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?

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