We’re into the top 20! The crème de la crème of this year’s offerings – well according to me anyway… And first up in this top group is a country that may come as a surprise that it’s come so high – Albania. Of recent years, most Albanian entries have been mediocre angst-ridden female solo ballads, sometimes attempting vocal gymnastics – and none have appealed much to me (or Eurovision voters it has turned out!) but this year Albania has chosen differently.
Eugent Bushpepa won the Albanian national final – the first national final of the season in fact, taking place just before Christmas. In a breakaway from their recent entries, he’s male, it’s pop rocky, and it’s been kept in Albanian rather than being moved into English. And most importantly of all, it’s a good song! Eugent is already very popular and well established modern rock musician in Albania and Kosovo – so he has the experience and that was on show recently performing live at the Eurovision in Concert preview event. It’s easily my favourite Albanian entry for many years. I’m not always a fan of the pop-rock ballad, but there’s something about this that I really like and it feels a very uplifting song.
Albania is placed in the notorious first semi-final, and the show producers have given it a fairly unfavourable third place in the running order. That certainly makes it harder for Eugent to qualify, but it isn’t impossible. The strength of the song and his live performance will undoubtedly help it, and if the Albanian diaspora get behind this, that could well bring it extra votes. In terms of countries that have given Albania the most votes in the past, four out of the top 5 are voting in this semi-final, so that will further give Eugent a boost. I’d definitely be happy to see this reach the final.
Official music video:
Live performance at Eurovision in Concert:
Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest:
First entered: 2004
Appearances (excluding this year): 14
Best result: 5th in 2012
Last year’s result: 14th in semi-final (did not qualify)