Happy New Year, Eurovision friends! I think we’re all glad to see the back end of 2020. Even though we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, things like a new national final season at least makes 2021 feel like a fresh start.
Of course, the healing process began for me in late December, when Albania held its annual Festivali i Këngës competition. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, the show was held outside and had no audience or live orchestra. Despite that weirdness, it still felt good to have some sort of normalcy returning to life and adds a little bit of hope to the coming year.
This year’s Festivali i Këngës winner is Anxhela Peristeri, who kicked off her music career in 2001 by competing in the 40th Festivali i Këngës with “Vetëm ty të kam.” She has also participated in three editions of the Kënga Magjike competition, winning the whole shebang in 2017 with “E Çmëndur.” Both “E Çmëndur” and “Karma” were written by composer Kledi Bahiti and lyricist by Olti Curri.
“Karma” has a big dramatic opening, complete with a rocking guitar flourish. That intensity quickly dissipates, and it settles in as a pretty, but dull power ballad. The drum beats that kick in during the second verse at least add an interesting texture, although they don’t really propel the song anywhere. Anxhela is a strong vocalist and brings a goodly amount of drama as “Karma” comes to an end. That’s not enough to make it memorable to me, though.
Despite my complaints, I still feel good having our first competitive song since 2019 out there, and I am already getting excited for what’s coming next.