Albania: Read back our live blog of Festivali i Kenges 56

The first national final of the season is already upon us. Albania select their representative for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon. Last year, Albania failed to qualify for the Grand Final, so this year, will the Albanian public and jury select a song that will gain them qualification?

The show in Albania starts at 21:00CET (20:00 GMT), and is bring broadcast from the Palace of Congresses in Tirana. The host of the show is Adi Krasta. In total there are 8 qualifiers from Semi final 1 and 6 qualifier from semi final 2. The final result will be 100% decided by the Albanian jury. Viewers outside of Albania can watch the show live on RTSH 1. The finalists (in performance order) are as follows:

  1. Redon Makashi – Ekziston
  2. NA & Festina Mezini – Tjetër jetë
  3. Voltan Prodani – E pamundur
  4. Denisa Gjezo – Zemër ku je
  5. Tiri Gjoci – Orë e ndalur
  6. Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije zërin
  7. Rezarta Smaja & Luiz Ejilli -Ra një yll
  8. Artemisa Mithi – E dua botën
  9. Manjola Nallbani – I njëjti qiell
  10. Inis Neziri -Piedestal
  11. Bojken Lako – Sytë e shpirtit
  12. Mariza Ikonomi – Unë
  13. Eugent Bushpepa – Mall
  14. Elton Deda – Fjalët

All songs will be sung in Albanian, with the winning song (most likely) being translated into English and remixed ready for the Eurovision Song Contest.

*Most recent comment will appear at the top*

*Live blog now complete*


00:15 CET And the Winner is… Eugent Bushpepa with the song Mall

This was always a fans favourite, and the jury could not really ignore the will of the people. I am now singing off for tonight, what a wonderful and impressive show this has been from the Palace of Congresses in Tirana. Well done to RTSH for putting on a spectacular show. We look forward to greeting Eugent in Lisbon.

23:45 CET

Now an interval act with an old fashioned feel to it. That is the feel people think about when people mention this festival to them. Having spoken to some fellow fans tonight, they think that RTSH should move with the times and update the show.

23:35 CET

And that is all the songs completed for tonight. A much higher standard of show this year in terms of song, still some dodgy camera work (but that always happens during a live trans-Continental production). RTSH have really outdone themselves this year.

23:35 CET – Elton Deda – Fjalët

This is a pop/blues/show song. By show song I mean a song you would see in a musical. A very beat-y up tempo song, and this time with a look, voice and sound to match. This is not generic, but it is not refreshing either. I think the voice needs a lot of work to get some power behind it. However, saying that, I think it would do well at Eurovision, possibly just scrape qualification. This performance, and this one alone seems a bit off key and lacking that extra something.

23:29 CET – Eugent Bushpepa – Mall

This is a fans favourite from all the songs tonight. He gets an amazing reaction even before the song starts. This is an up tempo pop song, which is really refreshing to hear in Albania. This could easily sound like a chart topper in Albania considering the reaction it got. The beat is very refreshing, dramatic and goes with the song and the strength of his voice really well. Bit of a weak voice in parts, which can easily be improved on before May, should this song win. One of the top performances from tonight. This would qualify for Albania I think if it won, and was improved on, and sung in the original language.

23:22 CET -Mariza Ikonomi – Unë

This is the sort of ballad I would think of as being in a film or the title song to a film. It has that very film score type feel and sound to it. As traditional ballads are, the song is very slow tempo with a powerful voice to match, again, sadly without the look to match.

23:09 CET

A saucy dance troupe dancing to the song ‘Be Italian’ by Fergie.

23:02 CET – Bojken Lako – Sytë e shpirtit

An extremely low voice. I would say it comes in the Baritone range. This is another generic ballad with similar pace and beats to the previous song, but sadly with no voice or stage look to match the genre of the song. He seems like he has a voice more suited to a heavy rock/heavy metal song. This would not suit a Eurovision stage at all.

22:57 CET – Inis Neziri -Piedestal

Another female solo ballad with a powerful voice behind it. The song has typical ballad beats in it with no change of tempo to give it some power or something different. It is very generic. Inis has a strong voice but needs a lot of work to make the song even more powerful and dramatic, and more worthy of a possible victory.  Personally I think her voice is showing that she lacks experience.

22:51 CET – Manjola Nallbani – I njëjti qiell

I would say this is an electric song. Manjola has a very strong voice. The song slows in the chorus. She is singing an an operatic voice, which I do not think suits the song. The rest of the song is absolutely perfect. The beats in the song add a dramatic pace to the song, in those aspects the voice does not match. If the operatic aspects were sung normally, then this would be flawless. She is dressed in all black. She is getting an amazing reaction from the spectators in Tirana. Could this be their winner?

