The Albanian Final was held on December 23rd at the Palace of Congress in Tirana, hosted by Adi Krasta. Before the final there were 2 semi-finals. The winner was solely chosen by an "expert" jury. The winner was Eugent Bushpepa singing his self-penned song “Mall” (Yearning).
Eugent is on stage with a solo electric guitarist whom he interacts with at points. He makes good use of the backing singers but they, as ever, are nestled within the orchestra base rather than on the stage. He is dressed very simply in black and white and this monochrome scheme is mirrored in the backdrop which depicts parts of a guitar at different angles and speeds. He spends the first part of the song with his eyes closed and even when he does open them he’s not really connecting with the camera or even trying to interact much with the audience in the theatre. The shot selection and camerawork was quite off during the final and could be improved greatly in Lisbon.
The song starts off with a very intense repetitive and quite folksy guitar strum and deep thumping heartbeat of a drum. In an odd way the song feels quite wintry and festive which is fine for a song festival in December but possibly not so much for another one at the start of the summer. Eugent has a very striking and powerful voice especially in those high, metal-esque screams. The underlying tune is very simple and bracing although at times he goes up or down a tone to use different parts of his voice. The very simplistic chanting chorus is a very striking piece of work which ramps up the guitar and drum into a more rock tone than folky. Also the oh-oh-oh part from the backing singers is also a nice language-free earworm.
As ever with Festivali i Këngës, songs are performed fully in Albanian with an extensive orchestra and an array of backing singers and no maximum song length. This has usually meant songs undergo an extensive transformation by the time it gets to Eurovision but in this case I feel that very little is going to change. Eugent is the sole composer of the song and he has already stated it will stay in Albanian which is a very good call. There are already fan edited versions of the song online which get the song to the 3 minute mark and several of them sound very good indeed. As good as the four and a half minute version is, reducing it by a third *is* possible. I know it is not even 2018 yet but I get the feeling this will be number 1 in my ranking for quite a long time. This is a very special song and he is a very intense performer – it seems as though the legacy of Salvador is already bearing its fruit but maybe not quite in the ways were were expecting...
ARTIST - Eugent Bushpepa
SONG - Mall (Yearning)
MUSIC - Eugent Bushpepa
LYRICS - Eugent Bushpepa