Albania: Read back our liveblog for semifinal 2

So after last night’s first semifinal, tonight twelve more acts will perform in the annual Festivali i Këngës, which will select Albania’s entry for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev. Last night twelve act performed and tonight twelve more will perform before the results of both semifinals are revealed later tonight.

Fourteen finalists will be chosen tonight to perform in tomorrow night’s final, one of them being Albania’s potential Eurovision entry. The competition is in it’s 55th year and has been used to select the Albanian Eurovision entry since they first started to compete at Eurovision in 2004. The contest has produced many success stories and failures and is a Christmas tradition among the Eurovision community with many beloved names returning year after year to compete for the opportunity to represent their country. Tonight’s semifinal line up is like this:

1 Elson Braha “Edhe një herë”
2 Lorela “Me ty”
3 Tiri “Më zgjo”
4 Fabiola Agalliu & Agnesa Çavolli “Shkon e vjen”
5 Rezarta Smaja “Pse prite gjatë”
6 Dilan Reka “Mos harro”
7 Albulena Jashari “Fjalët ia lë zemrës”
8 XUXI “Metropol”
9 Luka & Serxhio Hajdini “Koha plaket”
10 Classic Boys “Dashuria për jetën”
11 Linda Rukaj “Vija e lumit”
12 Lindita Halimi “Botë”

Many of the fan favourites are among tonight’s semifinalists including Lindita Halimi andd Rezarta Smaja. We’ll be liveblogging the show so be sure to check back at ESCDaily.

So the show opens with a recap of last night and or hosts then introduce us to the band and we move straight on to the performances.

The first performance of the night comes from Elson Braha, who performs the song “Edhe një herë”. The opening is quite weak and then when the chorus hits, it HITS. The song is operatic and builds well and Elson has charm and charisma. He stands alone on stage in front of the band to a Roman-style backdrop projected onto the screens. Lots of wide angle shots accompany this anthemic operatic song. It’s a strong song, perhaps not the best one to open the show with, but it carries itself well.

Song number two is “Me ty” by Lorela. This one is similar to the first song, although it lacks the power and passion behind it. It’s a simple arrangement which doesn’t have a particularly good hook or progression behind it. The song is presumably about love as the backdrop projects love hearts raining down behind her as she stands alone in an almost gothic style black dress. The violins get a good use in this mid-tempo love song. Overall the performance is distinctly average and not strong enough to be remembered for anything in particular. Unlucky.

Tiri is third on stage with “Më zgjo” and this one completely falls flat. It’s a balkan ballad, which is a wasted by-gone for Eurovision. With an attempt at building passion and energy it just doesn’t capture the audience or resonate well on screen. Tiri is a small man with a terrible beard who is wearing a funny looking leather jacket. He’s standing alone singing into a microphone, giving it all he’s got but there’s something about this that’s just not going to be enough I’m afraid.

After two interval acts, it’s time to send in the girls! Fabiola Agalliu & Agnesa Çavolli are on stage singing “Shkon e vjen” and it’s just the type of energy this competition has lacked so far. The girls are young, cool, and funky. The song is uptempo and has a good hook, it would work very well in English. The girls have the most charisma of any of the acts so far tonight. The backdrop to this is bright and pop-art-y, it gives the whole performance a youthful feel. A great entry for tonight!

Next up is the returning Rezarta Smaja with “Pse prite gjatë”. The earthy princess from 2015 has upgraded herself and turned into a sassy woman for 2017. The song is extremely positive, however it is very different to her previous attempts at Festivali i Kenges. It’s more Mediterranean sounding than any of her previous entries, with heavy influences on the guitar and brass. Mariachi vibes flow throughout this mid tempo number. It’s positive, inspiring, and uplifting, much more frivolous than her previous attempts at the competition. It’s like she’s decided to just let her hair down and enjoy life! Good for her!

“Mos harro” by Dilan Reka is song number 6 and by far, this is the most 2017 sounding of all of tonight’s entries. It sounds a lot like an Albanian version of a song by Swedish artist Darin. It’s uptempo and in your face, there’s a strong instrumental in the middle that’s just begging, BEGGING, for an epic dance break. Dilan himself is young and really likeable, he’s wearing a long black jacket, skinny jeans, and white shoes, literally what I was wearing earlier today. There’s some impressive vocals in this and it could be a really good contender for Eurovision with a decent revamp.

