Onto an interesting competitor now, down-on-its-luck island nation Malta. By some measures they are the most successful Eurovision nation never to win, with four top 3 finishes, and spending most of the 90s contests in the top 10. The semi-final system hasn’t been kind to them though, and despite coming second in 2005 their fortunes have been very different, only qualifying twice, and in both cases barely troubling the final scoreboard.
Recently they had a reputation for sending proud (and often plus-sized) Maltese women singing big ballads, but this formula hasn’t brought them much luck recently. Their most successful act, Chiara (once described on BBC as having “never met a Malteser she didn’t like”) came third in 1998 and second in 2005, but floundered in 2009’s Moscow contest.
In a change of tactic, last year they sent plucky Glen Vella with an upbeat and frankly very gay eurodance song, but narrowly missed qualifying. This year they are refining the tactic and sending the altogether more masculine Kurt Calleja, in an effort to catch some of the Mediterranean magic that Greece seems to efffortlessly exude each year.
There’s something very modern about it, there’s some US crossover feel to it, though in a rather generic sense. I don’t think it’s going to win any prizes for originality, but I think they at least have a decent shot at qualification. I can’t imagine I’d need to book any flights for Valletta next year but hope springs eternal.
I have this unshakeable fondness for small countries like Malta putting their best efforts into trying to win the contest, and I really hope they make it one day. I can guarantee though, if Malta ever win, they will do it on their own terms.
They certainly want to keep things fresh, and courting euro-dance trends can only be a good thing. A little sad that they had to do this by effectively banning the last 5 years of entrants from re-applying again, but perhaps we will see Chiara appear in 2014…