Good afternoon, and welcome to the first in a new series of posts on The Blogging DJ, looking in-depth at each of the 41 acts competing in Tel-Aviv, at Eurovision 2019. Our first destination is Tirana, to one of the earliest picked acts, Jonida Maliqi, representing Albania.
Albania picked its representative at the tail end of 2018, at their annual Festivali i Këngës. There were twenty-two acts in the running but, after three live shows, the members of the jury gave Jonida and “Ktheju tokës” (Translation: Return to the Land) the victory, with five of the eight awarding her their top marks. Another bonus came in the news that, whilst the song was getting revamped, it would remain in Albanian, following last year’s example. It was also announced that Albania would be performing in the second half of the slightly weaker second semi-final.
My Review of the Song
The revamp has done an good job in bringing forward the stronger elements of the song. The power and the emotion has been enhanced by the further inclusion of woodwind and drums, giving it a tribal and traditional feel. It completely works with the decision to keep the song solely in Albanian. The music video is very stylish and effective, though it is very hard to mimic that live if the staging is not up to scratch (see Greece’s effort last year). A lot of thought needs to be put into the staging to keep the Albanian flavour, but also the power, as it could get swallowed amongst the sea of ballads if not up to scratch. I think this has a good chance to get through, but will need votes from more countries, with Greece not voting here. 7.5
Live Performance Video
At the current moment, according to Oddschecker, you can get odds of up to 200/1 for Albania to win Eurovision 2019. Whilst that looks terrible on paper, it is worth baring in mind that Albania’s recent track record has not been good. It might be worth a small bet on the country reaching the Grand Final, once that market becomes available.
Record at Eurovision
Albania have entered the Eurovision Song Contest fifteen times since their debut in 2004, appearing in the Grand Final in eight of those years. Their best finish was in 2012, where Rona Nishliu claimed fifth place with “Suus”. Last year, they qualified for the first time since 2015 and finished eleventh, with Eugent Bushpepa and “Mall”.
So what are you thoughts on the Albanian entry? Do you think it’ll return the country to the land of the Grand Final, or will it be forgotten? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, and stay tuned for more Eurovision 2019 previews in the coming weeks!