Malta MESC 2024- ESCunited Reviews

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.

Tonight, Saturday February 3, 2024 Malta’s Eurovision Song Contest is taking place where 12 acts will compete to decide who will represent Malta at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The ESCUnited team have reviewed each track. Some of the more studious reviewers submitted their song evaluations earlier based on the studio live performances released by the Maltese national broadcaster earlier on in the Eurovision season. Whilst other reviewers have submitted their reviews after the music videos dropped earlier this week. 

The ESCUnited panel consist of :

 

JANVIL Man

Boris -7-  “I think we can all agree that the combination Ian’s slenderman locomotion and him singing I’M YOUR MAAAAAANNNNN (at another man! Gay Icon ♥) fifty times during the song while also positing that he can be YOUR FATHER, BROTHER OR SON (roleplay king ♥), is more endearing and entertaining than the majority of these other offerings? It’s definitely more in-scene than f*cking Banana, that’s for sure. Good, a seven it is then.”

Daniel -5- “In a twist with Malta this year, we are doing the reverse. We saw the live first and now we are judging the videos.   Man sounds slick in the video, elevated into bigger, more epic, and impactful soundscapes which that studio performance could never capture. And credit to Manvil’s competent, ever so sexy,masculine affecting vocals which convey the songs guttural emotiveness. And big shout-out to all the older performers participating in all the National finals. But I would say it’s becomes a bit on the repetitive side, lyrically”

David -2- “Not a bad vocal, not a bad production, not a bad beat… and yet, I’m just bored. It just sounds like it’s going nowhere. Maybe I’m expecting more from the song, or wishing for something different vocally, but it just feels the same, so my patience eventually runs out”

James -7- “Janvil is a man, he’ll wine and dine you and seduce you under the stars, and make that time memorable. Nothing more, nothing less. This is a simple hedonistic song for elder millennials and up, without all the hang ups and insecurities (see Matt Blxck for a handful of those). Yes, the instrumentation does sound like it’s from the last decade, but that’s largely the point. “Man” is the anthem for the mature manwhore, so splash on that Yves St. Laurent Opium Por Homme, pull up to Hunters in Palm Springs in your Jaguar F-Type convertible, and enjoy.”

Tyler -4- “I dunno, I feel like a MV dedicated to your father and then talking about being a lothario gives the wrong message? If I hadn’t recognized him in previous Maltese selections as “Dan”, I’d think this vocal style is a put-on. It sounds swing and crooner, not really modern for today’s standards. I don’t think the beat is that interesting either, and this has nothing to offer me.”

Yehonatan -5.5- “Good vocals, good production, anthemic melody, and cringy lyrics. I don’t have anything else to say, it’s generally good without anything to make it stand out.”

Total: 30.5 / 60

 

HALEY AZZOPARDI Tell me that it’s over

Boris -3- “Just as Haley’s audition began my heart sank, because I immediately realized Tell me that it’s over is the sappy garbage Malta cannot resist voting for. Even with her choking at the end. It’s telling enough that Malta lives in a consumerist nightmare like a Bradburian dystopia that the “songs” they like are just a series of dumbed down checkmarks: Haley sings some words, there’s a royalty-free track, it lasts for the allotted time. Is it good? No. Is there a compelling story? No. Is there anything here to distinguish it from other MESC ballads. No. But it is in the final anyway. Was a MODICUM of flavor too much to ask from this I Feeling My Oatmeal of a country?”

Daniel -7- “Again, another song that has been elevated in my estimation by its video, a song which completely did not register beforehand.  Tell Me That’s It Over is at its heart a basic ballad, a ballad-by-numbers with an ambience of Alysha Keys.  Yet!!! There is something here. The song occupies this larger-than-life glossy sound space and Hayley’s vocal are truly impressive; soulful, emotive, she really sells it to me…. Im in it, I’m feeling the poor girl’s pain.”

David -2- “Haley’s voice… and that’s it! I lost complete interest on everything else, power-ballads rarely do well with me. Yeah, I’m struggling to find anything else good to say here.”

