It took more than three hours, but Albania and its artists and viewers endured. And at the end of Festivali i Këngës 61 — Albania’s Eurovision 2023 selection — one act walked away with the ticket to Eurovision. Albina Kelmendi & Familja Kelmendi will see you in Liverpool with their song “Duje”.
This year a total of 26 artists competed over the four-night spectacle. Five of the ten artists in the so-called “New Artist” category were dropped following Semi-Final 2. That left 21 artists to sing-it-out in the final. And boy did they sing, taking us from mystical Albanian ballads through to pop-rock and some form of late 00s dance (shout out to Manjola Nallbani!).
A professional jury chose the overall winner of the festival, while the public — and only the public — voted to decide who would sing at Eurovision. They did not agree.
Festivali i Këngës 61: Jury Results
Elsa Lila, who won the contest in 1996 and 1997, made a triumphant return and won the festival for a third time. That ties her with Manjola Nallbani for the third most-ever wins (behind only Vaçe Zela and Tonin Tërshana).
Her song “Evita” is a simple and stirring love letter to her daughter. It’s tinged with sadness and gratitude, as she says you never know how many days are left for any of us.
First Place: Elisa Lila – “Evita”
Second Place: Albina Kelmendi & Family – “Duje” (Love It)
Third Place: 2 Farm – “Atomike” (Atomic)
Festivali i Këngës 61: Public vote
The public, however, had different thoughts. It ranked Albina and her family first, meaning that they’ll get the spot at Eurovision.
Albina was overcome with emotion as she took to the stage to accept her trophy. She said:
“We will represent you in the best way possible.”
“I am so emotional. I cannot speak. Shall we sing the song together?”
She becomes the third Kosovar singer to represent Albania at Eurovision, following in the footsteps of Rona Nishliu and Lindita Halimi.
Her song “Duje” tells the story of a family in crisis — and their battle to stay together.
no chance! the non-balkan voter does not want to be yelled at by semi-sympathetic people for three minutes.
Düje will get the Nova Deca treatment: being hated by the ESC bubble, but ending up qualifying and finishing somewhere in the bottom.
This really could happen
I could see it happen, but I admit I didn’t realize Nova Deca (Serbia 2018) was actually really hated by the Eurovision fandom. Albania’s final fate will really depend on factors we don’t know about at this point–will it get a revamp to whip it into competitive shape? Which semi final will it be sorted in and who will join Albania (diaspora wise)? Will it get support from the televote because there’s no juries in the semi finals? And what will the rest of the competition be like–will it rise higher or will it sink depending on the other songs?… Read more »
Elsa Lila is such a talent and the song deserved to win. I can’t believe the lack of taste from the people who voted!
Believe me, I share the same sentiment (from an Albanian)
This is just awful. Televote won’t taste this kind of music… No final for Albania again, this year
I had the opportunity to read some of the lyrics – Duje, Evita, Malli, N’Eden, Atomike, Aroma jone, Motit, Stop, Kozmosi i dashurise. I does add another layer to the conversation. Evita proves to be a masterpiece. The lyrics are every bit heartfelt and poetic as I assumed by the composition. Atomike has my 2nd favorite lyrics, every bit blunt, strong, and anti-war as I hoped they’d be judging by the title. N’Eden has somewhat cryptic lyrics, but I like them, and they go well with the flow. Malli, Aroma Jone, Kozmosi i dashurise, and Motit all have very good… Read more »
Add the lyrics of Emri yt miresi I’ve read now. Really beautiful. It definitely explains the somber tone of the entry.
Colin, with Duje… you’re someone who can tell them that they are wrong, and to mind their own business. In what world is it better for children to have two unhappy parents? Not to even mention the matter of possible domestic abuse. Just no. What horrible lyrics, I have gone off this song completely. Thank you for your diligence!