Albulena Jashari will perform song number seven; “Fjalët ia lë zemrës”. Barbara Dex has  a run for her money with this one. What the hell is she wearing? It’s an ugly rainbow galaxy dress with a giant face on it, whose face is it? Who knows? Who cares really. The song is a ballad, I’m assuming it’s about either social justice, peace, or togetherness. Her vocals are very strong. The song is also quite solid and builds well. the whole package just doesn’t come together on this one which is a right shame! She’s a good singer and the song is worth more than she’s giving it. It’s a little bit overkill, nevertheless, it’s a nice ballad.

XUXI is up next with the song “Metropol” and OMG DID SOMEBODY SAY EURO NEURO?! No? Then what is this man doing here? His beard is out of control and he’s breaking every rule in the book. NO SUNGLASSES PLEASE. The vocals are really apalling and I’m pretty sure this isn’t a parody and I feel really embarrassed right now. I’m sure the lyrics have some kind of comic appeal, but it’s very dated. It has that awful early-2000’s teenage boy Blink 182 kind of humour about it. The song is a mid tempo, shout-y song, which is repetitive and heavy on the brass. To summarize, he could have been some random man who walked in and stole the mic, and we’d still never know…

Song number nine is Luka & Serxhio Hajdini with “Koha plaket” and it’s an emtional ballad which is mid tempo. A solid melody accompanies this dramatic performance. There’s a whiff of 90’s throwback to this one. Both dressed in black, he looks suave, but she looks awful in a ridiculously puffy pantsuit straight outta the late 80’s. There’s a nice orchestral break in this song, where the violins get full show. In my opinion, he should have ditched her and done this one solo. With the exception of her outfit though, this is a remarkable unoffensive project, who knows?

Classic Boys are performing tenth with the song “Dashuria për jetën”. Operatic boybands have done Eurovision before, but this lacks the mainstream appeal that many pop acts need to thrive. The vocals are nice but the performance is too theatrical and dramatic to survive Eurovision. These guys have a great deal of charm and they make an excellent trio, despite a relatively weak and undistinguished song.

The penultimate song of this semifinal is by Linda Rukaj and it’s called “Vija e lumit”. She’s straddling a double bass which is much bigger than she is so props to her for that. I’m getting Norah Jones vibes from her. Summery, pleasant, inoffensive, whimsical, you know the drill. The song is heavy on the guitar and makes for pleasant easy listening. No fancy vocals or important messages here, just a classic mid tempo pop song.

And finally, it’s time for Lindita Halimi with “Botë”. She captured the attention of the Eurovision fandom in 2015 and she’s back tonight, much more mature looking and sounding. The song is much different to her previous effort, more mature and slowed down in it’s composure. It has a great build to it and the song has fantastic progression behind it, with a good staging this could go down a storm, it’s a certain qualifier here in Albania tonight.

After some more interval acts our hosts are back to give us the results of the jury and the names of the 14 songs which have qualified between the two semifinals.

The 14 finalists going through to tomorrow night are:

Flaka Krelani “Osiris”
Genc Salihu “Këtu”
Xhesika Polo “Eva jam unë”
Edea Demaliaj “Besoj në ëndrra”
Yll Limani “Shiu”
Franc Koruni “Macka”
Orges Toçe “Shi diamantësh”
LYNX “Sot”
Lorela “Me ty”
Fabiola Agalliu & Agnesa Çavolli “Shkon e vjen”
Rezarta Smaja “Pse prite gjatë”
Dilan Reka “Mos harro”
XUXI “Metropol”
Lindita Halimi “Botë”

So that’s it! Only six artists from tonight’s semifinal have qualified, whereas eight from last night’s have made it through. Tomorrow night we go on to the final where we will find out the first entry for Eurovision 2017. It’s starting! Thank you for sticking with and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with everything happening in the upcoming Eurovision season.