Stockholm 2016

Xtra Review: Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2016

Another national selection that will be kicking off and concluding this weekend is the competition to find the Maltese entry for Eurovision 2016. Twenty songs will be on the starting blocks in a semi-final on Friday night of which 14 will compete in Saturday night’s final.
Brent, Dan and Peter have all had a listen to what’s on offer, and now will give their thoughts on the selection and pick out a few ones to watch for the Maltese Eurovision ticket…

Brent says…

It’s really hard to know where to start with the selections from this year’s Maltese National Final. So maybe we should start in the middle, it seems to be where all of the songs are aiming for anyway. Nothing is a real standout and they all are lacking something that could push them up a notch. I would hope that whatever song does win would get a bit of tweaking to it otherwise we might not see Malta as a contender, which is a shame after their cracking JESC entry and subsequent win. There isn’t even anything as different as ‘Coming Home’ from 2014. That said here are three of mine that did break ahead of the pack.
Corazón – Falling Glass
This one feels like a very traditional Eurovision song. Plenty of electric piano and fantastically repetitive, but for me, and those who love a good pumping track, the beat could be heavier and more driving. I’m sure if it were to be selected it would only be a short time before there was the remix of all of our dreams though. It’s a decent song but could definitely use some minor adjustments to give it that extra spark.
Maxine – Young Love
So different to all of the other songs from this year! It sounds inspired by Meghan Trainor (think ‘All About That Bass’) and is so marketable, probably even beyond Eurovision. I think diversity keeps competitions alive and this is certainly diverse. It’s upbeat and really sweet with some beautiful backing vocals. I would be interested in seeing its staging, but that said the song really does speak for itself. It’s definitely a sound that would keep things fresh in the big contest with its quirkiness and sense of fun.
Ira Losco – Chameleon (Invincible)
Definitely my favourite from this year’s selection, I have a feeling this one could take out the top spot. Ira Losco has two shots to secure her place in the Eurovision Song Contest but this is definitely the more crowd-pleasing of the two. Going through moments of light and shade and the use of the strings really work for Chameleon. I’m going to say it again because it’s what I want but if they could pump up the bass a little more I think we have a song that could do actually quite well when it comes down to it in May, especially with a stellar performance!

Dan says…

This year’s selection of songs from Malta are definitely a mixed bag – there are some entries that sound so dated, almost as if they’ve been dug up from a time capsule buried 10 years ago.  Without naming and shaming, these select few are pretty noticeable and won’t stand a hope in hell’s chance of qualifying if selected.  But then there are a couple of gems in there which have a unique sound and have real potential to do well in Stockholm.  I’ve given my thoughts on a couple of those below.
Deborah C – All Around The World
This is interesting – it has a very 90s beat to it whilst still sounding current. Being a 90s kid and growing up in that era, I definitely approve! It has a memorable chorus and features trumpets – Sax guy would be proud. One of my favourites for sure.
Domenique Azzopardi – Empty Hearted
This was another one that I quite liked based on first listen. It has a Eurovision feel to it so no doubt it will appeal to many. Domenique’s vocals fit the song perfectly and I think it’s one that will look and sound good on stage.
Come the live show, my opinions on the above and others may completely change – a live performance can make or break a song after all.

Peter says…

I have to say, unfortunately I don’t find the Maltese selection the most inspiring bunch of songs. Individually I don’t mind many of them but as a collective they’re all a bit samey and fit mainly into two categories: watered-down dance pop and watered-down pop ballads. Admittedly, Ira Losco’s two songs are among the better contenders but ‘Chamelion’ and ‘That’s Why I Love You’ still fit neatly into the aforementioned two groupings respectively. It only takes one good song at Eurovision though, and the Maltese are usually fairly good at giving their chosen one a lick of paint after the national final, so with that in mind, these few songs do stand out to me slightly…
Maxine – Young Love
One song that immediately stands out from the pack is this debut offering from Maxine Pace. It’s a throwback to the 60s girl group sound that is enjoying a revival at the moment thanks to hits from Meghan Trainor and Little Mix, and it’s very catchy indeed. The songwriting pedigree is strong, with the team having written ‘Warrior’ along with Malta’s two recent Junior Eurovision winners, which is an impressive track record even considering there are only six songwriters on the island. This may not be the absolute best of the bunch but it’s definitely refreshing amongst all the identikit other songs, and with an energetic performance from Maxine this could do well at Eurovision, even if it maybe would be a bit more suited to the Junior contest.
Sarah Crystal – Right Here With You
Sarah Crystal is another newcomer to the competition and the song is written by Toby Farrugia (DJ Toby) who is a popular dance producer locally. I can see what they’re going for here, as there’s a strong flavour of the deep house sound that has been setting charts and clubs alight in the last couple of years, which sets it apart from the other dance tracks in the national selection. However it stops just short of being as effective as it should be on account of the production values. It needs to be much sharper and more left-field, as I’m sure it could be if it won and got the obligatory revamp. Right now though, with its current Maltese national final level of polish, it’s a bit of a lame attempt at a tribute to deep house. Definite potential here though.
Dominic – Fire Burn
Finally I had to include this even though it has many of the characteristics of the type of song that I mentioned was flooding the selection. This is more of a guilty pleasure and it’s really for selfish reasons that I’d like it to do well as it’s like a combination of the kind of chart music I was loving about 5 years ago and something Magnus Carlsson would release as a Stockholm Pride single. I can imagine if this won and got some production polishing it would raise the roof in Stockholm, even if it’s not the most original or exciting entry. I can’t see it standing out among the competition in Malta though, so it’s just a dream.
Overall, it does look like everything is aligning for Ira Losco to win and make her Eurovision comeback, but if we’re talking surprises I wouldn’t rule out Maxine from pulling a victory out of the bag – and it would be by far my preferred option!

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