Read back: Festivali i Këngës 58

Tonight (Sunday 22nd December) we will have our first Eurovision national final of the season from Alabnia. All the songs were released in advance of the semi finals, and the grand final will be taking place at Pallati i Kongreseve in Tirana, and hosting the show will be Alketa Vejsiu. The show will be broadcast live on Alabnian national broadcaster RTSH from 20:45 CET.

The live blog will be updated throughout the show, the comments will appear in order, and times will be in CET.

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00:10 CET –  Such an unexpected result in Albania tonight. The song that was ultimately chosen will more than likely under go some revamps to make it ready for the stage in Rotterdam, and this is another song that should be kept in the Albanian language. Until next year, good night and merry FiKmas!

00:02 CET – What a huge shock and the arena let it be known. The representative for Albania is Arilena Ara singing Shaj.

23:57 CET – Here is last years winner Jonida Maliqi ready to give the trophy to this years winner

23:27 CET – Another interval act from a great singer keeping the audience engaged. The singer is Italian Guisy Ferreri who has competed at San Remo in Italy on a number of occasions

23:10 CET – After a few hours the songs have finally finished. The audience’s reaction said it all. Elvana is the audience’s choice, but it isn’t up to the audience tonight. This year the Albanian entry is being selected by 100% jury vote.

22:56 CET – Now we are on to the penultimate song of the night. It is Olta Boka with Botë për dy 

It seems as though the stronger performances at the end and this is giving me vibes of Taboo by Christabelle. A man dancing in a glass box. Great performance and strong voice of this up tempo ballad. Will do very well tonight.

22:50 CET – Now we have the fan favourite performing, The one that is predicted by many to win. It is Elvana Gjata singing Me Tana

Cool, modern and eccentric staging. Tis song would do extremely well for Albania in the main contest. This is the only one to have a staging prop so far. A type of a song we haven’t heard yet, pop. People are enjoying it, the reaction in the arena is incredible, is this our winner as predicted? Great voice, song all round package, its easy to dance too.

22:46 CET – Now we have Albërie Hadërgjonaj singing Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua

Great voice for this ballad. This sadly wouldn’t qualify for the main grand final if it were selected to go to Rotterdam. However, the costume is different, the dress is nice, but for the angel hoop at the back of her head, no one understands that. The orchestral arrangement with this song, again is a great pairing and makes people miss the orchestra at the main competition.

22:42 CET – Next up in the 2nd half of the competition is Kamela Islamaj with Më ngjyros

Great Ballad and a great deep Adele type voice to match. Not sure what is going on with the costume, but taking that away, the song is excellent, the voice is excellent with the orchestral arrangement, but it again as previously mentioned, it is in a strong field with others so it has a tough battle ahead to get into the top 5.

 

22:36 CET – After that incredible interval act from Eleni and the Albanian tribute dancers, we move on in the competition. Next up is Gena singing Shqiponja e lirë

Voice is too low for the backing track. However, his Rockstar look does match the vibes that the song is giving out. Great dancers and great visual pyrotechnics, first time that the pyros have been properly used tonight to an advantage that completes the staging package. If the backing track was brought down a key or 2, then the voice would match it perfectly

 

22:10 CET – After that lovely tribute, next up is the interval act, Eleni Foureira singing a melody including Fuego and Verka Serduchka’s song Dancing Lasha Tumbai, a well deserved reception welcoming Eleni back to her birth land.

22:06 CET –  and we are back after a short ad break. We have a tribute to those who were impacted by the recent earthquake in Albania. What a thoughtful piece.

21:50 CET: Another ad break… we’ll be back shortly

21:33 CET: Now it is the turn of the highly popular Arilena Ara singing Shaj

The modern leather catsuit with hair in a high ponytail is not a look we are used to seeing in the competition. Modern looks are starting to make an appearance and it is a welcome one. Her voice is strong but she is struggling on the high notes and again not using the stage to the best of her ability. This will do well but won’t win tonight.

