The Festival of modern Albanian music, Top Fest Awards, received the full attention of millions of viewers who were nailed in their seats watching it on Top Channel TV. The final night of this event took place on May 16th and introduced established and upcoming artists under a modern MTV style setting. Terms like Pop Rock, Alternative, Rhythm and Blues or Hip-Hop were not known during Albania's long isolation from the world but were only taken into use in the early nineties. Before that, music was defined as "easy-listening", or folk.
Top Fest popped up at a time when modern Albanian music was living through a chaotic period, and when artists were uncertain about the ways to follow in order to make it in the music business. At Top Fest, young people were for the first time able to listen Hip-Hop, Alternative, Funk, Pop or Rhythm and Blues in Albanian. Moreover, after the second edition of Top Fest in 2005, the number of compact disc production studios jumped from three to more than ten and hundreds of young Albanian artists' covers could be found in various music shops.
During the first edition of Top Fest in 2004, almost half of the artists came from Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and other parts of Europe where Albanians reside. Although the 2009 event was held in Tirana, more than 80% of the awards were bestowed upon artists from Kosovo.
Top Fest created a new and original formula that characterises the introduction of songs and artists. The festival was established mainly for young people. Every year, it offers an opportunity for more than 200 singers to perform their songs in a competition that goes on daily for eight full weeks. During this period, the competing songs are widely aired in some musical television programs and on radio.
On the final night of the competition, the award-winning singers perform their songs on the main stage. The event is televised live on Top Channel TV and on My Music TV Channel. Top Fest is the sole festival in Albania that awards the first and most important prize on the basis of the opinion of the public. The public selects their favourite song by voting by SMS, and the award is worth 10.000 Euros. This year the first prize was awarded to Linda Halimi, a singer from Ferizaj (Urosevac) in Kosovo. She performed a song entitled Dreaming.
Albanian band "Kthjell" performing live.
In the previous years, the winners have been Alban Skenderaj, Stine, Greta Kozi and Besa. The winners have all been under 25 years old, which shows the age and talent of participants. Bojken Lako, the Artistic Director of the festival, was happy with the singers of 2009. According to him, the songs were of the same quality as those of the contemporary world stars. R&B rhythms in the style of Rihanna, Rock sounds resembling The Killers or popular music similar to Katy Perry have been blasting in Albanian, driving crazy those more than 6000 young people who attended the Fest at the Sports' Palace. Sometimes the burning desire to imitate world stars has even produced copycatting - when the cover was blown, the songs and artists in question were thrown out of the competition.
The presenters of the Top Fest were, for the second time in a row, two well known hosts of different tv shows on Top channel for the young generation, Arbana Osmani and Ledion Lico. They considered Top fest a wonderful experience and "A lot of fun". As they presented the artists, danced, sang and made fun of each other, they were joined on the stage by well-known representatives of Albanian show business, who handed out the awards. Yet, one of the most memorable moments of the show was the French kiss exchanged by two girls performing on stage together with Blero, who received the Award for Best Male Performer.
For the first time this year, the whole show was filmed and televised in High Definition format