All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.
The Malta Eurovision Song Contest has returned as a method of selection for the Mediterranean island nation and 22 acts will perform tonight, Friday and Saturday at the Malta Fairs & Convention Centre in Ta’Qali to earn the chance to represent Malta at Eurovision 2022 in Turin, Italy.
Giving our thoughts on Malta’s selection of Eurovision hopefuls is our “expert” panel from across the globe. “Across the globe” is as good as it gets for this motley bunch, and here is our panel:
- William Carter: Our ESC United Texas correspondent who often brings us bluebonnets of trivia from the bowels of the Abyss.
- Tyler Griffiths: Our ESC United Alaska correspondent whose outlook on life is a glass Haffi Haff full.
- James Maude: A British expat and Flashdance fanatic living in California after jaunts in South Africa and Pittsburgh.
- Boris Meersman: Our ESC United Belgium correspondent whose shade is remarkable for someone who comes from such a flat country.
The panel will give a score out of ten, provide a brief justification for each score, and at the end of Part Three, we will let you know who ESC United thinks should represent Malta at Eurovision 2022.
We already gave our thoughts on the first seven Maltese in PART ONE, and without further ado, here is the second part in our Maltese national selection review series.
Giada – “Revelación”
Boris – 7 – “Malta of course can’t remain behind on the J-Lo inspired, Foureira-popularized latin reggaeton craze. It’s only been four years, after all. What I like about this number specifically however is how Giada is addressing her lady friend, and perhaps more than a lady friend? It’s not QUITE as in your face gay as Matt Blxck (then again, “Gayer than Matt Blxck” puts us in the “Make MamaRu Proud Hunty” zone of Michael Ben David, and I don’t think even I can handle more than one of those), but “Revelación” makes for a fun filler song in between the ubiquitous infomercials.”
James – 2 – “Horrible chorus. “Revelacion! Na na na na na!” F&%$ off. Also, what’s with Maltese artists trying to muscle in on more famous artists by insisting on using a mononym? This awful dance track with daft droppings of Spanish will not persuade anyone with a pulse to refer to anyone other than Rome-born Food Network diva Giada DeLaurentis mononymously as Giada. And probably won’t inspire many judges or members of the public to vote for it.”
Tyler – 5.5 – “Revelación” is kind of a mild banger, at least it tries to be, but just feels like a whole lot of nothing to me. The song doesn’t really have the charm as other perennial banger faves have for me, and not to mention, the lyric video has “I’m loosing control” all over it, and that is a mistake that will bring consequences in my score. Is it unfair to judge this song off the lyric video? Maybe. But I don’t care!”
William – 3.5 – “This is real stupid. And in a year when Ronela and Chanel are delivering vocally-flawless ethnic bops and complicated choreography, this isn’t cutting it. Still, it’s not an unpleasant sit. I can get into the vibe. I have no faith in this as a live performance, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. I said the same thing about ‘Slo Mo’, and look how that turned out.”
Total: 18 points (Average = 4.5)
Janice Mangion – “Army”
Boris – 1 – “E-bleeping-NOUGH with the uninspired military metaphors and feigned-sad piano noise. Awful cloying charity ballads, get the hell out of life!”
James – 6 – “Janice has an army and she wants to speak to the manager! Who decided Janice should have that Karen bob and wear a turtleneck in her audition video? Shocking. However, Janice is probably one of the more talented singers on offer at this selection, and despite generic lyrics about rallying together over some vaguely specified fights, the song gives her a platform to let loose with some vocal theatrics. An extra surprise was the inclusion of Maltese at the bridge, which makes Janice’s entry stand out a little bit.”
Tyler – 5.5 – “I first remembered Janice Mangion in her 2017 NF entry with “Kewkba” and couldn’t wait to see what she would bring next if she ever tried again. But I really don’t like “Army” at all. The song does a good job showing off her vocal talents, but also I really don’t like all of the military metaphors being brought in for this entry. And it’s the entire song too even in the Maltese part, so I’m just left feeling uncomfortable more than anything.”
William – 1.5 – “She has a BIG voice, but the metaphor here gets stretched pretty thiiiiiiin. This is a premise in search of an actual song. Canned gospel choir backing tracks are following me from national final to national final this year, assaulting me with their cheap, easy sentiment. Here they are again, in all their hollow glory.”
Total: 14 points (Average = 3.5)
Jessica Grech – “Aphrodisiac”
Boris – 8 – “God where do we even start with this beautiful mess of a song. This SHAMELESS pod person version of Helena Paparizou’s entire discography is brought to you by a haggard woman with dead eyes and a SHRILLLLL voice. The LYRICS touch upon learning to fly a plane and her boytoy being like a piece of chocolate melting on her skin. It’s ridiculous. I can’t not see this go disastrously wrong in a way that won’t entertain my socks off.”