James -6- “Haley can sell drama, even though at 19 years old she seems a little too young for the relationship shenanigans described in the lyrics and depicted in the music video. There are some touches to this ballad that I like, from the introduction of the guitar to the gusto of Haley’s vocals in the chorus. I would like the idea of the bed and her lover ignoring her in a hilarious, over the top manner in the video translated to the stage somehow.”

Tyler -4.5- “Tell Me That It’s Over sounds like a cookie-cutter Maltese entry, using a structure that comes from a Maltese Eurovision Song Kit. Mandatory key changes, crafted lyrics and beats to try to showcase vocals, a song that you can’t hum to at all. The song’s formula was fresh in the 90s. I’m not interested in this song and the revamp didn’t change my mind to me, it’s MEH.”

 Yehonatan -8- “There is something magical about Haley. This song is a solid modern pop ballad, but she somehow makes it stand out, and makes me want to re-listen to it. I can actually feel the emotions from her, unlike many ballads that sound technically good but not more. If Malta wants to send a ballad, this is the one.”

 Total: 30.5/ 60

 

ERBA Sirena

Boris -8- “I am down for a trashy ethno-folk anthem in this dismal selection. Erba’ channel XXL realness with their messy and incohesive act, but unlike XXL they actually manage to harmonize well together.  Sirena is not Eurotrash at its most refined but it’s good for an audition, and an effective throwback to early 00s Eurovision, a time where Malta had a decent hot streak of good songs and decent results.”

Daniel -4- “I’m getting Little Mix and Fifth Harmony vibes from the get-go; a low-key RnB aesthetic that can only function within the girl-pop realms. Firstly, I need to praise Erba, and Sirena’s songwriters (of which most of them are Swedish) for incorporating the Maltese language which complement the Middle Eastern sounds in the production. And for those moments alone rescuing a song which otherwise lacks oomph and is almost life-less. I am not sure if it’s attributed to the nervous looking performances of each group member in the video or the rather monotone production. I was expecting something more in comparison to the group’s promising live performance.”

David -7- This is a vibe! Awesome and catchy melody, a bit too middle eastern for me, but I like it! Great harmony among the 4 vocalists, maybe a bit more practice needed when it comes to controlling their vocals, since it does get a bit louder than needed, but I’m feeling this one. Overall great production. Bonus, being the Maltese parts, sadly I want more of it.

James -9- “I have dogged on Tom Hugo and Alexander Nyborg Olsson’s songwriting on another song in this selection, but they got it correct with Erba’. And for once, we get some Maltese language and musical influences in this girl group dance track. Sure, the lyrics are dumb, but when you have four young women on stage singing and dancing about being sirens (of legend, not sirens like Samanta Tina’s vocals), then how could you possibly go wrong? This is both fun and competently done, which is great for Malta as most of Erba’s rivals fail at one of those two, or both.”

Tyler -6.5- “I don’t think trying to go for a Cleopatra vibe is the right well, but hell, at least it’s interesting for Malta, so I mildly approve of this. Erba’ could be a slay live (doubtful) if the vocals are on point and the dancing is good too with proper staging. The Maltese in the chorus feels a little forced, it might have better to just go all English for this one. “Sirena” is at least memorable and it’s good for a Maltese girlslaybop.”

Yehonatan -7.5- Sirena is this type of ethno pop entries that feels slightly outdated but it is also where it draws its magic from. The Maltese bonus is a great bonus, and overall it feels like a late 2000s girl group schlager, and we need more of that in Eurovision! If they pull a slick performance it could have a really good chance.”

 Total: 42/60

 

NATHAN Ghost

Boris -3- “An emotional ballad drowned out by its own instrumentation. Strong instrumentation is good. Ghost pretends to be strong: has too many elements going on, all at once, and they clash with each other. Otherwise, it’s not quite different than for any Andra Chansen flop ballad from the past decade, right down to the reed-voiced, charismatic black hole of a sadboi struggling to sing it.”

