With this weekend being one of the busiest in the Eurovision season, three countries will choose their Eurovision entries, while a further five countries continue with their selection process on the 18th. One of the three countries choosing on Saturday is one of the smallest countries in the contest, the island nation of Malta. Since their comeback to the contest in 1991 after 15 years’ absence they have racked up one of the most impressive records for a country that has yet to win. Malta’s return to form last year was thanks to homeland superstar and Eurovision icon Ira Losco picking up a deserved 12th place in Stockholm. They want to continue their qualification status and even go for that elusive first win. Can any of these songs go, where no other Maltese song has gone before?
1. Klinsmann Coleiro- “Laserlight”
The song starts off quite like a song straight from Jason Mraz’s back catalogue, before it descends into 00’s jazz/swing song, harking back to songs like “Mambo #5”. It has a decent beat, but becomes far too repetitive and for me this is not a winner.
My score: 4.5/10
2. Crosswalk- “So Simple”
This song certainly lives up to its name, Simple. This is not too dissimilar to Gianluca’s 2013 entry with hints of Firelight’s “Coming Home”. The problem with this song is that it can’t live up to either of those songs and therefore falls flat. That is not to say the song is bad, it is just not the best example of the genre. A great try all the same.
My score: 5/10
3. Richard Edwards- “You”
He of Firelight ‘fame’ is back to try his hand at it now as a solo artist. I just feel this is a step back for him, he has a lovely voice and the song is beautiful if a little bland. There is very little dynamism throughout the song, which means I can’t get emotionally invested in the song and it leaves me cold. We know he is a great live performer so he will sell this, but I don’t see him returning to the Eurovision stage this year.
My score: 5/10
4. Kevin Borg- “Follow”
The first minute of this song seems to be building to a fantastic belting ballad, yet it does the opposite and as such flatlines and becomes just another 00’s style R’n’B ballad. There are better examples of this type of song, and I feel the past Swedish Idol winner will not reach the top of the scoreboard in Malta.
My score: 2.5/10
5. Rhiannon Micallef- “Fearless”
Beautiful lady, voice and song, what better combination can there be? The production on this song is fantastic, and it has the dynamism that I miss in so many songs in a lot of national finals this year. This song could easily be found on an Alicia Keys album. It isn’t perfect and if this won they could make some small changes to the song, but this is a big contender for me.
My score: 8.5/10
6. Deborah C & Josef Tabone- “Tonight”
Malta have visited this genre before in 2013, and if I am honest, “Tomorrow” was a far better example of the genre. It gives me vibes of ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” in parts as well which is good for variety, yet still doesn’t make the song interesting enough to warrant it doing well in the contest, though I am guessing this will do reasonably well due to the popularity of at least one of its singers. Not my winner.
My score: 6.5/10
7. Shauna Vassallo- “Crazy Game”
I thought this was another R’n’B ballad, then it started to pick up the tempo and starts into drum and bass. It is an interesting combination, I enjoy it, but I fear this won’t be as good live as in the studio version. Though if I am proved wrong, then this could be an interesting year for Malta.
My score: 6.5/10
8. Raquela Dalli Gonzi- “Ray of Light”
Gentle, country-style ballad, Raquela’s voice is sweet and fragile which accompanies it well. The lyrics are very unoriginal, yet that doesn’t make it a bad song. It does have some dynamism and the key change in the third minute certainly elevates the song. Maybe just a tad simple to really set the contest alight, but good all the same.
My score: 7/10
9. Claudia Faniello- “Breathlessly”
Just like many artists in Malta, Claudia is back to take another chance at the MESC crown. I feel that someday she will get there, but it won’t be with this song. The song is a solid pop-rock ballad with hints of Kelly Clarkson and Vanessa Williams, I just feel it would be swallowed up on the massive Eurovision stage.
My score: 5.5/10
10. Jade Vella- “Seconds Away”
Injecting some youthful energy into the contest is Jade Vella. This is a very contemporary song, it reminds me a little of Little Mix with the drum and bass beats added in for good effect. If Jade can perform this well she could achieve a great result in the final.
My score: 7/10
11. Franklin Calleja- “Follow Me”
This is a simple, non-descript ballad. It is bland and tries to become a power ballad but just doesn’t quite get there. The lyrics are quite repetitive and doesn’t hold my attention, one thing I cannot deny though is that Franklin can sing, and no matter how uninspiring this song is, he will perform it effortlessly.
My score: 3/10
12. Cherton Caruana- “Fighting to Survive”
Anther ballad with that self-empowering subtext. Cherton is a good vocalist, yet the song is a Power Ballad by numbers, with an 80’s guitar solo thrown in for good measure. It is all just a bit dated and I can’t see it troubling the top of the scoreboard.
My score: 3.5/10
13. Brooke Borg- “Unstoppable”
Last year’s runner up is back with another mid-tempo song in a similar vein to “Golden”. It’s modern with its R’n’B infused chorus, the problem I have with this song is that it promises a lot more from its chorus and doesn’t deliver what I am expecting. Like Anni Saikku from the Finnish selection, I expect it to go into a thumping up-tempo beat but retracts somewhat, which disappoints me on first listen. Yet I feel when weighing up all aspects, this is a stronger song than its counterpart in Finland, and Brooke could just do it this year.
My score: 8/10
14. Janice Mangion- “Kewkba”
I first have to give ‘props’ for singing in Maltese, a language that hasn’t been given as much exposure in Eurovision. The last Maltese entry to be sang in their first language was back in 1972, so is it time they sent a Maltese song back to the contest? One thing you can’t deny is the love Maltese people have for their entries and that must come from their love of the country they live in. The song itself is a strong ballad, with some powerful vocals provided by Janice. Many have likened this song to previous Eurovision winners, and while it does have a strength albeit it one from its use of the language, I feel that the song falls slightly short of a winning one for me.
My score: 6.5/10
15. Maxine Pace- “Bombshell”
1960’s pop brought into the modern day, it is very Meghan Trainor and Maxine knows how to perform this genre of music, she did so last year. Although this is a stronger song than “Young Love” and grabs my attention instantly. This is one of only a few pop songs in the entire contest, and this could do very well for Maxine, for me she is a real contender for Kyiv.
My score: 7.5/10
16. Marina Conte- “Don’t Look Down”
When I heard the intro to this song I though Destiny Chukenyere is still too young to participate in the Adult version. It is like “Not My Soul” in the beginning, but that is the only part, after that it then descends into a cheaply produced R’n’B number with very little to redeem it. It just doesn’t work for me and leaves me wanting so much more from a song of its genre.
My score: 3/10
Malta have continued to show that they are committed to the contest and that they wish to win. I must say that not only is this a varied selection (of course ballads rule in Malta anyway), but the standard of the songs both in production and artists’ vocal abilities make the selection very exciting. Malta deserve to qualify, that is of course, if the public choose wisely.
My Top 3:
1. Rhiannon Micallef- “Fearless”
2. Brooke Borg- “Unstoppable”
3. Maxine Pace- “Bombshell”
Who do you want to win? Let us no below. Enjoy MESC 2017.