James – 3 – “Jessica’s beau might be her aphrodisiac, but whoever wrote the lyrics is the maniac. I don’t know where to start with the word salad with a vinaigrette of mixed metaphors and dopey similes. It’s like they wrote down things they know about aphrodisiacs on slivers of paper, put them in a sack, and picked them out at random. All on top of a chintzy and dated EDM track. This has potential, but the lyrics need to go. Stick with a theme – the breaking and entering at night seems best – within “aphrodisiac” and run with that alone.”
Tyler – 7.5 – “Aphrodisiac” has the sort of charm that you might like if you’re into bought songs with bad lyrics that have music videos filmed in a single afternoon. It doesn’t feel like Jessica goes off in this to the point that I’m wowed by her vocals, but with stuff like “you’re a piece of chocolate melting on my skin” in the first verse, I’m entertained by it all. I don’t think this song has a shot of making it to the final of the NF, but I’ll be entertained either way, as I had a lot of fun listening to this.
William – 1 – “Bless her heart. She seems sweet. I hope she has a good time.”
Total: 19.5 points (Average = 4.875)
Jessika – “Kaleidoscope”
Boris – 8 – “It’s truly a delight to see the People’s Trash Princess Jessika Muscat pop up in MESC again. True, “Kaleidoscope” appears tame in comparison to “Hypnotica” and “Fandango”, but even then I’ve been happily humming K-K-KALEIDO every once in a while as any perfectly normal insane person would do. Besides, Messika’s signature desperation is still very much present? Such as forcefully referring to herself as a “kaleidoscope” (I know she sings “we” but it’s a pluralis maiestatis. She IS trashbop royalty after all), shining light in the dark or whatever of the bajillion of colour metaphors she shoved into her silly song to vainly make it work <3 Since then sneak peeks have come out and Jessica’s backdrop is a picture of her put through a kaleidoscopic effect. Surely NOTHING will stand in her way of winning MESC and Eurovision this time! Judges?”
James – 4 – “Oh s%$&! It’s Jessika from San Marino at Eurovision 2018! And I mean “oh s%$&!” in the sense that I know the song is going to be trashy and contain dopey lyrics. For lovers of low-rent bangers, “Kaleidoscope” does not disappoint. How can two people be a reflective light tube, though? I get what they’re going for with the making colors, but the metaphor doesn’t really work. It’s like wanting to make a song about how a couple can blossom like spring flowers, but you write lyrics from the perspective of a lawnmower. And staging warning: kaleidoscope effects could end up looking too busy. Though I don’t know why I am bothering to warn the delegation that brought us “Chameleon.””
Tyler – 6.5 – “It was going to take a lot for Jessika to have a song that slaps harder than “Who We Are” and, I’m displeased to announce that I don’t think “Kaleidoscope” is it frowning It doesn’t feel dynamic enough for me to both unironically like nor ironically like, and feels like the energy from Jessika is reined in this song with nothing big unleashed. I mildly like it though and maybe the staging will be cool, but as of now, it’s not enough of a like for me to have it stand out above the rest.”
William – 6 – “I can’t decide if this is dated or charmingly evocative of Eurovisions past. Why not both? Jessika is very winning as a performer. I wouldn’t hate this as a Eurovision entry. It’s a bit generic, but it’s got a nice hook and a built-in staging concept. This is … pleasant. And in this batch of songs, I’ll take it!”
Total: 24.5 points (Average = 6.125)
Malcolm Pisani – “We Came for Love”
Boris – 1 – “You’re fooling NOBODY with badly-placed hair plugs, FRANKLIN. Awful cloying charity ballads, get the hell out of life!”
James – 6 – “Malcolm has charisma and a decent voice, though the song screams X Factor winner and is sort of forgettable after the moment is gone. Thematically it’s one of those triumph over difficulties to find true love anthems, though the difficulties are usually non-specified. This would be a fine, if unspectacular, entry for Malta.”
Tyler – 5 – “Regardless of the lyrics that involve praying in them, I think “We Came for Love” is just sort of a boring song. Malcolm has multiple times where he hits different notes to try to make things interesting, but it still doesn’t make me care for the song all that much. Musically too, I don’t think “We Came for Love” stands out all that well to me to make people want to vote for it and everything, but maybe the performance will prove me wrong. We’ll see!”
William – 5.5 – “The propulsive melody and committed delivery somewhat distract from the fact that this is a message song with no message. Weirdly have some optimism for how this will perform on stage, though. The song has a couple built-in climactic moments that he and his team should take advantage of. Probably slightly overscoring this based on potential, but, hey, what else can we judge with most of these songs?”
Total: 17.5 points (Average = 4.375)
Mark Anthony Bartolo – “Serenity”
Boris – 4 – “One of the few cases where the playback in the lyric vid upstages the song. Mark Anthony looks bored, irritated and frightened all at once? His face does distract from the way he slobbers his words whenever he’s “tweamin’ uv thurenitea” at least.”
