The Malta Independent 13 November 2018, Tuesday

X-Factor Malta to determine Eurovision entry; news welcomed, but questions raised

Jeremy Micallef Friday, 22 June 2018, 10:00 Last update: about 6 months ago

The local version of the world famous X-Factor competition will be aired on Maltese television as from this October.

The music competition franchise was created by British producer Simon Cowell and was launched in the United Kingdom in 2004. It has since spread to well over 100 countries worldwide.

Having been aired on TVM, the British version has grown in popularity in Malta. The news that a Maltese version will now be aired was met with generally positive reviews, but questions were raised over TVM’s announcement that the winner of the show will be representing Malta at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

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Music professionals are asking what this would mean for the performances as a whole, specifically because The X-Factor tends to focus solely on the artist.

This issue was raised by artists and behind the scenes contributors alike, especially since the competition will have its winner representing the country on a continental level, profiting from all the exposure that comes with it.

Speaking to this newspaper singer Brooke Borg said: “I think it’s good to try something different, there is no harm in that. My only question mark is, if I was to be an up and coming songwriter or producer, how will I be able to showcase my style or my music?”

Seeing that original songs are not frequently showcased on The X-Factor, with the more popular option being to cover an already existing song, this is a very valid issue, and similar sentiments were echoed by singer Glenn Vella and composer Elton Zarb.

Composer Philip Vella said the new programme would provide a platform for artists to expose their talents, which was a positive step. He is, however, not in favour of choosing Malta’s Eurovision singer through the show. Vella argued that the decision taken in past few years to focus more on the singer rather than the entire show did not lead to good results. The X-Factor also focused mainly on the singer, he said.

Composer Gerard James Borg agreed that The X-Factor could give great exposure to local artists, including through signings with foreign labels. Turning to the Eurovision, he said that many people make the mistake of thinking that there is a perfect formula. “If there was one people would use it,” he said.  Borg pointed out that some foreign Eurovision winners had been chosen by the public, others were handpicked. He added that some Maltese singers who had been chosen by televoting had done very well in the past.

It is at this stage unclear whether foreign nationals will be allowed to take part in the Maltese version of the competition. This would undoubtedly not go down well with artists already struggling to obtain exposure on the local level, particularly because the American music industry is so ever present on radio and other media, sources in the local music industry said.

The Malta Independent contacted PBS Chief Executive officer Charles Dalli for more details about the show. This newsroom asked whether PBS had consulted with Maltese Composers and Singers Union (UKAM); whether the show will be produced by PBS, a private entity, or a private-public partnership; if any rule changes were being implemented that will influence the result (of the Maltese Eurovision song); and whether X-Factor Malta would be open to foreigners.

Replying, Dalli said PBS will be publishing all details related to the competition will be released in the coming weeks.

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