The below editorial features the opinions and views of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision, or the EBU.

Malta has a strong history at Junior Eurovision, winning twice (in 2013 & 2015) and consistently impressing fans with the vocal talents of its young artists. But which one of the eleven singers in this year’s Maltese national final will win? Who SHOULD win?

To answer that question, five members of Team ESCUnited have joined forces, reviewing and rating all twelve songs competing to represent Malta in Paris. Our expert (at least in our own minds) panelists are:

Who will we choose? Let’s find out. The suspense is killing me.

Amelia Kalabick- ‘Dear World’

Arnaud: “Her voice is just incredible. Her low notes are so good! Very beautiful ballad, nice evolution throughout the song. One of my favorites to represent Malta at this year’s JESC.” 9/10

William: “Amelia has powerful vocal chords, and this song lets her show them off. If she can deliver these vocals live, it’s easy to imagine this as a winner.” 8/10

Melanie: “I think this is the strongest song in this selection. However, I’m scared that this isn’t the strongest song for competing at JUNIOR. It could compete at adult Eurovision. Nevertheless, great song, great singer, and I would love to see Malta choose this.” 8.5/10

Roy: “This song started off very well. Then the line, “Don’t ask me why,” rhymed with a mid-sentence ‘light’ and end-rhyme of ‘eye’.  There’s a lot of rhyming for the sake of it. Unfortunate, because this had heaps of potential, if the lyrics were written better!” 6/10

Connor: “Shout out to JESC 2016 artist Christina Magrin who wrote this song! She has massive songwriting potential and really knows her client. Amelia’s voice is wonderful! This could get pegged as the first single of a talent show winner, not a JESC competitive song. Still very, very good.” 7/10

Total Points: 38.5 (Average: 7.7)

Eksenia Sammut- ‘Building’

Arnaud: “This song is giving epic vibes. But the ‘building’ part is a bit repetitive to me. The song feels a bit flat, though the end is good and more dynamic. 6/10

William: “This is probably the song I’m most interested to hear performed live. It’s impactful, but it’s hard to tell how much of that comes from the gorgeous production on the studio track. Eksenia seems incredibly authentic. She’s not precocious.” 6/10

Melanie: “Eksenia immediately grabs my attention with her voice. The song is hauntingly beautiful, but it needed a stronger ending. However, I see a bright future for Eksenia and hope we will see her back!” 7.5/10

Roy: “The song has some similarities to Miley Cyrus’ ‘The Climb’, but this sounds like they were just putting down some random words to an already existing, mediocre backing track. The lyrics are possibly a bit too big for a junior, as well. Definitely poor song writing, not the Eksenia’s fault.” 2/10

Connor: “The legend returns! This song features her ability to convey the emotion and tone of the song, and I really enjoyed its minimalism. However, I think there’s something lacking overall – and I believe it’s backing vocalists.  The mixing is also a bit odd. It sounds like she’s been autotuned?” 6/10

Total Points: 27.5 (Average: 5.5)

Ella Raina- ‘Limitless’

Arnaud: “Nice retro vibe. The song is inspiring and quite empowering. The high note lands really well. I hope Ella performs with as much attitude on stage as she does in the studio version, especially at the end.” 7/10

William: “OK, vocals! Ella brings a lot of raw star power to the table, and that’s something that can’t be taught. Her performance is a lot more exciting to me than the actual song itself, but, with the right staging, the possibilities could be, well, limitless. (Sorry.)” 5/10

Melanie: “This sounds like something that can be a hit with the children. Ella is giving the song the sassiness it needs to be an amazing pop song. A perfect match that hopefully will come alive during the performance.” 7/10

Roy: “It feels like she is freestyling, and they didn’t put in the effort to make her vocals slot into the song. The instrumentals are interesting, though. If the mixing was done better, and the artist and song fit together, this could have had a lot of potential. It’s OK, but they could have done more!” 4.5/10

