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Festivali i Këngës is an Albanianmarker song contest, organised by the Albanian national broadcaster Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH). Since its beginnings in 1966 all performers have been required to perform live, with a jury or televote selecting the winner. Since 2003 it has been used to select Albania's entry for the international Eurovision Song Contest.

The contest has developed over time, from its humble beginnings with many neutral themes in its competing songs to a tool for the governing Communist Party of Albania in promoting their ideals. The 1972 contest became a truning point for the contest, in which dictator Enver Hoxha murdered the organisers of Festivali i Këngës 11 after they were declared "enemies of the public" for accusations of endangering the country with "immoral aspects" in the songs and the performances on the night. Afterwards the ruling Communist Party imposed many sanctions on the contest's creativty, with a strict censorship on anything deemed inapropriate by the government.

After the fall of communism in Albania in 1991 the contest was again allowed to diversify the themes of its competing songs, with many competing and winning songs featuring new themes, such as immigration/travel and religion (both illegal under the communist regime).

Until 1999 Festivali i Këngës was the biggest music event in Albania, however its popularity began to waver after the introduction of other competitions like Top Fest and Kënga Magjike, who began to produce higher ratings. However with ALbania's introduction in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004, Festivali i Këngës once again became the centre of attention after Anjeza Shahini, winner of Albanian Idol, won the contest in 2003.

However Festivali i Këngës remains controversial, with many believing the contest and its song quality to be outdated, especially with Eurovision participation, compared to mainstream Albanian music. Along with this the decision made of the winner has been controversial, with a lack of transparency between 2003 and 2005, and allegations of jury bias, fraud and racism regularly arising, for example in the 2007 contest.

History

Pallati I Kongreseve, the venue where Festivali i Këngës has been held for the last 2 decades


Impressive Record

Festivali i Këngës, began in December 21, 1962 in the ILA Venue in Tiranamarker, Albaniamarker. 20 songs competed in its semifinal round, but only 12 made it through to the final. The first winner of Festivali i Këngës was the legendary Vaçe Zela with her famous song "Fëmija I Parë" (The First Child). Vaçe Zela is the singer with the most victories in FIK history to date, an impressive 10 times.

Singers with consecutive wins include:



Harsh Censorship

Before 1972, the songs had a neutral nature, covering many topics of life. However, after Festivali i Këngës 11, dictator Enver Hoxha intervened by murdering many organisers of the show and unjustly accused them of consipiring against the country and corrupting its youth. The contest dwelled in a period of extreme pressure and censorship. The songs were highly monitored and the topics were generally related to the country's development and even the government. This oppression continued all the way until 1984 when the dictator died. The following year, the change in lyrics was very abrupt, and censorship was not as strict.

The Winds Of Change

With the fall of dictatorship during the 1990s, Festivali i Këngës had a temporary boost in both quality and diversity. The winning songs reflected the status of the country at the time. The 1991 winner "Ardit Gjebrea - Jon" and the 1992 winner "Aleksandër Gjoka, Manjola Nallbani & Viktor Tahiraj - Pesha E Fatit" were both songs with an "immigration/freedom" theme, which was the reality at the time in Albaniamarker as well. During this period, the contest was also introduced to the word God for the first time. Prior to that, religion was illegal in Albaniamarker and the word God was not allowed to be pronounced in public. The participation of Albanian singers from outside the borders was also an addition to the history of the festival in this decade. Before that, the country was in a period of isolation.

Troubled Times

In 1996, the stage of Festivali i Këngës welcomed newcomer Elsa Lila, a sweet and innocent girl that stole the hearts of everyone with her wonderful voice. She won the contest with "Pyes Lotin" in 1996, and she pulled off another victory the following year with "Larg Urrejtjes" in 1997. These songs were also a mirror to the country's difficult reality in those years after the collapse of the pyramid schemes, an event which wreaked havoc all throughout Albaniamarker. Despite the difficult times, Festivali i Këngës never stopped its broadcast and went ahead as scheduled in the final weeks of December every year since its start.

