You are currently viewing 🇦🇱 Sneak Peek: FiK Semi Final 2

Last night saw the 61st Festivali i Këngës get under way. This year’s edition includes some changes to the rules, including Albania’s Eurovision representative being chosen by televote only (the top 3, new and established artist prizes will be awarded by the jury). The contest will also take place across four nights this year, with the 19th and 20th December comprising the two semi-finals, the 21st being a nostalgia night (where acts duet with famous Albanian singers) and the final taking place on the 22nd December.

Another change from recent years is that fans will not hear the competing entries until the semi-finals, but we’ve still done our research, and are here to give you a run-down of the thirteen artists that make up semi two! 

Melodajna Mancaku – ‘Gjysma e zemrës sime’

At only 16 years old, Melodajna opens the show with her song ‘Gjysma e zemrës sime’ meaning ‘Half of my heart’. Hailing from Tirana, she has competed in many competitions from a young age in both singing and piano, including the 2017 Fryderyk Chopin youth piano competition, and the National Song Festival for children, also in 2017, where she won the award for best performer.

Most notably, Melodajna competed in Albania’s Junior Fest in 2018, in hope of representing Albania at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest that year in Belarus, with the song ‘Enderroj’ meaning ‘I dream’. She was beaten by Efi Gjika with the song ‘Barbie’. Hopefully she has better luck this year!

As she is so young, there is not much footage of Melodajna performing online, but skip through to 3:53 in this video, to see her perform acoustically:

Permit of Stay – ‘Fobia’

Next up are Permit of Stay, a rock group made up of Ergys Meta (Guitar and Keyboards), Ervin Laluci (Vocal), Herton Meta (Bass) and Aulon Kreshpaj (Drums) with their song ‘Fobia,’ meaning, yes, you guessed it, ‘Phobia’. They have been performing together as a group since 2004, and prior to FiK, the band competed in Top Fest four times between 2007 and 2014.

Although we haven’t heard ‘Fobia’ yet, the band have said in an interview with escbubble, that the song was about “the fear to fall in love.”

They have said they want “our song on the history of Albanian rock experimental music,” but will they be successful?

Listen to their Top Fest 11 entry ‘Death of Rock’ here:

Arsi Bako – ‘Sonte dua të jem me ty’

Arsi Bako performs ‘Sonte dua të jem me ty’, meaning ‘Tonight I want to be with you.’ She started her career participating in the Tirana Art Fest, where over three years she won the awards for Best Debut Artist, First Prize for the Song Category, and Best Vocal.

The most recent song we have from Arsi, is her entry to Kënga Magjike, ‘Me Mbaj’ (‘Hold me’), where she competed against a range of past Eurovision Song Contest artists, both from Albania and across Europe.

While she didn’t win Kënga Magjike, will she have better luck at FiK?

Listen to her Kënga Magjike entry here:

Gjergj Kaçinari – ‘Dje’

Back for his third consecutive year, 28-year-old Gjergj Kaçinari competes fourth with his entry ‘Dje’ meaning ‘Yesterday’. Over the years, he has been in many bands where he has taken the opportunity to experiment with many genres, including: blues, country, rock ’n’ roll, hard rock and heavy metal. 

He is not a stranger to singing competitively, as additionally to his participation in the last two editions of Festivali i Këngës, he has also competed in The Voice Albania 1 in 2013, and Kënga Magjike in 2013 and 2019.

Will it be third time lucky for Gjergj?

Listen to his 2021 Festivali i Këngës entry here:

Franc Koruni – ‘Në pritje’

After a year off, pop singer Franc Koruni, returns after previously competing in the 2016 and 2020 editions of Festivali i Këngës, with his song ‘Në pritje’, meaning ‘Pending’.

As well as Festivali i Këngës, Franc has also competed in Kënga Magjike for four consecutive years between 2015 and 2018.

Listen to an acoustic version of Franc’s 2020 Festivali i Këngës entry, ‘E morën botën’ (‘They took over the world’) below:

Petrit Çarkaxhiu – ‘Emri yt mirësi’

Competing for the first time in Festivali i Këngës, is Petrit Çarkaxhiu with his song ‘Emri yt mirësi’ meaning ‘Your name is good’. Since 2001, he has been a member of the band ‘Jericho’, whose sound has been compared to Rage Against The Machine. Over the years, their sound has mellowed, and has grown to encompass folklore motifs.

Although not accompanied by his bandmates, Petriti has remained faithful to the ethno-rock genre that the group perform today, using the power of his music to say the unsaid within Albanian society.

This is Petrit’s first festival since Top Fest 12 in 2015.

