Merry FiKmas! On Monday, Albania will begin Festivali i Këngës 60, the three-night extravaganza that will also decide the act that will represent the country at Eurovision 2022. But before Albania decides, we’ve done some ranking of our own.
The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has taken some time out from the festive season and listened to all 20 competing acts of FiK60. We’ve ranked our top songs in Eurovision fashion and combined our scores to determine our absolute favourites, with written reviews for the top 11. Who is our favourite? Read on to find out!
Festivali i Këngës 60: The Wiwi Jury’s Top 20 Ranking
18= Xhuli Pjetraj – “Baladë” (0 points)
18= Sajmir Çili – “Nën maskë” (0 points)
18= Eldis Arrnjeti – “Refuzoj” (0 points)
17. Endri and Stefi Prifti – “Triumfi i jetës” (3 points)
15= Evi Reçi – “Më duaj” (4 points)
15= Denis Skura – “Pse nuk flet, mama?” (4 points)
14. Gjergj Kaçinari – “Në ëndërr mbete ti” (7 points)
12= Urban Band – “Padrejtësi” (8 points) 🥉 – Lauren
12= Kastro Zizo – “Kujë” (8 points) 🥉 – Robyn
9= Shega – “Një” (11 points)
🥉 – Padraig
Padraig: In a sea of big ballads and traditional tunes, there’s something charming and fresh about this trio of chilled-out chums. They remind me a lot of Switzerland’s 2014 crooner Sebalter, complete with some cheeky chappy whistling. However, they’re lacking the Swiss man’s charisma and dynamism. The entry meanders a little, and it’s outstayed its welcome before we reach the end.
9= Mirud – “Për dreq” (11 points)
Robyn: Mirud has a lot of potential but he’s not quite hitting the mark here. There’s a lot to like about his performance of “Për dreq”, especially his expressive dramatic vocals (and you know he’s going to deliver on the FiK stage). However, the song itself doesn’t quite offer enough. Rather than showcasing Mirud’s vocals, the song is devoid of any hooks and has too many instrumental sections, squandering the precious three minutes.
9= Kejsi Rustja – “Vallëzoj me ty” (11 points)
Padraig: There’s something about Kejsi. In 2009, Tola gave us an iconic Albanian bubblegum pop moment in Moscow. And now Rustja is ready to deliver us another over a decade later. A real grower, this uplifting mid-tempo bop reaches a satisfying climax as Kejsi’s vocals pack a powerful yet sweet punch.
8. Viola Xhemali – “Eja si erë” (12 points)
Robyn: This is such a cute and lovely song! Viola’s vocals are beguiling, sweetly flowing with the song. The gentle beats take the song along on a pleasant journey, leading to the repetitive but catchy chorus. But girl, we need to talk about that saxophone solo. It is alarming and jarring, on par with the comedically awful sax solo in “My Lovely Horse”. The song would be better off with a gentle middle-eight, rather than a honking 80s sax-stravaganza.
6= Kelly – “Meteor” (13 points)
Lauren: We’ve already had a young man singing a song called “Meteor” last edition, and I suppose that’s why I approached this song with low expectations. And that’s also why the song was a positive surprise. There’s a somewhat anthemic quality to the vocal melody in the chorus, and the emotion is conveyed really well through the language barrier!
6= Ester Zahiri – “Hiena” (13 points)
Tom: This is the Albanian Ariana Grande, I am convinced of it. I love Ester’s voice. I can feel the emotion when she sings — it sounds like her voice could really lend itself to some serious pop bangers. “Hiena” of course is not a pop banger nor is it a particularly unique song, but nevertheless it still is a lovely ballad and has an outside chance reaching Turin. I can’t help but feel that if Ester enters another year with a bigger song, (which she can absolutely deliver) then we will see her at a future ESC.
5. Rezarta Smaja – “E jemja nuse” (17 points)
🥉 – Tom
Lauren: “E jemja nuse” does an excellent job in captivating the listener. It shifts in mood several times and jumps a whole octave early on, showing the extent of Rezarta Smaja’s vocal range. Some things about it even have a hint of Montaigne, which in my book is a big big compliment. Definitely stands out musically.
4. Janex – “Deluzional” (19 points)
🥇 – Lauren
Lauren: Festivali i Këngës is never the most diverse selection of the Eurovision national final season. It’s exactly this that makes sonically unique entries – like “Hije”, “Më ngjyros”, “E lirë” – stand out. “Deluzional” gains from that, and its distinctive cool, dark vibe shines. A very powerful tune.
3. Olimpia Smajlaj – “Dua” (25 points)
🥈 – Lauren, Robyn
Robyn: There’s something enjoyably unsettling about “Dua”. It has an electro-swing sound to it, but is miles removed from the ill-fated entry from Electro Velvet. The studio version sounds a little under produced, but the live version with the FiK orchestra is sure to bring a fuller feel. Olimpia has great vocals, with a rich, soulful tone. The ingredients are there for a great live performance that could easily stand up on the Eurovision stage.
2. Alban Ramosaj – “Theje” (30 points)
🥈 – Padraig, Tom
Tom: Easily the most impressive male sung song of the lot. Alban Ramosaj serves us a song full of power and passion. I love how the first verse properly simmers, then bubbles and builds up to the explosion in the chorus. And it continues! It is a relentless song that holds you in a lock for three minutes and four seconds and does not let go. Nor do you want it to. Absolutely brilliant and it comes with a big chance.
1. Ronela Hajati – “Sekret” (36 points)
🥇 – Padraig, Robyn, Tom
Padraig: We were denied “Me Tana” two years ago. But now, FiK has an opportunity to redeem itself and sent Europe the ethnic bop that it deserves. Like Elvana, Ronela is a readymade superstar. She’s got the talent, uniqueness, nerve and charisma needed for the modern contest. This really is Albania’s only credible option if it’s to climb out of its big-ballad safety net. And, even though we only know two songs from the 2022 line-up, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll hear anything like this in Turin.
Do you agree with our rankings? Who’s your favourite? And who do you think will win? Let us know below.