Malta makes Kurt Calleja’s night.

To be perfectly honest, I passed over Kurt Calleja’s entry This Is The Night in the weeks leading up to the Maltese national final, dismissing it as catchy but mediocre, more demo than actual song. So imagine my surprise when last night, Kurt took to the stage performing This Is The Night as a refreshed pop-rock number with boatloads of enthusiasm that really lifted the song beyond what it originally was. I was quite taken back but pleased that some of the song’s potential has been realised.

And I say ‘some’ because I think there is quite a long way to go before This Is The Night can be properly presented in Baku come May. For one thing, the song definitely needs to be polished in the studio, as it still sounds a bit like a demo. I quite like this new pop-rock direction as I feel that this sound suits Kurt’s voice way better. The song’s producers should take this route and go all out and make it sound whole and well-rounded. A bit of choreography and stage presentation would help loads too. It’s all very well to perform like you’re performing at a birthday party to friends: it is the national final after all so I suppose thats what the vibe is like. But for the international audience, we’ll need something a bit more slick and professional. A few pointers from Melodifestivalen or Melodi Grand Prix would not be remiss.

But for now, I’m glad that Kurt won and it was the spirit of the performance that really gave This Is The Night that little bit extra. Also, big props to Claudia Faniello for coming in a close second with Pure. I’ve always maintained that she should ditch the cheesy up tempos (even though I love them) and get serious with big, powerful ballads that will suit her voice. This is her best placing at the MESC, so there you go. Next year, she ought to come back singing a classic chanson with a Mediterranean flavour. Now that ought to be interesting.

But that’s next year. For now, congratulations to Kurt. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what they will do with This Is The Night to amp it up for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Malta catches Eurovision fever!

Tonight sees Malta kick off its Eurovision selection with the first semi-final of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. There’s been a lot of hype around the contest, with TVM reportedly pulling out all the stops to ensure a spectacular show. 16 of the 24 songs will qualify to tomorrow’s Final. Below you can see all the entries vying to fly the Maltese flag in Baku, along with my favorites in bold:

01. Danica Muscat – Seven Days
02. J. Anvil – You Are My Life
03. Isabelle Zammit – Walk On Water
04. Francesca Borg – Take Me Far
05. Klinsmann – No Way Back 
06. Richard Edwards – Look At Me Now
07. Annalise Ellul – Whoop It Up 
08. Kurt Calleja – This Is The Night
09. Romina Mamo – DNA
10. Nadine Bartolo – Can’t Get Away
11. Lawrence Gray – In Your Eyes
12. Kaya – First Time
13. Claudia Faniello – Pure
14. Jessica Muscat – Dance Romance
15. Wayne Micallef – Time
16. Dorothy Bezzina – Autobiography 
17. Gianni Zammit – Petals On A Rose
18. Fabrizio Faniello – I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song)
19. Janice Mangion – While Her Eyes Still Glow
20. Eleanor Cassar – I Want To Run Away 
21. Corazon – Mystifying Eyes 
22. Deborah C feat. Leila James – You Make Me Go Uh Uh
23. Anna Azzopardi – Still Waiting
24. Amber – Anwser With Your Eyes

No doubt I shall acquire some new favorites after watching the live performances, but for now, these are the ones I’m supporting. The show starts at 20:30CET (in just a scant 5 minutes) and you can watch the live webcast here.

My favourite Maltesers in 2012.

The full length versions of all the songs competing in Malta’s National Final for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest have been offically revealed with the release of the preview videos.

After listening to all of them, my two favourites and most likely to take the win are Richard Edwards’ Look At Me Now and Fabrizio Faniello’s I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song). Look At Me Now is a pleasant rock ballad and I Will Fight For You is a pop stomper that seemingly borrows the pulsating melody of The BeeGees’ Tragedy. Both songs are complete opposites and its hard to call it.

For me, this is a case of déjà vu, as in 2011, it was the same case with my favourites being the entries from Richard and Fabrizio (Finally and No Surrender respectively). This year, my outside favourite is Pure by Claudia Faniello. I’m glad she ditched the rock and is now singing a beautiful ballad that befits her beautiful voice.

You can check out all the songs here. And can I just give big props to TVM for the wonderful production quality? Between the fancy intro titles and sparkly stage, it’s looking quite X Factor-esque to me. I’m fulling expecting a fantastic show on the 3rd and 4th of February!

Malta reveals its 24 semi-finalists.

It’s all been very hush hush over in Malta with pre-selections and auditions happening behind closed doors but now all has been revealed. The 24 semi-finalists have been announced and clips of each have been unleashed onto the public. And as one would come to expect from a tiny country with a big passion for the Eurovision Song Contest, we see some familiar names return including the Faniello & Micallef siblings, along with Kurt Calleja and Eleanor Cassar.  You can check them out here, here and here.

In my opinion, the standard of this year’s Malta Eurovision Song Contest has improved considerably. Though we have the usual generous servings of schmaltz and cheese, there are some tidbits that make an impression. For me, the stand out songs (going purely by the clips) are I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song) by Fabrizio Faniello and Look At Me Now by Richard Edwards. Claudia Faniello’s Pure showcases her wonderful voice but I’m reserving judgement till I hear the full song. Same goes for Wayne Micallef and Time. It would also appear that Eleanor Cassar has gone all Hera Bjork on us with I Want To Run Away. while Klinsmann is channelling Lena in No Way Back. I also quite liked Isabelle Zammit’s Walk On Water and Kaya’s First Time.

For now, my early favourites are Fabrizio and Richard. I reckon it could even turn out to be a two-horse race between these two.