Road to Baku 2012: Kurt Calleja – “This is the night” (Malta)

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…



Filed under Baku 2012, Eurovision, Music, Reviews

5 responses to “Road to Baku 2012: Kurt Calleja – “This is the night” (Malta)

  1. Completely respectable euro-stomper… will never win though… I think the Eastern Block block voting has made a mockery of the whole process… I think next year we will be back in Russia with the grannies… they should name the whole competition Easternvision…. lol…

    • Oh now now! Fair point on the grannies, they are the biggest concern to what otherwise feels like a good year. But the more I think about it, the more I feel a Swedish win really MUST happen.

      While block voting must be held responsible for some success stories, recent winners have always had at least a vague consensus. I doubt Azerbaijan was on most people’s radars for a win last year, but they got points from nearly three quarters of the voting countries.

      In my heart I think regional voting (that the West and North are just as guilty of) is as much down to cultural common-ground than anything. Lack of effort from the Big Four in recent years hasn’t helped, but it seems they get rewarded if they put in some effort.

      Plus just by random chance you’re more likely to get an Eastern winner, there are just more countries!! I really hope Asiavision finally happens too!

      • Dinlo

        Agreed on all fronts. I think the juries have put paid to what block voting there was. It makes me roll my eyes when people bang on about tactical voting for your neighbours. Norway and Azerbaijan are hardly going to get many votes that way, and Germany winning just proves that if we actually sent something really good, we’d have a chance.

        People complain about Cyprus giving votes to Turkey, then expect Ireland to give us DOUZE POINTS just because they’re nearby. And they probably will, not because we’re BFFs (they still hold a grudge over the Potato Famine), but because their musical tastes and ours are much more similar. A Humperdinck ballad should be right up Ireland’s street. The same goes for, say, Romania and Turkey this year, or Croatia and Bosnia Herchnigova [/Lynda Woodruff].

        I think Malta needs to take a long hard look at what Iceland are doing right and apply that to their own style.

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