XTRA Preview & Review: Malta Eurovision Song Contest

The national final season is in full swing. On 3rd February, the Malta Eurovision Song Contest is going to take place. We’ve taken a look at the entries and the procedure below, so here is the XTRA Preview & Review!

XTRA Preview: Malta Eurovision Song Contest

Malta is having their national final on 3rd February this year. The Maltese broadcaster has selected sixteen acts, who will all be hoping to represent Malta in Lisbon. One of them has previous Eurovision experience: Richard Micallef, who was part of Firelight in 2014. Now he’s back at MESC, together with his father Joe.

The show will start at 20:00 CET and as we’re used to from Malta, we might be in for a late one. The voting will consist of both televoting and jury voting. They will both make up 50% of the vote.
Early favourites in Malta include the usual names. Brooke, a favourite in previous years, is once again emerging as a frontrunner with her “Heart of Gold”. Other favourites seem to be Eleanor Cassar, with her “Back to Life” and “Taboo” by Christabelle.

XTRA Review: Malta Eurovision Song Contest

Christabelle – “Taboo”

Jack: At first, I was a bit ensure how to feel about this entry. After Brooke, Christabelle is probably the biggest name competing in the selection although ‘Taboo’ leaves me feeling rather underwhelmed. It is a good song and I love the message but I feel something is missing… unless she delivers an incredible live performance, I can’t see her winning.
Score: 6/10
Riccardo: It sounds very American pop, a little all over the place for me but also catchy. I think it will grow on me with more listens.
Score: 6/10
Hlynur: It sounds like many songs I have heard before. But it will probably be well sung and the lyrics seem to have a good message.
Score: 6/10
Alesia: The song is dated. The lyrics are trite. The vocal is great—like most Maltese entries. Ultimately, the track fails to make an impact and remains at the middle of the road.
Score: 5/10

Jasmine – “Supernovas”

Jack: Jasmine was one of my favourties in MESC 2016 so I was really excited when I heard she would return. ‘Supernovas’ is good but it isn’t a winner for me. I feel it lacks emotion (at least in the studio verson).
Score: 6/10
Riccardo: It’s not a bad song but it sounds dated and not that original and after a while it gets boring. She has really good vocals but they aren’t enough to sell the song to me.
Score: 4/10
Hlynur: The song does not get me into a “battle” mode. The lyrics kinda ask for that, but no. But it alright.
Score: 5/10
Alesia: This song is mainly hurt by the lyrics for me personally. The vocal is selling it. I’m sure the stage show will sell it… If only we could change the lyrics.
Score: 7/10

Aidan – “Dai Laga”

Jack: ‘Dai Laga’ has grown on me so much and now it’s one of my favourites! The song doesn’t possess anything unique or innovative but I do really like it. After listening to all the MESC entries, this was the one that stayed in my head. Could be one to watch if he delivers live.
Score: 8/10
Riccardo: I was ADDICTED to the old version and if it won it could have been my top in Lisbon. The new version…I still like it but it will need some revamp to do well, I’m not fully convinced yet.
Score: 8/10
Hlynur: I like Aidan voice a lot. The song gives me this carefree vibe and makes me want to dance.  Will be rooting for it in MESC also if it makes it to Lisbon.
Score: 9/10
Alesia: I wish I thought this song would win, but I fear it’ll end up being forgotten by the Maltese population. I really love this track. It is fun. It feels authentic and it isn’t dated.
Score: 9/10

Avenue Sky – “We Can Run”

Jack: It’s not bad however it’s not extraordinary. This entry leaves me feeling indifferent – I don’t love it and I don’t hate it. Could impress me more if they give an amazing performance.
Score: 4/10
Riccardo: I really like this song, sounds a bit like the soundtrack of a sports movie but it makes me want to sing along and put my hands in the air and dance. I hope they will give a charismatic live performance.
Score: 8.5/10
Hlynur: It is a charming song, that brings you along. Although it feel it could be a anthem in animated movie or song by the cast of Glee. Would be a good fit for my running playlist.
Score: 7/10
Alesia: Firstly, I’m in to it. The song is bright and upbeat. Sure it is a little derivative, but it is delivered well and would fit right in on the ESC stage.
Score: 8/10

Richard & Joe Micallef – “Song for Dad”

Jack: I absolutely adore this entry! Claudia Faniello was my favourite in 2017 and if Richard and Joe win MESC, I think Malta will be my favourite once again. I love the concept. I love their voices and I love the lyrics. This really would make the perfect Maltese entry. ‘Song for Dad’ is Malta’s best shot at qualification in Lisbon.
Score: 10/10
Riccardo: Beautiful melody able to transmit positive emotions. I can see this do well when sung live on a big stage. I do wish it had a more climatic high note at the end, but a very solid entry overall.
Score: 8/10
Hlynur: Had to listen to it few times to appreciate it. The lyrics are sweet by and the refrain is catchy. However think it is too sweet for my taste.
Score: 7.5/10
Alesia: TEN OUT OF TEN. Beautiful vocal and top-notch production allow this song to really shine. I could see this qualifying more than any other entry from Malta.
Score: 10/10