Daniel -4- “I give a pass to all the smaller countries at Eurovision for hiring songwriters from across the field because undeniably they have much smaller music industries and lets be real, it’s not as if larger countries abstain from seeking out the talents of Swedish or American producers. Ghost is very Scandi sounding in that well-produced non-specific hyperballad mush kind of way. You can see that Nathan is giving it his all and in the pre-chorus he implements this cute, intricate vocal style. But sadly, as it stands, this for me isn’t managing to cut it to anything above average’

Nathan -2- “A shaky performance a delivery at the beginning, but over the course it does get better. Song wise, it’s a bit slow and the build-up and barely makes a big change. I needed to be won over immediately but considering I must be fair a give the song a chance, that’s all that kept me, otherwise my interest would’ve been gone from the shaky start.”

James -3- “Nathan may proclaim that he is a ghost, but you know who else has been? Tom Hugo, who co-wrote this with husband Alexander Nyborg Olsson and TVM’s in-house mercenary Cyprian Cassar. You know, because he was barely present in KEiiNO’s own national selection entry at MGP this year. Anyway, he’s not exactly doing wonders over in Malta with Nathan’s Ghost, a lukewarm self-pity ballad with lyrics absolutely no-one would want to sing along to. The brief end statement of “I’m no longer a ghost” should be the crux of the song instead of a throwaway line which most sad fans would miss when they use this song as the time to take a toilet break. The story of Ghost should be sadness, then realization of sadness, then taking steps to overcome sadness.”

Tyler -3- “Hated this song in the auditions, and I’m happy to learn that it hasn’t changed here! It’s the typical song of, “I should really break up with this person, but I’m scared to until the end of the song :(” one of my least favorite themes in music. It’s just complaining for three minutes about how their relationship makes them feel and not going about changing it. The added electronica in the chorus is not elevating Ghost at all, neither is the key change in the bridge, and this would NQ anyway so who cares!”

Yehonatan -5- “Nathan has a specific style that he’s delivering in MESC for the past 2 years, first with  Creeping Walls and now with Ghost. Unfortunately this entry is less strong melodically and I find it hard to remember it, but the atmosphere he’s creating in both of them has a lot of potential, and I’d like him to come back with something more powerful and with a clearer inspiration behind it.”

Total: 20/60

 

LISA GAUCHI Breathe

Boris -2- “Another one of those female-fronted ballads that really doesn’t feel like it’s more than ticking traits off a checklist. This one distinguishes itself from the other two specifically by being more delusional (I WONT BE A SHEEP, Hm Okay sis)  and by a very bad case of Unfortunate Singing Face. Lisa also warbles as much as Haley and Gail did, singing about breath and yet running out of it by the halfway mark. Sounds like perfect finalist material to me!”

Daniel -3- “I think I prefer Lisa herself than her song. She has a cool presence, even in the throws of existential dread, as the storytelling visuals in video aspires to tell us. Another ballad-by-numbers but perhaps the difference here say with Haley Azoopardi’s song is  with Haley, I felt her pain, the garvitas of her emotions,  it was able to transcend the ballad’s predictability. Whereas with Breathe, no matter how competent Gauchi’s vocals are, the song roams in this inauthentic generic territory desperately trying to make you feel something and I’m just not receiving a thing.”

David -2- “Wonderful voice… that’s it. Ballad, so… I’m just bored, interest is long gone.’

James -7- “Another X Factor Malta graduate, but this one is given a platform to strut her stuff with lyrics that celebrate independence and escaping a toxic and suffocating personal relationship. This pop ballad won’t win any awards for originality, and it may struggle in an all-televote Semi-Final, but you can’t fault Lisa’s pipes, gusto and charm.”

Tyler -4- “I like Lisa’s crop-top sweater in this! It’s cute and I like the colors. Breathe itself is a clunker unless the staging is good, which I find doubtful anyway that this could qualify. I don’t think the bridge is a breath of fresh air, and I’d be giving Lisa all the room in the world to breathe since I’m staying far away from this. I guess Lisa sings the song well, but the song is just so slow and generic to make any positive impact on me.”

