Don’t say it. Don’t say it. It’s two months until… FiKmas! Otherwise known as Festivali i Këngës 58 and the start of the road to Rotterdam 2020. With a new national final season almost upon us, Albanian broadcaster RTSH has revealed the acts that will be participating in this year’s edition.
Festivali i Këngës 58
This year will see twenty acts take part in Albania’s oldest music festival. Whereafter the winner will be the selected representative for Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. Before the live reveal during the RTSH news, a jury headed by conductor Zani Ciko chose the competing artists. These are as follows:
- Albërie Hadërgjonaj
- Aldo Bardhi
- Arilena Ara
- Bojken Lako
- Devis Xherahu
- Eli Fara & Stresi
- Elvana Gjata
- Era Rusi
- Genc Tukiqi
- Kanita Suma
- Kamela Islamaj
- Kastro Zizo
- Olta Boka
- Renis Gjoka
- Robert Berisha
- Sara Bajraktari
- Tiri Gjoci
- Valon Shehu
- Wendi Mancaku
As of writing, song titles and dates for the live broadcast of FiK58 are unknown. However it is expected to follow the usual path of three live shows – two Semi-Finals and a Grand Final. With the festival taking place over three nights during the Christmas period.
Who should I look out for?
In recent years RTSH have worked to adapt Albania’s traditional song festival and modernise it for a younger audience. Due to competition from rival festival Kënga Magjike. Given the star-studded line-up this year, it appears to be paying off. Many will instantly recognise Olta Boka. She won the festival back in 2007 and represented Albania in the 2008 contest with ‘Zemrën e lamë peng‘. Other past participants include FiK veterans Bojken Lako, Era Rusi and Kamela Islamaj. Much like The Mamas in Melodifestivalen, two of Jonida Maliqi’s backing have also decided to compete. Both Tiri Gjoci and Wendi Mancaku accompanied Jonida in Tel Aviv, earlier this May. An honourable mention also has to go to folk legend Eli Fara, who entered Kënga Magjike last year with Aurela Grace and won the Hit Song award for this fierce folk banger.
Of course the standout names include Arilena Ara, Elvana Gjata and Kanita. All have seen international success outside of Albania and come with vast competition experience. Thus already being seen as the ones to beat.
Arilena Ara won season 2 of X Factor Albania in 2013. After this her career took with rap fused bangers such as ‘Aeroplan‘. Since then her sound has developed and in recent years she’s become known for her emotional ballads. In 2016 took home third place and the prize for Best Ballad in Kënga Magjike with ‘Nëntori’. Earlier this summer it was revealed Arilena was in the US working on her FiK entry. She has also been on the other side of the judges table, coaching young talent on The Voice Kids Albania.
A pedigree in festivals, Elvana started her career in 2001 as a young girl competing in the Festival of Young Voices. Eventually placing third. From there she has gone on to participate in Kënga Magjike three times and in 2011 she won the eighth edition of Top Fest with ‘Me Ty‘. Currently one of Albania’s biggest artists and influential voices, her biggest single ‘Mike‘ has over 73 million views on YouTube. She is also known for her songs of national pride, including ‘Kuq e zi je ti’ and ‘Gjaku im‘.
Despite her young age at 18 years, North Macedonian-born Kanita Suma has already had a long music career. Back in 2012 Kanita competed in X Factor Albania. Since then she has released a steady stream of hit singles. Her biggest hits including ‘Don’t Let Me Go‘, ‘They Said‘ and ‘S’jemi Ne‘. Continuing her music competition success, Kanita has two participations in Kënga Magjike. Last year she participated with the heartfelt power ballad ‘S’jemi Ne’.
Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest
Albania debuted at the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2004 and has participated every year since. Anjeza Shahini was the first to fly the country’s flag at the contest with her song ‘The Image of You‘. She finished in a very respectable 7th place with 106 points.
Over the years, Albania qualified for the final on 8 occasions. So far, their best result is Rona Nishliu’s 5th place achieved in Baku in 2012 with her iconic ballad ‘Suus‘. Last year, Albania found success with Eugent Bushpepa and his song ‘Mall‘. He ended the night on 11th place with 184 points, giving Albania their third best result at the contest.
In Tel Aviv, Jonida Maliqi brought Albania its second consecutive qualification with ‘Ktheju Tökes’. Which qualified from the second semi-final in 9th place, and finished 17th overall in the Grand Final with 90 points.
Are you looking forward to FiKmas? Which acts are your favourites? Let us know in the comments and on social media @ESCXTRA. Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates.