Thirteenth place may be unlucky for some, but in Eurovision terms, it means the hallowed “left hand side of the board” and for this ranking of 40 songs, it’s definitely amongst my favourites. Albania are yet to win Eurovision but have proved to be a pretty regular presence in the grand final. Will Ronela Hajati be able to secure another place in the grand final for my final Balkan country in my countdown?
Albania traditionally uses its long-running music festival, Festivali i Këngës, as the way of selecting their Eurovision entry. This was a special year for the festival as it celebrated its 60th edition. Ronela was the big favourite to win and win she duly did with her dramatic ethno dance pop track “Sekret”. She’s the writer of the song, and unusually for an Albanian entry, it didn’t undergo a major revamp after its national win. Some tweaks did though take place – not least as the original song was over 3 minutes long.
This is a pumped up ethno banger, full of folk/ethnic instruments, great dance beats, and a powerful and, for want of a better word, fierce performance from Ronela that really leaves an impression right from the start. It’s the sort of music and song that most people in the UK would only hear at Eurovision (which is a shame) but it really adds to what makes the contest so special and exciting.
Ronela is opening Eurovision 2022 – “Sekret” is the first competing song to be performed in the first semi-final and Ronela seems well aware of both the pressure and the honour that brings and I am certain she’s going to bring a powerful and captivating performance to the Turin stage. If it’s anything like the music video or what we saw on stage in December, it’s going to be dramatic and eye-catching. It’s certainly performing well with the fandom who have been rating this highly.
Albania has had a good run of qualifications of late and I’m expecting that will continue in 2022. They haven’t been given great slots though once they got to the grand final (the Albanian entry was given the dreaded second place slot in the final in both 2019 and 2021) but even if Ronela gets drawn in the first half of the grand final (provided she qualifies) I should think the producers will give Albania a more rewarding slot this time.
Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2004
Appearances (excluding this year): 17
Best result: 5th in 2012
Last year’s result: 21st