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

53 Comments
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Michael
Michael
1 year ago

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.

Michael
Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael

“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.

ESCFan2009
ESCFan2009
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicolas

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

ESC8
ESC8
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

Ashton
Ashton
1 year ago

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.

Ashton
Ashton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ashton

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?

Colin
Colin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ashton

“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 1 year ago by Colin
Colin
Colin
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin

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 »

James
James
1 year ago
Reply to  Ashton

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.

Colin
Colin
1 year ago

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 »

Colin
Colin
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin

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 »

James
James
1 year 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.

Colin
Colin
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin

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.

Esc43
Esc43
1 year 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
1 year ago
Reply to  Esc43

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

RavensHeart
RavensHeart
1 year ago

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

Ashton
Ashton
1 year 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 1 year ago by Ashton
James
James
1 year ago
Reply to  RavensHeart

The UK has a sizeable ethnic Albanian community.

Mr X
Mr X
1 year ago
Reply to  James

Don´t forget Switzerland !

Jo.
Jo.
1 year 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 1 year ago by Jo.
Mr X
Mr X
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago
Reply to  Azuro

Because more languages sung in Eurovision, the better.

Nini Kiwini
Nini Kiwini
1 year 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
1 year 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 1 year ago by ALEX
Linus
Linus
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

Neil
Neil
1 year 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
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil

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

waitaminuteholdon
waitaminuteholdon
1 year 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
1 year ago

the word “god” can be interpreted in many ways

Leo
Leo
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

Mr X
Mr X
1 year ago
Reply to  Azuro

sorry, that´s rubbish…

Unknown Melody
Unknown Melody
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr X

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.

Denis
Denis
1 year ago

Doesnt matter the language, it will struggle to get ground

Jofty
Jofty
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago
Reply to  Denis

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

Mr X
Mr X
1 year ago
Reply to  Jofty

He was beside Italy my favourite in 2018.

Bimbamboom
Bimbamboom
1 year ago

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

Last edited 1 year ago by Bimbamboom
Roy Moreno
Roy Moreno
1 year 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
1 year ago

Really great news. Let the Eurovision journey begin ?

Nobody Important
Nobody Important
1 year ago

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

Ashton
Ashton
1 year ago

As she should.