In 1998, Albërie Hadërgjonaj became the first Kosovar-Albanian singer to win the contest with the ballad "Mirësia Dhe E Vërteta". The song had a humanitarian anti-war message and is often referred to as a song for Kosovomarker, relating to the 1998–1999 war.

Cool Off

By the year 2000, Festivali i Këngës had lost a lot of its admirers to the competition of Kënga Magjike, a similar song contest taking place in the Fall, as well as Top Fest, which started a few years later as a reality series on Top Channelmarker leading to a big Spring finale. However, another talented newcomer graced the stage of FIK in 2003, idol winner Anjeza Shahini. She had just won the "Ethet E Së Premtes Mbrëma" talent show a few months before competing in FIK and the public was madly in love with her voice, her beautiful stage presence and her charming ways.

Eurovision Era

Anjeza Shahini won the 42nd edition of Festivali i Këngës as everyone expected, putting hopeful professional singer Mariza Ikonomi in second place. Mariza ended up leaving the stage when the results were announced in sign of protest. Much was at stake in this edition because the winner would be the first ever representative of Albaniamarker in Eurovision. Anjeza went on to sing at the Eurovision Song Contest 2004, landing herself in a respectable 7th place with the song "The Image Of You".

In December 2004, Ledina Çelo won the 43rd edition of FIK but failed to create the same success in the 2005 contest, and in December 2005 Luiz Ejlli won the 44th edition of FIK, but he also failed to impress in the 2006 contest, failing to qualify in the semi-final. In 2006, Frederik Ndoci & Aida Ndoci were the winners of Festivali i Këngës, making this the second time Frederik wins this contest, the first one being in 1989. He also failed to reach the final in Eurovision Song Contest 2007. FIK 2007 was won by Olta Boka who performed in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008. She was able to qualify for the final by a thin margin, however the final scoreboard did not work in her favor, placing 17th of 25.