Yehonatan -6-Breathe sounds like a Junior Eurovision ballad, but not in a bad way. It feels a little immature in the delivery, but the foundations of the song are good enough. I find it hard to believe I’ll re-listen to it often, but overall it’s a solid option.”

Total: 24/60

 

SARAH BONNICI Loop

 

Boris -7- “Sara burst onto the stage all HOT SPICY PIQUANT, LIKE A CHEELEY PEPPA, and then proceeded to do a live performance that Go Girl, Gave Us Nothing ♥. Honestly, the 7 is more of a “Bless You” than anything else, but the song’s also enjoyable eurotrash that will prove critical  in balancing out the DULL AS DISHWATER ballads in this final line-up.”

Daniel -4- “Slightly dated mid 00s dance pop sounds, but who knows maybe that sound is coming back and I’m just not clued up on the fashions. I appreciate Bonnici’s efforts, she looks great and there’s unique sultriness to her vocals, but she is working with an average dance pop track at best. I don’t know… with the level of girl bops that have graced the Eurovision stage in recent years to succeed you kind have to really stand out and really give it your all and you need to get nuggets of that from audio or the video before we even get to the live. I’m not getting that from Sara, yet!”

David -4- “I might have this song on “loop”, if it can make it to Sweden. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a while. I am enjoying the dance beat, I love how Sarah really tries to sell the song, but it just doesn’t feel complete. Lyrically, I’m completely lost, since I’m paying no attention to that part. A shame with a great vocal range as well.”

James -6- “Sarah Bonnici entered Junior Eurosong 2010 with Kitty Kitty Cat and was a backing vocalist for Malta’s Junior Eurovision 2010 entrant, so it’s nice to see the JESC to ESC pipeline continue to flow. Whether she will make it to Malmo with what is a fairly average club banger remains to be seen, though that may be enough for her to beat some truly terrible rivals this year. But you’ve heard this song before (“you got me on loop” is pretty darn near to “Replay” in many ways), you’ve heard it done better, and the more Eurovision wannabes try this the copies get weaker and weaker before becoming a faint outline of the original.”

Tyler -6- “The beat for Loop conveys that this will be a slay and something to watch out for, but I find Sarah’s vocals to not be strong enough to be the next “Fuego” or “SloMo”. Especially with the mandatory key change bridge to show off her pipes that aren’t there for me. “Loop” is a bit of an earworm though, so that can be a positive for watchers. I think the song is just good, not amazing, so the staging will have to be spectacular to change my mind.”

Yehonatan -8- “This is a proper dance banger and it can deliver a great live show. Very playful, with a chorus that is delivered almost as if she’s speaking it and it’s very refreshing. If she’ll be interactive with the dancers in the live show while keeping her vocal on point, this should have a pretty good chance.”

Total: 35/60

 

GRETA TUDE Topic

Boris -7- I AM THE TOPIC *CAR ALARM NOISES*. Yeah I mean. How could I not love Greta on sight? A drag queen from Malta with the same voice as Sylvester the Cat is also the most overwhelmingly Welsh person in existence. Topic is a car crash (KEEP TALKING! blaBLAblablablaBLA *octave drop* BLARG BLARG BLARG)  but like… obviously? The entire purpose is to provide shits and giggles. Also, Maltese auditions are somewhere between Belarus and Moldova in terms of level. Greta didn’t have her full budget yet! Honestly cannot WAIT for the decadent extravaganza she’ll slay with in a few days. She’s having a great time and so shall I.”

