Initial Review: “Sekret” by Ronela Hajati (Albania)

Hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-heeeeey! It’s nice to be surprised every once in a while. When I heard that the main contenders for the win at Festivali i Kenges were “Sekret” and Alban Ramosaj’s “Theje”, I had more or less assumed “Theje” would eventually prevail, given Albania’s previous record of sending in big ballads. Instead, it’s Ronela Hajati who will be heading off to Turin in May, with Ramosaj finishing as runner-up. For those among us (myself included) who mourned the second placing of Elvana Gjata’s “Me Tana” in Festivali i Kenges #58, a song which has similar eccentricities to “Sekret”, this feels a bit like vindication.

I’ve already reviewed “Sekret” in a bit more detail in this blog post, so today I’m going to focus on what we saw on the national final stage and what might change for Eurovision. To begin with, Hajati’s going to have to cut down the number of backing dancers from around fifteen to five, and around 30 seconds also needs to be cut from the song. I don’t think either pose a huge challenge, as many acts in previous years show you can still do a lot with six people on stage, and the song itself has moments where it meanders a bit. To begin with, Hajati barely does anything for the first minute of this performance as the song builds, so that will no doubt be condensed down. There will obviously be improvements in the camera angles and general choreography, as Hajati regularly looked like she was waiting for something to happen rather than flowing with the song.

Adding a bit of English to the chorus and some other parts of the track was a wise move in my opinion. The rapping definitely needs to stay in Albanian, but the fact that everyone can sing along with “I will never regret / it will be a secret” will be helpful at keeping this stuck in the minds of listeners when it comes to the recaps. Also, bring back the wonderful trill that was in the studio version!

A brief note on my favourite song going in: “Eja si erë” by Viola Xhemali, which fell flat on stage. She didn’t seem confident for the most part, stuck on stage alone, and the track was deflated by swapping in an electric guitar for that glorious saxophone solo on the studio version. Just goes to show that a live orchestra has plenty of downsides.