Earlier this week she won Albania’s Festivali i Këngës. And shortly after stepping off the outdoor stage in Tirana’s Italia Square, Anxhela Peristeri headed to the FiK59 after-party where, away from the spotlight, she could let her hair down and celebrate with some sweet champagne.

Our Kosovar blogger Erdi was on hand and asked Anxhela about her next steps — and whether she’d made a decision to keep the “Karma” lyrics in Albanian or translate them to English for Eurovision 2021. She confirmed her decision to keep the text in her native language. She said:

“After meeting with my composer and lyrics writer, I decided to keep the song in Albanian, since from the beginning of making of the song, the idea was to keep it in Albanian.”

Anxhela, it seems, wants to keep the feeling and emotion of the song as authentic as possible as she prepares to #OpenUp in Rotterdam. She’s received good counsel. Her well-known songwriting team — composer Kledi Bahiti and lyricist Olti Curri — are well-known and well-respected in Albania, and their opinions carry great weight.

Anxhela Peristeri: What do the “Karma” lyrics mean?

Whether you speak Albanian or not, it’s pretty clear that “Karma” captures a woman in crisis. The dramatic ballad sees Anxhela portray someone who blames herself for her world — romantic and otherwise — falling apart.

The opening verse sees her describing herself as selfish and somewhat spoiled: “Life, as if a fairy tale, had spoiled me, High in the sky like a star I lived, Laughing like crazy when you groaned, Heartless, I only loved myself.”

By the time the chorus hits, she’s the star of her own tragedy and she’s left with nothing but dirty tears, apparently the colour of rust. “God does not forgive me, the world fell on me, I fled you, my friends fled, I have no light…tears collect in my hand, they are rusty…”

“Karma” lyrics — Anxhela Peristeri (Albania ESC 2021)

Albanian Text

Zoti nuk ma fal

Jeta si në përrallë më kish llastuar
Lart në qiell si një yll jetoja unë
Qeshja si e marrë kur ti rënkoje
E pashpirt, vetëm veten doja shumë

Zoti nuk ma fal
Bota mbi mua ra
Më ike ti, më ikën miqtë
As dritë nuk kam
Zoti nuk ma fal
T’thirra por sot nuk kam
Lotët mbledhur në dorë
Të ndryshkur janë

Se të kërkoja nëpër zemra bosh
Dhe e kuptoja asgjë nuk më josh
E vetme jam
Po, e vetme jam
Kur unë rënkoja, qeshje si i marrë
E meritoja unë tërhiqem zvarrë
Fajtore jam
Po, fajtore jam

Zoti nuk ma fal
Bota mbi mua ra
Më ike ti, më ikën miqtë
As dritë nuk kam
Zoti nuk ma fal
T’thirra por sot nuk kam
Lotët mbledhur në dorë
Të ndryshkur janë

Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh
Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh

(Zoti nuk ma fal)
Bota mbi mua ra
(Më ike ti) Më ikën miqtë
As dritë nuk kam
Zoti nuk ma fal
T’thirra por sot nuk kam
Lotët mbledhur në dorë
Të ndryshkur janë

English translation

God does not forgive me

Life, as in a fairy tale, had spoiled me
High in the sky like a star I lived
Laughing like crazy when you groan
Heartless, I only loved myself very much

God does not forgive me
The world fell on me
I fled you, my friends fled
I have no light
God does not forgive me
I called but today I do not have
Tears collected in my hand
They are rusty

That I looked through empty hearts
And understood nothing seduces me
I’m alone
Yes, I’m alone
When I groaned, I laughed like a fool
I deserved it, I crawled
I’m guilty
Yes, I’m guilty

God does not forgive me
The world fell on me
I fled you, my friends fled
I have no light
God does not forgive me
I called but today I do not have
Tears collected in my hand
They are rusty

Oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh…

(God does not forgive me)
The world fell on me
(You run away) My friends run away
I have no light
God does not forgive me
I called but today I do not I have
Tears collected in my hand
They are rusty

Are you excited to hear that Anxhela will keep her song in Albanian? What type of staging do you hope to see in Rotterdam? Let us know in the comments box down below!

