Festivali i Këngës has has been held annually since 1962, and since 2004, it has always been used to pick the Albanian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year, two semi-finals were held, on December 26th and 27th, with 10 out of 14 songs qualifying for the final from each respective show. Yesterday, an additional show was broadcast, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the festival.
All shows were broadcast live from Pallati i Kongreseve in the Albanian capital of Tirana, and they were presented by a trio consisting of Nik Xhelilaj, Hygerta Sako and Enkeleida Zeko. In the interval act, a medley of previous Albanian Eurovision Song Contest entries was performed on stage by the original artists.
After that, the jury gave several special prizes to tonight's contestants. Rona Nishliu was awarded the prize for the best interpretation, while Sokol Marsi got the prize for the best lyrics for the song Kristal. Endri Sina, the composer of Mijëra Vjet, was given the prize for the best melody, and Klodian Qafoku was awarded the prize for the best orchestration for the song Vlen Sa Një Jetë.
In the end, the winner was picked by an expert jury out of the 20 remaining acts. This is the list of entries in the final (in order of appearance, winner in bold):
- Bojken Lako & Breza - Të Zakonshëm (18 points - 10th)
- Saimir Braho - Ajër (50 points - 3rd)
- Marjeta Billo - Vlen Sa Një Jetë (0 points)
- Herciana Matmuja - Aty Ku Më Le (0 points)
- Xhensila Myrtezaj - Lulet Mbledh Për Hënën (8 points - 13th)
- Toni Mehmetaj - Ëndrra E Parë (10 points - 12th)
- Iris Hoxha - Pa Ty... Asnjë Sekondë (19 points - 9th)
- Gerta Mahmutaj - Pyete Zemrën (0 points)
- Bashkim Alibali - Këngën Time Merr Me Vete (0 points)
- Altin Goci - Kthehem Prap (38 points - 5th)
- Elton Deda - Kristal (55 points - 2nd)
- Endri & Stefi Prifti - Mbi Çdo Iluzion (25 points - 6th)
- Rona Nishliu - Suus (77 points - 1st)
- Kamela Islamaj - Mbi Yje (25 points - 6th)
- Frederik Ndoci - Oh... Jeta Ime (0 points)
- Mariza Ikonomi - Më Lër Të Të Dua (13 points - 11th)
- Elhaida Dani - Mijëra Vjet (0 points)
- Rudina Delia - Më Kërko (0 points)
- Samanta Karavello - Zgjomë Një Tjetër Ëndërr (47 points - 4th)
- Dr. Flori - Personale (21 points - 8th)
Thus, Rona Nishliu will represent Albania in Baku with the song Suus. She will be the first Kosovar singer to represent Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest. You can check out her song on youtube. In 2011, Albania was represented by Aurela Gaçe, who failed to qualify for the Final with her entry Feel The Passion.