The last of the biggest national finals to look at now, with 16 hopefuls looking to finally give Malta their elusive first win at Eurovision in May. Thanks for your patience, non-ESC fans, I’ve only got a handful of these things to review now!
Malta have attended 25 contests before now, making them one of the longest-serving nations without a win, despite finishing top 10 for nearly all the 90s contest, and a clutch of top 3 finishes. But the semi-final system hasn’t seen a lot of success since its installation, and just qualifying now seems to be an achievement for the tiny Mediterranean nation. But success can come from nowhere in Eurovision, and maybe this could be Malta’s year. I admit I’d be so happy for them if they made it!
So after a bloated semi-final of 24 entries, a rather undiscerning jury sent 16 of them through to the final. There, an international jury of 4 Maltese and 3 other European judges each gave the standard Eurovision 12 to 1 points to their favourite songs, while a unusually weak televote acted as an 8th juror. Someone doesn’t trust the public…
Domenique – Too Little Too Late
Sounds like a Disney ballad. Is she miming? It’s quite a sweet little start, I like this! This is classic Maltese Eurovision female balladeering, but they are usually pretty good at picking them.
I was sort of hoping the song would reach some sort of climax by the end, but it just sort of rolls to a finish. I can see why this didn’t really connect with people, but with a stronger song (would a key change have killed them?) I think it would’ve been pretty decent.
Dorothy Bezzina – Starting from the End
Ahh, that’s a bit more of a tempo. But another raven-haired Maltese beauty standing on the spot like an Idol performance. This song has a lot more potential, that kind of big pop midtempo production you’d get from the Disney alumni pop careers in the US.
If I knew more than one song by Demi Lovato, I might this sounded like something she’d do. Strong voice, though are they all miming or is the footage just a bit lagging? Oh no she’s got to be miming! Anyway, this isn’t bad, but not Eurovision-standard.
Gianni – Us Against the World
I think I’m watching different sets of footage here, this is definitely a live final! Well, time for some guitars anyway. ROCK!!! Not really, this is a bit of a wimpy midtempo with some guitars thrown at it. Bit of a silver fox on vocals though, hello! This song isn’t doing much for me though, blah!
Richard Edwards – Fall like Rome
Eww, nice greasy ponytail! A Nickelback-style croaky semi-rock effort. Is this really the best analogy you could give for heartbreak, the fall of the Roman Empire?? Hmm…
While we’re at it, is this the best song you could come up with? Sorry, no thanks.
Scar – Superstar
I love how the graphics from this final seem to be a rip-off mashup of the 2011 contest heart logo and the light-saber noise from Star Wars! More interesting than another guitar-based midtempo sung by this old potato.
That’s seriously one of the laziest choruses I’ve heard in a while! You arrrree, you arrrrre a superstar! Seriously? NEXT!
Corazon – My Stranger Love
These hosts are professionals! It seems so it’s Corazon’s wardrobe department, making a unique dress out of half a jeather jacket and a half a bridesmaid’s dress. Just stay behind that piano…
Actually I think this would be pretty boring whether she was on the stool or not. Another dated Celine-esque ballad. Did she just sing “You’re the one who makes me hard?” Filth! Oh, she got up. That dress really is vile, and the song is just too boring. Good voice though.
Janice Debattista – Perfect Day
Is that Chiara with a new haircut? Sadly not (I think she’s actually been barred from entering, along with other Maltese ESC entrants of recent years). She’s got a nice voice though, a nice tone to it anyway.
Despite looking a bit like Sharon Osbourne, she carries off the chorus well. It’s got a bit of an odd melody to it, I can’t say it’s particularly catchy, but at least they’ve got the hang of key changes finally.
Deborah C – Love-o-Holic
Is this just code for a slut? That power dressing isn’t doing anything to help dispel this idea. Wow, those vocals are a bit ropey aren’t they? Even the backing vocalists are having trouble drowning her out.
