December is not far from now… Thus, Albania is in full swing for their national song competition Festivali i Këngës, which annually decides their next Eurovision representative. The national broadcaster of the Balkan country, RTSH, has proceeded to official announcements regarding the event and several changes that are going to be introduced this year.
What’s changing at Festivali i Këngës?
Albania seems to have set the bar even higher for Tel Aviv, following their successful 11th place last May in Lisbon. Could these changes guarantee a Top 10 placing next year, or an even luckier fortune?
To begin with, for the first time, RTSH will not release the full versions of 22 competing songs before the event’s live shows. On the contrary, the 22 entries will be revealed on the live shows, where the artists will be singing live with the Albanian National Symphonic Orchestra on the first evening, while on the second the 22 entries will be performed in a way similar that each artist and their team intend to be presented on the Eurovision stage. The third and final night will see the qualified entries fight for the victory at Festivali i Këngës 57, and of course the coveted Eurovision ticket.
However, the broadcaster intends to publish teasers of each song in the first week of December via television and its social media. In order to make the competition’s content more contemporary, RTSH will reportedly be uploading stories from the artists’ work time and rehearsals, through which short parts of their music will be unveiled.
As with every year, a professional jury will have a 100% stake at the final outcome. The selected acts that are going to take part at the 57th edition of the show were revealed two weeks ago by RTSH.
The modifications above were introduced by the new artistic director of the show, Inva Mula, who aspires to make the event more open to everyone and bring it closer to the country’s youth population. During his speech at the broadcaster’s press conference, he said the following:
My aim is to restore the freshness, the enthusiasm of Festivali i Këngës to a public which, perhaps for many reasons, is disconnected. We want them to get back and have the desire to attend the event and perhaps to murmur its most beautiful songs. For this reason, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, a group with the best students of the 15 high schools of Tirana will be established. Those students will follow closely and will be a jury that will evaluate the best song.
Festivali i Këngës 57 will be held on 20, 21 and 22 December in the Albanian capital, Tirana.
Albania at Eurovision
Albania first entered the Eurovision house in 2004, with the singer Anjeza Shahini, who won Festivali i Këngës 42 and sang her entry The image of you. She made an impressive debut, as she came 7th with 106 points. The country has been participating every year since.
Albania has had mixed Eurovision fortunes, with one more Top 10 placing and 7 semi-final eliminations. Their best result has been a 5th place which was achieved in 2012 with Rona Nishliu and Suus.
In 2018, the winner of Festivali i Këngës 56, Eugent Bushpepa flew to Lisbon and represented them with the song Mall. Following two consecutive eliminations in 2016 and 2017, Eugent progressed to the Grand Final of the contest and finally resulted in a 11th place with 184 points. This made Mall the third most successful Eurovision entry from Albania.