opens Eurovision 2020: Arilena Ara will sing "Shaj"
Arilena Ara in a promotional photo // Twitter: Arilena_Ara

Albania starts Eurovision 2020.

As every year, the Festivali il Kenges is usually one of the first to open the Eurovision season, presenting not only a singer but also the song with a preview staging.

In this 58th edition of the Albanian competition, Arilena Ara has been crowned as the candidate to represent her country. After three days of the program, she has surprised all expectations. 

The great favorite was not the Balkan ballad "Shaj" by Arilena, but the ethnic-pop theme of the singer Elvana Gjata. "Me tana", which is the name of Elvana's piece, was the song that most Eurofans saw as the winner of the Festivali il Kenges.

More energetic, with clear ethnic influence and choreography included. Nothing that the Eurofans had not already seen in past editions of the festival with songs like "Fuego" by Eleni Foureira, who was in the gala and voted as an international jury, or "She Got Me" by Luca Hänni

Finally, Arilena has beaten Elvana with three points more after the decision of a national and international jury.

"Shaj", which means 'shout', was presented in a simple, black background and with a black leather costume for the artist. This staging made the artist's powerful voice stand out, but not enough to win over the Festival's most fancied viewers, who saw her song conservative and traditional. 

Who is Arilena Ara?

At 21, Arilena is one of the great figures of her country's pop music. Her influences are also R&B and dance, unlike her song "Shaj" which is an ethnic ballad.

Arilena Ara became the winner of the second edition of the Albanian X Factor when she was 15 years old.  From there, her career began.

In 2014, a year after her victory, she made her debut in the music industry with the publication of her song "Aeroplan", becoming a chart-topping hit in her country"Aeroplan" achieved two million plays in less than twelve hours; but, his next single, "Business Class", broke records with one million hits in less than five hours. Arilena has also achieved to join the charts of countries such as Romania or Russia.

This 2019, Arilena has been a coach of The Voice Kids Albania.

Albania in Eurovision Song Contest

Since their debut in 2004, Albania has had the opportunity to see a final from the 'green room' nine times. Two songs of sixteen they have sent to the contest have reached a place in the top 10: in 2004, with the song "The image of you" by Anjeza Shahini (7th place) and "Suus" by Rona Nishliu in 2012 (5th place). Eugent Bushpepa, in 2018, was the only one to come close to the top in recent years with an eleventh place.

This year, Albania finished the Eurovision final in 17th place with singer Jonida Maliqi and her song "Ktheju tokës"

With "Shaj" by Arilena Ara, the Eurovision 2020 pre-selection season opens. Albania has been the first to choose its piece, but there are still more than forty songs to be released. Which will be the winner?