22:38 CET

This is an interval act now. This guy sung at a previous edition of Festivali i Kenges. He has managed to get the crowd upon their feet dancing along to his song. He is very big in Albania.

22:23 CET – Artemisa Mithi – E dua botën

This is a jazz/ballad/blues song. Artemisa has a strong-ish voice, but I think it needs a bit of work to reach the highest notes in the song. The song changes tempo quite quickly, so that might be why? Other than that it was a flawless performance. There could be more energy in this song and performance I think, not an OMG moment for Albania.

22:19 CET – Rezarta Smaja & Luiz Ejilli -Ra një yll

This is a typical duet ballad. The female voice starts off really strong, then the male voice comes in, they harmonise so well together. The woman voice is so strong, and these voices work so well together. The song is so dramatic, which, combined with their voices, makes that feeling of dramatic energy so much stronger They are both wearing all black. Another possible OMG moment, yes it is a ballad, but previous few ballads have been sung my solo females, this mixes that up really well.

22:05 CET – Orgesa Zaimi – Ngrije zërin

This is an OMG moment for Albania. Yes it is a ballad, but it is not styled like one at the beginning, and the tempo changes, Orgesa has an amazing voice, which peaks in the middle of the song. She is dressed in her own unique way, but it is still very classy. The backing singers really add a lot to this song, they don’t carry Orgesa through. The orchestra definitely add a lot of definition to this song.

22:00 CET – Tiri Gjoci – Orë e ndalur

This, to me (the song) would sound something like Michael Buble would sing. It is a contemporary Jazz/Blues/Rock upbeat number. This guy is doing very well with his vocals. He sounds as though he is in a similar range as well to Michael Buble (I wonder if there is any inspiration there). It is a refreshing different sound to what the dramatic ballads normally sound like. He is wearing all black so he looks extremely smart. I think this song would do very well for Albania at Eurovision as it is different to what they have had in the past

21:54 CET

Now it is after the break, and another interval act from a fabulous dance troupe. The dance, music and outfit, everything about them is dramatic.

21:36 CET

Now we have an interval act with music from the orchestra, which began with a women in a ballerina’s leotard cycling on stage (yes you did read that right). This was a tribute to 2 Albanian artists who recently passed away, now there is a minute applause from all at the Palace of Congresses in Tirana.

21:36 CET: Denisa Gjezo – Zemër ku je

A great song, with a great song to match again. The song is a ballad with some different sounding beats in it. Denisa has a strong voice which can reach very high notes in the song. The song has some change of tempo but it remains as a ballad. The guitars add a rock type feel to this song and it makes it very refreshing from the typical ballad song I think this could qualify for Albania in Lisbon. Tonight Denisa is wearing a long and puffy black sparkly dress with black gloves and she has the rock chick type of look to go with the guitar element of the song.

21:28 CET: Voltan Prodani – E pamundur

Very weak vocals, and the echos do absolutely nothing to the song. It would be so much better with out the echos but keeping the choir voices. In what can be described as the chorus, the tempo changes considerably, his voice seems to suit this change of tempo. This is a cross between slow rock and jazz, not a combinations that should be mixed together. He is in a casually laid back outfit of jeans, tshirt, blazer and a hat.

21:22 CET: NA & Festina Mezini – Tjetër jetë

Their voices go so well together, and the guitar chords at the beginning of the song are well played. Costumes are very smart, so it looks like they have considered the occasion well. I think this song would bring a very welcome back from tradition from what Albania have sent for the previous few years. This had elements of several different genres so it was extremely hard to pinpoint one in particular, but the guitar/rock elements stood out for me.

21:12 CET: Redon Makashi with Ekziston

And here we are with the first song.  He seems to be having some technical difficulties, but we are off. The start with the trumpets and one drum beat is very dramatic. Very laid back outfit as he is wearing jeans with a t-shirt and a blazer. Great dramatic voice to match the great dramatic beat of the song. Bit shaky in the top vocals but they can easily be worked on. The choir definitely add a lot to this composition, but at Eurovision, the choir would not be there. He is playing the piano which is adding to the dramatic effect of this song so great work all around on this song. This was a typical ballad suited to a male voice, and with a bit of work, this could do well.

21:00 CET (20:00 GMT)

I hope you are all as ready as I am for the first national final of 2018. If the semi finals are anything to go by, we are in for a long show. So sit back, relax and enjoy the commentary I (Sadie) shall be providing here on ESCDaily.

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