Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Albania

Please note that this review is based on the long version sung at Festival I Kenges 50, and the song will be shortened for ESC 2012.
Albania surprised me this year by picking a song which I was a fan of. Normally I would pass on the Albanian entry. They selected the song Suus sung by the remarkable Rona Nishliu. This is a song that relies heavily on a strong vocal performance. While I don’t doubt Rona’s ability it is not a safe bet. The song needs to be shortened. This may seem like quite a job but in my view it can be done. The song is currently about 4:10 long. The part before the higher (shouty) part is about 90 seconds long. 50 seconds could easily be knocked off this. 30 seconds could be taken off of the second verse.

One of the biggest threats to the song will be staging, particularly how to present Rona. In Fik she presented both with the peasant look (blue/grey dress) and the richer look (weird black leather jacket with dark dress). Neither suits a 25 year old well. Albania has to work out how to present the song and (as Chiara knows) this is essential. Backing singers would ruin a great song. As I have previously said it is difficult to figure out how it will do in ESC. However I believe that juries are prepared to back a vocally strong song to get it through to the final even if they don’t continue to support it in the Final (More on that in a later post). However as with Switzerland we just don’t know the trends at this stage. If there are a lot of ballads from the Balkan region (remember who Serbia is sending), then this song could struggle. We also don’t know the quality of songs this year. This could still give us an Olsen Brothers moment.

I recommend a dress like what she wore at the national final on the night except use a more normal looking leather jacket. Leave just Rona on stage with a piano and violin player (sitting and distant from Rona) combined with grey/blue lighting. The other problem is in the National Final she did not open her eyes very much during the performance, when she did, she looked at the floor. This leads to a lack of an emotional connection with the audience and voters and needs fixing.

Personally I have supported the song through the National Final and intend to support it at Eurovision. I get different feelings and emotions from music and this song gives me feelings that I normally don’t get from just a normal Eurovision song; even if I really like it. Having said that I don’t know what it will look like on stage in Baku or even with Albania you just don’t know how it will sound.

Verdict: A strong song which could take Albania out of the Semi Finals but not into the Top 10 with the support of Juries. I know it is not everyone's cup of tea but I think it is possible to believe that this could come first with the juries in the semi-final. I really like this song and think it has a lot of depth. However we still have not heard the final version.
Grade: B+

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