For me, the most enjoyable part of learning a new language is understanding the music of that language. In fact, I can still sing you a few Juanes songs from when I was learning spanish. Although Albanian speakers are linguistic group of less than 10 million people divided by inaccurate borders and emigration, it produces plenty of music. In fact, some of it is quite enjoyable. Here are my favorites:
Let me start with my very favorite: Elvana Gjata. She is from Tirana and is probably the most popular artist/singer in the Albanian speaking world. I especially enjoy when she sings the Albanian “y” and “l” which we don’t have in English. “Afer dhe Larg” or “Near and Far” is an older song of hers which won best Albanian song from some Balkan music competition. 1990 is a newer one and pretty great on my opinion. The version of “Beso” (believe) I posted is the official remix which is better, in my opinion, than the unremixed version.
Next we have Tuna who is a Macedonian Albanian.. or an Albanian from Macedonia depending on how nationalist you feel at the moment. In fact, her dad won some Olympic medals for Yugoslavia back in the good old days. You can hear in this song words that end with -vay which is how you decline some plural nouns in Albanian when the occasions calls for it.
Continuing on our tour we have Silva Gunbardhi, a Vlonjate (person from Vlore, Albania) whose song “Te ka Lali Shpirt” became the most watched Albanian music videos on youtube. As of today, about one year and one month after the release, it has over 33 Million views. Wikipedia claims that only 7.4 million people speak Albanian so let’s do the math. That’s almost 5 views for every Shqiptar in the world. Wikipedia says there are 360 million native english speakers so for some comparison imagine a music video with 1.8 billion views. Do note that the lyrics aren’t even worth translating. “Te Ka lali Shpirt / Te ka lali Xhan” roughly translates to “he/she loves you, sweetheart”
The first Man on this list is Noizy, whose real name is Rigels Rajku, supposedly from Shupenza Albania (a town in the middle of nowhere…not far from where I live in fact.) His family fled Albania as many did during the 1997 crisis when young Noizy was only 10. He grew up on some mean streets in London and is one of the biggest Albanian rappers today. Despite his gangsta persona, his best song, in my expert opinion and in that of my 10 year old neighbors, is his song about his daughter “Noku Vogel”
Finally we have Alban Skenderaj, another Vlonjat and another Albanian artist whose family emigrated from Albania. At the age of 14 Alban and his family moved to Italy where his family still lives. His style which includes an acoustic guitar really sticks out from most Albanian pop which is probably a direct result of his having grown up partially in Italy. “Miremengjes” means literally “good morning. ” His song “Nje Enderr” means “A Dream.”
Of course I had to leave a few of my favorite out in order to keep the list small. Regardless, these are some of the songs to which Albania resonates. Enjoy.
That’s it for today, Comrades!
Ciao! May you be with health and live long!