Arilena Ara Wins First National Selection of Eurovision 2020 – Festivali I Këngës 58 Report

On the 22nd of December, nearly six months before the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 will take place, the Albanian broadcaster RTSH selected their entry through their annual music contest Festivali i Këngës. Twelve acts competed after qualifying through the semi-final stage, with a variety of genres and performances being showcased.

The winner was decided by a panel of five jury members, two of which were Albanian music experts and the remaining three having a connection to Eurovision itself. With the most consistent scorecard, never falling below the top three in any of the jury votes, Arilena Ara was announced as the winner with her song “Shaj”. You can see a clip of the performance below.

Arilena Ara – Shaj – Final Performance (MTV Albania, 2019)

“Shaj” managed to succeed over the heavy favourite coming into the national final, “Me tana” by Elvana Gjata, with a clean stage performance, powerful vocals and a musical style that combines traditional string and percussion instrumentation with a modern beat. More could be done in terms of staging, maybe something relating to the mood of the song, as the link between the stage and costume was the one thing I questioned watching the performance. It has since been announced that Arilena Ara will sing this song in English for Eurovision, as was intended in the songwriting stage, to appeal to a wider audience. We will have to wait for the English version of the song to see whether it retains its power.

Festivali i Këngës Results

1Arilena Ara“Shaj”67
2Elvana Gjata“Me tana”64
3Sara Bajraktari“Ajër”50
4Bojken Lako“Malaseen”45
5Era Rusi“Eja merre”43
6Kamela Islamaj“Më ngjyros”35
7Albërie Hadërgjonaj“Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua”27
8Valon Shehu“Kutia e Pandorës”23
8Tiri Gjoci“Me gotën bosh”23
10Robert Berisha“Ajo nuk është unë”18
10Gena“Shqiponja e lirë”18
12Olta Boka“Botë për dy”17

What are your thoughts on the Albanian song choice for Eurovision 2020? Was it your winner on the night and do you agree with the planned switch to English for the contest? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments section below.

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