If you are participating in the Albanian selection for Baku 2012, I would like to say two things to you. Firstly, wowsers! Someone possibly famous is reading my blog! Can I have your autograph? Secondly (if you haven’t backed slowly away from your computer in case yours truly becomes any more hysterical), congratulations! This year, you weren’t forced to leave all the turkey and gifts and lecherous drunk uncles (drunkles) that accompany Christmas behind to compete for your chance at ESC glory – no way José, because this year, Albania decided not to be completely insane and have their final on December 25th, as they did last year. Bravo!
In celebration of Albania being the second country to pick their 2012 entry, and in celebration of me being too lazy at this point to listen to all the Festivali I Këngës songs (why so many?) today’s post is my second ever country profile and it’s on this little country who I actually quite enjoy in the contest, despite their tendency to qualify for the final and then fail when they get there. Will the same fate befall Albania next May, or will the song we will know to be ‘The One’ in less then 24 hours get them on the left side of the scoreboard? We’ll see. In the meantime, let’s take a sashay down (my) memory lane…
ALBANIA: THE STATS
ESC debut: 2004
No. of entries: 8
Gold medals: 0
Silver medals: 0
Bronze medals: 0
Top 10 finishes: 1
Top 10 success rate: 12%
Wooden spoons (last places!): 0
Semi final qualifications: 4/7
Qualification success rate: 57%
My favourite entry: I can’t choose between The Image of You by Anjeza Shahini and Tomorrow I Go by Ledina Celo. So I won’t.
My least favourite entry: Hear My Plea by Frederik Ndoci (and, as a side note: Hear my plea? Feel the passion? Carry me in your dreams, whatever that means? Stop telling us what to do, Albania!).
Their best stage show: Feel The Passion, but mainly thanks to the gargantuan LED screen which made the already-on-the-short-side Aurela look like a fly (albeit with red hair and rhinestone-encrusted fingernails) on a windshield.
Their best costume/s: As tempted as I am to give this to Gumbi, who assisted Kejsi Tola in her stage cavorting in Moscow (what’s that? It was just some guy in a spandex suit? I don’t believe it!) I have to go for Juliana Pasha, because I love me some power shoulders.
Their best vocalist/s: Aurela the Yeller. I like to imagine that, if we were friends, she would have a similarly affectionate-but-vaguely-insulting nickname for me, such as Jaz the Spaz.
What I love about Albania in the ESC: Greece do the ethnic-pop hybrid so well, but usually in a 40/60 format. Albania are the opposite, being equally fond of a poppy song with cultural elements, but the cultural elements are the dominant ones. Their entries may be hit-and-miss when it comes to results, but with me they are always a point of interest – in a positive way, not a ‘so terrible I can’t tear my eyes and ears away’, car-crash way.
So, the questions remain: will tonight’s Festivali I Këngës final produce an equally interesting entry that will get Albania to the final for the first time since Oslo? Will it be the favourite to win for the moment with only two songs in contention? And, most importantly, will I ever take the time out to listen to all of these songs so I can moan about what Albania should have sent to Baku in a future post?
From semi final #1 (excuse the slapdash translations):
Pyete Zemrën (Ask The Heart) by Gerta Mahmutaj
Këngën Time Merr Vehtë (Take My Own Song) by Bashkim Alibali
Zgjomë Një Tjetër Ëndërr (Awaken Me Another Dream) by Samanta Karavello
Iluzion by Endri & Stefi Prifti
Suus by Rona Nishliu
Më Kërko (Search More) by Rudina Delia
Vlen Sa Një Jëte by Marjeta Billo
Aty Ku Më Le by Hercina Matmuja
Kthehem Prap (Go Back) by Altin Goci
Kristal by Elton Deda
From semi final #2 (ditto):
Ëndrra e Parë (The First Dream) by Toni Mehmetaj
Personale (Personal) by Dr. Flori
Mbi Yje by Kamela Islamaj
Oh…Jeta Ime (Oh…My Life) by Frederik Ndoci
Të Zakonshëm (The Usual) by Bojken Lako & Breza
Më Ler Të Të Dua (Let Me Love You) by Mariza Ikonomi
Pa Ty (Without You) by Iris Hoxha
Ajër (Air) by Saimir Braho
Lulet Mbledh Për Hënën by Xhensila Myrtezaj
Mijra Vjet (Thousands of Years) by Elhaida Dani
Gerta, Samanta, Elton, Dr. Flori and Saimir – those are the names that are ringing my bell, which probably means they will be nowhere near the top. Really, it’s best if you make your own predictions because I am notoriously bad at doing it. But I don’t care, because NF season is upon us and that means all of us fans will get our chance to be wrong/disagree/fight other fans to the death over all the selections that will take place in the new year. Yay!
Crossing my fingers for Albania to pick a winner,