Hosts

Year Edition Hosts Venue Director
1962 Festivali i Këngës 01 Margarita Xhepa & Luigj Gurakuqi Jr. ILA Venue Luigj Gurakuqi Jr.
1963 Festivali i Këngës 02 Vera Zheji & Skifter Këlliçi ILA Venue Luigj Gurakuqi Jr.
1964 Festivali i Këngës 03 Margarita Xhepa & Vangjel Heba ILA Venue Luigj Gurakuqi Jr.
1965 Festivali i Këngës 04 Drita Bardhi & Bujar Kapexhiu ILA Venue Luigj Gurakuqi Jr.
1966 Festivali i Këngës 05 Drita Bardhi & Bujar Kapexhiu ILA Venue ?
1967 Festivali i Këngës 06 Albert Minga & Drita Bardhi ILA Venue ?
1968 Festivali i Këngës 07 Drita Bardhi & Roland Trebicka ILA Venue ?
1969 Festivali i Këngës 08 Elisabeta Vasili & Kiço Fotiadhi Theater of Opera & Ballet Albert Minga
1970 Festivali i Këngës 09 Adriana Fishta & Mevlan Shanaj Theater of Opera & Ballet Albert Minga
1971 Festivali i Këngës 10 Edi Luarasi & Viktor Zhusti Theater of Opera & Ballet Mihallaq Luarasi
1972 Festivali i Këngës 11 Edi Luarasi & Bujar Kapexhiu Theater of Opera & Ballet Mihallaq Luarasi
1973 Festivali i Këngës 12 Flutura Çangu & Pandi Siku Theater of Opera & Ballet Albert Minga
1974 Festivali i Këngës 13 Arta Dade & Esat Teliti Theater of Opera & Ballet Albert Minga
1975 Festivali i Këngës 14 Rezarta Malaj & Kastriot Caushi Theater of Opera & Ballet Mevlan Shanaj
1976 Festivali i Këngës 15 Rezana Celiku & Ilir Bibolli Theater of Opera & Ballet Albert Minga & Osman Mula
1977 Festivali i Këngës 16 Zerina Kuke& Ilir Bibolli Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1978 Festivali i Këngës 17 Zerina Kuke& Ndriçim Xhepa Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1979 Festivali i Këngës 18 Mimoza Tafaj& Pirro Kita Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1980 Festivali i Këngës 19 Silvana Braçe & Dhimitër Gjoka Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1981 Festivali i Këngës 20 Ndriçim Xhepa & Anisa Markajan Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1982 Festivali i Këngës 21 Dhimiter Gjoka & Dhurata Kasmi Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1983 Festivali i Këngës 22 Ndriçim Xhepa & Matilda Makoçi Theater of Opera & Ballet Osman Mula
1984 Festivali i Këngës 23 Elvira Diamanti & Artan Imami Theater of Opera & Ballet Albert Minga
1985 Festivali i Këngës 24 Yllka Mujo Theater of Opera & Ballet Vera Grabocka
1986 Festivali i Këngës 25 Ema Ndoja Theater of Opera & Ballet Vera Grabocka
1987 Festivali i Këngës 26 Silvana Braçe Theater of Opera & Ballet Vera Grabocka
1988 Festivali i Këngës 27 Ina Gjika Theater of Opera & Ballet Vera Grabocka
1989 Festivali i Këngës 28 Luiza Xhuvani Palace of Congresses Vera Grabocka
1990 Festivali i Këngës 29 Leon Menkshi & Kristi Rrapo Palace of Congresses Osman Mula
1991 Festivali i Këngës 30 Leon Menkshi, Ema Andrea & Rudina Magjistari Palace of Congresses Vera Grabocka
1992 Festivali i Këngës 31 Dritan Boriçi, Fjoralba Shehu, Sokol Balza & Rudina Magjistari Palace of Congresses Leonard Gjata
1993 Festivali i Këngës 32 Silvana Braçe, Ndriçim Xhepa & Juela Meçani Palace of Congresses Leonard Gjata & Mishel Koçiu
1994 Festivali i Këngës 33 Reiz Çiço & Doris Petrela Palace of Congresses Vera Grabocka & Mishel Koçiu
1995 Festivali i Këngës 34 Reiz Çiço & Doris Petrela Palace of Congresses Osman Mula
1996 Festivali i Këngës 35 Ardit Gjebrea, Valbona Çoba & Rudina Magjistari Palace of Congresses Osman Mula
1997 Festivali i Këngës 36 Adi Krasta, Vilma Papajani, Hygerta Sako & Monika Zguro Palace of Congresses Leonard Gjata
1998 Festivali i Këngës 37 Gazmend Gjoka, Inis Gjoni, Hygerta Sako & Luigj Gurakuqi Jr. Palace of Congresses Petrit Bozo
1999 Festivali i Këngës 38 Adi Krasta, Inis Gjoni, Hygerta Sako & Klodiana Maliqi Palace of Congresses Petrit Bozo
2000 Festivali i Këngës 39 Erion Mustafaraj & Ornela Bregu Palace of Congresses Leonard Gjata
2001 Festivali i Këngës 40 Alban Dudushi & Ornela Bregu Palace of Congresses Leonard Gjata
2002 Festivali i Këngës 41 Adi Krasta & Ann Francis Vata Palace of Congresses Pali Kuke
2003 Festivali i Këngës 42 Adi Krasta & Ledina Çelo Palace of Congresses Pali Kuke
2004 Festivali i Këngës 43 Leon Menkshi & Hueida Elsajed Palace of Congresses Pali Kuke
2005 Festivali i Këngës 44 Soni Malaj & Drini Zeqo Palace of Congresses Leonard Gjata
2006 Festivali i Këngës 45 Adi Krasta, Vesa Luma & Ermela Teli Palace of Congresses Pali Kuke
2007 Festivali i Këngës 46 Elsa Lila & Pirro Çako Palace of Congresses Pali Kuke
2008 Festivali i Këngës 47 Elsa Lila, Julian Deda & Gentian Zenelaj Palace of Congresses Pali Kuke


