04 January 2016

Review: Albania: Eurovision 2016 | Eneda Tarifa

Eneda Tarifa / Eurovision 2016 / Albania
Eneda Tarifa will fly the flag for Albania

As is now customary, Albania has become the first to unveil its entry for Eurovision 2016. The honour of representing the country falls to Eneda Tarifa with the song Përrallë (Fairytale).

It's not Eneda's first crack at trying to win Festivali i Këngës (now the national Eurovision decider), having participated in both 2003 and 2007. Missing out on those two occasions, she enjoyed better success performing in a rival song contest, as well as in a stint as a television presenter of a contemporary Albanian variety show.

Eneda Tarifa / Eurovision 2016 / Albania
Eneda Tarifa
However, things went understandably quiet for a while when she gave birth to her first child, before her now triumphant return to the stage - even if the victory was a little unexpected.

The (apparent) smart money was on one or two of the other artists (step up Flaka Krenali and Enxhi Nasufi), but Albania's seven-person expert jury had other ideas. Having jettisoned just eight of the thirty songs featured in both semi-finals, the ultimate decision was made in a very well presented, if overly long, final featuring the remaining twenty-two.

As expected, all of the entries were accompanied by a live orchestra - which is something of a relief from the normally sterile backing tracks at these events. It had truly warmed up by the time Eneda took to the stage in 20th position.

A menacing-sounding guitar underscores the singer's initially brooding vocals before Përrallë develops into a full-blown rock ballad - one that wouldn't sound out of place on a latter day James Bond soundtrack. Eneda's voice continues to cruise along nicely, becoming ever more powerful as the instrumentation builds with intensity around her, biting into the hook of the chorus and ending just as forcefully at the song's sudden denouement.

As it is, Përrallë is too long for the Eurovision Song Contest by around thirty seconds, so it's going to need some reworking over the next few months. Part of this edit will include the promised English lyrics, which may help make the track even more accessible to audiences around Europe.

However, so early in the national final season, it's difficult to forecast this song's appeal. Personally, it took a few plays before it was fully appreciated, but time and its revamp will give more clues to Albania's chances in Stockholm. Watch this space.

Whatever happens, Eneda continues a recent Albanian trend for sending big, dramatic ballads garnished with even bigger, more dramatic vocals.

What do you think?

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