Merry Christmas everybody from the bottom of our cups of eggnog. We had to add considerable amounts of rum to be able to endure a quick flip through the 18 finalists of tonight’s 49th edition of the Festivali i Këngës. The Albanians will treat us to an extra Christmas pressie as usual as they will be the second country to choose their entry for Düsseldorf 2011. And by the look of it, this might very well be a ballad.
Here’s the final line-up selected through two semifinals (thanks to esctoday for info):
Finalists from semi-final 1
• Selami Kolonja – Ëndërr Kosovë
• Miriam Cani & Alban Skenderaj – Ende ka shpresë
• Dorina Garuci – Mirëmbrëma ëngjëlli im
• Orges Toçe – Mari
• Kamela Islami – Jetova për ty
• Marsida Saraçi – Vetëm s’jemi në botë
• Dorian Nini – Mirësevini në Shqipëri
• Hersiana Matmuja – Me cilin rri ti dashuri
• Maria Prifti – Pasuri e pasurive (newcomer)
Finalists from semi-final 2
• Besa Kokëdhima – E bukura dhe bisha
• Saimir Braho – Shtegëtar i jetës time
• Enkelejda Arifi – Një dashuri
• Denis Hasa – Mbi xhaketën time
• Goldi Halili – Në krahët tua
• Françesk Radi – Kemi dasëm’ o
• Xhejsi Jorgaqi – Rastësi
• Aurela Gaçe – Kënga ime
• Albi Xhepa & Sam Jaupaj – Dritë (newcomer)
We are trying really hard to pick a couple of highlights for you, but to be honest we find this to be a rather weak bunch, and we can’t imagine any of the entries doing well in the international Eurovision final. However we do suspect that some of the entries might be a grower and the Albanians are also known for re-vamping the winning song which usually is an improvement. They also tend to change the language to English, which we don’t take a particular liking to.
It will be interesting to see whether the song Ëndërr Kosovë by Selami Kolonja will stand a chance. At least the song title implies enough political connotations to cause tensions between the Balkan neighbors. Marsida Saraçi with Vetëm s’jemi në botë has the potential to become a funky floor stomper and those who want a sugar coated love duet should check out the Albanian Barbie and Ken Miriam Cani & Alban Skenderaj’s Ende ka shpresë. GEE are always suckers for the ethno influenced entries and in that department there’s enough to go around for everybody, but most of the songs are too slow and in combination with too much eggnog it just makes us very sleepy. Aurela Gaçe does her best to wake us up with her shouty song Kënga ime, catchy, but in the end, in lack of a better word, simply too shouty to become a favorite.
This final is wide open, we have no idea how the Albanians will vote tonight. We can only hope to be pleasantly surprised by a smash entry that went under the GEE radar first time around.
Edit: looks like all the videos uploaded on YouTube (which we based this review on) have been blocked. According to esctoday you can watch the webcast live from the final through this link from 20:30 CET.