We have another Eurovision 2019 act announced before the new year kicks in; and, we have our first song reveal too! Albania always hosts Festivali i Këngës, and this year was the 57th edition of the show. It was won by Jonida Maliqi with the song “Ktheju tokës”, which means she will represent Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.
The question many fans are asking is whether she will be keeping the song in Albanian or have it remade into English for the Eurovision Song Contest. Albania is known for doing this as they did it for the years between 2014 and 2017. Last year, saw Eugent Bushpepa keep his song, “Mall”, in the Albanian original format, which may have had something to do with Salvador Sobral winning 2017 with a song in Portuguese, titled “Amar pelos dois”. Reports have stated that Jonida Maliqi plans on keeping her song in Albanian too.
The song itself, “Ktheju tokës”, has been written by Eriona Rushiti, and the lyrics speak about how difficult immigration is and what it’s like to leave your homeland. During Festivali i Këngës 57, Jonida Maliqi won a total of 228 points, gaining top scores of 30 from five of the nine judges; the other four judges gave their top scores to second place, Lidia Lufi with the song “Rrëfehem” which gained 219 points; third place, Eranda Libohova scored 181 points with “100 pyetji”.
New, for this year’s show, the contestants sang two versions of the song, the traditional orchestra version – which was to be expected at Festivali i Këngës – and a final Eurovision version with staging.
As for Jonida Maliqi, she’s quite known to viewers of Festivali i Këngës as she has been a contestant a number of times. Her first was in 1995, when she was just 13 years old, in collaboration with Alexandër Rrapi, with the song “Planeti fëijevë”, where they didn’t make it into the top three. Two years later, she was back, this time with Kastriot Tusha with the “Flas Me ëngjëllin Tim”. Then, in 1999, she performed as a soloist with the song “Perse Te Adhuroj” having previously been a contestant, the month before, on Kënga Magjike with the song “Do jetoj pa ty”.
Not one to give up, she returned the following year with “Çast”, and then 2001 with “Ik”. 2002 was a big year for her, she entered Nota Fest and PoliFest with “Ti S’Me Meriton”, Kënga Magjike with “Larg Teje”, and then Festivali i Këngës 41 with “Do Humbas Me Ty”. At Kënga Magjike 2003, she performed “Vetem Nje Nate”; and, 2004 was another big year for her, as she was a contestant in Mikrofoni I Artë with “Ne Te Dashuruar”, Kënga Magjike with “Nuk Kam Faj Qe Roberoj”, and Festivali i Këngës with “Frikem se më pëlqen” where she came third.
Jonida Maliqi kept trying, 2005 saw her drop her debut album Nuk të pres, and returned to Kënga Magjike with “Papagalli I Dashurise”. In 2006 she collaborated with Tuna for Top Fest 3, with the song “Forca E Femres” and returned to Festivali i Këngës with “Pa Identitet”. She came back, the following year, for Top Fest 4 with “Parfum Nate” and for Festivali i Këngës 46 with “S’ka Fajtor Ne Dashuri”.
In 2008, things started looking up as she participated in Kënga Magjike with “Njeri Nga Ata”, coming in first place. After a year break, she entered Top Fest 7 with “Sot T’i Japim Fund”, which was followed up with Kënga Magjike 2011 with the song “Thesar Pa Emer”. She entered again, two years later, with “Ti”. Then, after focusing on her music career, dropping a self-titled second album in 2013, hosting the fourth season of Dancing With The Stars Albania, and becoming a coach on the fifth season of The Voice Of Albania; she competed on the 57th edition of Festivali i Këngës, 11 years since she last competed, and won with this awesome song “Ktheju tokës” and, therefore, will go on to represent Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. She has certainly earned that right – proving that years of never giving up will take you to the top.
We have to admit, Jonida Maliqi has worked so hard for this, and if she nails this song perfectly on the Eurovision stage – and depending on what her competition is like – she’s got a good chance of winning. Last year, Albania’s Eugent Bushpepa came 11th with the song “Mall”, which gained 184 points. Can Jonida Maliqi do better? We’ve got to wait five months until we find out.
To win, Jonida Maliqi will have to gain the most points out of all the entrants. Announced so far are Srbuk for Armenia and Tamta for Cyprus. The other countries are expected to reveal their acts in the forthcoming months.
The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted at the Expo Tel Aviv in Israel after Netta won last year with the song “Toy”. The two Semi-Finals will take place on 14 May and 16 May with the Grand Final taking place on 18 May. A total of 42 countries will compete in the contest.