Albania’s Eurovision 2014 Entry

Hersi Matmuja will represent Albania at Eurovision this May with “Zemërimi i një nate” (“One Night’s Anger”), the winner of the 52nd annual Festivali i Këngës.

“Zemërimi i një nate” requires some patience. As presented at Festivali, “Zemërimi i një nate” begins with an 18-second electric guitar solo and orchestral ornamentations. This confusing introduction serves no purpose except to completely mislead the listener about the musical character of the song.

Once the piano kicks in “Zemërimi i një nate” is a not-at-all unpleasant power ballad. Written with minor chords and waltz tempo, the song is reminiscent of “Kiss from a Rose.” Similarly, there’s something about the dark themes and weight of “Zemërimi i një nate” that lends itself to a dark-blockbuster movie soundtrack. The song’s lyrical mantra “think a little longer, forget this night” (perhaps not the best lyric choice for a song that wants to be remembered by voters, but I digress…) reflects feelings of anger, betrayal, and a desire to maintain friendship by strategic use of selective memory loss. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reboot?  Anyone?  Anyone?

The song is penned by composer Genti Lako and lyricist Jorgo Papinji – who as a pair have had entries at the past three Albanian music festivals. At last year’s festival, the team, also fronted by Hersi, finished 3rd.

Like Belgium’s entry at this point last year, it feels like there might be something there, but it needs work. The song has some nice qualities if you can get past the introduction. There are striking melodic passages, and Hersi nails the phrasing when she’s in her lower register. This could be one of those years where Albania revamps their entry for the Eurovision audience. For starters Albania could eliminate that introduction, and perhaps they can also do something about Hersi’s styling. First impressions matter.

As is, it’s a missed opportunity.