Winners

Year Edition Artist Song Composer Writer
1962 Festivali i Këngës 01 Vaçe Zela "Fëmija i parë" Abdulla Grimci Dionis Bubani
1963 Festivali i Këngës 02 Vaçe Zela "Flakë e borë" Tish Daija Llazar Siliqi
1964 Festivali i Këngës 03 - - - -
1965 Festivali i Këngës 04 Tonin Tërshana "Të dua o det" Tonin Harapi Mark Gurakuqi
1966 Festivali i Këngës 05 Vaçe Zela "Shqiponja e lirisë" Pjetër Gaçi Ismail Kadare
1967 Festivali i Këngës 06 Vaçe Zela "Këngë për shkurte vatën" Ferdinand Deda Ruzhdi Pulaha
1968 Festivali i Këngës 07 Vaçe Zela & Ramiz Kovaçi "Mësuesit hero" Limos Dizdari Dritero Agolli
1969 Festivali i Këngës 08 David Tukiçi "Dhuratë për ditëlindje" Nikolla Zoraqi Fatos Arapi
1970 Festivali i Këngës 09 Vaçe Zela "Mesnatë" Shpëtim Kushta Fatos Arapi
1971 Festivali i Këngës 10 Sherif Merdani "Kënga e nënës" Agim Prodani Agim Shehu
1972 Festivali i Këngës 11 Tonin Tërshana "Erdhi pranvera" Pjetër Gaçi Fatos Arapi
1973 Festivali i Këngës 12 Vaçe Zela "Gjurmët e arta" Kujtim Laro Lirim Deda
1974 Festivali i Këngës 13 Alida Hisku "Vajzat e fshatit tim" Enver Shëngjergji Zhuliana Jorganxhi
1975 Festivali i Këngës 14 Alida Hisku "Buka e duarve tona" Kujtim Laro Xhevahir Spahiu
1976 Festivali i Këngës 15 Vaçe Zela "Nënë moj do pres gërshetin" Avni Mula Hysni Milloshi
1977 Festivali i Këngës 16 Vaçe Zela "Gonxhe në pemën e lirisë" Limoz Dizdari Robert Shvarc & Zhuliana Jorganxhi
1978 Festivali i Këngës 17 Gaqo Çako "Këputa një gjethe dafine" Limoz Dizdari Xhevahir Spahiu
1979 Festivali i Këngës 18 Zeliha Sina, Liljana Kondakçi & Aferdita Zonja "Festë ka sot shqipëria" Agim Prodani Zhuliana Jorganxhi
1980 Festivali i Këngës 19 Vaçe Zela "Shoqet tona ilegale" Agim Prodani Zhuliana Jorganxhi
1981 Festivali i Këngës 20 Ema Qazimi "Krenari e brezave" Feim Ibrahimi Gjoke Beci
1982 Festivali i Këngës 21 Marina Grabovari "Një djep në barrikadë" Avni Mula Hysni Milloshi
1983 Festivali i Këngës 22 Tonin Tërshana "Vajzë moj, lule Mmoj" Luan Zhegu Adelina Balashi
1984 Festivali i Këngës 23 Gëzim Çela & Nertila Koka "Çel si gonxhe dashuria" Vladimir Kotani Arben Duka
