ESCountdown 2019: #6 – “Ktheju tokes” by Jonida Maliqi, Albania

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! Welcome to my ESCountdown 2019, presented by eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica! Between April 7 and May 12, I will countdown my picks of the entries in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019! There are 41 countries participating this year, and we’ll bring you each and every entry from them all!

At this point in time we are ONE WEEK away from the Grand Final for 2018, and only four days from the first semi final. Today and tomorrow, I will bring you my top ten picks. As always, I know the ESC fandom community is a rabid one, and fans are all over the road, so as always with my personal picks, your mileage may vary…:-)

In at #6 on my countdown this year is the official entry from Albania, “Ktheju tokes” by Jonida Maliqi, written by Eriona Rushiti. The song is performed in Albanian, and will be performed 14th at the second semi final on May 16.

Maliqi has been a star in her native Albania for well over a decade now. Considered one of the most popular singers in her country, she’s also judged a number of talent shows over the years, and even served as co-host on the Albanian “Dancing With The Stars” franchise for a while. She’s considered a role model, a fashionista, and a devoted patriot of her land

There is….something…about this song that grabbed me from the first second I heard it. Although it takes the video about 20 seconds to get going – there’s black at the beginning – when it does unfold, it is a purely surreal experience, artful, and visually stunning. The song is one of the most politically charged entries this year; two entries last year, “Mercy” from Madame Monsieur, France, and “Our Choice” by Ari Olafsson, Iceland, highlighted the European immigration crisis in their offerings, but didn’t really come close to doing the topic justice, although they gave it a shot. Here, the lyrics of Maliqi’s song are similar but much much more specific, singing of the Albanian emigration issues, especially as related to the recent war with Kosovo, and the sheer power of the song is absolutely undeniable. The song’s title translates in English to “Return To Your Land“, and the song serves to beseech the people who have left to return home.  I have a feeling some of the European community is going to reject this incredible tune outright for it’s message, but man, if they do…they’re nuts. We also got a cliffhanger on the video, with the words “To Be Continued, Eurovision Song Contest” at the end, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with…

Albania made their debut in EuroVision in 2004, and have participated fifteen times since. Their best showing has been fifth place, which happened in 2005 with “Suus” by Rona Nishliu. Their entry last year, the also unbelievably stylish “Mall” by Eugent Bushpepa, was widely discounted as having no chance to make it into the grand final last year – but it stunned everyone (well, not me…heh heh), not only making the finals but it blew past the competition to land in 9th place overall in the finals. Time will tell if this year’s entry will be another upset…

We hit TOP FIVE territory tomorrow, with my most favorite songs of the year…which ones are they? Take a peek at what’s been done so far, and you’ll be able to pick the five countries yet to come…but not the order, I’ll bet…heh heh heh….

Love this avant-garde (there’s that word again) video…although it takes a few seconds to get off the ground, it’s worth waiting for…

Join eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica each day through this year’s finals on May 18 – be sure to check each site, because some of the features will be exclusive to just one of the sites! My daily song countdown will appear on all three sites, with some additional material coming to both Planet BM and TKR in the days and weeks’  ahead. I missed a few days due to personal issues, so I’m playing catch-up now, and will have two or three entries per day with my #1 pick being revealed on Sunday May 12.

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Catch all the official EuroVision action at their official Website and on their official YouTube channel! And hopefully, we’ll get to see the finals again this year somewhere – American fans, with Logo dropping coverage this year, let’s let AXS know we want to see it become the American home of EuroVision!