Eleanor Cassar – “Back To Life”

Jack: Eleanor is my second favourite in MESC 2018, after Richard and Joe. The chorus is ridiculously catchy. I am unsure how she would fare in Lisbon but I’d like her to win and Malta could be proud if this was their entry.
Score: 9/10
Riccardo: The beginning gives me a suspense kind of feeling and I love how it builds and then reaches climax with the chorus. Love her vocals and energy too, I can’t sit still when I listen to it! I can see this getting Malta back to the final if chosen. Big thumbs up!
Score: 9/10
Hlynur: Eleanor is a great singer, the song is good. I am have a feeling will do very good this year. But it does not captivate me enough.
Score: 7/10
Alesia: This song is pretty close to perfect. The powerful vocal is met with powerful production. The song feels fresh and I’m still humming along.
Score: 9/10

Rhiannon – “Beyond Blue Horizons”

Jack: She is much better than the song, that’s for sure. I love her vocals and she brings a rather uninteresting song to live. I think there is some potential if she performs well and she could be one to watch – especially with juries.
Score: 7/10
Riccardo: Not a bad song and her vocals are very strong but it’s just too slow for me. It reminds a lot of last year’s entry, and that’s not a good thing.
Score: 4/10
Hlynur: I feel the song will stay at “home”, just like they lyrics ask for. Great singer, good voice control. However it is  difficult to make bad song sound good.
Score: 4/10
Alesia: Dear Malta, We should try and qualify for the final this year. Trite lyrics and a slow pace are doing Rihannon any favors.
Score: 5/10

Mirianna Conte – “Rocket”

Jack: ‘Rocket’ has so much potential if the performance is good. This song could easily be on a Meghan Trainor album. I like it and hope she will do well.
Score: 7/10
Riccardo: This is normally the kind of song I’d love, but this song leaves me a little confused. I’m not sure I like her vocals or if I find them borderline annoying. I do like the refrain and the change in atmosphere a lot, but I still feel like I’m missing something. Maybe I just don’t get it right.
Score: 6/10
Hlynur: Rocket does not not sound very unique, that is… it does not stand out. That is why  I think it is unlikely that it will score high in Malta.
Score: 5/10
Alesia: The vibe in this song is great and the main issue is the lyrics. The vocal is very strong and the hook definitely catches your attention. However, I find the cliche lyrics to be more distracting than anything.
Score: 5/10

Petra – “Evolution”

Jack: She is much better than the song (which seems to be a recurring theme in MESC). I quite like the vibe of this one though and her vocals sound amazing.
Score: 5/10
Riccardo: It takes too long for me to start liking it.  I’m not convinced by this, yet. I do love her vocals and the mysterious nature of it. If it goes to Lisbon I hope it will grow on me.
Score: 7/10
Hlynur: Her powerful voice and vocals gives “Evolution” a strong “battle” voice!.That is you feel the purpose of the song. Hope it will do well in Malta.
Score: 8/10
Alesia: There is a lot “right,” with this song and I’m feeling the drama. The vocal is powerful and the songs matches but the production value of the studio track is standing in the way.
Score: 7/10

Tiziana – “First Time”

Jack: ‘First Time’ is a cute song but it is also uninteresting. I can’t see Malta qualifying if she wins MESC.
Score: 4/10
Riccardo: It’s a sweet and gentle song, with a nostalgic vibe. I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about it, don’t love it, but definitely don’t mind listening to it. I don’t think Malta should send this, however.
Score: 7/10
Hlynur: Slow and sweet song. Well delivered vocally, however not my taste.
Score: 5/10
Alesia: Malta always serves strong vocals and for those looking for a little 90s country feel this song really does deliver.
Score: 6/10

Danica – “One Step At A Time”

Jack: Danica probably isn’t going to win but I feel her entry is quite underrated. It’s fun! I would like to see Danica return to MESC and win with a ballad though, as I have loved her ballads in the past.
Score: 5/10
Riccardo: Maybe it’s the “one step at a time” but it reminds me too much of Maria Olafs’s Unbroken so it lacks originality for me. It’s a sweet and catchy song yes, but it just lacks the wow factor for me to like it.
Score: 5.5/10
Hlynur: I agree with Riccardo, it reminds me of Unbroken, with Maria Ólafs. Nevertheless I enjoy this one a bit more. However I find it unlikely to it will win in Malta.
Score: 5/10
Alesia: This track is fun and the vocal is strong. The lyrics are a little cheesy, but overall it is a nice dance track that needs a stage show to match the energy.
Score: 6/10

Lawrence Gray – “Love Renegade”

