There is always a point during the Eurovision doldrums where we wonder if we’re going to stick with this whole Song Contest blogging thing. There are days where it feels like work, especially when we have to write about songs we neither love nor hate, and the EBU has killed the Eurovision website by no longer hosting the national finals, and they’re still bloody geoblocking the performance videos on YouTube because they hate Americans and… wait, it’s time for Festivali i Këngës?
FIRE UP WORDPRESS.
Eugent Bushpepa won this year’s edition of Festivali i Këngës with his song “Mall.” He got his start as a house singer on a Top Channel talk show and won best male vocalist at Top Fest in 2008 and 2011. He performed a duet, S’jam baladë, with Rovena Dio at Festivali 47, where they finished an unremarkable 12th.
“Mall” starts off with a rousing string riff a bit like Rufus Wainwright’s “Beautiful Child” or Filter’s “Take a Picture.” Those opening moments are full of promise. Eugent sounds like Geddy Lee banging out a hair metal ballad. We mean that in a good way. His phrasing is beautiful and makes us both wish we could speak Albanian. We are happy to hear Eugent is going to keep “Mall” in Albanian, even if that does makes it look like Albania is noting that a non-English song won Eurovision last year.
Running currently at 4:30, “Mall” will need to be cut back significantly to conform to Eurovision’s 3:00 limit. Right now, you feel every second of that length. Success for Albania will be made or lost in the editing room, managing the tricky balance of setting the mood, letting Eugent’s voice soar, and getting to the damn point already.
Now, we just count down the days until the other national finals kick off. (Yes, we know Lithuania’s Eurovizijos series has started, but if the participants can’t be bothered with it, why should we?)