Daniel – 6- “I was sort of waiting for the moment where a copy/ paste Rupaul’s Drag Race act would dare to enter the Eurovision fray. So thank you Malta! And whatever we say about the song, we cannot fault it for being thoroughly entertaining, so again… thank you Malta ! How does one review this without applauding first Greta Tude for her boldness but also strife she probably experienced in the sake of her art form, lest we forget the cruel world we live in. If we were to critique the song, off the bat I would say this exactly the kind of song that Rupaul himself and any his show’s contestants would release. Songs relying on themes about slaying or serving or whatever a Ru girl does, heavy innuendos, familiar minimal repetitive beats and of course accompanied by ballroom dance moves. And maybe some sort of social commentary thrown in for good measure. Even if its pretty standard within the genre it functions, it does manage to still serve.”

David  – 2 – “I’ll give it this, the song is overall pure entertainment, and that’s really all I can give. I’m just REALLY over this kind of drag acts that are all “me, me, me, look at me” centered. To I mind it, no, not at all, but I also don’t really care for it. It also doesn’t help that the song is about 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and somehow feels longer than that.”

James– 3 – “Have you ever wondered what would happen if you jammed a choir of Gremlins into the chorus of a RuPaul knock-off? Yes, I hear a few out there going “slay, queen!” but Jesus, set yourselves some standards as fans. This is worse than Courtney Act’s attempt at Eurovision, and that wasn’t well received. There is some self-deprecation in here, which doesn’t make it a total loss. But this is hardly original, and the chorus is beyond irritating.”

Tyler – 6.5 – “If you regularly enjoy listening to the genre of Drag Queen Pop, then you’re going to love Topic (Bla Bla). I’m not a connoisseur of the genre, but if Malta is going to submit a song to Eurovision and NQ, then at least be memorable and entertaining. And I think this song can be it! We need an upbeat drag queen song in Eurovision, and Greta Tude can deliver this for sure. The vocals aren’t there for me, the beat is at least interesting (despite the breakdown in the bridge), so I’m a mild fan of this after she got robbed in last year’s selection.”

Yehonatan -5.5- “Usually I’d say songs like this are a result of the Käärijä-fication of Eurovision, aka choruses with nonesense sounds repeating themselves as a hook. However, in Greta’s case, this sounds very authentic, because it is typical for a drag song, and so it actually doesn’t sound like they’re riding on a trend there. Still, the song itself is not strong enough to hold on stage, but it is amusing enough to make me happy that it justs exists in the selection.”

Total: 30/60

 

MIRIANA CONTE Venom

Boris -6- “Aww, dahling Miriana gets to be last place in two MESC finales now. Sweet! Venom is one of those anthems that appears much more fierce than what it actually is. It hinges too hard on tough sounding catchphrases and silly sound effects and vocalizations for its sass. It’s a tropey mess and comes across as both dated and poor quality, but Miriana sells it decently and there is potential for a fun trainwreck live under a lavish budget. Venom needs to invest hard in its presentation, or else my earlier snarky comment about Miriana placing last twice will become reality.”

Daniel -4- “I’m trying to locate a song amongst the plethora of musical rnb pop references, rehashed beats and regurgitated words coupled by intermittent vocal flourishes by Miriana’s impeccable soulful and commanding voice. Going by the video, Miriana impresses, embodying all characteristics of a sassy diva – a young version – but with a song that doesn’t equal her persona or her talent. There are many, perhaps too many, sonic ingredients in the mix, but none of them coalesce together, making the listening experience somewhat jarring. Possessing a song structure which consists of several mini-build ups which never amount to anything, apart from leaving the listener perplexed and unsatiated.”

David -4- “God damn! Miriana has vocal range! Confidence and strong vocal on delivery, no doubt there. I wouldn’t call the song was, since it’s not harmful, maybe a bit sour instead. The music style is not really me, and I wanna hear more from Mariana. The song needs a more powerful, a more interesting beat and a better rhythm. Miriana is pulling it unbelievable much, but the song is very dragging.”

James -4- “Isn’t venom just a type of poison? So “I sting like venom which hurts like poison” is a redundant and dumb, like saying “I hit like bullets which hurts like a gunshot”? As for staging, I do like the dictator chic that Miriana went for in the music video, and I hope she carries that to her final performance. As for the song itself, it’s a tedious hip hop track with a melody that leaves your head quicker than someone sucking the venom out of a snake wound, though thankfully it won’t leave a scar. I think Miriana has potential for the future, though she’ll need a more inspired track than this and less dopey lyrics.”

