Saturday, January 25, 2014
Festivali i Këngës 52
Just catching up with some long overdue posts! Apologies as this is almost a month late....!
As you all know, Eurovision season, much as we love it, can be a long, frustrating, emotional rollercoaster which will deliver both joy and disappointment. At the beginning of that long road, we had the iconic Albanian Festivali i Këngës, which defiantly existed outwith the ESC mainstream until 10 years ago, when they began sending the winner to the Eurovision Song Contest with varying results since that time.
In 2012 I decided to dip my toes into the FiK pool and watch my first ever Albanian national final which didn't disappoint. (The 2012 FiK was also quite moving as it paid tribute to the songs and singers of the 1972 contest who paid the price for being viewed as 'enemies of the state' under the leadership of Enver Hoxha).
Fast forward 12 months to FiK 52. As ever, the contest took place over three nights in December, but TVSH messed with the format this year (to the detriment of the contest, IMHO). After each artist performed their competing song, they then performed a duet of a well-known old song with a famous Albanian artist. Over the first two nights, the competing song/duet sequence seriously interrupted the flow.
FiK is first and foremost an Albanian song contest, which has existed outside Eurovision for a long time and therefore does not go down the route of trying to find an "obvious" Eurovision" song. That is the particular charm of this particular contest, but it can be equally as frustrating when almost every song is a rather unfocused ballad/mid-tempo song lacking an obvious hook. However, there are also some wonderful things about FiK. The defiantly cheesy theme tune. The orchestra. The opportunity to watch Albanian ad breaks. And in 2014, the return of Luiz Ejlli. Unfortunately "Kthehu" lacked the instantly catchy hook of his previous Albanian entry, but one month later it still gets my vote, although still lacked that 'big finish' required of such a dramatic ballad.
While we're on eye candy - special mentions for Klodian Kacani and Lindi Islami - both of whom I would be happy to see in FiK at a later date....!
Oh, and so much for the running order - the winning song was the first one sung in the final. Herciana a.k.a Hersi Matmuja brought a 'Kiss From A Rose'-style mid-tempo ballad, "Zemërimi i një nate" (One Night's Anger). I recently read the lyrics of this song and was pretty impressed: "Take away the anger from your heart/every morning is wiser than any night/don’t let the madness of a heart/think a little more, forget this night". The song needs some surgery, although it will probably be translated into something more basic, sanitised, meaningless...which would be a real shame as that would dilute the meaning of the song.
Having introduced my mum to the last hour of the competition - which she clearly thought was interminable, although I helpfully reminded her that it had been on for three hours - her view was that Hersi's voice was better than the song. All these weeks down the line, I'm not feeling too hopeful about Hersi's qualification chances, but it would be nice to be wrong!