1985 Festivali i Këngës 24 Parashqevi Simaku "Në moshën e rinisë" Vladimir Kotani Arben Duka
1986 Festivali i Këngës 25 Nertila Koka "Dy gëzime në një ditë" David Tukiçi Gjoke Beci
1987 Festivali i Këngës 26 Irma Libohova & Eranda Libohova "Nuk e harroj" Agim Krajka Arben Duka
1988 Festivali i Këngës 27 Parashqevi Simaku "E duam lumturinë" Pirro Çako Agim Doçi
1989 Festivali i Këngës 28 Frederik Ndoci, Manjola Nallbani & Julia Ndoci "Toka e diellit" Aleksander Peçi Xhevahir Spahiu
1990 Festivali i Këngës 29 Anita Bitri "Askush s'do t'a besojë" Flamur Shehu Jorgo Papingji
1991 Festivali i Këngës 30 Ardit Gjebrea "Jon" Ardit Gjebrea Xhankarlo Milone & Zhuliana Jorganxhi
1992 Festivali i Këngës 31 Aleksandër Gjoka, Manjola Nallbani & Viktor Tahiraj "Pesha e fatit" Osman Mula Alqi Boshnjaku
1993 Festivali i Këngës 32 Manjola Nallbani "Kur e humba një dashuri" Vladimir Kotani Jorgo Papingji
1994 Festivali i Këngës 33 Mira Konçi "Të sotmen jeto" Shpëtim Saraçi Alqi Boshnjaku
1995 Festivali i Këngës 34 Ardit Gjebrea "Eja" Ardit Gjebrea Xhevahir Spahiu
1996 Festivali i Këngës 35 Elsa Lila "Pyes lotin" Valentin Veizi Enrjeta Sina
1997 Festivali i Këngës 36 Elsa Lila "Larg urrejtjes" Valentin Veizi Alqi Boshnjaku
1998 Festivali i Këngës 37 Albërie Hadërgjonaj "Mirësia dhe e vërteta" Luan Zhegu Arben Duka
1999 Festivali i Këngës 38 Aurela Gaçe "S'jam tribu" Adrian Hila Jorgo Papingji
2000 Festivali i Këngës 39 Rovena Dilo "Ante i tokës dime" Ardit Gjebrea & Alfred Kaçinari Rovena Dilo
2001 Festivali i Këngës 40 Aurela Gaçe "Jetoj" Adrian Hila Jorgo Papingji
2002 Festivali i Këngës 41 Mira Konçi "Brënda vetes më merr" Shpëtim Saraçi Pandi Laço
2003 Festivali i Këngës 42 Anjeza Shahini "Imazhi yt" Edmond Zhulali Agim Doçi
2004 Festivali i Këngës 43 Ledina Çelo "Nesër shkoj" Adrian Hila Pandi Laço
2005 Festivali i Këngës 44 Luiz Ejlli "Zjarr e ftohtë" Klodian Qafoku Floran Kondi
2006 Festivali i Këngës 45 Frederik & Aida Ndoci "Balada e gurit" Adrian Hila Pandi Laço
2007 Festivali i Këngës 46 Olta Boka "Zemrën e lamë peng" Adrian Hila Pandi Laço
2008 Festivali i Këngës 47 Kejsi Tola "Më merr në ëndërr" Edmond Zhulali Agim Doçi
2009 Festivali i Këngës 49


