So I tried watching Festivali I Kenges. Note that the main word is *tried* and I got through 6 out of 11 songs of the 1st semifinal before running low on battery, having to run an errand, and having approximately zero motivation to watch any more. From what I remember, there was a reeeeaaaaalllllly long interval act, a lot of ads (i.e. one every two performances), and interviews before and after each performance. And the host may have said “fake news.”
He also apparently did this. I’m not sure what happened but okay then.
**This is a disclaimer that you are a not a bad fan if you don’t watch national finals. If you do have the time to follow all of FiK, MESC, and San Remo, good for you and kudos for having all the patience. If you don’t have time to watch all or any national finals (e.g. me, a pharm student who’s already terrible at time management), you’re okay.**
So I might have missed the winner but Twitter clearly hadn’t, so I woke up to people cheering over the winning entry of FiK 56, “Mall” (“Yearning”) by Eugent Bushpepa.
(Also according to dict.cc, the Albanian word for “shopping mall” is “mapo.” Fingers crossed it’s correct unlike google translate…)
Let’s start with the obvious: Unlike the past 3 winners of FiK, the performance Albania/RTSH plans on sending this year is NOT a woman belting a diva ballad. Okay sure there’s still belting and some people might still put it in the ballads category, but it’s definitely less typical of what Albania’s been sending. As for the performance, Eugent Bushpepa has definitely sold it. We know he can sing live (as shown in his covers of Rona Nishliu’s “Suus” and Scorpions’ “Still Loving You”) and can fill a stage, so we might expect something similar in Portugal. As for the tune, it reminds me of a national park documentary when the camera is taking footage of the landscape combined with a bit of Voltaj’s “De la Capat” and Common Linnets’ “Broken but Home” and some extra drums and guitars. I also appreciate that the song’s in ¾; it’s not very waltzy but “Mall” definitely has a pulse that I could obtain a blood pressure reading from.
So yeah, I really like the song; it’s currently my top ESC entry of 2018 so far XD.
But I’m about 200% certain that I won’t be able to rank this song fairly due to one reason: the lyrics. While I might be lactose intolerant, the first time I read the lyrics translation I got severe feels, churning out serious Lane Moje– like vibes. Had I been single it probably wouldn’t have done much, but at the time of me writing this, I’m not. (Rather I’ve fallen so deep, I’m in too deep). The lines were relatable to the point that I could see myself again in my student apartment 700 miles/1120 km from home missing my partner, having trouble falling asleep due to test anxiety, and my pulse keeping me awake until 2:30 AM (as well as the subsequent phone call from my ex-manager reminding me to concentrate on the course material for exams and not on my partner).
Eugent Bushpepa mentioned in an interview that he wrote the lyrics when he was “away from his family, away from his better half.” But unlike me, who only managed to pull off a 2:30 AM sleep-deprived letter closely resembling a 2-page drunk text, he actually wrote a coherent poem, fit it to a tune, and won a music festival with it.