Albania has decided! The grand final of the 58th Festivali i Këngës, is just over declaring as winner and next Albanian Eurovision representative Arilena Ara with her song “Shaj” 

In this year’s editions a total of 20 act competed in two semi final rounds ( 10 in each semi final) while 12 of them qualified to the final. The show was held at the Pallati i Kongreseve in the capital city of Tirana and was hosted by  Alketa Vejsiu. 

Take a look below to all the final’s 12 performances:

1 Valon Shehu Kutia e Pandorës
2 Sara Bajraktari Ajër
3 Robert Berisha Ajo nuk është unë
4 Tiri Gjoci Me gotën bosh
5 Bojken Lako Malaseen
6 Arilena Ara Shaj
7 Gena Shqiponja e lirë
8 Kamela Islamaj “Më ngjyros”
9 Albërie Hadërgjonaj Ku ta gjej dikë ta dua
10 Elvana Gjata Me tana
11 Olta Boka Botë për dy
12 Era Rusi Eja merre

The final outcome was determined exclusively by a jury of music experts formed by Christer BjörkmanFelix BergssonMikaela Minga, Rita Petro. Special guest on this evening’s show was Eleni Foureira (Cyprus 2018) and Giusy Ferreri

THE RESULT

Grand winner of the Albanian national final was  Arilena Ara with her Shaj, which was one of the favorites to win, leaving behind second Elvana Gjata and her entry Me Tana . The top three closed with Sara Bajraktari and her song Ajer. Composer of the winning song is Dark Dimitrov from North Macedonia, where he was behind of the country’s several ESC entries, while Lindon Berisha wrote the lyrics of the song.

A few words about Arilena

Arilena Ara was born on 17 July 1998 into an Albanian family in the city of Shkodër, Albania. She performed in diverse dancing and singing competitions as a child such as in “Gjeniu i Vogël” where she finished in the third place. In 2012 Arilena rose to significant recognition in the Albanian-speaking world following her victory at the second season of the Albanian television talent competition The X Factor. In  February 2014, she released her first single “Aeroplan” written by Rozana Radi and produced by Darko Dimitrov. 

In November 2016, Arilena was announced to participate in the 18th edition of Kënga Magjike with the song titled “Nëntori”. She qualified for the grand final in the contest and finished third overall winning the award for the Best Ballad. In July 2017, she performed in the Europa Plus Festival in Russia along other Albanian singers such as Bebe Rexha and Era Istrefi. In August 2017, the song achieved commercial success in Romania and debuted on the Romanian Airplay 100 at number three climbing to its peak position at number one on 24 September 2017.