The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: The time has come for a change of approach to Eurovision

Monday, 16 May 2022, 09:21 Last update: about 2 months ago

Another Eurovision Song Contest has come and gone.

Unfortunately this year ended up being a disappointing one for Malta.  What promised much, particularly due to the exceptional musical talent that Emma Muscat possesses, translated into very little as Malta finished only 16th out of 18 in Thursday’s semi-final and therefore failed to qualify.

Much of that is not down to Emma herself, who remains an extraordinarily talented singer, but in many ways down to the song which she was given to work with.  

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Written by Dino Medanhod?ić, Julie Aagaard, and Stine Kinck from the music company The Arrangement, ‘I Am What I Am’ was seen by many as not strong enough to back Muscat’s talent.  The song proved to be underwhelming with both the jury and the public.

It’s not the first time that Malta has decided to seek pastures further afield for its song choices.

Michaela Pace, who won X-Factor in 2019 and therefore won the right to represent Malta at the Eurovision in that same year, sang a song named ‘Chameleon’ which was written by Bulgarian/Austrian recording label Symphonix International.

Malta placed 8th in the semi-final in that year, and then 14th in the Grand Final.

However, quite a few people were left wondering – particularly after Pace sang the Maltese classic ‘Inti Djamant’ during X-Factor with such aplomb – what could have been had she been given a song with more of a local twist.

Destiny, who won the following year’s X-Factor was set first to represent Malta in the 2020 Eurovision with a song named ‘All of My Love’, again written by Symphonix International.  That year’s contest was ultimately cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Destiny would take part in the Eurovision the following year, with the song ‘Je me Casse’, written by foreign team Malin Christin, Amanuel Dermont, Nicklas Eklund and Pete Barringer.  She performed strongly, winning her semi-final and placing 7th in the Grand Final.

Her Grand Final performance however was not as hoped: while she placed 3rd in the Jury voting, she failed to inspire the public as she placed just 14th in the televoting part of the contest.

Ira Losco suffered a similar fate in the Grand Final when she took part with the mainstream hit ‘Walk on Water’, which was written by Lisa Desmond, Tim Larsson, Tobias Lundgren, Molly Pettersson Hammar, and Losco herself, in 2016, performing well with the juries, but floundering when it came to the televoting.

In fairness it should be pointed out: the last time local teams came up with Malta’s Eurovision songs came up with the country’s Eurovision entries in 2017 and 2018, with two attempts at a power ballad, Malta also failed to qualify for the Grand Final.

These observations aren’t to be taken as some sort of anti-foreign tirade against non-Maltese songwriters.

These observations, rather, are being made to show that it’s time to try something different.  Many of these songs channelled the typical Euro-pop genre which has come to characterise the Eurovision Song Contest in the past.

However, many of the most recent winners have been quite unique in their nature: just this year, Ukraine won with a mixture of folk and rap, Italy last year won with a rock hit, and Portugal won in 2017 with an emotional ballad performed in Portuguese.

Unfortunately we have come to the point that the Eurovision is taken too seriously for our own good.  Instead of, in many cases, promoting local talent even in something like the choreography (Malta’s entrant has been joined by foreign dancers in the last three Eurovision contests), we have succumbed to this drive to win at all costs – even if that means paying for things which local talent can do just as well.

So let’s try something different.  A different genre.  Or a song in Maltese. Perhaps even a song based around fun, rather than something more serious. Let’s change the approach.

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