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.

It’s 4 days to go until Junior Eurovision 2021, and we are counting down the 19 nations participating in Paris on Sunday, December 19, 2021.

Every day we will do an overview of a participating nation in alphabetical order, recapping how they got to Junior Eurovision, a brief history of the nation’s participation, a brief biography of the artist, and finally, our “expert” panel of editors give the entries a score out of 10 and a brief review.

Today we look at Malta, a country that has developed a reputation for excellence at this contest despite its small size and relatively average performance at the adult version.

Malta’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Malta’s history can be neatly divided into two periods: pre-withdrawal and post-withdrawal. Malta were one of the nations in the first contest and plodded along uneventfully – a 4th place in Daniel Testa’s “Junior Swing” aside – in the lower tiers until they withdrew in 2011 and 2012.

But when Malta came back, they came back with a vengeance. Gaia Cauchi’s “The Start” was an appropriate name for their return in 2013, as it was the start of six consecutive top half finishes, including two wins, with “The Start” being the first.

Most importantly for Malta, Cauchi is one of two Junior Eurovision winners for her country who looks best set for a music career in adulthood. Cauchi exemplifies what you want out of this contest – a platform that helps launch a future star.

The other winner for Malta, however, may eclipse her. Destiny Chukunyere not only raised Malta’s profile in a Eurovision contest, she also raised the profile of Junior Eurovision itself with her stunning performance in “Not my soul.” You have to feel for Armenia’s Mika as in another year his “Love” would have crushed the competition. How the hell was he supposed to know that kid Aretha was going to come his way? In a year where the Eastern bloc dominated more than 2019, Destiny still stormed out as the winner with her powerful gospel pop anthem.

Ela Mangion came in 5th in 2018, but discovered televoters could be as harsh to the Mediterranean nation as they are towards Australia. “Marchin’ On” was 2nd in the jury vote with 138 points, but only got 43 points from the televotes.

Unfortunately, it got worse for Malta in 2019 as Eliana Gomez Blanco came in 19th and last place with “We Are More,” a cruel result for a performer many pundits predict will go on to have a successful career once she hits adulthood. Chanel Monseigneur’s “Chasing Sunsets” did slightly better, coming in 8th out of 12 at Junior Eurovision 2020.

Before Junior Eurovision 2021:

Maltese broadcaster PBS once again opted for a national selection, putting together Malta Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2021. 12 acts and songs were revealed on September 26, 2021, with a national final held on October 16, 2021. 50% of the vote was by a jury that was headed by Destiny, and 50% of the vote was by televote.

Ike and Kaya’s “My Home” came in 1st, with Yulan Law’s “On My Way” (co-written by Malta’s Eurovision 2015 representative Amber Bondin) coming in 2nd, and Mycha, Kylie & Denzel Jo’s “Running Free” coming in third.

The Artists:

Rapper Ike Mizzi was born on January 13, 2010, and Kaya Gouder Curmi was born on August 6, 2010. They have been performing as a duo for almost two years now, having also competed together on Malta’s Got Talent, coming in fourth.

The Song:

Cyprian Cassar, who also has a hand in the Irish entry “Saor (Disappear),” is a cowriter of the Maltese entry again. Muxu (Matthew Mercieca), who co-wrote “Not my Soul,” returns to Junior Eurovision here. X-Factor Malta Season 1 runner-up Owen Leuellen also features.

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Malta’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2021.

Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Boris Meersman (Belgium), Connor Terry (Oklahoma), James Maude (California), Melanie Otto (The Netherlands), Roy Postema (the Netherlands), Stefan Resimic (Serbia), Tyler Griffiths (Alaska), and William Carter (Texas).

The Verdict:

Boris – 2 – “A trainwreck. Between the bad vocals, then even worse rapping, the bizarre beat and clichématronic lyrics “My home” almost reaches a point of “So Bad It’s Great”. I would glom onto it and make it an ironic fave if there weren’t any other, more appealing (less embarrassing) options, but there are so, sorry kids!

Connor – 5 – “Malta brought an interesting song that fits the hyper positive bill of Junior Eurovision, but mashes it up with some 2000’s R&B music. It’s a very interesting piece, but it’s not one that connects with me as the listener unfortunately. I wish Malta the best, but with a strong year I think they have a tough battle ahead of them to place well.”

James – 5 – “Ike is a talented young rapper, but the posturing he does in the video just looks forced, a little silly, and inappropriate for an 11-year-old. Plus, they should have had either a ballad or a rap song, not try jam them together in one. The lyrics also seem geared for an older duet (i.e. they’re at least at the tail end of high school). “My Home” lacks cohesion, definitely less than the sum of its talented parts.”

Melanie – 5.5 – “I’m such a sucker for puppy love and I’m definitely feel that when I listen to Ike & Kaya. The chemistry is real between them and that makes the song a lot stronger. The rap part definitely spices the song up in a good way. However, the song is not my cup of tea. Just sounds like someone throw too much sugar in the tea, while the tea itself was good enough. Nevertheless, the love between those two is strong and they really bring the best out each other.”

Roy – 6.5 – “I was quite excited when this got chosen out of the Maltese selection. It combines a beautiful ballad voice with some rap. After giving it more and more listens, I got a bit more tired of it quickly. Now with any sort of Eurovision, it will mostly be about first impression, so maybe it will still do well. This sort of song really depends on the surprise factor of the rap inclusion. Replay value isn’t very much there. We will have to see on what side of the coin this one will fall.”

Stefan – 4 – “I love her parts, but when he starts to rap I am a bit confused. “I see our in your eyes” Really boy? Really? Why do have that line in a kids song? I’ll just say there were quite a few other songs in the NF that I preferred.”

Tyler – 6 – “My Home” is an interesting song to listen to. While Kaya’s part of the song is very melodic and sounds sweet, Ike’s rapping feels somewhat harsher to convey the same message. It doesn’t quite work for me as well for me, as the two styles feel disjointed, but the overall song is interesting enough to make the viewer captivated to watch further. Not my cup of tea, but still a good song for the contest overall.”

William – 4.5 – “I’m of two minds on this one. These kids are über talented. Ike’s rapping, in particular, is SHOCKINGLY skilled. The risk of cringe was real, but I buy it from him. Boy’s got chops! Jenny B wishes. And Kaya has vocal prowess well beyond her years. It’s all a bit ridiculous, though. Two preteens, dueting on an ‘It’s Us Against the World’-love song that adults wrote for them? There’s a whiff of child beauty pageant to it. Am I wrong for just wanting kids to be kids? Ike & Kaya are doing their jobs, but this whole concept is odd.”

Total: 38.5 points (Average = 4.813)

The rap and ballad blend is what threw most of our reviewers. We shall see if this connects with kids this weekend in Paris.

Eleven countries in, here is how ESC United has the entries ranked.

1.) Italy – 68.5 points (Average = 8.563)

2.) Armenia – 67.5 points (Average = 8.438)

3.) France – 67 points (Average = 8.375)

4.) Georgia – 63.5 points (Average = 7.938)

5.) Azerbaijan– 59.5 points (Average = 7.438)

6.) Ireland – 57.5 points (Average = 7.188)

7.) Albania – 53.5 points (Average = 6.688)

8.) Germany – 52.5 points (Average = 6.563)

9.) Kazakhstan – 48.5 points (Average = 6.063)

10.) MALTA – 38.5 points (Average = 4.813)

11.) Bulgaria – 36.5 points (Average = 4.563)

What do #YOU think of “My Home”? Do #YOU think this is an effective duet, or two stars drifting past each other in the night? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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