Some people believe Eurovision goes on half the year or so nowadays. They are not entirely wrong - in some countries the season starts very early.
Most years, Albania is the first country to select their entry through the prestigious Festivali i Këngës, traditionally held late December. (This year Switzerland beat them to it, but one cannot always be first.)
The winning song, "Kënga ime" (My Song) by Aurela Gaçe, can be seen
What I have liked about most Albanian entries since their elegant debut back in 2004 is that they often have a certain roughness and a bit of an edge and attitude, the way Turkey used to play it back in the 80's. A strong sense of personality even in the most radio friendly songs. I really like that.
This year's winner is no exception: it is powerful and almost aggressive, in a good way. Aurela Gaçe gives it her all and if the final production for Düsseldorf makes the melody line a bit sharper and clearer and avoids the tiny risk of the chorus getting too shouty, then Albania could have a shot at top ten.
For the final, Aurela had a dramatic change of look and hair colour. I like her semi final look better, where she showed a shocking ressemblance to a Eurovision legend from older times. Look for yourselves!
Tonia - Un peu de poivre, un peu de sel (Belgium 1966)