21:37 CET: Following that amazing entry, next up is Bojken Lako with Malaseen

Wow! What an image! Love the Pink hair rock star image which doesn’t actually match this song. If this song was proper rock, it would be amazing, the voice is in too much of a lower key, as it seems the singer can do better singing in a higher key, and not much movement apart from holding on to the microphone. However, despite his weak voice, he is able to cope well with the key changes in the song. Not a winner tonight.

21:33 CET: Now we have one of the fan favourites in the competition. Tiri Gjoci singing Me gotën bosh

From the start it is easy to see why people think it is a fan favourite. Stage being used to the best of backing dancers ability. Strong voice throughout this song, even during the tempo changes and great orchestral arrangement which make this song complete. Emotions of both singer and backing dancers add a different dimension to this song which show the complete power of it which translates on screen.

21:26 CET: Singing now is Robert Berisha – Ajo nuk është unë

Great orchestral arrangement, sadly voice and stage presence doesn’t match. His voice is also struggling on some of the lower notes in the song. He isn’t using the stage to the best of his ability, this song will struggle against some of the stronger ones tonight.

21:23 CET: They are moving quick tonight, second up is one of the youngest acts of the final tonight, Sara Bajraktari singing Ajër

She is putting a lot of emotion into this song, however there does seem to be a bit of lagging which seems to be a bit of a shame. She is wearing a nice black dress which is flattering. Her voice is reaching the higher notes which is great for her. She is also great at changing key in the song too. Great ballad for the competition.

 

21:20 CET First up is Valon Shehu singing Kutia e Pandorës

This song is pure rock, however the sound does not suit the orchestra. However the image works well with the song and sound, but his voice is quite shaky all the way through the song, and is struggling with some of the tougher sections of the song which require more power.

21:06 CET 

The host in bright barbie pink singing a fantastic introduction to the show. Alekta Vejsiu has a brilliant voice, and what an opening to a delayed start of the show.

20:45 CET… Let the show BEGIN!

Time for one of the longest, in length, of national finals to begin. The first national final of the season, some countries have already started searching, this is the first final of the season where we will get artist and song in the same night.

20:30 CET

It has been announced within the last few minutes, before the show starts, that the Cypriot entry from 2018, Eleni Foureira, who gave Cyprus their best ever result, coming second singing Fuego, will be the guest interval act tonight.

20:15 CET: Welcome to the Live blog for Festivali i Këngës 58

I am Sadie Trent, and I will be guiding you through the live Grand final of Festivali i Këngës 58 in this live blog. The show is timetabled to begin in 15 minutes.The finalists (listed in performance order) are as follows (attached are the performances from the semi finals):

  1. Valon Shehu – Kutia e Pandorës
  2. Sara Bajraktari – Ajër
  3. Robert Berisha – Ajo nuk është unë
  4. Tiri Gjoci – Me gotën bosh
  5. Bojken Lako – Malaseen
  6. Arilena Ara – Shaj
  7. Gena – Shqiponja e lirë
  8. Kamela Islamaj – Më ngjyros
  9. Albërie Hadërgjonaj  – Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua
  10. Elvana Gjata – Me Tana
  11. Olta Boka – Botë për dy
  12. Era Rusi – Eja mere

The winner of Festivali i Këngës 58 will be determined by 100% jury vote. This year the jury consists of Dimtris Kontopoulos, a Greek song-writer who composed songs such as Shady Lady (Ukraine 2009) and Scream (Russia 2019), Christer Bjorkman, a famous Swedish TV producer who has produced every edition of Melodifestivalen since 2002, and also produced the contests that Sweden hosted in Malmo in 2013 and  in Stockholm in 2016. He also represented Sweden at The Eurovision Song Contest in 1992. The final international juror is head of the Icelandic delegation, singer and actor Felix Bergsson.

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