Well ladies and gentlemen… we now know another song heading to Vienna next May! After a lengthy show of music, adverts and one hell of a long interval, staged at Malta Shipbuilding in Marsa on the very same stage used for Junior Eurovision a week ago, it was Amber who triumphed, with her song ‘Warrior.’
Malta, of course, has never won the competition, but upwards of 90% of the population tune in each year to root for their own entry. Tonight we saw a cluster of familiar faces take to the stage, including Daniel Testa, Amber, and Glen Vella.
It was Glen who opened the show with his song ‘Breakaway’, an upbeat but somewhat forgettable pop song in which he tells us to ‘drop it like it’s hot’ – a bit early in proceedings for that maybe? Despite a solid performance including a man spinning in a hula-hoop, it wasn’t enough to send him to Eurovision again. Karen DeBattista’s song ’12, Baker Street’ had emerged as a bit of a dark horse in the past few days. A simple tune, Karen was accompanied by four men playing instruments, and it had a very mellow feel, but it was difficult to see if it could succeed in a strong field.
Dominic took the stage next. This was a catchy number performed confidently with nice summery visuals, but lacking enough oomph to make it stand out among the rest. ‘Chasing A Dream’ by Trilogy (including Ludwig from 2004… remember him?) swiftly followed – a bland ballad but packing a fair dollop of emotion and power made the song stand out as a good bet for victory – cue a few pyrotechnics, smashing vocals, and it certainly ticked a few boxes. Chris Grech, becoming a regular in MESC, sang ‘Closed Doors’. What a voice! He looked rather dapper, and was clearly brimming with confidence, but the tune let him down just a smidge. In front of stormy clouds and packing bundles of passion, it wasn’t to be Grech’s year… but maybe in the near future?
And now, the Ekklesia Sisters. The group of ladies were garnering a lot of attention across Europe with ‘Love And Let Go’. It may be a wishy-washy number, with a good few clichés thrown in, but the crowd loved every second. Perhaps too slow to impress enough voters however. Fair play to the Sisters though -it was rousing, albeit lacklustre at the same time.
The entries were coming thick and fast now. Deborah C sang ‘It’s OK’, and it was exactly that – a toe-tapping sing-a-long ditty. Jessika was back for another stab at victory, but ‘Fandango’ didn’t really go anywhere, but was a significant improvement on ‘Hypnotica’ (joint eighth last year). I also liked the harp on stage – a nice touch. Next was Amber, a big fan favourite. The song has certainly grown on me, but the vocals seemed not as strong as expected… saying that, it was still a very good performance, perhaps the best of the night, and there’s no doubt her voice could fill the venue – no need for backing vocalists here. A large round of applause too was a promising sign.
L-Aħwa saw a return for Gianluca Bezzina (2013), with a song that sounded like the B-side to ‘Tomorrow’. Colourful, catchy, joyful and infectious. Franklin stepped up to the plate with a beautiful ballad written by Alexander Rybak, and immediately impressed with his crisp, clear, formidable voice. Alongside Grech, the best male vocals of the show. No gimmicks, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a decent thing! In contrast, Christabelle brought sass and a dazzling array of colour to the stage. A surprisingly good performance, which surely made more than one fan consider it a little more strongly.
Then came the last two songs. Lawrence Gray with ‘The One That You Love’ was first. Another ballad played on piano by a handsome man as stars and planets floated past on the big screens behind him. While not as impressive as some other ballads here, it was a solid showing. Lastly was ‘Mr. Junior Swing’ himself, Daniel Testa. A jazzy-pop melody, Daniel may well be back every year until he succeeds – this was fine, but was lacking something stand-out. As it was the final song of the evening, I’m sure most fans and the jury had made up their mind by now.
After a terribly drawn-out interval, consisting of Conchita Wurst (who also opened the show) and last year’s representatives Firelight (one fan on Twitter saying to forget the other participants, it should be back-to-back Firelight entries in Eurovision), it was down to the voting. Amber triumphed with the televote, narrowly edging out the Sisters, and when the jury’s votes came in, she smashed her way past the opposition with ease, leaving Vella, the Sisters, Franklin and Christbelle (her strongest challengers) in the lurch. It turned out to be quite a crushing victory, and one that fans had been predicating for days. As such, the 23 year-old will represent the Mediterranean island next May. But what do you think? The early reception on Twitter is very positive, but does she stand a chance of winning for Malta, or was it the wrong choice entirely? Let us know in the comments below!