A lot of people have also said that the message is about people who are separated due to one word of “harsh” debating. And not necessarily about the couple debating over petty things. In fact, it makes the message look much worse. Why? Because Albanians look like they love to argue and consequently destroy the family. You are singing a song about how Albanian family members debate over petty things and you’re telling them to stop doing it through a song that will represent our country at ESC? Do they realize that it portrays our country in a bad light?… Read more »
I feel you, Kaiser. Coming from Croatia, I also know that sometimes local people connect with songs that have *very* conservative messages. People here still sing songs from the 90s that mention Herzegovina as a Croatian territory (something I don’t agree with at all!), and songs that diminish women and men by very dated gender roles (”fragile obedient women and tough big men”). Threatening with violence and self-harm in a case of rejection is sadly also a common trope in some 90s/00s pop songs. I hope an entry like that doesn’t finish winning Dora’s televote as well. In the case… Read more »
First good Albanian entry since 2020. Definitely will compete for the final at minimum.
I would have loved if Albina’s “Duje” would have represented Kosovo this year and Elsa’s “Evita” representing Albania only to prove to all of you that Duje would qualify and Evicta wouldn’t have because only the public is voting in Eurovision semi-finals this year. They would have found Evita too boeing.
Sorry to break it to you, but songs like Duje (who preach anti-divorce messages when women get beaten by their husband) belong in the trash. 🙂
My dude. Duje is about petty arguments that get blown up, not domestic abuse. It’s not “stick it out no matter what” it’s “why are we falling apart over whether or not we get a waffle iron.” Don’t take things to extremes that aren’t on the table.
And tell me which couple gets separated over petty arguments? You can also say that the message it conveys delivers a broad message. Because you have reasons to divorce. Family is sacred, surely, but it only gives Albanians a bad light because it means that they get separated over petty arguments, not just the couple, but also the family.
Such a lazy assumption that’s dismissive of the public’s ability to appreciate quality. 2017’s winner is the ultimate middle finger to the idea that the televoters are savages who need juries to prevent them from having Russian grannies win Eurovision every year.
Revamp the song, give the family more air time and work with whoever did Albania’s staging in 2021
I dont like the song very much but i wish you luck lots of LOVE to my Albanese friends, keppi ungdemi strutka tërmin.
isnt that the prime minister of australia?
I think Albina could get an ok results, perhaps something similar to that of Jonida Maliqi. But I think Elsa, with the right staging, could have got an amazing result, on par with Rona Nishliu.
For me this is the worst Albanian entry in the recent years, and I could say the same thing with Ukraine and Tvorchi.
Two first songs for 2023 that are not good enough.
The worst entry was this pornoografic stuff fom this year….
I prefer Tick Tock from Croatia
It has vibes like Bulgaria in 2009.
I find it really aesthetically unpleasing that they have a 80 year old as a back vocalist. She doesn’t fit there.
She doesn’t fit with her own family? They should have just put her in a shopping trolley and pushed her off a cliff? I’m sorry, you’ll have to just listen to the contest on the radio. Hopefully the rest of us won’t be so ageist.
Oh, come on, are you crazy?! One of the members of Takasa (who represented Switzerland in 2013) was 95 years old when he took part in ESC with younger members, and no one complained about it!
If you don’t want to see an old woman perform just because of her AGE, this is NOT her problem because Eurovision participation is open for everyone above 16 no matter how old they are!!
I wouldn’t even have deemed her 80. I wish I’ll look like that at her age.
It is OK. Nothing more. I hope the re-vamp improves it into something that at-least worthy of top 10..
And hope the staging changes becasue if they insist on keeping it oh boy..
3… 2… 1… Loading revamp…
The song is not bad, the stage show is the cringiest thing i have seen for a while. Let Albina on stage and her parents, the others have no charisma at all
They have lots of time to give the siblings a bit more to do. A lot of the problem with the current staging was space. They had to share the stage with the orchestra and had to keep things really simple and close. That won’t be an issue in Liverpool, so they can find ways to either give them things to do or keep them out of the shot when they aren’t actually singing. That should help a lot.
Although Albina’s song has its own merits (it was clearly a favorite and she sings about a very important subject!), I’m really sad that Elsa won’t be representing Albania in Eurovision. Personally, I really liked her song and it could have received a very high score from the juries. It was a unique opportunity to send one of their biggest stars (if not biggest) with a very classy song …
Congratulations for staying in the semi-final, Albania!
