It’s impossible to review Albania’s entry this year without commenting on the preview video they have made to promote it. We know, it will make no impact whatsoever on the night of the semi-final, as no one outside the diehard fan base of ESC would have paid any particular attention to it, and the stage presentation may bear no resemblance to it. But wow, just wow. How is it even possible to put together a more visually unattractive, messy, and completely meaningless video? Which story is the singer Hersi trying to tell us? That she woke up one morning on a deserted beach after a week long drinking spree in the shady parts of Tirana, and is consequently trying to make her way back by nicking some kid’s bike and a horse from a nearby farm? Let’s at least hope she makes it back in time to catch the flight to Copenhagen and has time to change her clothes and freshen up.
When the song was selected back in December and was called Zemërimi i një nate, it sounded a whole lot more interesting than the final version after the Albanians’ usual revamp and usually unfortunate change of language. Instead of amplifying the song’s rather odd structure and working with the parts that would make it stand out even more, it’s been toned down. All the wrinkles have been ironed out so to speak. But we liked the wrinkles!
Hersi has a good voice and seem confident enough to give a steady live performance. We like her edgy and unconventional look and would have loved to see her battle a dark, symphonic and much more artsy song in Copenhagen. There are so many great female artists she could have looked to for inspiration and courage, like PJ Harvey, Kate Bush or Tori Amos. Why not aim a little higher when the potential obviously is there? Instead it’s being molded into the same form as a million other songs we’ve heard before. And what’s up with the freakin’ heavy guitar solo? Is this a compulsory part of all ESC entries from Albania?
Albania achieved their best result ever in 2012 when not compromising one single inch. It seems like they found their recipe for success back then, but went ahead and lost it again.