So here’s the thing. We really didn’t get why Elhaida Dani’s I’m Alive received that amount of accolade when it replaced Diell as Albania’s entry for Vienna virtually seconds before the submission deadline expired. We were rather pleased with the inaccessible yet strangely captivating Festivali i Këngës winner, which would have been fine with a solid revamp. It had the potential to stand out, and it was an entry that would further consolidate Albania’s image of being the unpredictable oddball in this competition. We have loved them for daring to unleash Suus on us and present stagings and promo videos so disturbingly weird we wonder whose socks they have been smoking over the years.
Apparently the composers behind Diell withdrew the song from the competition for some reason and made it possible for Elhaida and her team to tailor-make a song for the European audience. A mission they obviously attacked with great zealousness, but unfortunately, the result is glossier than the front cover of a fashion magazine. There’s nothing wrong with being commercial, current and mainstream we suppose, but it’s not very exciting and it does not make our jaws drop and hearts jump.
After a few listens we have concluded that I’m Alive is not that bad. At least we quite like the first half of the song, which builds up nicely, and Elhaida’s vocal is flawlessly on point. However, the second half of the song worries us, as we fear it can morph into a horrendous scream fest if she becomes too eager to show off that big voice of hers.
Moreover, we have a problem with Elhaida’s styling. She is only 22 and stunningly beautiful, not a middle-aged daytime soap opera star. It reminds us of Juliana Pasha in 2010, her styling also added years to her actual age. It’s usually the other way around in a world where youthfulness is worshipped, but if the Albanians are so crazy about mature women then maybe it’s time for us to place Albania on the list of potential holiday destinations.
Not even the Albanians’ notorious ability to mess up their chances by messing up the staging can ruin the chances for this modern RnB number to proceed to the Grand Final with ease. After two years of absence, we welcome them back.