Eurovision 2019 First Impressions - Albania and San Marino

I rarely have much time for Albania’s songs at Eurovision, and this year is no exception. I was surprised to see them qualify last year, which was a good example of how outstanding vocals can transform a song from being totally average to something that qualifies. This year, Jonida Maliqi will perform ‘Ktheju Tokës’ in the exceptionally strong second semi-final. It’s a typically meandering Abanian ethno ballad which on paper looks like a non-qualifier. However, after last year I will not be writing them off so quickly. The competition in that second half is immense, with The Netherlands, Russia and Azerbaijan to name but three. Unlike Eugent last year, Jonida doesn’t appear to be an exceptional vocalist and so Albania will probably need a strong staging concept to put themselves in contention to qualify for the second year running.

If you have enough money, you can choose to do pretty much anything at all, which is why Serhat is back for San Marino this year. He previously competed in 2016 with ‘I Didn’t Know’, which finished 11th in the televote and 17th in the jury vote. I actually envisage a similar sort of result this year with ‘Say Na Na Na’. The two entries are actually very alike, though some people seem to like this year’s song better. Serhat does not has very strong vocal capacity, the song is dated and not in the slightest bit original. The chorus also sounds like some sort of football chant from the 90s, which is also a bit bizarre in 2019. However, the good news is that San Marino is in the second half of the easier semi-final. With a very poor jury vote pretty much guaranteed, Serhat will require a significantly stronger televote than last time. In order to achieve this, I’m terrified that Christer Bjorkman will shamelessly give him the pimp slot. I’m bracing myself just in case, but it would still have a fair chance of failing to qualify, even with such producer favouritism.

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