Listen to his 2020 song ‘Dul behari’ (‘The need comes out’) below:

Elsa Lila – ‘Evita’

2022 sees Elsa Lila back for the first time since her two consecutive victories at Festivali i Këngës in 1996 and 1997. The daughter of a singer and a violinist, she was raised with a love for music and theatre. Before long, her talent was discovered by composer Valentin Veizi during the Children’s Festival in Tirana. 

In 1997, the year in which she lost her mother, she followed her father to Italy, which lead to the country becoming her second homeland. This led to her becoming the second Albanian singer, after Ana Oxa, to participate in Festival di Sanremo in 2007.

She is known for advocating for the Albanian music industry internationally, and in 2001 was named “Ambassador of Albanian music in the world” by the Albanian president.

As well as having won numerous awards as singer, she has also been on the other side of the judging panel, appearing as a judge on the fourth series of The Voice Albania. 

Expect big vocals from this one! Listen to Lila’s 1997 FiK winning entry ‘Larg Urrejtje’ (Away Hate) below:

Gent Hoxha – ‘Ajër’

Up next, is Gent Hoxha with his song ‘Ajër’’ meaning ‘Air’. Gent has been singing since he was 6 years old, and competed in a range of children’s festivals including two consecutive years in the Children’s Festival in Korça in 2011 and 2012 where he was award first place, and the audience prize. 

As an adult, he has competed in Kënga Magjike with his song ‘Ai, Ajo’ meaning ‘He, she’. You can listen to his entry here:

Evi Reçi – ‘Ma kthe’

32-year-old Evi Reçi was born in Durrës, but has never lived in Albania. Living in Greece as a child before moving to Florence, in Italy. Although she has been living in Florence, she has not missed the scene of Albanian festivals, as this will be her third appearance at Festivali i Këngës. She has also competed four times at Kënga Magjike and at Netët e Klipit Shqiptar.

Tonight she will be competing with her song ‘Ma kthe’ meaning ‘Give me back’; hopefully her long history of festival performances stand her in good stead for tonight!

You can listen to Evi’s 2021 Festivali i Këngës entry, ‘”Me duaj’ (‘Love me’) here:

Manjola Nallbani – ‘Dua’

Next to perform is Festivali i Këngës veteran, Manjola Nallbani, with her song ‘Dua’ meaning ‘Love’; the song will be her twelfth entry to the contest, her first being in 1989. Not much can be surmised about Manjola’s entry, as she has performed in many genres in the past.

As well as performing, Manjola teaches at the Academy of Arts in Tirana.

Listen to her 2018 entry ‘I njëjti qiell’ below:

Lynx – ‘Nëse ke besim’

Back at Festivali i Këngës for the first time since 2017, Lynx will be up next performing  ‘Nëse ke besim’ meaning ‘If you have faith’. The song will be their fifth entry to Festivali i Këngës.

Lynx are a rock group from Tirana formed in 2007 consisting of Aurel Gjini on guitar, Endrik Beba on lead vocal, Eno Gjoni on drums, and Renato Rexha on keyboard. 

They are no strangers to the Albanian festival scene, having performed also competed in Kënga Magjike five times, Top Fest five times, and Netët e Klipit Shqiptar twice.

You can listen to Lynx’s 2017 Fix entry ‘Vonë’ (‘Later’) below:

Alban & Lore – ‘Melodi’

The penultimate song of the night is ‘Melodi’, meaning ‘Melody’ by Alban & Lore. This appears to be their first song together.

Hip-hop artist Alban Kondi is the brother of Albanian singer, songwriter and rapper: Florian Kondi. Florian was one of the founding members of the group West Side Family, and was known as Dr. Flori in his musical career. Sadly, Florian passed away in 2014; seemingly due to a drugs overdose. Alban states he is more withdrawn with his music than his brother was. Seemingly so, being a newcomer this year at Festivali i Këngës. 

Even less is known about his duet partner, Lore, but you can seemingly find her on Instagram and TikTok at @loreemusic

You can listen to Alban’s 2021 Netët e Klipit Shqiptar entry, ‘Mono’ here:

Vanesa Sono – ‘Aroma jonë’

Closing the second semi final, is Vanessa Sono with ‘Aroma jonë’ meaning ‘Our scent’. This is her first time at Festivali i Këngës, although she also competed at Kënga Magjike earlier this year. 

Vanesa Sono has been singing since she was a young child, winning “Little Genius 6”. Most notably, she came third in Junior Fest, Albania’s selection for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2016. She was also part of the duo act called “Shiv3rs”, who performed original material, mainly in Oxford and London. 

She lives and studies in England, and is currently a third-year student at ICMP London (Institute of Contemporary Music and Production) in the Creative Musicianship department.

You can listen to Vanessa’s Kënga Magjike entry, ‘Do te gjej’ (‘I will find you’) here:

Make sure to let us know who you are rooting for tonight! You can leave a comment here, or find us on TwitterInstagram and TikTok for more Eurovision content!

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