We had horses. We had bondage. We had long ad breaks, and even longer interval acts. Welcome back to National Final Season, everyone!
Albania’s Festivali I Këngës returned to our screens and streams once more to round out 2020, and delivered a varied and exciting three shows to kick off the start of our song selections for Eurovision 2021.
This year’s competition was noticeably different to its predecessors: no live orchestra, no live audience, and the whole contest being performed outside. Different artists had different ways of dealing with the cold – some opted to dance their way through, some went for big fluffy coats, and others just braved it in some outfits with the potential for some…dangerous situations. Evi Reçi – we salute your courage.
Monday night brought us our first semi-final, where all 25 competing songs were presented with their staging concepts and full backing tracks. Tuesday was acoustic night, with each performer giving us a stripped-back version of their song. Following this, we found out our 18 finalists for the final:
- Sardi Strugaj – Kam me t’ba me kajt (I’ll Make You Cry)
- Xhesika Polo – Më mbron (It Protects Me)
- Orgesa Zaimi – Valixhja e kujtimeve (Suitcase of Memories)
- Wendi Mancaku – Si ajo (Like Her)
- Era Rusi – Zjarri im (My Fire)
- Gjergj Kaçinari – Më jep jetë (It Gives Me Life)
- Rosela Gjylbegu – Vashëzo (Daughter)
- Devis Xherahu – Peng (Hostage)
- Mirud – Nëse vdes (If I Die)
- Gigliola Haveriku – E lirë (Free)
- Viktor Tahiraj – Nënë (Mother)
- Kamela Islamaj – Kujtimet s’kanë formë (Memories Have No Form)
- Florent Abrashi – Vajzë (Girl)
- Inis Neziri – Pendesë (Penance)
- Evi Reçi – Tjerr (Spin)
- Anxhela Peristeri – Karma (…Karma)
- Festina Mejzini – Kush je ti dashuri (Who Is The One You Love?)
- Kastro Zizo – Vallja e jetës (The Dance Of Life)
After interval acts featuring Evanescence (not in person!) and 2018 representative Eugent Bushpepa (in person, and looking as beautiful as ever, please step on me), our top three were announced as:
3rd Place Festina Mejzini – Kush je ti dashuri
A simply-presented ballad which centres Festina’s beautiful voice and heartfelt lyrics.
2nd Place Sardi Strugaj – Kam me t’ba me kajt
Sardi’s rock song, complete with woman in cage (don’t worry, she got free after the first chorus) is angry, dark and distinctive. Being placed first in the running order and coming so highly demonstrates just how distinctive it was and how much it stood out amongst the line up!
1st Place Anxehla Peristeri – Karma
Having stolen Sopho Khalvashi’s backing dancers, Anxhela delivered a beautiful ballad featuring plenty of traditional Albanian instruments and powerful vocals. Blending modern sounds with traditional techniques, Anxhela is a worthy addition to Albania’s Eurovision cannon.
You can see Anxhela’s winning performance below.
Welcome to Rotterdam, Anxhela!