusi – “Zjarri im”

Festivali i Këngës may take place at Christmastime, but Era Rusi is making it feel like we’re in a heatwave in July. “Zjarri im” is a BOP with capital letters. Fierce, insanely catchy and instantly memorable, this song has more grit than the other 25 combined. The studio version is ready to go and slay our lives in Rotterdam, yet there’s a big question mark regarding the performance. Era’s entry last year “Eja Merre” felt flat on stage with peculiar choreography and basically no other staging. “Zjarri im” needs to translate its great musical ideas to engaging stage concepts. If she delivers that, the ticket to Eurovision should be hers easily.

2. Kastro Zizo – “Vallja e jetës”
3. Mirud – “Nëse vdes”
4. Sardi Strugaj – “Kam me t’ba me kajt”
5. Rosela Gjylbegu – “Vashëzo”

Natalie

1. Rosela Gjylbegu – “Vashëzo”

Look, Inid and Mirud are probably the ones I’d rather get sent to Eurovision of this pack, but my personal guilty pleasure is definitely Rosela. This choice might seem really random given there are lots of strong songs for Albania in the mix here. But honestly, Rosela’s experience truly shows in this song, and I’m such a sucker for the electronic-ethnic Eastern vibe here. It’s catchy, spirited, fun and packs a real attitude punch. I hope to God this song is done justice with some great staging and fashion. I’ll be shouting “Vashezo!” and I don’t care what anyone else says.

2. Inis Neziri – “Pendese”
3. Mirud – “Nese vdes”
4. Evi Reci – “Tjerr”
5. Kamila Islamaj – “Kujtimet s’kane forme”

Oliver

1. Anxhela Peristeri – “Karma”

“Karma” ticks all the boxes for me. It’s a classic Albanian power anthem that the FiK juries are bound to love. The way the track builds in instrumentation reminds me a lot of Željko Joksimović’s “Nije Ljubav Stvar” (Serbia 2012, third place), and if that’s anything to go by, Anxhela is destined to do well. “Karma” gets extra brownie points from me for drawing on current music trends. The dembow reggaeton rhythms we hear in the percussion at the second verse are widely used in chart music right now, and they really help to give Anxhela’s track some extra momentum. And to top it all off, it’s already exactly three minutes in length, meaning Anxhela won’t necessarily have to work on trimming down the track should she go to Rotterdam — which is great, because “Karma” is already stellar!

2. Enxhi Nasufi – “Njësoj”
3. Gigliola Haveriku – “E lirë”
4. Inis Neziri – “Pendesë”
5. Orgesa Zaimi – “Valixhja e kujtimeve”

Pablo

1. Era Rusi – “Zjarri im”

Bringing “Wild Dances” to the new decade! Just when you think “Zjarri im” is going to take a turn, it somersaults, detours and jumps from an aeroplane at the same time, catching the listener completely off guard. The sheer amount of surprises wrapped in a big, modern-sounding ethnic banger keeps you hooked the whole time. The familiar “Eurovision” sounds are done in a new and exciting way without ever sounding redundant or dated. Albania could shake up their repertoire completely and bring industrial quantities of flare and fun with this option. Her name is Era, and she’s sure you won’t forget it.

2. Kastro Zizo – “Vallja e jetës”
3. Mirud – “Nëse vdes”
4. Enxhi Nasufi – “Njësoj”
5. Gigliola Haveriku – “E lirë”

Renske

1. Enxhi Nasufi – “Njësoj”

There are many national final songs that draw me in, but there are very few that draw me so much that I want to listen to them over and over again. “Njësoj” is the song I have had on repeat since it was released on 16 November by RTSH. And I am overly curious about what it will look like on stage!

2. Inis Neziri – “Pendesë”
3. Xhesika Polo – “Më mbron”
4. Era Rusi – “Zjarri im”
5. Rosela Gjylbegu – “Vashëzo”

Robyn

1. Kastro Zizo – “Vallja e jetës”

Kastro brings together bits of Albanian folk music, rock, hip hop, pop and slick FiK orchestral sounds and delivers “Vallja e jetës”. The end result is catchy and while the song is different from the rest of the FiK 59 lineup, it is still unmistakably Albanian. The song title translates to “Dance of life” and Kastro himself is a dancer, which suggests he may bring something special for the live performance. I suspect the ticket to Rotterdam will go elsewhere, but “Vallja e jetës” is a very welcome part of the 2020 festival.

2. Orgesa Zaimi – “Valixhja e kujtimeve”
3. Mirud – “Nëse vdes”
4. Era Rusi – “Zjarri im”
5. Inis Neziri – “Pendesë”

What are your favourites from FiK 59? What song should represent Albania at Eurovision 2021? Leave your comments below!

Read more Albania Eurovision news here

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Lolek
Lolek
30 days ago

The one thing about this national contest is that there are so many great songs that I would be happy with seeing go to Eurovision. My favourite from the beginning was Era Rusi but there are certainly other songs I’d be happy with winning.

Ethan
Ethan
30 days ago

Era’s definitely my favourite and I think it would stand out well at Eurovision, but I’d be happy with Anxhela, Enxhi, Inis or MIRUD winning too 🙂 Good luck to all participants, can’t wait for the shows!

Last edited 30 days ago by Ethan
Briekimchi
Briekimchi
30 days ago

Renske and Oliver have the best taste when it comes to this selection for me. Otherwise, there are some very questionable (and predictable) opinions here. Deban, I love you, but thinking Inis has an ESC top 10 song here is definitely worrying. It’s a NQer.

Srdjan30
Srdjan30
30 days ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

I wouldn’t go that far. It’s a predictable choice for Albania though. I see it qualifying and finishing mid table like Albania usually does. Would rather them send Era, Anxhela, Murud or my personal favourite, Rosela.

Ashton
Ashton
30 days ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

It’s not an NQer by any standard. I’d say a 6th-7th place qualifier, and overall placing around 15-16-17 (probably 17th just bcos Albania seems to love finishing in that spot)

Nobody
Nobody
30 days ago

Nëse vdes is my absolute favorite, but I also love Zjarri im and Njësoj. I think all of these songs are a good pick for Albania this year!

Colin
Colin
30 days ago

My top 5: Klinti Collaku – I just love how energetic and hopeful it feels, while still having some vintage quality to it’s beat. 🙂 Xhesika Polo – Her splendid voice + the haunting instrumental really deliver on the sentimentality. 🙂 Inis Neziri – While it almost unequivocally ticks all the boxes for the perfect FiK winner, it’s undoubtedly a great song with Inis being a stellar vocalist. Would I prefer a song like this from Greece or Finland? Sure, but just because Albania likes it so much shouldn’t derail from the song’s own quality. Wendi Mancaku – This is… Read more »

Alo
Alo
30 days ago

I like Inis’s song, but I feel in ESC it will not stand out next to other countries entries.