It's that time of the year again. Malta is poised to select the singer who will represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Looking at the regular fare on my weekly podcast, it's understandable that my continued interest in all this may seem slightly displaced.
Last year I started what I hope will soon become an annual tradition: an alternative look at some of the songs competing in the Malta Song for Europe festival. The songs I select appear mostly for their musical merit rather than hype or popularity. They are usually also songs I would consider playing anyway on the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. To drive the point home I recorded my podcast before the final televoting session, so not only was I oblivious about who won the contest this year but I also made it a point to not let this drive the selections I've picked.
All but one of the singers featured in this week's podcast have already appeared on previous editions of my weekly podcast. Tarcisio Barbara managed to garner some attention from the local rock fans, mostly because he's been identified as a rough pop rock singer since he moved on from being a rock musician with bands such as VHF back in the 1980s. I am not surprised that he didn't make it beyond the semi-final voting but I'm very pleased that his song is included on the CD featuring all sixteen songs that made it to Ta' Qali this year.
In terms of musical merit, the one song that I've been playing over and over is All About a Life. Written by Paul Giordimaina with lyrics by his long-time partner Fleur Balzan, this song has given Gozitan singer Pamela another chance to show what an outstanding singer she is. The live performance of this song is even better than the excellent recording you can hear on my podcast. It was good to see Nadina Axisa and Fiona Cauchi singing backing with Pamela. Beautiful is the best word I can think of to describe everything about this song.
I was pleased to see Konrad Pule' return to the Malta Song for Europe with his band Scar. The fact that they made it to the final six shows that there are either enough people in Malta who can appreciate a slightly alternative style of music within the sugary pop that dominates at such events, or the song contest has finally gathered a whole bunch of unlikely new followers. Either way, I think it's good news all around.
There's quite a bit of new blood on the local Eurovision scene. Most of it is far from different from the wallpaper sounds we've come to expect as an essential characteristic of this whole shindig. Klinsmann Coleiro is undoubtedly this year's darling in this category. He has almost everything it takes to be a huge pop star...and yet he lacks that something beyond the obvious which can turn him into an all-round sensation. Mark Spiteri Lucas and Rita Pace have written a very catch pop ditty for him, which suit him fine as a first outing into the bright limelight. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from this young dude in the coming years. My personal wish is that he matures into an alternative pop idol, but I realize that I may be hoping for pigs to fly. Then again, stranger things are known to happen.
Going beyond the music into the whole effort to present a performance package that makes sense within the broader scheme of all things Eurovision, it's as clear as day that this year's winner is Olivia Lewis. Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg have put together a thoughtfully crafted song that given a masterful studio production can become a major international hit in some of the Eurovision countries that matter for anyone who cares about any of this. As she has shown in previous years, this is the best that Olivia can do...so now it's time for the people to realize this and send her and Vertigo to Helsinki for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.
I'll be writing about the winning song tomorrow morning, so please look out for that post on my blog later. Meanwhile, feel free to comment about what I had to say about the songs I've selected and please don't hold back if you disagree with me.
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