Read more Eurovision lyrics here

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ESCFan2009
ESCFan2009
10 months ago

What a polarising topic. Every artist should get the freedom to decide the language on her*his own and I am against any language rule in National Finals, Eurovision or Junior Eurovision. So I completely respect Anxhela’s decision. It’s her song ^^

Nicolas
Nicolas
10 months ago
Reply to  ESCFan2009

When will people realize that the FIK is not a “national final”, it’s an albanian festival song contest almost as old as Eurovision. Introducig english songs on it would be a total nonsense. When will this english dictatorship will stop ? 95% of the people living on earth speaks another primary language than english !

Mr X
Mr X
10 months ago
Reply to  Nicolas

It´s a very unpopular opinion but I partially support you.

Tibor
Tibor
9 months ago
Reply to  Nicolas

You clearly have no idea what a dictatorship is. Allowing people to do what they want, is more or less the opposite.

ESC8
ESC8
10 months ago

I think that their decision was the right one. I was one of the first that had said that Shaj should’ve been switched to English, but I was against Karma switching to English (same with Ktheju Tokes). I think it really depends on the song. Some songs work better in English, some other work better in their national language. For example, I think that Euphoria or Heroes wouldn’t have won if they were sung in Swedish. But I don’t think that Water (Bulgaria 2007) would’ve been that succesful had it been sung in English. I have to add though that… Read more »

Where I Belong
Where I Belong
10 months ago

I cannot find the word “Karma” in any of the lyrics. Interesting how you can give a song more attraction and depth by adding a meaningful title like in Suus or 1944.

Eugenie
Eugenie
7 months ago
Reply to  Where I Belong

Why the title is meaningless, if it isn’t a part of lyrics? It adds extra information about the song. Jamala’s 1944 is a date of historical event which she sung about. “Karma” is called that way, because it’s a song ’bout boomerang effect in life. Anyway, in less mainstream genres titles like these are normalised. The Cure has a song called 39 , Joy Division has 24, Marilyn Manson has “Untitled”. It doesn’t mean that lyrics are bad.

Dawid
Dawid
10 months ago

I haven’t even heard the song but – thank you

Esc43
Esc43
10 months ago

Right decision.. Not obliged to send an English song in the contest.. Portugal 2017 won with a song entirely not in English

Mr X
Mr X
10 months ago
Reply to  Esc43

For me personally the greatest moment at ESC. It´not calling English Song Contest.

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago

I don’t see why this is such a polarising issue. I say, an artist should get to decide in which language they want to sing, be it their native language, English or an imaginary language. It’s their call. If I’m interested in the lyrical content, I can look it up. But I cannot understand why there are countries (Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, all the Scandinavian countries, Russia to name but a few) who always get cheered on for their – to put it mildly – international sounding pop music in English, whereas countries like Albania are getting told off for translating standard… Read more »

Colin
Colin
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

The main issue for me is that, because of FiK rules, Albanian songs had to be in Albanian to begin with. If FiK ever abolished the native language rule like FdC did and a song which was originally written in English wins, I don’t think I’d had problem with it. Translations more often than not water-down the meaning of the song and it’s especially poor when it’s evident that the performer struggles with enunciation. In most cases, the language in which the song has been originally written in is the one most suited to deliver it’s message. With Albania, Shaj… Read more »

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Colin

Following this logic you should be fully on board with “Fall from the sky”, though, because wasn’t that written in English and then translated into Albanian precisely because of the FiK-rules? So, was “Shaj” then a watered down version of “Fall from the sky”? I think we both know that this is probably not the issue here. 😉
By the way, as I said above, I am also supportive of Anxhela’s decision – but because she as the artist decided it, not because of my desire to hear Albanian at Eurovision.

Last edited 10 months ago by Tibor
Colin
Colin
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

Knowing that “Fall From the Sky” was written in English, I was pretty okay with the decision of translating it back. However, I don’t think that’s what actually happened. As rumor goes, the original version has lyrics like “broken with love”, so the end product is yet another set of lyrics. I still liked the song, if you remember. If anything, the darker sounding instrumentation of Shaj was the only thing missing for me. Also, when a song is supposedly originally written in English (ergo, it already exists), waiting for 3 months to get that version requires a leap of… Read more »

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Colin

Well, if they tell me, it was written in English, I don’t see why I should believe a rumour that it wasn’t. Either way, we don’t know for sure. But be that as it may, I don’t have an issue with translation, neither do I have an issue with creating a second set of lyrics, and I don’t see why I should. If the English lyrics are cringe, I don’t like them. If the Albanian lyrics are about a fetus pleading with its mother not to abort it, I don’t like them, either. And how would I be able to… Read more »

Colin
Colin
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

We agree here! 🙂 Bad lyrics are bad lyrics, regardless of the language. I always like reading them and I usually don’t do my ratings before doing so. The problem is when some countries don’t provide translations.

