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 2022, and we are counting down the 16 nations who are participating in Yerevan, Armenia on Sunday, December 11, 2022.

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.

Next up, 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.” Destiny would then go on to represent Malta at Eurovision 2021, delivering the Mediterranean nation’s best result since 2005 by coming in 7th.

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. Ike and Kaya then came in 12th at Junior Eurovision 2021.

Before Junior Eurovision 2022:

Once again, Maltese broadcaster PBS again opted for a national final, this time picking 16 acts and songs to compete in Malta Junior Eurovison Song Contest 2022.

The final was held on October 2, 2022 at the Rediffusion House in Gwardamanġa. The jury / online vote split was 75% / 25%, with the jury made up of Maltese singer Mary Rose Mallia, former Maltese Eurovision representatives Debbie Scerri (Eurovision 1997) and Ludwig Galea (Eurovision 2004), and presenter Roderick Azzopardi Custo.

Gaia Gambuzza prevailed with “Diamonds in the Skies,” beating out Andrea Camilleri’s “Spark” and Emma Kate Formosa’s “Bounce.”

The Artist:

Gaia Gambuzza is 13 years old and resides in Mosta, Malta.

In addition to being a singer, Gambuzza is fascinated by speech pathology and wants to embark on a career in that field.

The Song:

“Diamonds in the Skies” was written by Red-Electrick’s front-man Matthew James Borg.

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Malta’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2022.

Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Alice Christine (Washington, D.C.), Boris Meersman (Belgium), Gianluca D’Elia (New York City, New York), James Maude (Los Angeles, California), Roy Postema (The Netherlands), William Carter (Dallas, Texas), and Zephaniah Gabriel (The Philippines).

The Verdict:

Alice – 6 – “I like the catchy beat of this song, though I’m not sure if it will be memorable to the audience.”

Boris – 6 – “I may just be embracing my newfound identity as a Eurotrash Himbo here but I feel like Malta does the UK thing a lot better? Whereas I feel the UK is WAY too competent and sexualized to really be deemed fit-for-JESC, “Diamonds in the skies” is silly and amateur enough to accept it as canon. I don’t for a MOMENT believe Malta is going to deliver a genuinely good show, but that’s fine. “Diamonds in the skies” is a precious trash babby and i’m here for its journey.”

Gianluca – 6 – “I thought this was going to a fun song at first, but it ended up feeling underwhelming for me. When I heard the instrumental at the beginning, I was expecting a little more, but it fell flat. Visually, I found the music video to be really vibrant and fun, but the song itself didn’t match that. I hope that Malta maintains a similar vibe in the staging. Gaia is a great performer, and I enjoyed the quirky choreography that’s shown in the music video.”

James – 5 – “This could do with speeding up somewhat, more bass, and Gaia’s vocals could be more emphatic. Malta’s trying to sell us energy with the (dated) synths but Gaia herself is coasting. She’s certainly not being pushed to her limits like a certain Central Asian rival. There’s elements of a potentially great song here, but for some reason Malta is refusing to get out of second gear here.”

Roy – 3 – “The revamp definitely made the song better, but the song still feels very dated and quite underwhelming. There is a lot of energy missing in the beat and the backing track. Her voice isn’t very full and rich either and overall the song just feels very empty. The BPM is at an awkward pace as well which causes the song that is probably meant to be danced to, quite difficult to dance to. Standing still on the stage is also not an option with this song and we are kind of left with an awkward, clunky mess in my opinion. I hope it doesn’t discourage Gaia to chase a future in music, but I fear that this might be one of the backmarkers of the year.”

William – 6 – “This is a really strong year for JESC. So when I say this is probably my least favorite song in the batch, just know that I still think it’s pretty good. On a songwriting level, it’s just a little … indistinct and suffers from the same kind of lyrical clunkiness that often plagues entries in Malta’s national finals. Gaia is gonna sell it, though, and I could easily be won over.”

Zephaniah – 6.5 – “I thought the start of the song came from something like League of Legends soundtrack. It’s upbeat again however, I don’t find the vocals matching it very well. It could be a grower for me in the long run.”

Total: 38.5 points (Average = 5.5)

With an individual high score of 6.5, it’s no surprise Malta props up our points table at the halfway mark. Unfortunately most reviewers expressed indifference, which is a bigger danger for a Eurovision entry than a divisive one with a small cadre of fans and large cadre of haters. Could that indifference, if our panel is representative of Europe at large, translate to a low placement for Malta this year?

1.) Ireland – 56 points (Average = 8.0)

2.) Italy – 55.5 points (Average = 7.926)

3.) Armenia – 54.5 points (Average = 7.786)

4.) Georgia – 52.5 points (Average = 7.5)

5.) France – 52 points (Average = 7.428)

6.) Kazakhstan – 45 points (Average = 6.429)

7.) Albania – 42.5 points (Average = 6.071)

8.) MALTA – 38.5 points (Average = 5.5)

What do #YOU think of Malta’s entry? Do #YOU think Malta will run hot or run cold this year? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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