James – 6.5 – “Mark looks way too intense for the song he’s singing. He’s dreaming of serenity but gritting his teeth like he’s got to drop his acoustic guitar to get into a bareknuckle brawl with a group of football hooligans. Chill, dude, otherwise serenity will remain an unobtainable goal. As a simple acoustic guitar song, “Serenity” may be a little too twee for Eurovision. But I do like his intensity, and he should mine that some more for future efforts. It would not do him any harm artistically to let his unhinged side fly.”
Tyler – 4 – “I quite enjoyed “Serenity”! It’s so rare to hear a song talk about a movie from almost two decades ago that leaves such an impact on pop culture. Just wow, a real banger, and–Oh, I’ve just been handed a paper that says it’s not about the movie based on the “Firefly” TV show. Well. Um, okay, I find the lyrics repetitive and the music basic, and if Mark Anthony Bartolo plays a guitar on stage, this will be my last place performance on sight so. Good luck!”
William – 4.5 – “These lyrics are gibberish-y, but he has a nice voice and a bit of awkward, nervous energy that I actually think works for the song. I’m not super compelled by it, but it could be a breath of fresh air on the night.”
Total: 19 points (Average = 4.75)
Matt Blxck – “Come Around”
Boris – 9.5 – “This messsssy homo is giving me so much f’cking LIFE. Yes, this IS the euroseason where “Rock & Roll Queers” won San Remo, and one of the Vidbir entrants informed the rest of Europe about his “noisy bussey”, but still, my wig is on the floor. Imagine wading through a morass of poorly written song upon poorly written song upon poorly written song, each more inarticulate and insipid than the previous and then SUDDENLY you stumble upon a unicorn? A unicorn that immediately and blithely throws around shade towards all bad Grindr head he’s received while cackling in our faces. I feel seen and read when he roasts G&T hounds like myself. Of course, an utterely SHAMELESS hip hop trashbop such as this one will never win in Malta but I’m fucking happy I got to experience it before its inevitable loss.”
James – 6 – “Word of advice for Matt Blxck: the Gin and Tonic crowd won’t touch you with a bargepole. Look for the guys who order mudslides or white Russians. They’ll be more your speed. And besides, those G ‘n T guys won’t stop talking about their Jaguar F-Type, the cost of air conditioning in their Palm Springs condo, and pharmaceutical sales. You can find a better fit. But yes, Malta’s messiest is back, and despite his protestations we do know his name by now. Whether Europe at large or Turin’s gay clubs will care is another matter. After this track, him telling you who he is will most likely be met with a resounding “So?””
Tyler – 7 – “I want to like “Come Around” for how over the top and camp it could be given the persona Matt BLXCK is giving in this lyrical video and whenever the lyrics aren’t just the title of the song and talking about “gin and tonic”. And I do, but not nearly as much as I think I would like. I like the song outside of the chorus (mostly), but then when the chorus happens I’m waiting for it to leave as soon as possible so I can like the song again. I like this song but can also say this is frustrating me!”
William – 7.5 – “Despite my better judgment, I’m feeling this. The song’s got a nice groove, and Matt Blxck is serving. In a field of songs that I am mostly ambivalent about, this one is at least getting a reaction out of me. Him having his ‘D to the E to the T to the HOLD IT … X’ moment? I live. Watch this be a total disaster on stage and rob me of one of the only songs I care about in this selection.”
Total: 30 points (Average = 7.5)
And at the end of the second round of reviews, we have a new leader in our recommendation for who should represent Malta. And we’re feeling messy in the Med with Matt Blxck taking the lead.
1.) Matt Blxck – “Come Around” – 30 points (Average = 7.5)
2.) Aidan Cassar – “Ritmu” – 28.5 points (Average = 7.125)
3.) Baklava feat. Nicole – “Electric Indigo” – 26.5 points (Average = 6.625)
4.) Enya Magri – “Shame” – 25.5 points (Average = 6.375)
5.) Jessika – “Kaleidoscope” – 24.5 points (Average = 6.125)
6.) Emma Muscat – “Out of Sight” – 24 points (Average = 6)* Median = 6.25
7.) Denise – “Boy” – 24 points (Average = 6.000)* Median = 5.75
8.) Derrick – “II” – 23.5 points (Average = 5.875)
9.) Jessica Grech – “Aphrodisiac” – 19.5 points (Average = 4.875)
10.) Francesca – “Rise” – 19 points (Average = 4.75)* Median = 4.5
11.) Mark Anthony Bartolo – “Serenity” – 19 points (Average = 4.75)* Median = 4.25
12.) Giada – “Revelación” – 18 points (Average = 4.5)
13.) Malcolm Pisani – “We Came for Love” – 17.5 points (Average = 4.375)
14.) Janice Mangion – “Army” – 14 points (Average = 3.5)
Find out in our final part if Matt Blxck continues to lead.
Who do #YOU think should win MESC 2022 and represent Malta in Turin, Italy? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.