The national final season is finally upon us again. As usual, it is Albania who select first via the live national final format. RTSH put on a spectacular festival which culminates in the grand final, which is where the Albanian Eurovision entrant is selected, usually from a field of 14, but that number can differ. The festival has been held at The Palace of Congress in Tirana since 1989. The songs are usually in Albanian, but for the last few years, they have been revamped for the Eurovision Song Contest to be sung in English.
Welcome to the Live blog of the Grand Final of Festivali i Këngës 57. I am Sadie Trent, and I will be guiding you through the proceedings tonight. The Grand Final can be watched on the link provided here. The blog will be updated throughout the show, and the most recent comments will be at the top. Times will be in CET.
23:55: CET: Jonida Maliqi wins! Congratulations, see you in Tel Aviv. That is all from me tonight. See you for the next live blog.
23:50 CET: The female host is now singing, and is giving me major Gina Diwari vibes, but in a classical way.
23:40 CET: Another interval act before the final set of jury results. It is looking good for one act in particular.
23:22 CET: Eranda Libohova won the critics prize
23:17 CET: Jonida is currently in the voting lead only by 2 points. Can she be caught. I think it will be very tight indeed. Rona Nishliu gave her max points to Jonida.
23:04 CET: Marko Strazimiri & Imbro won the student voting jury results, but it is unknown what percentage of the votes they got.
22:40 CET: Now Eranda is singing again. She is giving me major Jamala vibes in sound, performing mannerisms, personal and staging look. This performance is better than most of the other female vocalists, now more effort is being put into it.
22:35 CET: Marko Strazimiri & Imbro just completed their flawless reprise with no issues.
22:30 CET – It seems as though they have left the best until last in this final. Me Jete is being performed by Klinti Çollaku. Modern sounding mixed with the Albanian language sounds amazing, but this song would need to be made quicker, then I believe this would be the perfect Eurovision song for Albania.
22:29 CET: ANNOUNCEMENT: There will be 2 reprises due to technical difficulties. These will be from Marko and Eranda. This show has been FULL of issues tonight, I am surprised not more are performing again.
22:27 CET: Penultimate song of the night. Lidia Lufi “Rrëfehem” Love the sound of the vocals that the singer belts out across the stage. The vocals are unique, even for Albanian standards. Simple staging seems to be a running theme for the night. Another strong female vocal song. Some of the song has Spanish Flamenco elements in it, and not sure that would do well. However, the extremely powerful vocals carry through to the end of the song.
22:24 CET – Alar Band “Dashuria nuk mjafton”. Another singer dressed for the occasion, but this is not a look that would go down well at Eurovision, I mean, it didn’t with Englebert Humperdink. One of the weakest vocals of the night for a song that has NOT had any issues.
22:20 CET: Now we have Dilan Reka and the song “Karma”. Love the look of the singer, but not sure if that has any symbolic reference on the song. Vocals are one of the better male vocals of the night, but still not sure if it would win the ticket fur Eurovision altogether though.
22:15 CET – Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkur is up next with the song “Dua ta besoj”. Love the partnership of this song. Vocals work really well together in the whole of the song. Again, another song that would work well at Eurovision.
22:10 CET: Now with a tribute to Emilie Sande and Professor Green. Read all about it (remix) wouldn’t make it to Eurovision due to the nature of the song.
22:05 CET: Now for another female vocalist, it is Soni Malaj with “Më e fortë”. Many people believe this is another attempt at Fuego, and I do see why, the vocals and the staging are amazing, even for Albanian standards.
22:00 CET – Now it is time for Bojken Lako and his song “Jeto jetën” . Four female vocals in a row could mean one of them is in with a chance. This breaks that sequence up. An interesting staging design to accompany the song, which sadly has very weak vocals. There seems to be a lot of that tonight.
21:57 CET: Another break over. Now it is time for, who I believe should be a favourite. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”. apologies for the lack of clarity, it seems as though they are not going in the planned order, for whatever reason. However, this is song that could place Albania really well at Eurovision. Has the entire package, song, vocals, staging and costume.
21:46 CET: Now another ballad, this time it is Eliza Hoxa – with “Peng”. It starts off really slow, and this is where the vocals are shown off much more. Plain staging, but excellent vocals. Song picks up tempo towards the end, and she keeps her excellent vocals in the change of key and tempo, which is a good show.
21:41 CET: Now we have Jonida Maliqi with “Ktheju tokës”. A very modern sounding song, and a stand out from the acts we have had already. Vocals are very traditional, and he can hold his notes well. I believe this would qualify if it was selected, as it is modern, and has a typical Eurovision sound to it, but it must stay in Albanian, no messing about with it. Very bright outfit too to match the modern nature of the song.
21:40 CET: And we are back. Shorter break than expected from the show. we have some chat from the hosts and then we will be into the next bunch of acts.
21:30 CET: At the moment there is not a stand out favourite, but the song before the break, even though there were some issues, would make a great song once revamped.
21:25 CET: Now it is the turn of Eranda Libohova and “100 pyetje” and the very quiet song . It is almost as though you can’t hear anything at the beginning, but it builds back up. This is a positive song, that I believe could do well for Albania.
21:20 CET: now it is the turn of Elton Deda and his song “Qetësisht” . This song is a big more faster in tempo then the ones that came before it. Vocals are much stronger on this one too. This has a lovely country sound and tone too it, which I believe is a different sound from Albania, and one that could do well got them, as it did for The Netherlands.
21:16 CET: 2nd in the final is Gjergj Leka and his song “Një ditë tjetër”. Not your typical set up for Eurovision, but it is typical of this festival. Backing singers really compliment the lead singer, who, for his above average age, has excellent vocals, demonstrating that he has stayed dedicated to the arts.
21:11 CET: Marko Strazimiri & Imbro are the firsts singing tonight with Leyla. Backing is very cartoon like, wonder if this has any relevance to the song. not much power behind their vocals sadly, if there were, this could have made an amazing ballad for Albania. Very slow in tempo, which is typical for a ballad. Voices get stronger as the song goes on. Both singers work excellently in harmonies, however, if this won, it would not qualify at Eurovision. Not much movement from the singers or backing singers.
21:08 CET: The stream is fixed, and we did not miss anything, so it seems the technical problems were their end. Here we go!
21:05 CET: It seems as though RTSH are having some technical difficulties, and we are unsure what with. We are unable to bring any coverage until this is sorted. So I am afraid we may miss some acts in the process. In the mean time, adverts are being repeated, until streams are sorted.
20:45 CET: The long night has begun. We first have an educational film which seems to be about people involved in the festival in the previous years running up to this one.
20:40 CET: Welcome. The 14 competing acts in the Grand Final tonight, are as follows:
- Marko Strazimiri & Imbro – “Leyla”
- Gjergj Leka: “Një ditë tjetër”
- Elton Deda – “Qetësisht”
- Eranda Libohova – “100 pyetje”
- Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës”
- Eliza Hoxha – “Peng”
- Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije”
- Bojken Lako – “Jeto jetën”
- Soni Malaj – “Më e fortë”
- Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj”
- Dilan Reka – “Karma”
- Alar Band – “Dashuria nuk mjafton”
- Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem”
- Klinti Çollaku – “Me jetë”