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Aussievision's Festivali i Këngës rankings 1st to 20th

This week sees the first national final season, Albania’s Festivali i Këngës (FiK). In its 58th edition it is a contest in its own right rather than just a selection for Eurovision.

It is one of the more unique national finals out there, it features a live orchestra and some rather interesting songs and interval acts throughout the show.

20 songs will compete across two nights on the 19th and 20th of December, before the top selection go through to the final on the 22nd. In Australia all these will be one day later in the early morning.

It has a special place among fans as it a) marks the start of the national final season and b) always occurs around Christmas time, with fans giving in the moniker, ‘FiKmas!’.

Aussievision team member Liv sums up the contest quite well saying:

“What really strikes me about FiK entries year after year is they don’t shy away from using music to really convey anguish and pain. It is a sort of nation-wide therapy through music and as a foreigner watching I do feel like a have more insight into such a unique nation. Entries like 'Ktheju Tokes' were totally genuine and powerful – something I will never forget or stop having an emotional connection to. Please never change FiK, it’s wonderful.“

Before the show begins, 11 members of the Aussievision team listened to all 20 songs, ranked our top 10 (with Eurovision scoring) to give you our full rankings of all songs 1st to 20th.

1st Elvana Gjata - "Me tana" (83 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Liv, 10 points from Dale, Emma, Fleur, Laura and Ruby

  • Lows: 1 point from Mike and Aaron

“One of the of the favourites...and with good reason! This is a total bop and a half! The perfect mix of modern pop and ethnic instrumentation! But I can’t help but feel like this flop at Eurovision because of comparisons to Fuego." ~ Laura

"My favourite female vocal entry released for Eurovision so far, 'Me tana' has lots of components which work wonderfully together allowing Elvana’s vocals to truly feature. Strong contender." ~ Ruby

“Although initially jarring - the moments the music cuts out will open up for fantastic staging opportunities – sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice the audio for the performance (think Love Wave or Rhythm Inside). There is a higher production quality behind this song than many of the others which makes it stand out on first listen. Good balance between creating a ‘contemporary’ FiK entry with maintaining the traditional charm these entries usually have. The message is basic but does the job. I do have some familiar vibes from this song but I’m sure Elvana will make it unique and her own.” ~ Liv

"A fan favourite for a reason. Elvana delivers a stunning vocal to a vibrant modern song. She will be hard to beat in this competition." ~Mike

Another banger with good ethnic beats. Reminds me a bit of Dum Tek Tek. Could really come to life on stage. ~ Emma

"Love the opening vocal and it moves into a really good mix between modern and traditional. It does maybe a little 2018 but my biggest issue is the lack of a true chorus (where we have a pop drop). Overall still a very strong package" ~ Dale

2nd Gena - "Shqiponja e lirë" (60 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Mike, Emma and Laura

  • Lows: 0 from Steve, Fleur and Liv

"My personal favourite from this year's competition. An anthemic Euro-dance song that will light up Rotterdam if it was to make it to Eurovision." ~Mike

"His voice sounds like the Albanian Rasmussen. A real banger that could really come to life on the Eurovision stage...lots of scope for dancing & great choreography whilst still feeling authentically Albanian." ~ Emma

"This grabs you instantly but then it gets rather repetitive. We have rock, dance-pop and ethnic elements but it does not quite work. ~ Fleur

"Love how different this song is – totally would jam to in any Albania nightclub any night of the week. Instrumentation is super funky and fun." ~ Ruby

"Out of all the songs, this is the one that I can most visualise the staging for. It starts off epic and then turns into a total bop and then a World Cup anthem - I love it! This is sure to get the crowd going!" ~ Laura

"A more upbeat entry out of the this years selection of songs. This will translate well live, with the audience getting into the chanting." ~ Kyriakos

3rd Arilena Ara - "Shaj" (52 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Guy, 10 from Liv and Steve

  • Lows: 0 points from Dale, Mike, Emma and Fleur

"Powerful, Shaj ranks so highly personally for its vocals and structuring. The song doesn’t stray far from its refrain yet evolves and grows creating a wonderfully strong and moving piece using a variety of music techniques." ~ Ruby