Finally there’s a convincing uptempo, it’s just a shame that it’s just so bad! Are those the hottest dancers they could find? What a mess!!! Entertaining, but seriously WTF.
Jessika – Ultraviolet
That G:Son gets everywhere doesn’t he? The Swedish writer has been putting it about again this year, and now Malta’s on his list. But at least there’s a decent chance this might be good…
Immediately got vibes of Emeli Sande’s “Next to me” from this… plagiarism alert! She’s got much more interesting hair and dress sense though, she looks like an irradiated Barbie doll. “This love is ultraviolet”… what does that even mean? Did she just say she hadn’t got any protection? Goodness me. What a hot mess this song is!! Please tell me there are some great ones coming…
Claudia Faniello – When it’s Time
This is Fab Fanny’s sister isn’t it? I miss him… I gather Claudia’s had a few attempts at representing Malta, but didn’t manage it this year. Nice Cheryl-esque outfit, are military jackets still in?
This is a bit of a dreary strained midtempo, was that a chorus? I thought it was the bridge! That’s a bad sign. Her voice is strong but it’s always shrieking, it’s a bit of an earache. Bit of a disappointment, this is a bit worthy but not much fun.
Petra and Richard – Wonderful Today
Please let this be good, I’m losing the will to live! That’s a power fringe there, is it Jessie J’s mum or a Cher tribute act? Another rocky-tinged number that doesn’t really go anywhere. She’s a good singer but this song is just dull.
Where did Richard come from? His verse is a bit shouty, but their joint chorus has some decent harmonies in there. Did this really come 6th though? I guess there’s only so much potential in small countries. Does pick up well towards the end, but this doesn’t quite work for me.
Chris Grech – Never Walk Away
What is with the dour rock ballads this year? I miss the super-gay entries of the last few years… this really is just painful and his voice is like nails down a blackboard. How did this finish 5th? He’s botching loads of notes! NO!!
Amber – In Control
Oh it’s not THAT Amber from so many Eurodance songs of the early 00s… it’s a new entry in the seemingly endless catalogue of Motown-esque slurry that every country seems to be quite fond of. WHO dressed those backing singers? How unflattering, they look like wetsuits.
She’s trying to be soulful, so you don’t need to hit notes, just vaguely reach them and just screech and yelp over the cracks. It’s tolerable but I’ve got no desire to hear this one again. 4th place?!?
Davinia Pace – Betrayed
This is starting off like a Bond song, I like the style! Those are pretty unconvincing bodyguards, but she’s got a nice dismissive style. It comes over as a Winehouse-esque independent woman anthem. I like the “They say I have a heart of stone” bits, but her vocals really don’t help up very well for the chorus.
It’s just a bit lumbering and boring by the end, it’s just the same key, same tempo, seem clashing vocals with the backing singers. Those bigger notes are a bit painful really… shame.
Kevin Borg – Needing You
Finally a vaguely attractive act. He looks like he should be doing a bit dance track, but no, it’s a pretty standard Disney ballad. His vocal volume is a bit variable, it sounds like he’s only singing the end of each sentence in the choruses!
This had the potential to be a great ballad, but his lower register – while in tune – is barely audible. Depressingly this is one of the best entries – just as well because it came 2nd! The middle-eight finally gets the action going, and he nails that last chorus.
Gianluca Bezzina – Tomorrow
So here’s the winner. God I hope this is good! Oh lord, “His name is Jeremy, he’s working in I.T.”, what a naff start! This is quite cute though, it’s a bit Jack Johnson, inoffensive enough.
His voice is quite nice and he’s a likeable performer, seems to have a good energy for this song. It’s a bit worrying that this is the best they could come up with this year, but it’s nice enough. Let’s hope it’s a grower … it just feels like a bit of a smaller-scale attempt than the last few years, I’m not sure they can keep up with the big hitters.
So that’s it … probably not going to make any flight plans to Malta for next year. Hope they still do well though.
Eight more national finals to look at: Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Serbia, Israel, Romania, Azerbaijan and Moldova. Hope there’s something worth writing about it that lot…