Average song. Nothing special
This is a powerful song from start to finish! Its too early to predict anything but its a good entry in my opinion!
My favorite song won! That never happens! Albania picked great. This is the first place I’ve seen anyone confused by this song winning. I’m on that wretched bird app and over there we’re all popping champagne that a cool traditional-sounding song is going to Liverpool!
I didn’t follow FiK this year and in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t since it took forever to end! This is an interesting song, but it’s also rather messy and the composition and arrangement needs a more proper structure to really bring this entry to life. I do see a lot of potential though. With the right hands and a not terrible revamp à la Sekret, Fairytale, One Night’s Anger etc. then I truly think this could really take people by surprise. Time will tell whether the inevitable revamp will ruin the song or not.
The song is a bit all over the place and the backvocalists look lost at times but I think I kind of like it. Hope it gets a good revamp that defines this song better and they need to come up with an interesting staging to carry the song. Otherwise, it is going to be too messy to understand. I see potential, though.
It is just a wall of sound that repeatedly hits you. It will probably qualify thanks to Albanian diaspora, but it will definetely crash and burn in the final, especially now that Montenegro and N. Macedonia are out.
Btw, she looks like Turkish actress Turkan Soray
This is dramatic and powerful. It sits in the niche that Albania has carved for itself and that is perfectly reasonable, they are very good at the emotional intensity. I think it will do quite well at the contest, there is an audience for this type of music and the family theme transcends language barriers. I don’t see it as a winner, but definitely nestling somewhere in the middle of the pack.
This song for me sounds a bit weird as if there were more lyrics than Melody. It seems as if the lyrics do not fit in the notes
I just read that these results are about to be contested in court.
Car Crash performance all round on the staging but that could have been down to the production team and the camera angles. Not grabbing me like last year but then looked what happened to that following the remix and staging in Turin!!! I suspect in this case a remix may help but i still don’t think at this stage pending other countries selections this is going to do well.
Elsa Lila would’ve been one of their best entries in recent years, this is one of the worst.
It could qualify but only because of Albanian diaspora.
This is bad, Ukraine is better
Evita was boring as hell, this or Fifi’s song was the right choice for Eurovision. They’ve got months to work on a revamp and the staging, don’t right this one off yet!
I literally can’t get my head around the idea that anyone can find “Stop” to be a better song than “Evita” and keep a straight face while doing so.
a very rural and provincial song.. Elsa Lila should have won.
No, Evita would not qualify to the final due to no juries voting in the semi finals. eurovision televoters would have found it too boring. Trust me, out of the two, Duje had a better chance to qualify.
No qualification, this is probably their worst entry ever . Sorry but as it stands it is a mess . The Albanian and Kosovan diaspora will vote for this for sure, but I struggle to relate to or appreciate any melody . I respect this other people’s cup of tea and it was chosen democratically , but no not a good song
First place is bought
OK so I don’t like this entry but people writing it off already is silly. Remember Nova Deca? Most didn’t think it’d qualify but it did.
Great comparison. I instantly thought of Nova Deca when I heard Düje for the first time.
semi-final 2 in 2018 was one of the worst semis ever tho. and even then they barely qualified.
Oh I’m not disagreeing with that at all, but it’s still silly to write it off when we don’t know any of the songs in the semis yet besides Albania.
But thinking about the song isolated from Eurovision? It still needs more work.
It needs a lot of work.
Thanks for reminding me of Nova Deca again. That entry was absolutely robbed of a higher place in 2018
My favorite Serbian entry TBH.
It is rather silly that you think reaching 16th place with a weak semifinal is a success. Besides, Serbian diaspora is larger than Albania’s
Never said it was a success. I only talked about qualifying. Do I think Albania’s entry this year is good? No. Do I think it has good chances to advance to the final? Absolutely not. But I am not gonna call it a dead certain NQ. Not yet anyway. I’ll probably do that in March lol.
Lol fair enough.
Is there a studio version ? I can’t find it :'(
Couldn’t find one either.
