Let’s do this! Albania’s Festivali i Këngës 60 takes place at the end of the month. And on Friday producers dropped the 20 songs in the running to represent the Land of Eagles at Eurovision 2022 in Torino. Fly, our darlings, fly!
From power ballads to ethno-bops to undefinable other-worldly pop, Tirana is bringing all of it and we need to know what you think. You can listen to all of the songs below. Consider this a warm-up so you can gather your thoughts for our poll, which we’ll publish in the coming days.
Festivali i Kenges 60: All 20 songs
Fourteen of the songs are being performed by established artists, including massive names like Alban Ramosaj and Ronela Hajati, and FiK veterans like MIRUD, Evi Reci and Kastro Zizo. The remaining six songs come from younger artists making their first mark on the Albanian music scene. They are: Eldis Arrnjeti, Ester Zahiri, Kesjti Rrusta, Olimpia Smajlaj, Viola Xhemali and Xhuliana Pjetri.
Eurovision 2019 star Jonida Maliqi will host the show. Ardit Gjebrea, the mastermind behind rival song contest show Kenga Magjike, is in charge of this year’s festival. He himself has won Festivali i Këngës as a singer, writer or producer on four occasions (1991, 1995, 2000 and 2009). Eurofans will definitely remember “It’s All About You”, which he wrote for Juliana Pasha for Eurovision 2010.
Alban Ramosaj — “Theje”
Alban Ramosaj is a 25-year old Albanian singer-singwriter, director and fashion model. He’s known for his participation on The Voice of Albania and his chart-topping dance hits in the Balkan region. In 2018, he was featured in the Dolce & Gabanna spring/summer fashion campaign. Last year he won the 22nd edition of Kenga Magjike with the song “Thikat e mia”.
Denis Skura — “Pse nuk flet, mama?”
Denis Skura is a famous Albanian tenor, who has given numerous performances and shows at The National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania. This is his first time competing in the festival.
Eldis Arrnjeti — “Refuzoj”
Ester Zahiri — “Hijena”
Evi Reci — “Me duaj”
It’s the second participation for Evi Reci, the famous Albanian TV presenter and singer. Last year she participated in the festival with the song “Tjerr”, where she was awarded a special prize called the “City of Tirana”, showing the respect and love held for her by municipal officials. Evi started her musical career in 2004 with Top Fest, while she has also been part of Kenga Magjike.
Gjergj Kacinari — “Në ënërr mbete ti”
Gjergj Kacinari, known by his stage name Kachinari, will participate for the second time in row. Last year he took part in the festival with his song “Me jepe jete” and made the final. Kachinari has also made a name for himself at Top Fest and Kenga Magjike.
JANEX — “Deluzional”
Xhejn Kumrija (JANEX) — another famed singer and composer — lives in New York. She began her musical career together with her sister, Enxhi Kumrija, and took part in Albanian Festivals like Kenga Magjike, Top Fest and Festivali I Kenges. This is going to be the fourth appearance at FiK, having competing at FiK 51, 52 and 53. In March 2018, she was awarded the “Best Dance Electronica” prize at the Independent Music Awards in United States.
Kastro Zizo — “Kujë”
Kastro Zizo will be a familiar name for most of you. In a career spanning more than 15 years, Kastro Zizo has published four albums and made numerous videoclips. This marks his third time in Festivali I Kenges. He took part in 58th and 59th editions of the festival.
Kelly — “Meteor”
Like so many others on this list, Albanian singer Kelly started her career in Albanian festivals like Kenga Magjike and Mikrofoni I arte. This is going to be the fifth time he attempts to represent Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest. He was part of Festivali I Kenges 46, 51, 53 and 57.
Kesjti Rrusta — “Vallëzoj me ty”
Olimpia Smajlaj — “Dua”
Mirud — “Për dreq”
Kosovar pop star, Mirud, is another returning artist. This will be his third appearance in the festival, after competing as a huge fan favourite in both FiK 57 and 59 with “Nene” and “Nese Vdes”. Even though he was not crowned as the winner, Mirud’s “Nese Vdes” reached more than 1 million views on YouTube, which makes him the second artist after Elvana Gjata with “Me Tana” to achieve that. His first album “Treason” was released in February 2021 and has over 5 million streams across all platforms to date.
Saimir Çili — “Nën maskë”
Saimir Çili is a well-known Albanian singer and composer and also a familiar name among Eurovision fans. His daughter Isea Çili represented Albania at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019 with the song “Mikja Ime, Fëmijëri”, which was composed by Saimir Çili himself.
Rezarta Smaja — “E jemja nuse”
Long-time Festivali I Kenges fans should know Rezarta Smaja. She started her musical career in “Ethet e se Premtes” in 2008 and continued with many Festival appearances in Albania, including at Top Fest and Kenga Magjike. She was part of Festivali I Kenges six times in the row from the 51st to 56th editions of the festival.
Ronela Hajati — “Sekret”
Ronela Hajati is one of the biggest Albanian pop stars. Her long-waited Festival appearance already has heads spinning. She started her musical career in the talent show “Ethet e se Premtes” and continued with numerous appearances at festivals across the country and videoclips that have amassed millions of views on digital platforms.
Stefi & Endri Prifti — “Triumfi i jetës”
Stefi and Endri Prifti, also known as the Prifti Borthers, are one of the biggest duos in the Albanian Music Industry. With a career of more than 25 years, the Prifti Brothers have already published one album and more than 65 songs. They have also made numerous appearances in Albanian festivals. This is going to be their sixth time at Festivali I Kenges as a duo.
Shega — “Një”
Shega, a young band from Italy, combine the Arbëreshe language with contemporary indie-pop music. Born as “The Daggs” in 2014, they started writing songs in their native language and then evolved into SHEGA. They have taken part in different festivals around Europe such as SUNS Europe and the OPP! Festival. During their concerts, in addition to their unpublished efforts, they also perform covers of traditional arbëreshë songs, rearranged according to their own feelings.
Urban Band — “Padrejtësi”
This rock band formed in June 2016. It consists of Andi Tanko (vocals), Jurgen Cara (guitar), Dritan Hekurani (bass guitar), and Sajmir Tatushi (drums). While their singer Andi took part in 54th edition of the Festival, this is going to be their first appearance in the Festival as a group.
Viola Xhemali — “Eja si erë”
Xhuliana Pjetri — Baladë
This year Festivali i Kenges will take place between 26-29 December. For the first time ever, Festivali i Kenges will have a Gala Night on the opening night of the Festival.