Albania: Anxhela Peristeli – Karma
Shi: Albania managed something this year that I never thought possible: their traditional revamp made their entry way more ethnic, and yet I like it less.
When I first heard “Karma”, I thought you couldn’t make it sound more Eurovision if you tried. And as FiK entries don’t usually sound like that’s a priority for them, I made the mistake of assuming that having something that already seems Eurovision-ready would stop them from taking their usual overhaul revamp approach this year.
I was clearly wrong, as the job went to Dimitris Kontopoulos – whose directions seem to have been “throw an ethnic kitchen sink at it”. He deftly plagiarized his own productions by borrowing the opening of this year’s Greek entry and the instrumental break from last year’s Greek entry, making the song sound messier and less cohesive than it was before.
Having said that, what they lose in song structure they make up for in recognizing niche space. And with no other ethnic ballads in sight (and a recorded history of there always being some audience with an undying love for ethnic drums on stage), Albania might still end up exactly where they were going to with the previous version: qualifying and then finishing 16th-17th, just like two-thirds of the previous Albanian qualifiers.
Felix: I also like the revamp less, but more because of the mix or mastering. I always connect ethnic music at Eurovision with the keywords “warm” and “organic”, but this production feels like a cold and sterile Petri dish from the laboratory. And the song isn’t really good to begin with.
Martin: Because I wasn’t too struck by “Karma” when it won FiK, I didn’t get too familiar with the original version and so the revamp factor has largely passed me by. Anyway, it’s a fairly good song (though the first few seconds are the best part – what an intro!). Similarly to Shi, I can absolutely see it following that “Ktheju tokës” result pattern.
video and title image source: eurovision.tv