*Updated 26th Dec to reflect Festivali I Kenges Semi Final Results
Albania have had a tumultuous Eurovision history failing to qualify from the semi finals on 5 occasions. Their best result to date came from Rona Nishliu when she finished in fifth place in 2012 with song ‘Suus’. Albania also did quite well in their debut year in 2004 when Anjeza Shahini’s song ‘The Image of You’ came in seventh and their most recent attempt in 2015 saw Elhaida Dani come 17th.
Albania will be the first country to reveal their song for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on the 27th December. 30 acts will compete over two semi finals held on Christmas Day and Boxing Day with the best 18 songs from each qualifying for the final of the 54th edition of Festivali i Këngës in the country’s capital Tirana. This was later altered to allow 22 acts to qualify for the final.
Albania have implemented strict rules this year, the most noteworthy rule has determined that all songs competing must be in the Albanian language. This was also the case in 2015 when singer Elhaida Dani won the contest with her song ‘Diell’. This however was replaced a few months later by English language song ‘I’m Alive’.
There are some familiar faces returning to compete this year. Adrian Lulgjuraj who competed along with Bledar Sejko in the 2013 Eurovision with song ‘Identitet’ failed to make it past the semi final phase of the contest. He is hoping he can return to the Eurovision stage in 2016 with his rock ballad ‘Jeto dhe ëndërro’.
Another act hoping to finally secure a place at Eurovision after three previous failed attempts is Flaka Krelani. The Albanian Kosovar singer won the Albanian equivalent of Pop Idol and since then has cemented herself as one of Albania’s most prominent rock artists. She returns to compete at Festivali i Këngës in 2016 with ‘S’je për mua’.
Luiz Ejlli is another Albanian Idol winner and has also had some Eurovision experience. He was the first male contestant to represent his country when he competed in the 2006 contest with his song ‘Zjarr e ftohtë’. The song was also the first time that a song in the contest was sung in Albanian. Unfortunately the song didn’t manage to get past the semi final stages. He returns in 2016 with ‘Pa mbarim’.
Another Idol alum is pop dance singer Teuta Kurti. She has competed multiple times to be Albania’s Eurovision entry and returns again in 2016 with ‘Në sytë e mi’.
Orgesa Zaimi is a popular Albanian singer and radio presenter. She has competed twice in (you guessed it) Albanian Idol, winning on the second occasion with her band . She too is no stranger to Eurovision and was the backing vocalist to singer Kejsi Tola, who represented Albania on Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russia, and won Best Rock Video at the Netet e Klipit Shqiptar festival. She is hoping to be centre stage in Stockholm with her song ‘Një shishe në oqean’.
The full list of the acts competing in both semi finals are listed below. On 26th December eight acts were eliminated from the competition with the other 22 returning to compete on the final on 27th December.
Semi Final 1: 25th December 2015
1. Egzon Pireci “Triumf”
2. Simbol “Artiste”
3. Voltan Prodani “Dëgjoje këngën o Atë”
4. Adrian Lulgjuraj “Jeto dhe ëndërro”
5. Sigi Bastri “Engjëll i lirë”
6. Dilan Reka “Buzëqesh”
7. Luiz Ejlli “Pa mbarim”
8. Nilsa Hysi “Asaj”
9. Orgesa Zaimi “Një shishe në oqean”
10. Erga Halilaj “Monolog”
11. Florent Abrashi “Të ndjek çdo hap”
12. Teuta Kurti “Në sytë e mi”
13. Kozma Dushi “Një kafe”
14. Aslajdon Zaimaj “Merrmë që sot”
15. Egert Pano “Mos ik”
Semi Final 2: 26th December 2015
1. Kristi Popa “Ajo çfarë ndjej”
2. Klodian Kaçani & Rezarta Smaja “Dashuri në përjetësi”
3. Revolt Klan “Dashurinë s’e gjejmë dot”
4. Jozefina Simoni “Një det me ty”
5. Andi Tanko “Dielli vazhdon të më ngrohë”
6. Niku & Entela Zhula “Muza”
7. Genc Tukiçi “Sa të dashuroj”
8. Evans Rama “Flakë”
9. Besa Krasniqi “Liroje zemrën”
10. Enxhi Nasufi “Infinit”
11. Flaka Krelani “S’je për mua”
12. Renis Gjoka “Ato që s’ti them dot”
13. Lindi Islami “Për një mrekulli”
14. Eneda Tarifa “Përrallë”
15. Klajdi Musabelliu “Ndodh edhe kështu”