"In some ways this really hits – especially when you know the meaning that every time she sings ‘Shaj’ she is saying ‘Swear’, referring to (in my interpretation) a depression like state and her struggles between being overcome and pushing against it. I think with a live orchestra this will be particularly powerful – especially with the recent tragedies in Albania, this could really resonate. This is truly beautiful. Nice ethnic touches running through." ~ Liv

"That chorus and vocal on the constant 'Shaaaajjjj' is amazing on the first and second listen. Third, fourth, fifth become a little dull and slightly irritating. However I could change my mind with a knock out vocal, and I think that might be the case..." ~ Dale

"By-the-numbers power ballad that really does not go anywhere. Arliena has a big voice. Although it is sung well, it just is not memorable enough for Eurovision. Should get into the final for FiK." ~ Fleur

4th Era Rusi - "Eja merre" (51 points)

  • Highs: 8 points from Dale, Steve, Fleur, Laura

  • Lows: 0 from Emma and Aaron

"Fun, upbeat and benign. The kind of song I needed with my morning coffee today. I like that this song fully commits to the ethnic approach and it does it really well without completely alienating an audience that might not be used to it. Peaks and troughs some variety." ~ Liv

"I like the beginning but the pre-chorus is a let down for me. Overall, there is a little too much going on here. I don’t mind it but I don’t think this will win through. The opening verse reminds me of Mei Feingold’s “Same Heart”." ~ Fleur

"In a word? Uplifting. I’m living for the breakdown and the drums!" ~ Laura

"Good banging song, with a fine line between repetitive and memorable. Vocals do sound a little strained at times, could be interesting to see how this translates live" ~Dale

"Good ethnic beats but harsh voice, almost yelling at times." ~ Emma

5th Wendi Mancaku - "Ende" (45 points)

  • Highs: 10 points from Guy, 7 points from Mike, Emma, Fleur and Laura

  • Lows: 0 points from Dale, Liv, Kyriakos and Ruby

"A solid contemporary pop ballad tinged with trap drums and strings that builds throughout but it needs to go one step further." ~ Laura

"I love her voice. The song itself is nothing special although I quite like it. It does build up to a modern Eurovision ballad but it’s not a winner. Great to listen to though." ~ Fleur

"Wendi has a distinctive vocal tone that really suits this heartfelt song. Combined with a modern production style this stands out amongst the ballads. ~ Mike

6th Valon Shehu - "Kutia e Pandorës" (43 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Aaron and Kyriakos, 8 from Liv

  • Lows: 0 points from Steve, Guy, Emma, Laura and Ruby

"Wow! This song had me hooked right from the start, it just stood out. I would love Albanian to take a risk and go with this entry for Eurovision but I am curious to see how this is performed live." ~Kyriakos

"Synth, violin, AND heavy rock guitars? An interesting combination were it not for his vocals sounding dead - they need more energy if this song wants to do well!" ~ Laura

"I feel like I got a three for the price of one deal. We get this intense electro-rock opener followed by these almost 80s synth vibes then capped off with some orchestral randomness shoved in…it’s eclectic to say the least. Sounds a bit like a videogame backing song crossed with ‘screamo’ 2000s teenage angst vibes. Despite all this – I really like it and it definitely wasn’t something I forgot after one listen. Retrospectively I found out Eugent Bushpepa penned this and I am thoroughly shook – I love it." ~Liv

7th Kanita Suma - "Ankth" (43 points)

  • Highs: 10 points from Mike and Kyriakos

  • Lows: 0 points from Dale, Emma, Fleur, Ruby

"A dramatic, emotional piano ballad that doesn’t build up nearly as much as I would like it to. I appreciate the modern touches in the instrumental and the choir in the last chorus lifts the song." ~Laura

"I really love her voice and the emotion she evokes in the song. I can picture very nice staging to further portray the songs message about anxiety." ~Kyriakos

