Herciana Matmuja - Zemërimi i një nate (Eurovision 2014 Albania)For a relatively small country, Albania has an excellent strike rate of strong Eurovision entries – even if they’re not always appreciated by voters. One of the major reasons for this is their method of entry – like Italy and Sweden they utilise a long-standing domestic music festival to determine their representative. Festivali i Këngës pre-dates Albania’s first participation in Eurovision by 42 years, and is an established highlight of the Albanian cultural calendar in its own right. This year the winner was Herciana Matmuja, who will therefore take her song ‘Zemërimi i një nate (One Night’s Anger)‘ to Copenhagen next May.

Matmuja is something of a Festivali i Këngës veteren, having competed in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 contests. She achieved her previous best result last year, placing third with ‘Kush ta dha këtë emër? (Who gave you this name?)’. Her style appears to be folk-infused, though with unusual melodic touches and elements of rock (Like many Balkan nations, Albania seems very fond of the electric guitar, as evidenced by their poodle-rock entry last year).

Festivali i Këngës is distinctive among National Finals in that the songs are all performed with a full orchestra, like Eurovision of old. So it remains to be seen whether ‘Zemërimi i një nate’ will be translated into a more modern arrangement for Eurovision. We do know that Matmuja intends to record an English version for Copenhagen.

With all these variables, it’s as difficult to judge the commercial potential of Albania’s entry as it is the Ukraine’s – both could well sound radically different by May. Based on its current form I’d put it down as an unlikely qualifier. It’s an interesting piece, but not instant or hooky enough to attract a wide spread of votes. However, if they do a good job of polishing it up, there could definitely be something there. It’ll certainly stand out against the mass of dance-pop and more conventional balladry that it’s likely to compete against. Much as I’d love to see Albania take home the trophy one day, something tells me this isn’t their year.