James
James
10 months ago
Reply to  Colin

At least we know “Bote” started as an English first, or rather, Lindita already had English lyrics for “Bote” in mind, so the revamp was more a language switch than a complete head-to-toe change that could make an Albanian entry more or less not recognizable as much before the revamping.

Ashton
Ashton
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

Nearly everyone I have seen on this website, including myself, has expressed the desire for these countries to send songs in their native language/s more often.

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

And yet nearly everyone cheers them on for their actual entries in English.

Ashton
Ashton
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

I’m not going to hate a song because it isn’t in a national language. Would I prefer it to be? Yes. But would I hate it just because it’s in English? Absolutely not. I really don’t understand your argument here. Are you against more linguistic diversity?

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

I’m obviously not against linguistic diversity. But I’m not going to hate a song just because it has been translated (or written in English in the first place). If English songs are doing so much better with the public, I cannot see how it’s fair to tell some countries they shouldn’t send songs in English.

Last edited 10 months ago by Tibor
Colin
Colin
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

“I cannot see how it’s fair to tell some countries they shouldn’t send songs in English.”
I think this question should also be directed towards FiK, Sanremo and Beovizija organizers.

* I’m not saying that festivals as old and as prestigious as Sanremo and FiK should have to change rules entirely, but maybe having a small quota of 3-5 songs in English could be a nice experiment for a year or two.

As you know, I’d also encourage selections like MGP and UMK to add more songs in national languages.

Last edited 10 months ago by Colin
Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Colin

I’m getting all confused now. So your issue seems to be not so much the linguistic diversity but the fact that lyrics get translated (or written completely from scratch in a different language). Because why would you impose a quota of English language songs on the few festivals that still promote native language? I say, to assure diversity, all the countries should buy less ready-made chart pop from Swedish, British, Russian or Bulgarian songwriters, but actively support and encourage entries from their own music scenes. I’m sure that this would take care of the language “problem” (if there is one)… Read more »

Colin
Colin
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

Linguistic diversity is the macro-problem when you look at the map of ESC altogether. Translation itself (from whichever language to whichever) often can be a botched job on an individual level. For a translation to work properly, the new lyrics not only have to follow the same topic, but also to do it as effectively as the original ones. An issue is also singer’s ability to sing in another language. A little accent can be quite charming, but when a singer struggles throughout the song, it’s distracting and to me, often creates a feeling of them not being well connected… Read more »

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Colin

Well, as I told you above, I cannot really judge on the quality of a Eurovision translation, because songs in the languages I speak usually don’t get translated. But if a translation seems botchy, perhaps you should get a better translator or a better lyricist. Yet, when I read the comments, most people don’t seem to have issues with the quality of the translation but with the fact of translating. Some people even admit they haven’t heard the song, yet, but they already have formed an opinion on the issue. That tells me, your approach is probably an outlier. 😉… Read more »

James
James
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

If the songs in English doesn’t sound like it was written by a fluent English speaker, or if the performer cannot enunciate to sound like they’ve been performing in the language for some time, I think it makes for a strong argument to have songwriters and artists send in songs in the idioms they are most comfortable with rather than trying to force themselves to produce a track for the sake of connecting an audience who are at most, second and third language speakers of English.

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  James

Absolutely, but that is what I’m arguing for since the beginning: Let the artists decide what language they are comfortable with. I’m neither for imposing English lyrics on someone whom you can barely understand, nor would I limit to their native language someone who perhaps has a good grasp of English and wants to present a pop song for an international audience.

Last edited 10 months ago by Tibor
Michael
Michael
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

The problem is that when Albania’s songs are translated, they’re made worse. That’s been the rule since at least 2011. Even in 2020, when “Shaj” was originally written in English, the “translation” also removed most of what made the song impactful and interesting. This goes deeper than merely translating.

