Monty’s Eurovision Countdown 2023 Part 1 – Albania.

Duje by Albina & Familja Kelmendi.

It’s a family affair for my first review of 2023. Albina is the runner-up of The Voice of Albania, and she’s drafted in siblings Albin, Sidorela and Vesa and her parents Albana and Bujar. It’s a dramatic song speaking of family dynamics, and one wonders whether hauling the entire clan with you to Eurovision to sing of overcoming those petty family squabbles might not be the most harmonious move. Still, I suppose shoving your support camp on stage with you is one way to avoid those extortionate Liverpool hotel bills for your cheerleaders.

In the video Albina is depicted wandering Adele-like through an empty house, tortured by memories of childhood and saddened by flashbacks to trivial sibling bickering. We might think there’s been a tragedy, but whatever has happened is left to our imaginations, though the family rush in to her side in the closing scenes so at least they’ve all lived to see Liverpool.

The family’s staging in Albania’s Festivali i Këngës sheds a little more light on the partially abstract lyrics, and the darkly-clad siblings rehearse the more dramatic verses with Albina’s lightly-dressed parent step forward with soothing words in the chorus. Slow hand clap for the director who, realising Albina’s out-sized cape was obscuring the shot of her face switched to a close up of her cleavage. Let’s hope this is ironed out by May.

Musically this is the kind of dark ballad I like, with heaps of Balkan sounds and plenty of emotion. It doesn’t stray far from a path so often treaded by Albania at the Contest, though its darkness may be a challenge for the mainstream audience. Its best chance feels like it’s to “do an Albania”; scraping through to the final then fading away.

My marks: 7 points