Michela Pace, just a few days past her 18th birthday, won not only a record contract with Sony Music Italy, but also will represent sunny Malta in Tel Aviv this May.
Malta abandoned their traditional selection format in favor of sending the winner of the premier season of X Factor Malta. Hosted by four judges, Alexandra Alden, Howard Keith, Ray Mercieca, and Eurovision veteran, Ira Losco, X Factor offered a more well-known format to international viewers.
While previous years of the Maltese selection process typically gave us many familiar faces each year, X Factor gave us mostly new contestants (I still luv ya, Franklin Calleja). The traditional process was criticized as longevity being the key to winning, but that issue was off the table this year. Even though Michela had participated in 2017 with the lackluster “Cruise Control,” she really shined with her renditions of popular songs like Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” Even her risky choice of singing Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” really paid off as it showcased her ability to entertain in addition to her vocals.
However, Eurovision fans will have to wait for the official song for Malta in Tel Aviv. X Factor only gave us the artist who will perform a song to be announced at a later date. I lamented the loss of the traditional format because X Factor gave us mostly cover songs instead of fresh song-writing. Audiences are constantly comparing performances to the originals. Plus, outside of Ira and Ray, the remaining two judges left me scratching my head. Alexandra’s critiques were often cryptic and often didn’t say anything at all (such as, post-performance “I can’t wait to see what you can do”). Howard Keith’s constant use of “sweetheart” to address the women really made my skin crawl (money men, bling bling). Despite those annoyances, the high production value of X Factor was a dramatic departure from previous years. In addition, we got to see some fresh talent from an island with a strong reputation for powerful vocalists.
For now, we wait for the official song for Malta to be released. Winning performance geo-blocked, but you can see earlier episodes at https://www.tvm.com.mt/mt/tvmi/programmes/x-factor