Also, Russia, Azerbaijan and Sweden make some of the blandest, most soulless music at Eurovision and Bulgaria’s best 2 songs came from before 2013. It was great when Norway sent a song with joiking and when Denmark and Iceland sent songs (partly) in their native language.

Tibor
Tibor
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

That may well be your opinion, but that doesn’t make it a fact. In my opinion, Albania is one of the rare countries that always qualifies when the song is good enough. I doubt that “Fairytale” or “Feel the passion” would have qualified in Albanian, but we’ll never know. And you may well think so, but I definitely don’t agree that the bland eurotrash “Spirit in the Sky “ was any less soulless because of the joiking. And when did Denmark last send an entry in Danish? The Icelandic in “Hatrid mun sigra “ was fitting for artistic reasons, but… Read more »

Michael
Michael
9 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

“Love is Forever” had its final pre-chorus in Danish, that’s why I said Denmark and Iceland “partly” send songs in their native language. What I said about the revamps might be my opinion, but the majority of Eurofans feel that way too. I certainly remember people saying the translations of Albania 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2020 were worse than the original. But, in fairness, much of the love toward the Albanian originals might be because of the orchestra.

Tibor
Tibor
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Like with “Spirit in the Sky” I don’t see how “Love is forever” gets better because it has lines in Danish, German and French. The lyrics are cringe in any language. And apparently neither “World” nor “Fall from the Sky” were Albanian originals, so the fans are not complaining about the translation (which I suppose few of them credibly could), but about the language. A translation from English into Albanian is apparently unproblematic. That means, it’s not about the quality of the lyrics, but about the perceived inherent originality of the medium. Only that a language has no originality in… Read more »

RavensHeart
RavensHeart
10 months ago

How many countries outside of Albania can understand Albanian? Oh yeah that’s right, 0.

Ashton
Ashton
10 months ago
Reply to  RavensHeart

Ok so you’re going to ignore the sizable Albanian pockets in Italy (the Arbereshe), North Macedonia, Greece, and especially Kosovo, as well as the fact that there are people all around the world who can speak and understand Albanian? And if that’s not enough for you, how about you scroll up a little and read the translation, then boom you understand what the song means. Or instead of doing that, appreciate the fact that you are being exposed to linguistic diversity and just enjoy the damn songs.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ashton
James
James
10 months ago
Reply to  RavensHeart

The UK has a sizeable ethnic Albanian community.

Mr X
Mr X
10 months ago
Reply to  James

Don´t forget Switzerland !

Jo.
Jo.
10 months ago
Reply to  RavensHeart

and how many have lazy people who can’t even search for the song’s translation on Google? I mean, you’d spend like 5 secs searching it.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jo.
Mr X
Mr X
10 months ago
Reply to  RavensHeart

It´s not necessary to understand everything. I´m totally sick about so much bad and lousy English in a few of entries.

Azuro
Azuro
10 months ago

Why do wiwi fans get some odd enjoyment over someone singing in a language no one outside her home country can understand.

You can downvote me all you want facts are songs do better in English because they have a more universal appeal. Yes a few foreign songs can qualify and a foreign song can even win. We’ve had 2 in fact, in the last 22 years

Michael Klingensmith
Michael Klingensmith
10 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Albania qualified with an English song in 2010 and 2015 and they qualified with an Albanian song in 2012, 2018 and 2019, and 2015 was a completely different song than the one that one the national final, so they’ve been more successful in Albanian as of late.

Also, there’s the infamous reputation that English revamps of Albanian songs have, even when the original wasn’t all that great to begin with.
So, in the end, it’s probably for the best that Karma is going to stay in Albanian.

Albert
Albert
10 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

In the last 7 years, Albania qualified with an Albanian song 2 out of 3 times, whereas all songs they sent in English failed to do so (I’m Alive is discounted just because it was not the song from FiK).

James
James
10 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Because more languages sung in Eurovision, the better.

Nini Kiwini
Nini Kiwini
10 months ago

Good choice, seeing as in recent years Albania has done better with songs in their language.

If only other countries would do the same more often.