Connor: “A pop song that’s just what I hoped it would be. Very promising beat, but I think the singer is the issue. Ella can most certainly sing, but she’s a very nasal singer, which clouds her words and muddles her tone. I’m willing to overlook it, but I just don’t know if the track stands out.” 5/10

Total Points: 28.5 (Average: 5.7)

Emma Briffa- ‘My Angel’s Calling’

Arnaud: “Very sweet and dreamy song. I would have hoped for more powerful vocals at the end, with the instrumentals building up gradually. But it’s a nice song that feels a bit different from the rest of the selection.” 8/10

William: “This is one of the more personal songs in the competition, and you can definitely tell in the performance. I’m not totally sold yet. This could easily get overshadowed, but strong vocals and thoughtful staging could make a big difference.” 5/10

Melanie: “Emma looks like a Maltese version of Roksana Wegiel (JESC 2018 winner.) It’s a very peaceful song that gives me kind of a church choir-vibe. It’s a little bit too repetitive for my tastes, but Emma sings it amazing.” 6/10

Roy: “This would totally work, if they can give her the proper guidance. Her voice is soothing and very fitting to the overall song. The chorus is a bit repetitive, but not annoying. If they can work on how she can capture the camera in the live performance, than we have our Maltese winner here.” 7.5/10

Connor: “Emma is wonderful and should never change, but this track by Cyprian has let her down. There’s moments in the verse when I’m like, “This is wonderful!” And then the chorus starts. If she was given any other song, I think she would be a serious contender with that voice of hers.” 5/10

Total Points: 31.5 (Average: 6.3)

Ike and Kaya- ‘My Home’

Arnaud: “A rapper featuring a singer. This could sound cringy, but it’s not. And we have A KEY CHANGE at the end!! ‘My Home’ gives off a very positive vibe. Let’s hope they give us a good chemistry on Saturday.” 7/10

William: “These two are obviously very talented, and I’m happy that they’re bringing something different. Jenny B wishes she could get on Ike’s level. Still, I’m not totally sure a love duet between two preteens is really what voters are looking for.” 4/10

Melanie: “I probably am the only one that actually loves the rapper in the song! I think it would be bland if we only let the girl sing the whole thing. The rap is giving it that little spark. Executed right on stage, this can fly high!” 7.5/10

Roy: “Builds very well from the start. I do think the chorus could have been mixed a bit better – the singer is getting washed over by the loud and up-front instrumental. But the rapping … that is some good talent! If they can deliver this live, this is definitely an amazing option. I really dig this!” 8.5/10

Connor: “I had low expectations, but Cyprian got this one RIGHT. Very JESC in nature and design and really fixes the issues I had with his other songs. Brings me back to the songs I listened to in the early ’00s, very “We Are the World”-esque. They are serious contenders.” 8/10

Total Points: 35 (Average: 7)

Kylie Micallef- ‘Keep Your Drama’

Arnaud: “Kylie has a very beautiful and mature voice that is very pleasant to the ear. I really love this jazzy vibe and the attitude in her singing. ‘Keep your Drama’ feels unique in this selection and could catch people’s attention, if it makes its way to JESC.” 9/10

William: “This kind of throwback to the pop-jazz boom of the mid-’00s is catnip to me. I was sold from the moment she sang her first note. The vocals are killer. Is this a little too sophisticated to work at Junior Eurovision? Maybe, but I’m excited to see how it does.” 9/10

Melanie: “Kylie has an amazing deep voice. I love the vibe in the song and the build at the end with the piano art. Will it work at Junior Eurovision? I don’t know, but this song is a masterpiece!” 8/10

Roy: “Kylie immediately grabbed my attention. Her expression and attitude are amazing. If she can carry this live, she will be an amazing candidate. Her voice is very interesting and unique as well. However, I wish the song was more memorable. I am not sure if this would stand out.” 6.5/10

Connor: “Holy cow this VOICE is something else. She’s giving me Amy Winehouse at a jazz lounge, and I’m living. This isn’t the type of song I would normally gravitate toward, but there’s a lot of potential. Christina has done a wonderful job at highlighting the artist she wrote for.” 8/10

