Rona Nishliu will represent Albania in Baku with the song “Suus.” As we pointed out last year, what you see at the Festivali is not what you will see at Eurovision. We like to think of Albanian entries as unmolded lumps of clay waiting to be transformed into something beautiful, which is appropriate because Rona’s signature dreadlocks and grey dress look like unmolded lumps of clay.
As far as unmolded lumps of clay go, this one is fine we suppose. Poking around on YouTube and listening to some of her older performances it’s clear Rona has a powerful voice and appealing stage presence. “Suus” is a big, dramatic ballad and Rona can bring to it a sense of danger. But a little danger goes a long way. Will she blow us out of the water with her power and intensity or will she miss the mark and sound like a cat in heat? At Festivali, her big notes were juuust shy of pitch. Assuming they fix her styling, work on her vocal, rework the arrangement, and translate it into English, what I expect we’ll be left with is a safe ballad from a charismatic singer.
Of note: Nishliu is the first person from Kosovo to represent Albania. So if you want to imagine what Kosovo’s first Eurovision entry will sound like, here you go.