Last year Albania’s Ronela Hajati shared herself with Europe, releasing a “Sekret” everyone was keen to hear. And now producers at national broadcaster RTSH have revealed the acts competing to replace her as part of Festivali i Këngës 61.
Producers have not yet confirmed the dates of the show, but traditionally it’s held in the second half of December.
This year’s roster includes at least two FiK legends. Elsa Lila famously won FiK back-to-back in 1996 (as a newcomer) and in 1997.
Manjola Nallbani is also here. She has actually won the contest three times: in 1989, 1992, and 1993. She also gave us one of the most memorable diva moments when, in 2007, she claimed that officials had sabotaged her performance. Apparently the public in the arena only heard the orchestra and playback, putting the judges in a real pickle. She vowed never to return to a competition, in her words, run by the mafia.
Fifi will certainly turn heads. This queen — full name Filloreta “Fifi” Raçi — composed Cyprus’ 2022 entry “Ela” for Andromache. She’s had several domestic hits, including “Ninullë dashurie” and “Diell,” and is known as a master of the contemporary ballad.
You’ll also be familiar with Rezearta Smaja, who placed third last year, and former participants LYNX.
Insiders tell us the competition could come down to Fifi and Elsa, both of whom enjoy widespread acclaim and remain at the top of their game.
Festivali i Këngës 61: The 26 participating artists
- 2 Farm – “Atomike” (Atomic)
- Alban Kondi & Lorela Karoshi – “Melodi” (Melody)
- Albina Kelmendi – “Duje” (Love It)
- Anduel Kovaçi – “Malli” (Longing)
- Aris Bako – “Sonte dua të jem me ty” (Tonight I want to be with you)
- Melodajna Mancaku – “Gjysma e zemrës sime” (Half of my heart)
- Elisa Lila – “Evita”
- Enxhi Nasufi – “Burrë” (Man)
- Erma Mici – “Kozmosi i dashurisë” (The cosmos of love)
- Evi Reçi – “Ma kthe” (Give me back)
- Fabian Basha – “Një gotë” (A glass)
- Fifi (Filloreta Raçi) – “Stop”
- Franc Koruni – “Në pritje” (Waiting)
- Genti Hoxha – “Ajër” (Air)
- Gjergj Kaçinari – “Dje” (Yesterday)
- Luna Causholli – “Jetën ta fal” (I give my life to you)
- LYNX – “Nëse ke besim” (If you have faith)
- Manjola Nallbani – “Dua” (Love)
- Permit of Stay – “Fobia” (Phobias)
- Petrit Çarkaxhiu – “Emri yt mirësi” (Your name is good)
- Rezearta Smaja – “N’Eden” (In Eden)
- Rovena Dilo – “Motit” (It’s been a while)
- Sara Kapo – “Para teje” (Before you)
- Serxhio Hajdini – “Vështirë” (Difficult)
- Urban Band – “Në çdo hap” (At every step)
- Vanesa Soni – “Aroma jonë” (Our fragrance)
Back in September, OGAE Albania reported that FiK 61 will include a televote — a big shift from last year when the final was decided by a seven-person jury chaired by Eurovision alum Anxhela Peristeri — one of the most in-demand singers in the country.
RTSH utilized both jury voting and a public vote at FiK 55, its selection for Eurovision 2017. But it wasn’t a remotely even split. The jury vote accounted for 12/13 of the vote, while the public vote made up the remaining 1/13 (or about 7.7% of the overall result).
On Friday RTSH confirmed changes. A jury will once again choose the festival winner. But the public — and the public alone — will choose who goes to Eurovision. More on that below.
Which names stand out to you? Who do you want to see at Eurovision?