Tel Aviv 2019🇦🇱 Albania

Albania: Jonida Maliqi wins Festivali i Këngës 57!

One down, 41 to go!

After two nights, a shortlisting process and a three-hour final, Jonida was crowned the winner of Festivali i Këngës 57 with her song “Ktheju tokës” (Return to the Land). She will represent Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May next year!

This year, RTSH announced that they would be making the most significant changes to the festival in years in a bid to engage a younger audience. Due to its inability to modernise in recent years, the contest has declined in popularity, especially when faced with competition from Kënga Magjike.

Watching the show, there was evidence of these efforts; night two saw the acts do away with the traditional orchestra and perform with dancers and a backing track. The field of 22 was also one of the higher quality line ups that we’ve seen from Albania, featuring multiple viable contenders for the ticket to Tel Aviv.

Of course, some things never change. The lack of jury transparency and no televoting in night two led to some…confusing eliminations. Meanwhile, persistent sound issues in tonight’s final ruined the performances of Marko Strazimiri & Imbro and Eranda Libohova. Thankfully, both acts were allowed to perform again. Ah, the perils of live television!

Jonida faced stiff competition from Lidia Lufi and Eranda, who finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Marko Strazimiri & Imbro’s “Leyla” was awarded a separate prize by the youth jury. Meanwhile, FiK veteran Eranda’s “100 pyetje” was awarded the critic’s choice award.

A neck-and-neck voting sequence

Interspersed with guest performers, musical interludes and, of course, some adverts; the voting sequence was a tense affair. Rather than only announce the top three, the points from each of the eight jurors were added to an overall scoreboard. In the end, there were only nine points between the top two. You can see the final ranking of the finalists by their point totals below:

  1. Jonida Maliqi – “Ktheju tokës” – 228 points
  2. Lidia Lufi – “Rrëfehem” – 219 points
  3. Eranda Libohova – “100 pyetje” – 181 points
  4. Dilan Reka – “Karma” – 169 points
  5. Soni Malaj – “Më  e fortë” – 166 points
  6. Klinti Çollaku – “Me jetë” – 163 points
  7. Elton Deda – “Qetësisht” – 156 points
  8. Marko Strazimiri & Imbro – “Leyla” – 142 points
  9. Bojken Lako – “Jeto jetën” – 138 points
  10. Gjergj Leka – “Një ditë tjetër” – 131 points
  11. Eliza Hoxha – “Peng” – 127 points
  12. Alar Band – “Dashuria nuk mjafton” – 124 points
  13. Orgesa Zaimi – “Hije” – 121 points
  14. Artemisa Mithi & Febi Shkurti – “Dua ta besoj” – 113 points

Ktheju tokës is the first confirmed song for Tel Aviv!

Although we now have confirmation that Tamta will represent Cyprus with the song “Replay”, “Ktheju tokës” is the first confirmed entry that we can actually hear. Although, Albania are known to revamp their entries beyond recognition between Festivali i Këngës and Eurovision. Jonida seemingly confirmed that her song will not be translated for Eurovision.

Last year, Eugent Bushpepa bucked the trend by making only slight changes to his entry “Mall”, which remained in Albanian. This was clearly the right decision, as he qualified from his semi final and ended up 11th in the grand final in Lisbon earlier this year.

Are you happy with the result? Do you think Jonida will bring Albania to the final for the second year running? Be sure to follow @ESCXtra on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

Costa Christou

Ever since I saw Helena Paparizou's triumph at Eurovision in 2005 (at the tender age of 6), I have been crazy about Eurovision. From the regional native language bops and shrieky female-led balladry to the sophisticated avant garde pop songs and chart-friendly EDM, I love everything about this cultural phenomenon. I'm currently working as a Delivery Manager in a software development team.

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