"Really contemporary song with great production values, I just find it goes no where and lacks a killer punch in a female ballad (as always) FiK." ~Dale

"Beautiful message and I do like the general tune. In the bunch I feel like it fades a bit into the background but it is certainly quality. Worried it will easily get lost on the night." ~Liv

"Kanita delivers a good modern sound to a sincere song. With the right live performance this could wow." ~ Mike

"Honestly, I doubt I will remember this in an hour. I would be very surprised if this wins although I expect to see it in the final." ~Fleur

8th Aldo Bardhi - "Melodi" (39 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Steve, 8 points from Guy

  • Lows: 0 points from Mike, Aaron, Liv, Kyriakos, Laura

"Apart from being sung in Albanian, this entry could come from any Eurovision country. Sounds like something you could hear at Melfest in Swedish. Damn catchy though." ~Emma

"This has some ‘70’s disco vibes to it but I don’t mind it. It really stands out in a field of ballads. I expect this to make the final although I don’t see a winner here." ~Fleur

"These beats sound really cheap and I can’t help but feel like it cheapens the song as a whole and makes it sound more dated than it needs to. Artists like Sunstroke Project do this kind of song much better - if it’s going to Rotterdam it NEEDS a revamp!" ~Laura

9th Kamela Islamaj - "Më ngjyros" (38 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Dale and Fleur, 8 points from Ruby

  • Lows: 0 points from Mike, Steve, Guy, Emma and Liv

"This is a cross between 'Funny Girl' jazz and bond like 'A Matter of Time'. This genre doesn't really do it for me, but this songs just speaks to me. When that powerful brass comes in, I get goosebumps. Made for an orchestra this could be fantastic live." ~Dale

"This starts of rather “café music” sounding but then- wow. Karmela has a bluesy husky voice and it sounds fantastic in this song. I absolutely love this. I would love to see this song get through. I’m getting strong Fiona Apple vibes here. This is a contender." ~Fleur

"Kamela’s Më ngjyros has a quiet strength musically, building on a jazz feel to remain reminiscent of a James Bond song. The brass section helps to propel the vocals, and the muted trumpets add a unique feature to the selection of songs this year." ~ Ruby

"Smoky and jazzy - Gabriella Cilmi B-side anyone? She has a powerful voice - but then again doesn’t everyone in Albania?" ~ Laura

10th Robert Berisha - "Ajo nuk është unë" (34 points)

  • Highs: 8 points from Emma and Mike

  • Lows: 0 points from Steve, Aaron, Guy, Fleur and Liv

"Voice reminded me a bit of Hungary’s Joci Papai. Grew on me as track went on. Turns in to a real Balkan ballad. Reminds me a bit of 2015 Eurovision entry Adio by Knez." ~ Emma

"On commencement this song seems to go in several directions – all of which congregate together with the mixture of Robert’s vocals and those of the female backing vocalists. Screams Albanian identity in a strong entry." ~ Ruby

"This sounds like the dated music you hear in every Balkan bar.... but I can't help but love it! With the right performance from the younger performer. this could do rather well" ~Dale

"A Balkan ballad meshed with a tropical house song?!?!?!?! A combination that shouldn’t work but it somehow does?!?!?!?!?! Reminds me of Adio" ~Laura

"An entry that blends both traditional Balkan song structure with some more modern production elements. Works for me!" ~Mike

And the rest of the rankings (every song had at least two people vote for it)

11th Renis Gjoka - "Loja" (29 points)

12th Tiri Gjoci - "Me gotën bosh" (17 points)

13th Devis Xherahu - "Bisedoj me serenatën" (17 points)

14th Albërie Hadërgjonaj - "Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua" (16 points)

15th Eli Fara & Stresi - "Bohemë" (15 points)

16th Sara Bajraktari - "Ajër" (14 points)

17th Olta Boka - "Botë për dy" (13 points)

18th Bojken Lako - "Malaseen" (9 points)

19th Genc Tukiçi and Nadia Tukiçi - "Ju flet Tirana" (3 points)

20th Kastro Zizo - "Asaj" (2 points)

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