It’s not that bad. Need a revamp, but overall not bad. They need to think about staging, bc they are a lot on the stage and all of them are singers xD .. With interesting group staging, like Serbia 2018, and if they keep in Albanian whole song, this will be in the final.
I don’t understand: Albina was the winner on the votes on Wiwibloggs for the majority of Eurofans and there nobody likes the song and everyone says bad things about it …. I don’t understand?
Not everyone in the comments voted for Albina 🙂
Every year it’s the same anyway a lot of critics, underestimated countries and finally in the final! We’ll see !
Albanians are very actively voting for their songs.
Yes okay but not all Albanians have more there are also other Europeans
I wish them all the luck in Liverpool…Cause they gonna need it.
This is probably the worst Albanian entry since Fairytale.
I can’t really see this one do good at ESC. It feels messy and as someone else also mentioned, it feels like it drags on for more than 3 minutes. Given that I am not enthusiastic over the Ukrainian song either, I think that the season has not started powerfully. Lots of songs to go though
I don’t think this will qualify. It reminds me of Bosnia 2016, but messier.
With televoting-only system Bosnia would have actually qualified in 2016. This reminds me more of Georgia 2018 or even Georgia 2019.
This performance looks incredibly ackward.
What a mess of a song! It felt so much longer than 3 minutes!
Unfortunately, the first 2 songs are not too great – I could not force myself to listen up to the end of Albanian or Ukrainian songs. I hope the trend will change in 2023. :/
I like the song but Evita was my favorite, but I wish them a lot of succes in Liverpool
I’m not entirely sure why everyone is so negative about this song, I love it!
My opinion of the songs on the night of the finals. Note that I’ve read no lyrics, and only have rough outlines of the few of them regarding the meaning behind it, so that’s the part that’s under question: 2Farm – I was impressed, and I’m glad that the juries were to. It’s very original, and and the chanting is so cool. There’s something haunting here, in a good way. The goggles are a nice touch. Sergio Hajdini – Less impressed. The song is okay-ish, but he feels less confident on the stage, and this totally passed me by. Gjergj… Read more »
Franc Koruni – Still not one of my favorites or even close, but I did like it slightly better on the second take. It feels like a complete song. Gent Hoxha – I have no idea why the juries voted this over Malli. The song is bland, he is okay at best, and the saxophone, its only salvegeable aspect, comes in too late to do much. Petrit Carkaxhiu – Call me of a niche taste, but quite enjoyed this. Cut the song down to 3 minutes mark, and give it an intimate, yet eerie staging, and this could go places.… Read more »
Rovena Dilo – I am a sucker for big dramatic ballads, so of course I do like this. She does go overboard with her pitch at times, but fine. Fifi – As with Enxhi, I liked the studio version better. Not one of my favorite entries by any means, but the studio version and the second live elevated this by several spots. Admittedly, the song is quite catchy, and there are some nice instrumental elements in the verses. Rezarta Smaja – Her voice is simply stunning, and this is her best song for FiK in recent years. Wouldn’t have minded… Read more »
Where do you find all these studio cuts, Colin? Some have been published by the artists themselves, but I cannot find most of them anywhere. Are the yjust publishing them bit by bit or is there once again some kind of geoblocking involved? This is so annoying. :/
I’ve only been able to listen to some of them on You Tube, mostly on the artists’ own channels. Some of available ones include Evita, Stop, Malli, and Burre. Knowing how FiK often deletes its performances after awhile, I wonder whether songs might be lost in time if not taken from the internet now.
Rovena Dilo, Luna Causholli, and Gjergj Kacinari also released the studio versions of their songs. That’s only 7 songs or 33% of all songs. I hope that others get released eventually too. Maybe some of them are also making official videos, because in that front, the percentage is 0% of FiK 61. However, I’ll be happy just with clear studio versions or at least live versions with clapping edited out.
I was counting only among finalists. Overall statistics is:
I’m glad more people appreciate 2Farm now because I reckon their song could have done better in Eurovision that the one Albania has picked. It just SOUNDS like Eurovision to me!
Thanks, Una! 🙂