Malta - Scott Parsons & William Freitas

On Saturday February 18th, Malta gathered to select their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiev. A total of 16 songs were presented in a single grand final in a departure from semi-finals that appeared in previous years. Many familiar surnames were present, including Borg, Faniello, Vella, and Calleja.

We reviewed each artist’s performance on a scale of 1 through 10, with 10 being the best. Because the lower-quality live stream affected sound quality, we were slightly more forgiving with artist vocals. We also considered the predicted themes of Eurovision 2017, which range from political “concern/coping with concern” (think Georgia or “Hold on” in Melodifestivalen) to “loyalty/inspiration” (think UK).

The introduction of the show was a fantastic Eurovision medley of Maltese entries in a Melodifestivalen style. Great way to get the show started.

Klinsmann Coleiro - “Laserlight” - 8
Klinsmann got the show started with great energy and vocals very similar to the studio version. In a Malta hallmark, we were treated to fancy footwork and enjoyed his performance. We gave him an 8 because, although performed well, the song was not on theme (more summer hit) and didn’t really show us anything new.

Raquela Dalli Gonzi “Ray of Light” - 9
Continuing the “light” theme, Raquela started off nervous and sounded a bit pitchy on the lows at the start of the song. However, she quickly regained her confidence after the incredible power-vocal rise that got her a favorable response from the crowd. We gave her a 9 because the song was on theme (loyalty/inspiration) and her power vocals were fantastic. This is my favorite song of the lot, however, her terrible placement at second virtually assured the song would be forgotten by the end.

Deborah C & Josef Tabone - “Tonight” - 6
Deborah C and Josef got he cloud clapping with their upbeat song, “Tonight.” However, we gave them a 6 score, and the lowest of all performers. Unfortunately, Josef’s vocals were off and overpowered Deborah C’s. Honestly, this song would make for a great yogurt commercial. No one likes cheesy songs more than me, but even this one went too far with sunny days and bumble bees.

Kevin Borg - “Follow” - 9
In a surprise performance, Kevin showed us fantastic vocal control and really worked the crowd. Plus, the only interactive video performance of the night (which we often call “the winner edit”). Kevin was comfortable on stage, sang his heart out, and matched the studio version. We gave him a 9 score due to the song, which would quickly be lost in a sea of similar sounds (we didn’t count his MacGyver hair against him). The voting audience gave him third place.

Jade Vella - “Seconds Away” - 10
Jade owned the floor with her fantastic performance! The song was catchy and stuck on repeat in my head. Her vocals were simply outstanding and we were entertained throughout the song. Even though her backup dancers came straight out of Beatrice Egli’s “Irgendwann" video, we gave her the first perfect score of the night.

Crosswalk - "So simple” - 8
Crosswalk gave us spot-on vocals and very likable performance. We really had nothing bad to say, but gave it an 8. Mostly because the song wasn’t on any relatable theme and was forgettable.

Franklin Calleja - “Follow me” - 9
Okay, I’m a fan of Franklin. Last year, he impressed me with one of the strongest performances of the night. This year, though, we both agreed that we needed to see something new from him to show us some range. We still gave him a 9 because his vocals are simply outstanding.

Rhiannon - “Fearless” - 10
Rhiannon nailed it. Even though she had some issues with the low notes, she really pulled off the high ones. She gave us emotion through an on-theme song and got a 10 score from us. Really, this one should have been one of the top three (but wasn’t).

Miriana Conte - "Don't look down” - 7
Miriana performed well and sounded good. But, we gave her a 7 because the song sounded too junior (and started like Malta’s Junior Eurovision entry). We hope to see her again next year.

Shauna Vassallo - "Crazy games” - 7
Shauna had a weak beginning and sounded pitchy during the performance. However, she brought us attitude and got a solid 7 score.

Janice Mangion - “Kewkba” - 8
The only Maltese-language entry of the night, the crowd really responded to Janice. She clearly has a beautiful voice and sang her heart out. We gave her an 8 score because the song wasn’t compelling enough, but the voting public gave her second place.

Cherton Caruana - "Fighting to survive” - 8
Another song on theme, Cherton’s vocals were off on more than one occasion. We liked that she didn’t have backup dancers and did a solo performance that was compelling.

Maxine Pace - “Bombshell” - 9
One of my favorites of the lot, Maxine’s song started with a banner ad for cheese and onion crisps (is that an editorial?). We gave her a 9 because she sang the song well, gave us a fantastic performance, and fun like Taylor Swift.

Richard Edwards - “You” - 9
Eurovision veteran Richard Edwards sang a folksy and self-reflecting song that may have been a bit sleepy towards the end of the night. We gave him a 9 score because, although shaky at first, his vocals were good and he showed a full range. I think his nerves got to him, but he pulled it off well enough.

Brooke Borg - “Unstoppable” - 10
I really though this was an open-and-shut case. Brooke would have won last year (if it hadn’t been Ira), but wow, she didn’t finish top 3. Her power vocals were flawless, commanded our attention, and had a big finish. Simply fantastic!

Claudia Faniello - “Breathlessly" - 10

On Saturday February 18th, Malta gathered to select their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiev. A total of 16 songs were presented in a single grand final in a departure from semi-finals that appeared in previous years. Many familiar surnames were present, including Borg, Faniello, Vella, and Calleja.

In immediate discredit for ourselves as reviewers, we thought this song too sleepy to listen to with regularity. Then came this surprise performance. I have on my notes “EMO” underlined (for “emotional” [aka, Jamala effect”]). Truly outstanding vocals and even a tear at the end. It was clear at this point who won… our heart strings were tugged.

In the end, we agreed this was Malta’s best show in years. Although it was commercialized beyond words (we can never erase Vivos Whole Meal, Intercomp Mobile Phones, Inglot, Schwarzkopf, 202 Jewelry, MSVlife, Hamilton Travel, or Esplora from our minds), we look forward to seeing Claudia Faniello in Kiev.