22 February 2023

Review: Albania | Albina & Familja Kelmendi | Duje


Artist: Albina and Familja Kelmendi
Song: Duje

As usual, Albania made an early claim for Eurovision glory after Albina and Familja Kelmendi won the televote at Festivali i Këngës 61, the country's national annual music competition, just before Christmas last year. Their song is Duje (Love It) which they will perform in the second half of the second semi-final on May 11.

In many ways, Duje is what we have come to expect from Albania. With a couple of notable exceptions, the country tends to provide angst-ridden vocals by a female artist seemingly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Given those parameters - to an extent -  this song does not disappoint.

Viewing the video from the national final, Albina clearly does not look happy for the first third of the song. Not sure why as my Albanian is not up to scratch. Nevertheless, she is certainly making an impassioned plea until her older family members join in with a more soothing take on proceedings. For a while it all gets a little Partridge Family, but then the distinctive ethnic Albanian instrumentation kicks in.

For me, this is what always distinguishes the Albanian entries from the rest of the pack. Particularly this song, which uses that instrumentation to great effect, counterbalancing the forcefulness of much of the vocal.

Those vocals first came to prominence as a product of The Voice franchise, Albina having taken part in that competition in 2014.  There's no arguing she has pipes and her song will undoubtedly appeal to the Balkan audience. Assuming Duje remains in Albanian (it should), one wonders how much interest there will be from the wider European public?

Personally, I fear the song might find it difficult to move forward from its semi-final. I may be wrong, but it's fair to say that it may fight to gain widespread appeal.

What do you think?

16 March 2022

Review: Bulgaria | Intelligent Music Project | Intention


Artist: Intelligent Music Project
Song: Intention

Bulgaria managed to beat Albania to the punch this year by becoming the first nation to announce its entry for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest. The Intelligent Music Project will perform the song Intention in the hope that it will return the country to the Top Five for the first time since 2017.  

Flag Bulgaria
If last year's winner is anything to go by, to excel at Eurovision you need to stand out from the crowd through either sound or visuals, but ideally both. Måneskin had each in spades, along with a kind of undefinable charisma and passion. Bulgaria's supergroup follows the Italians' rock path although they veer off in a more conventional direction with a perfectly acceptable slice of classic rock that wouldn't sound out of place circa 1981.   

Intention is constructed very much in a way one might have expected a single release from Rainbow or Whitesnake back in the day. Some crashing guitars, thumping drums and a raspy lead singer, this time in the form of the seasoned Ronnie Romero who has enjoyed time with the aforementioned Rainbow. 

While one can't fault the professionalism and undoubted experience of the group, in many ways the track sounds out of place for a Eurovision song, although many could have said the same thing about Måneskin's offering. By comparison, though, it doesn't feel as if it ticks all of the required contemporary/modern boxes, instead appealing to the more mature "Dad" vote.
While the power of Zitti e buoni felt like a metaphorical fist to the stomach, Intention feels more of a stern slap on the wrist. Not as edgy nor as gritty. Intelligent Music Project has proven skills, both musically and vocally, but it's fair to say that this entry may struggle to gain universal appeal.

What do you think?

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