ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Albania


It has become customary for the editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #6, we catch up with Albania (RTSH) who will be represented by Hersi and the song One Night’s Anger composed by Lako and penned by Papingji.

Hersi Matmuja was born on February 1st, 1990. She has pursued a dual career path, which led her to be successful in both modern and classical music. Despite being still very young, Hersi has already five times participated in the annual Festivali i Këngës, which doubles as the Albanian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year her song One Night’s Anger, originally titled Zemërimi i një nate, did the trick, taking her to the Eurovision stage in Copenhagen! Hersi started her music lessons at the age of eight, taking part in various music events for children. She took music lessons from Professor Luan Bakiu. In 1999 and 2000 Hersi participated in the festival “Çelësi i Artë”, followed by the Festival “Ylberi” in Macedonia in 2001, where she won the first prize. In 2002 Hersi participated in the Children Festival of Shkodra with the song Zogu dhe djali, and she won the prize “Violeta Filaj” in the competition “Ëndërra për muzikën”.

Her first major TV success came in 2005, when she took part in the talent show “Ethet e së premtes”, reaching the top 10 finalists. One year later she took part in the Albanian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, Festivali i Këngës, youth category, and won the first prize in this category and thus qualified to the final. Hersi kept up her ambition to represent her home country in the Eurovision Song Contet: In 2010 and 2011 she participated again in Festivali i Këngës, and in 2012 she ranked 3rd with the song Kush ta dha këtë emër. On her fifth attempt, she finally won Festivali i Këngës and will thus represent Albania in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. She has collaborated with various composers and lyric’s writers in Albania. Her most notable successes to date were the launching of the video clip to the song Kthehu, and her her collaboration with the singer songwriter Gjergj Leka. She has also participated in two of the most prestigious festivals on the Southern Balkans, Top Fest and Kënga Magjike.

In 2004 Hersi started studying lyric canto in the Artistic Lyceum “Jordan Misja” in Tirana. She studied for one year in the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana. She later took part in concerts in the Theater of Opera and Ballet of Tirana and reached the final in the national competition of classical music “Këngët e Tokës”. In 2008 Hersi reached the final in the national competition “Jorgji Truja”. One year later, she started studying at the National Academy of St Cecilia in Rome, ranking an amazing first in the admission competition. In 2010 she ranked first in the musical contest “Ars Kosova”. Hersi has taken part in many concerts like Carmina Burana by Carl Orff in 2010 or projects like “Let’s Britten” in honor of the composer Benjamin Britten that took place in some of historical buildings in Rome in 2013. In 2012 she took part as soloist in the concert in the Theater of Basilica of San Pancrazio in Rome. Last year Hersi took part in several concerts in the Greek Theater in Rome, in Sala Magna in College of Rome, and in the National Museum of Rome, among others.

Albania made their debut in the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2004 with Anjeza Shanini and the song Image of You finishing in eighth place. The contemporary pop song is still a fan favourite and was until 2012 the most successful entry from the Eastern nation. This is a country which works extremely hard for qualification, something that it has not achieved so much in recent years, noting disappointing results in 2011 and 2013 at the hands of Aurela Gace and Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko. As a matter of fact, when compiling statistics, it seems that the nation has been successful six times out of ten thus far, which is not the most impressive figure around. A revamp of the song to English this time round is seemingly receiving mixed reactions but nevertheless, the performance will surely be polished during the first semi-final, giving Albania another fighting chance.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 35%

Martin Isherwood: Looking at the title I had to play this again to make sure I’d listened to the right song as it seems to bear no relationship to the song at all. Strong folky voice, with a Kate Bush flavour in places. Starts all picking and folky in 6/8 but piles through the changes stopping for no-one apart from an ill-advised and ill-fitting guitar solo after which it takes a bit of a dark rock turn.  Odd! All a bit stream of consciousness like. Unlikely to go anywhere.

Deo Grech: Here comes Hersi with the very first entry which was picked for this year’s contest.   I must admit that I didn’t like the original version, however, the new improved version is making it more acceptable. Still not in my top 10. Sorry Albania.

Stano Simor: Positive for Albania is already the fact, that even such a small country with a minimum of singers, every year sends out a representant. One Night’s Anger unfortunately doesn’t have hit factor, seeking to art. The voice of the singer is not pleasant to listen and I can feel deficit of the authors background.

Matt Mercieca: She sounds like a squeaky Shakira! ..never a good thing! her diction is a little rubbish. as a song its sweet , can’t comment on lyrics as i have no clue what she’s saying. HER VOICE bugs me!



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