This is an authentic, powerful ethno-bop with potential to do well if the staging is strong. I love the instrumental to this song: the string sections are lush and I love the traditional instrumentation throughout, especially the Balkan sounds that come through. The introduction is dramatic, immediately hooking us in before the subdued first verse. I love the moment when the plucked string comes in, serving as our beat. It’s creative and the effect is stunning. But then the drums come in and the ante is upped. The vocal runs in the chorus are nice, but it does feel a little bit shouty for me. Still, it is memorable, even if it’s not the easiest song to sing along to. Now that’s not a bad thing- Albania’s unapologetic uniqueness is it’s best quality in songs like this, and I’m thrilled Anxhela chose to keep the song in Albanian to preserve its authenticity. The song does feel a little rushed and workshoppy towards the end- we have this beautiful, textured instrumental build at the start, solid choruses, and then this chaotic BA BA BA bridge section comes across like pure shouty filler before the final chorus, and it feels a little messy, like the composers had to finish the song without enough time. Still, on the whole, this is a solid effort from Albania, and I love the authenticity.
Prediction: The bookies have Albania quite low down, but they did this with Eugent in 2018 and two years ago today he proved them all wrong. Still, Anxhela needs to bring something to impress on the stage (she could just bring Eugent and get him to perform with him maybe), and given the saturation of pop songs we have this year, it may benefit to separate the song from those by having a more dramatic, less dance based staging? Still, it’s the only ethnobop in Semi 2 and it could just stand out and edge through. It’s borderline, but I wouldn’t rule out a third qualification completely. That said, I wouldn’t put money on it. If it gets to the final, however, I fully expect it to be swallowed up by the other upbeat songs, especially if Azerbaijan make the final too.
Photo credit: Anxhela Peristeri
35. Slovenia- Amen
36. Austria- Amen
37. Georgia- You
38. Estonia- The Lucky One
39. Portugal- Love is on my Side