Total Points: 40.5 (Average: 8.1)

Maria Curmi- ‘Wild and Free’

Arnaud: “I like the instrumentals, nice mix between urban banger and acoustic. But I still feel like the song is missing something, and the chorus lacks power.” 6.5/10

William: “Love the attitude and ethnic touches in the song! Maria is a style icon, and she’s already cooler than I will ever be. This song will require A LOT of stage presence and energy from her, but I believe she can sell it.” 8/10

Melanie: “Well, there are great parts in the song. The problem is that it sounds kinda messy. It’s not well balanced as a complete song, overall. Maybe it can be fixed with a revamp and great staging?” 5/10

Roy: “Backing track is definitely unique. I expect this to be one of the front-runners.. Her voice fits the song, but I am a tad distracted by the adult voices in the chorus. It’s a bit on the repetitive side, but catchy. There is good staging potential here. I am very curious to see this performed live.” 7/10

Connor: “Another powerful voice I didn’t expect! I love the instrumentation. It’s way different from anything else. Unfortunately, a lot of the performance is a call-and-response between the backing vocalists and Maria, and it doesn’t allow her voice to shine like it should. The song lets her down.” 5/10

Total Points: 31.5 (Average: 6.3)

Marija Djinovic- ‘Magic’

Arnaud: “The song isn’t really going anywhere. The guitars are good, but the lyrics and the singing don’t really give magic to me.” 5.5/10

William: “I could see this being a lot of fun on stage. I wish it gave Marija more opportunity to show off her voice and personality. As written, it’s a little … limited, vocally and creatively.

P.S. Marija, where did you get that cute jacket? I want one.” 4/10

Melanie: “I love Marija’s quirkiness in the video! It’s a well produced song and definitely stands out, because it’s not the standard ballad or pop song. With a great staging and choreography, I can see this winning.” 8.5./10

Roy: “Decent, but I feel like it’s a mismatch. Her voice doesn’t fully suit the song, and it feels like she doesn’t fully notice where she has to lay the emphasis to make the song pop. Maybe a different genre of song would have been better for her. The song instrumentally, is the best so far, I think.” 4/10

Connor: “Marija looks absolutely adorable in this video, but she also looks super scared and confused on what to do. The melody is also a bit lacking and doesn’t really allow her a chance to shine. It’s a wonderful attempt, but I don’t think it’s quality enough to stand out.” 3/10

Total Points: 25 (Average: 5)

Mycha, Kylie & Denzel Jo- ‘Running Free’

Arnaud: “The song feels really dated, and the voices don’t really blend together to me. For three minutes, the song give A LOT of energy, but there isn’t a moment of rest.” 5/10 

William: “They have some of the most mature voices in the competition. Props to Denzel Jo for being the only performer to co-compose his own song? Kid’s got swag. Probably my favorite, though I don’t know how much this will resonate with younger voters.” 9/10

Melanie: “This is giving me nostalgia vibes. I’m just curious if this will work with a younger audience. Will children vote for this party anthem, or do they think this will be too outdated? Anyway, great attempt from this trio!” 7/10

Roy: “I see that Denzel Jo composed the song himself. That is really dope. Kylie has a powerful voice, but I don’t know if Myca can keep up. I am rooting for this, just because Denzel Jo had such a part in the composing the really solid beat! Keep it up my man!” 7/10

Connor: “Wow, these voices were not what I expected from these two. However, I don’t think they lock together in the way they wanted. Denzel is cute, just bobbing around in the background. This is cute, with a promising beat, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be a bit of a disaster live.” 5/10

Total Points: 33 (Average: 6.6)

Rih & Bri- ‘Drops Like Fire’

Arnaud: “Nice urban song. Their voices blend well, and they seems to have a lot of attitude. As a dancer, I demand some heavy dancing for the chorus, and I’ll be happy.” 7.5/10

