Let It Shine
A few days ago I was interviewed by SBS Radio in Australia about the process by which Malta is selecting this year's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, taking place this May in Moscow. I spoke candidly and at length about the 20 songs that made it to the Malta Euro Song 2009 final round; as well as some that didn't make it. Truthfully, most of what I said is simply personal opinion, but it was a good way for me to put myself in the right frame of mind to engage with the annual circus that accompanies this event.
This week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast follows on from this trajectory and offers my best thoughts on some of the better songs in this year's crop. I must admit that we've been spared from the same fate we suffered last year, which for me will be remembered as one of the weakest over-all years ever. This is not to say that there's a wide range of material to choose from this year, but at least there are a handful of pleasant pop songs to enjoy.
The first of these is one called Choose Your Number written by Augusto Cardinali and Giovann Attard for the young Maltese entertainer J.Anvil. It follows on from previous songs this team has presented in these local contests and it as enjoyable as a cold bottle of fine sparkling water on a hot summer's day. The same can be said for Before You Walk Away, written by Paul Giordimaina and Fleur Balzan for the vocal group Q, consisting of Fiona, Glen, Leontine, Luca, and Pamela. The feeling I get from both these entries is that they're coming from the bittersweet experiences of similar songs in previous editions of the local selection leading to the Eurovision. This is simply meant as an honest observation rather than a criticism of anyone involved in making this impression on me.
It is therefore with great joy that I welcome a song by what to me are a new composer and a new singer: Andrew Zahra and Kylie Coleiro respectively. The song Let It Shine (lyrics by Joe Julian Farrugia) stands out as the freshest thing on this year's local selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. Sadly I can already see this young singer learning to do things that will eventually be her undoing. What I mean to say is that the best thing about Kylie Coleiro is that she is indeed someone who has just managed to break away from the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. It's that vestal virgin quality she should be playing up rather than the teenager who is growing up to fast. If that approach doesn't come natural to her, than a near-legal Lolita is most definitely the way to go. Turning into yet another Maltese Eurovision wannabe is the last thing you want to do, Kylie, dear. Trust me, at the risk of sounding pompous and patronizing, I'd say I know a thing or two about this stuff.
At the other end of the spectrum is Eurovision super-diva Chiara. Her angelic voice is almost literally just what the doctor ordered in a selection process such as the one most countries go through before picking a song for the Eurovision Song Contest. I believe that the fact that Chiara is singing a Belgian song (albeit in English) is a problematic (if not controversial) one. At the risk of being accused of being xenophobes, many Maltese are not admitting publicly that this is not the right song for Chiara to take to the Eurovision. Can you imagine what it would be like if Chiara actually went to the Eurovision with What If We and continued her upward ascent to the winning position at the final in Moscow with a song that is less Maltese than any of the others ever sung from Malta? It would probably be even worse for Marc Paelinck and Gregory Bilsen if Chiara returned Malta to the Eurovision final but then failed to be crowned Eurovision queen as she one day truly deserves to be.
In the midst of all this, some good singers and even interesting songs end up being discarded completely as not appropriate for the final round of the local selection. The one I feel the most for is a song called Lament. This is a brave attempt by the Maltese Schlagermeister Philip Vella: a Maltese-language ballad pairing Eurovision veteran pop tenor Ludwig Galea with venerable folk singer Fidela Carabott tal-Bambinu, who at the age of 73 has won the National Folk Singing (Għana) Festival four times. I'm very disappointed that this song didn't at least make it to the final round replacing one of the 20 that actually got to have another attempt at representing Malta at the Eurovision. It is a very fitting way to end the 150th MMI podcast, until "normality" reigns down on the Mużika Mod Ieħor series once again next weekend.
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