Recurring Winners

  • Some artists have won Festivali i Këngës more than once:


Artist Victories Years
Vaçe Zela 10 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 19681970, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1980
Tonin Tërshana 3 1965, 1972, 1983
Manjola Nallbani 3 1989, 1992, 1993
Alida Hisku 2 1974, 1975
Nertila Koka 2 1984, 1986
Parashqevi Simaku 2 1985, 1988
Frederik Ndoci 2 1989, 2006
Ardit Gjebrea 2 1991, 1995
Mira Konçi 2 1994, 2002
Elsa Lila 2 1996, 1997
Aurela Gaçe 2 1999, 2001


Eurovision Results





ESC FIK Artist Song Language Semi Final Final
2004 42 Anjeza Shahini "The Image of You" English 4 / 22 7 / 24
2005 43 Ledina Çelo "Tomorrow I Go" English Not Required 16 / 24
2006 44 Luiz Ejlli "Zjarr e ftohtë" Albanian 14 / 23 Did Not Qualify
2007 45 Frederik Ndoci & Aida Ndoci "Hear My Plea" Albanian & English 17 / 28 Did Not Qualify
2008 46 Olta Boka "Zemrën e lamë peng" Albanian 9 / 19 16 / 25
2009 47 Kejsi Tola "Carry Me in Your Dreams" English 7 / 19 17 / 25


Trivia



Scandals

  • In 1963, Besnik Taraveshi was the first singer to be prosecuted by the Communist Dictatorship, ahead of many to come throughout the history of the festival. This was due to his interpretation and mispronunciation of a word in the song "Djaloshi Dhe Shiu".
  • In 1964, head of the jury Llazar Siliqi decided that no first place will be awarded, due to the low quality of the songs. Instead, "Vaçe Zela - Dritaren Kërkoj" was awarded second place, and two other songs awarded third place.
  • In 1972, paranoid Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha deemed the organisers of Festivali i Këngës 11 to be "Enemies of The People", a name given to all the subjects who he considered a danger to the country. Unluckily, many of them were murdered after being accused of endangering the country's mentality by introducing an immoral aspect to the show, and plotting against the government by influencing the Albanian youth at the time. The claims were out of context and these murders were used as an example and a statement for future organisers. There is a whole book dedicated to this event: "Skifter Këlliçi - Festivali I Njëmbëdhjetë (The 11th Festival.)"
  • In 1999, Irma & Eranda Libohova protested against the jury by leaving the Palace of Congressesmarker when it was announced that their song had come in 2nd place.
  • In 2003, the same scenario happened, this time with singer Mariza Ikonomi, who was eager to represent Albaniamarker for the first time in the Eurovision Song Contest. She lost to Anjeza Shahini.
  • In 2004, the producers of the song "Nesër Shkoj" filed a law-suit against Ledina Çelo because she had signed contracts with a phone company without previously consulting them. She was also accused of not attending the conferences set up the producers and that she had not rehearsed the song enough. The suit was dropped within the week that it was filed.
  • In 2006, Greta Koçi was so disappointed from her 5th placing with the song "Eja Zemër" that she burst out in tears, while her mother faced off the festival's 7 member jury with allegations of corruption and incompetence.
  • In 2007, Blero dropped out of the competition, claiming that he was asked for a large amount of money in exchange of a victory by an anonymous caller. He also claimed that the first three positions were already decided by the organizers prior to the event. The jury and the festival administration replied in a press statement that it was Blero who had asked for the first prize by sending an SMS which stated that he would withdraw if his victory was not guaranteed.
  • Also in 2007, Manjola Nallbani accused the festival authorities that they had sabotaged her song. Her voice was not heard at all in the hall, instead the public only heard the orchestra and the playback. This was confirmed by the general director of the festival Zamira Koleci. Manjola Nallbani declared that she would no longer participate in this event and called certain organizers mafiosos.
  • The 2007 edition also provoked a huge public reaction and massive press attention after the song of "Flaka Krelani & Doruntina Disha - Jeta Kërkon Dashuri" placed second, prompting corruption accusations about the jury, namely Gjergj Xhuvani and Alban Skënderaj. These two judges did not give any points to this song, while four judges awarded it maximum points and Rudina Magjistari awarded it the second highest points. General Director Zamira Koleci in a press interview called the two judges "gangsters and racists" after their boycott of the song from the Kosovo Albanian singers Flaka Krelani & Doruntina Disha. Edmond Zhulali, composer of the song and artistic director of FIK, submitted a request to the RTSH council for the jury's votes to be disqualified. The council however turned down this request after 2 hours of debate.


Twin Contests



External links

  • http://www.eurovision.tv


Sources




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