William: “Rih and Bri seem like very comfortable performers. Their harmonies are on point. They have chemistry. They know what to do with their hands. The song is just OK to me, but I’m not nervous at all for the performance. Their obvious experience is a big asset.” 7/10

Melanie: “These girls are bringing me back to days when I just started clubbing. It’s a cute song, and I definitely see the potential in it, however I see better picks in this national final.” 6/10

Roy: “When you sing about a fiery drop, it better be absolutely epic. This is only slightly achieved in the final drop and is completely missing in the other two. This is just so unfortunate this way…” 2/10

Connor: “A wonderful attempt at a pop banger, but their voices don’t match the genre. It lacks energy. Not the girls’ fault – the song and lyrics are constricting them. Toward the tail end, things get much more dance pop, but it’s too late. The girls also look like they are somewhat lost on stage.” 4/10

Total Points: 26.5 (Average: 5.3)

Yulan Law- ‘Change’

Arnaud: “The song about the environment of the selection. The pitch change in the chorus is a bit strange, but she has a very good voice. Hoping Yulan can deliver live. Love the instrumental break at the end.” 7/10

William: “Sounds like a winner to me. It’s anthemic. It’s inspirational. Yulan has lots of charisma, and her vocal is impressive. On paper, ‘Change’ checks all the boxes. Typical, but it’s executed at a very high level.” 8/10

Melanie: “If The World Wildlife Fund is looking for an ambassador, please hire Yulan Law. This song has a strong message, strong composition, and strong vocals. I just think that the translation from the message to lyrics is too obvious right now.” 7/10

Roy: “Good message, very poorly delivered. The lyrics are so up front and in your face. Writing a story and then trying to fit a backing track to it… not the way to go, in my opinion. The chorus has potential, and Yulan’s voice sounds good on the studio cut. She deserves better!” 3.5/10

Connor: “Shout out to the annual Maltese song from my friend Jonas Gladnikoff! This song would have fit in JESC 2019, when most of the songs were about climate change. This is a smash of a song, and Yulan’s beautiful voice really shines. This is one of the ones I want to win.” 9/10

Total Points: 34.5 (Average: 6.9)

Yulan Law- ‘On My Way’

Arnaud: “The second song from Yulan Law. This one is really good, and better than ‘Change’. We’ve already heard songs about the climate at JESC, so ‘On My Way’ feels more original. The voice and the instrumentals are really nice.” 8/10

William: “Yulan’s musical theater experience especially comes through here, and her vocal is strong and supported. Of her two entries, though, I think ‘Change’ is better suited to Junior Eurovision.” 6/10

Melanie: “It’s a beautiful song, and Yulan really delivers it. The build is great, and it kind of reminds me of the teen pop songs of the early ’00s. I just don’t know if it stands out enough. However, Yulan is really selling it, so maybe she will blow us away on stage.” 8/10

Roy: ” Yulan Law is such a dope artist name! The verse and pre-chorus are actually quite good. The chorus, however… The rattling hi-hats are random and way too loud. There is also no real thing to grab onto. Yulan has a lot of talent, but both of her songs are just not it for me.” 4/10

Connor: “This is probably the best song in the entire contest. Yulan has proven that she’s ready to be a star and could show up on the Eurovision stage and excel. There’s a lot of potential here, and this song really allows her to show off and convey a positive message. Either way, Yulan Law is my winner.” 9/10

Total Points: 35 (Average: 7)

Quite a lot of disagreement from our panel! Very exciting that all twelve songs have at least one member of Team ESCUnited rooting for them. Hats off to all eleven talented acts for giving us so much to discuss!

But what is the panel’s overall pick?

With a total score of 40.5 and average score of 8.1, Team ESCUnited selects … Kylie Micallef and ‘Keep Your Drama’! ‘Dear World’ is close behind, with ‘My Home’ and both of Yulan Law’s efforts making up the Top 5.

Which song in Malta’s selection are #YOU voting for? Sound off in the comments below, in our forum, or on social media @ESCUnited.

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