Eurovision 2020 Reviews – Albania

Albania has a mixed history, and has finished in the Top 10 just twice in their relatively short Eurovision history. Hoping to make that a third Top 10 finish was Arilena Ara with her song, Fall From The Sky. Would we have seen Arilena rise or fall in the results table?

Anita (Eurovision Union)

Song and Vocals

As usual, the first impression of the Albanian entry comes from the national final performance, where the entrants always perform in Albanian. Shaj, as it was known, was a strong Albanian ballad with killer vocals, but at the time, like many others I was blinded by the ‘robbery’ of Elvana and her perfect Eurovision entry. Shaj went on the backburner, and it was a while until I revisited the entry.

When Fall from the Sky was released, I originally thought that the song had lost some of its strength due to the change in languages, even though the English version was actually written first. It can sometimes be hard to get used to such a big change in a song, but two or three listens in, the ‘Eugent Bushpepa Mall effect’ kicked in, and I fell in love with this song. The tinkle of piano keys in the first moments of the song capture your attention straight away, and immediately we are introduced to Arilena’s incredible voice. We don’t have to wait long to hear the full power of her voice, as it hits during the first chorus, but still leaves you wanting more. By the bridge, she gets to unleash the big note, and then hits an even bigger one in that final chorus. Live, this would have been a goosebump moment.

We have seen Arilena perform the Albanian version live, and she slayed that performance, hence the national final win. We haven’t heard her perform the full version of Fall from the Sky, only the acoustic version, but regardless, I think it’s clear that she would have absolutely nailed this on stage with ease. Albanian singers are consistently some of the best at Eurovision, and Arilena continues this trend.

Performance and Act

Arilena is a strong performer with big Eurovision potential. It can sometimes be hard to wow the voting population with a ballad, but I think knowing her vocal abilities, it would have been a spectacular performance for audiences at home and in the arena alike. Juries should have rewarded this well based on vocals alone, so with that said, I think a qualification was likely if not certain.

The music video for the song was only just released, and in terms of a stage performance, it wouldn’t have surprised me if they went a similar route to the music video. Perhaps a big prop like the birdcage to show Arilena feeling trapped, but if there was going to be big props, I would hope that it wouldn’t overshadow her vocals.

Next Up: 2021

I don’t believe it’s been confirmed that Arilena will return to represent Albania, and knowing that Albania use their own song festival to select their entry for Eurovision puts some doubt on whether we will see her return to Eurovision. It is also possible that they allow her to return, but the winner of FiK would obviously then not go onto Eurovision. I’d personally like to see her return with another killer ballad, but it’s going to be hard to top this one!

Conclusions

This entry actually gave me ‘dark horse for a Top 10 finish’ vibes, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it do well. I just think that it’s a strong song performed by a very strong vocalist, and surely that combination should have resulted in at minimum a qualification, and hopefully a finish on the left side of the table. Well played Albania.

Rating

8/10

Dennis (ESCDaily)

Song and Vocals

It is not the first Albania has made a ‘hit and miss’ when they gave their entry an English revamp. And we know that this is not necessary at all (Like in 2018 with ‘Mall’, which was quite successful. Of course, most viewers of Eurovision don’t know about the version that they never heard or will hear. But sometimes I think it can be felt, and the song loses some of its strengths. For me this is the case with the change to ‘Fall from the sky’. It doesn’t seem to me that Arilena would have ever sung these lyrics, they were really written to fit in the place of ‘Shaj’. A bit made up too much, for me. The original song was strong, with stunning vocals. I think the song was good as it was, and it has gotten less impressive for me in the revamp.

Performance and Act

Nothing bad to say about the powerful performance of Arilena in Festivali i Këngës in December. I believe her and in her talent. The song doesn’t need a lot to be staged as well, so it’s a rather easy choice.

Next up: 2021

The fate of Arilena Ara is still unknown. Albania is always the first nation to pick their Eurovision act with the annual Festivali i Këngës show around Christmas. I wonder what they will do. Did Arilena miss her chance, or does she get a free pass after all. I can’t see Albania stopping with FiK at the end of this year, but perhaps it will not serve as their Eurovision selection method this year? Something which is very likely to happen in Italy as well, and Albania has some cultural connections to that nation. Should Albania stick with Arilena, I think that would be a good choice. She is a gifted and capable singer and it’s nice to watch her perform.

Conclusions

Albania has picked a good singer for Eurovision 2020, but the revamp of the song was not working for me. I think the first original Albanian version ‘Shaj’ was better than the English revamp. I would support the thought of keeping Arilena Ara as the Albanian singer for Eurovision 2021, since I trust in her capabilities to win the hearts of a lot of juries with her vocal power.

Rating

5.5/10

Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors: 

Brandon: 7/10

Steef:: 6/10

Joshua: 7/10

Selim: 9/10

Heath: 8/10

Kaitlin: 8/10

Average Score:  7.3/10

What do you think of Fall from the Sky? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.

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