Jack: This song leaves me so confused. It is quite catchy but I don’t think it is strong enough to win the ticket to Lisbon.
Score: 4/10
Riccardo: This song just feels SO much longer than it actually is. I just don’t click with it, on the contrary I find it rather annoying. “No no ey”, more like no, no, thanks. Next please!
Score: 2/10
Hlynur: I can not say I like this. One one hand it feels like it’s missing something, but on the other hand it feels too much!
Score: 3/10
Alesia: Valiant effort but with pitchy vocals in the studio version I am left without hope for what it’ll be live.
Score: 2/10

Dwett – “Breaking Point”

Jack: I am a sucker for ballads and I do actually like this. It’s sweet but Malta shouldn’t send it as it is dated. I am excited to see the live performance though.
Score: 4/10
Riccardo: Ok, I have a very odd relationship with this song. I don’t mind the first 40 seconds or so, I fall asleep in the middle part, then wake up and love the ending. Maybe I’m happy it’s almost over?
Score: 5/10
Hlynur: It something about this song that makes me like it. Not sure what it is, because does not seem to stand out from the other songs.
Score: 6/10
Alesia: The vocalists are skilled and deliver the song with conviction but ultimately there is something missing. The song feels too safe, and although it is pleasing to the ear there needs to be more.
Score: 5/10

Deborah C – “Turn It Up”

Jack: I have always loved Deborah C’s entries and this is no exception. Probably not a winner but I really enjoy this song – and the chorus is awesome.
Score: 9/10
Riccardo: I love salsa and Latin American music so this falls down my alley. It almost gives me a Ruslana vibe, which is both good and bad as it may be that this is a little dated. Not a bad effort but there’s better in the selection than this.
Score: 6.5/10
Hlynur: It is a fresh rhythm in the Malta selection compared to the others. However it feels a little dated. Makes me think of Jennifer Lopez back in the days.
Score: 6/10
Alesia: Firstly, I’m into it. The track is fun and definitely something different for Malta. I don’t think this will win but it is too fun not to be in the ESC dancefloor rotation.
Score: 6/10

Matthew Anthony – “Call 2morrow”

Jack: This entry seems to divide a lot of people. Some love it and some hate it. I think I love it. Would make a very respectable and interesting entry for Malta as it is unique.
Score: 8/10
Riccardo: Not a bad song, I like the music quite a lot with all the different instruments but after a while I find it a little too repetitive.
Score: 6/10
Hlynur: On the  first listen I enjoyed listening to it. Definitely sounds more modern than the other songs in Malta. However on second listening, the lyrics did not make that much sense.
Score: 6.5/10
Alesia: I should have NEVER seen what the singer looked like. This song is actually pretty good and feels modern. I wish someone else was performing the song though…
Score: 7/10

Brooke – “Heart of Gold”

Jack: Brooke is probably the biggest name here in Mata and is the the one to beat for sure. I don’t love the song but it is radio friendly and has lots of potential if they stage it well.
Score: 7/10
Riccardo: The intro is spot on and, to me, this is a very well produced feel-good and sing along song. I do wonder how the staging would work on the big Eurovision stage, though.
Score: 8.5/10
Hlynur: I like the vibe in the song. Has this feel good feeling to listen to it. And based on the views on YouTube, I am sure it will do really well in Malta.
Score: 8/10
Alesia: THIS. SONG. IS. DATED. However, I’m liking the vibe from 1998 and the vocal is so good.
Score: 6/10

Who do we want?

The XTRA Jury, this time consisting of Jack, Riccardo, Hlynur and Alesia has spoken. Below you can see the average each song achieved. Their favourite for Malta Eurovision Song Contest is Richard and Joe Micallef’s “Song for Dad”!

  1. Richard & Joe Micallef – Song for Dad: 8.9
  2. Eleanor – Back to Life: 8.5
  3. Aidan – Dai Laga: 8.5
  4. Brooke – Heart of Gold: 7.4
  5. Deborah C – Turn It Up: 6.9
  6. Avenue Sky – We Can Run: 6.9
  7. Matthew Anthony – Call 2morrow: 6.9
  8. Petra – Evolution: 6.8
  9. Christabelle – Taboo: 5.8
  10. Mirianna Conte – Rocket: 5.8
  11. Jasmine – Supernovas: 5.5
  12. Tiziana – First Time: 5.5
  13. Danica – One Step at a Time: 5.4
  14. Rhiannon – Beyond Blue Horizons: 5.0
  15. Dwett – Breaking Point: 5.0
  16. Lawrence Gray – Love Renegade: 2.8

Below, we’ve included a playlist for you. Which of these sixteen Malta Eurovision Song Contest acts do you like best? Make sure to let us know who you like by commenting!

[ypt playlist_id=PLWYjZ8VoSMG34_bwVX6Y3StQS7Fh4Xcv7]

Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

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