ALEX
ALEX
10 months ago

It’s a struggle either way. The song is too mediocre. Keeping it in Albanian gives her a bigger chance for the final. My advice to her…. CHANGE THE SONG COMPLETELY. You have at least 5 months to get something better on stage for the Eurovision audiences.

Last edited 10 months ago by ALEX
Linus
Linus
10 months ago

I am happy its in albanian and i think it can qualify. Its a song with great potential. Yes i wanted Inis to win but this have grown on me also.

Ria van de Velde
Ria van de Velde
10 months ago

This is really great news !! I’m happy with this decision because I think it would’ve lost its charm in English. And Albanian is a very beautiful language !!

Sabrina
Sabrina
10 months ago

I’m glad with this decision and that we already know that.

Neil
Neil
10 months ago

The song is nice in Albanian, it would’ve lost its charm in English. Tho not my favorite in FiK, I think it can get a spot in the final with EPIC staging and get around 15 (or 17 lol) place

Malo
Malo
10 months ago
Reply to  Neil

As long as it doesn’t drop below 17th, then its all cool XD

waitaminuteholdon
waitaminuteholdon
10 months ago

Are you allowed to use religious names in lyrics? Genuinely asking, there’s so many rules. Especially after what happened with Tulia

sam
sam
10 months ago

the word “god” can be interpreted in many ways

Leo
Leo
10 months ago
Reply to  sam

Azerbaijan winning with a song that used that word in the context it did has proven it has long been accepted in ESC.

Azuro
Azuro
10 months ago

You can still qualify singing in a foreign language. But it makes it a lot less likely.

Mr X
Mr X
10 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

sorry, that´s rubbish…

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr X

There’s statistical evidence to back this opinion up, though. It’s a little more difficult to calculate it post-1999 when the number of songs in English exploded, but from the 70s through the 90s you can see that singing in English gave you a sizeable advantage. If you don’t only count winners but also second places, it gets even more obvious (the UK alone has 15 runner-ups, all from before 1999). In the beginning you had a lot of French winners as well, but you also had five countries entering predominantly French songs (France, Monaco, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Belgium), whereas only the… Read more »

Unknown Melody
Unknown Melody
10 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

Of course it was a huge advantage to sing in the “right” language back then, when ESC juries were notoriously snobbish (not to say xenophobic) in that department. While there is still that effect nowadays it’s much less pronounced with the juries and even less with televoters.

Tibor
Tibor
10 months ago
Reply to  Unknown Melody

I should have seen this one coming. Well, I haven’t done the counting on who the juries and who the televote saved (perhaps you have, then I’m interested in your findings), but just looking at 2019, I’m doubtful. The televote would have saved Poland and actually saved Albania, the juries would have saved Hungary. But the televote also saved Norway, San Marino and Estonia (San Marino at the expense of Poland). In 2018 the televote would have saved Greece and Serbia, but they also saved Finland, Denmark and Lithuania and they would have saved Poland, whereas the juries saved Albania.… Read more »

Denis
Denis
10 months ago

Doesnt matter the language, it will struggle to get ground

Jofty
Jofty
10 months ago
Reply to  Denis

I felt the same about Eugent in 2018 until I saw his live performance. I hope I am wrong again! At least this is a dignified and elegant entry not bought off the shelf nonsense.

Denis
Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Jofty

I thought the opposite about Eugent! I knew he would qulaify becasue it was something new, fresh air from Albania. But now they are back in the same track with the same song they always send..

James
James
10 months ago
Reply to  Denis

Ethnic ballads aren’t something Albania have ever always send by default.

Mr X
Mr X
10 months ago
Reply to  Jofty

He was beside Italy my favourite in 2018.

Bimbamboom
Bimbamboom
10 months ago

Glad we will hear beautiful Albanian language again on the Eurovision stage

Last edited 10 months ago by Bimbamboom
Roy Moreno
Roy Moreno
10 months ago

My heart can’t handle the same fear every year xD
I’m glad they’re keeping it in Albanian! I love this song 🙂

EscFreak
EscFreak
10 months ago

Really great news. Let the Eurovision journey begin ?

Nobody Important
Nobody Important
10 months ago

Considering that Albania is a master of ruining their songs by translating them to English, a wise choice.

Ashton
Ashton
10 months ago

As she should.