Tyler -5.5- “Miriana feels like a Destiny At Home upon first impression. Sure, the vocals are strong, but also seems to be so forced to create moments that it feels like a vocal exercise than an actual song. I can get behind the message of Venom if this wasn’t already done with Telemóveis, there goes Malta again lagging behind the times! I’m not as wowed by the song that the song is trying to upsell me with, and I won’t be fooled!”

Yehonatan -9-  “LET HER GO TO EUROVISION ALREADY MALTA. Miriana is the epitome of girlboss and Venom is such a great anthem to prove that. I’ll admit, I wanted more production value on the track, as it sounds a bit cheap at the moment, but the foundations are there, and with a revamp this could be the bop of the season. Also generally heavy brass instruments in pop songs get me hooked immediatly.”

Total: 32.5 / 60

RYAN HILI Karma

Boris -6.5- “In this field, Ryan stands out as The Most Serious Contender, and Malta’s likeliest lifeline out of the semifinal. Is Karma good? Eh, not really, it is fairly paint-by-numbers as far as Eurovision-specific songs go. But Karma is also very catchy and that should not be underestimated. GOT ME ON MY KNEES NOW has rung through my mind on several occasions, and at random intervals too when I was running errands and not specifically thinking about Eurovision. It’s an unassuming little midtempo pop ballad at the end of the day, but one whose melody you will involuntarily find yourself humming during your next grocery run.”

Daniel -5- “Interesting production values underlie this formulaic ballad, which is undoubtedly elevated by Ryan’s skilled and powerful vocals who has been attempting to represent Malta for a while now. Karma lyrically touches upon the themes of a love interest turning down a virile alpha male and here we capture him in a rare moment of weakness, on his knees begging for something, just to justify the hear-felt and intensity of this pained male vocal. And perhaps its this cheesiness in the lyrics which I find grating, poisoning an otherwise respectable song. I appreciate Ryan’s effort nonetheless”

David -5- “Absolutely awesome vocal skills and range, Ryan is really in control here. The song is also very pleasant and soothing to just casually listen to. Not something I would put on constant repeat, but it has some vibes to it. Great build-up as well, the way I like it. I do however, wish that more was done out of the rhythm and beat, something that could make me far more hooked on the song.’

James -5- “Swedish mercenary alert! This song sounded very Melodifestivalen-y and lo and behold, I Googled its authors and Linnea Deb and Joy Deb of Mans Zamerlow’s Heroes fame showed up. Pair them with an X Factor Malta winner and… you get something rather canned. Don’t get me wrong, you can hear why Ryan won X Factor. He can hit them hit notes and hold them, which will certainly wow the juries. But the word salad that pass for lyrics and the Swedish mercenary canned corn that pass for musical composition of this ballad won’t.”

Tyler -4.5- “I keep hearing Ryan Hill as being a possible Maltese representative with his doing well in a singing competition, but if the vocals are good but the lyrics and music aren’t, then it doesn’t matter to me! This falls in the same trap Miriana has in that this feels like a vocal exercise when the song mean nothing at all. I don’t find the beat to be interesting and I guess we’ll see if Ryan gets karmic justice on me for not liking this, oh well!”

Yehonatan -4-Karma sounds like it came out of the same music factory as too many songs in this national final season, and if I’m honest it will be very anticlimactic if it were to win in the end. We have so many other countries that will probably pick an uninspired ballad, and Malta has so many other great and interesting options, so overall this is a no for me.”

Total: 30/60

 

GAIL ATTARD Wild Card

Boris -2- “NOW I WILL STAND UP FOR MYSELF BY BELTING is such a tired trope for ballads in general, so of course it still finds footing in Malta. The empowerment feels unearned though: Wild Card flips constantly between numbly piano ballad and inarticulate textbook bond theme at a speed it makes my teeth ache. Was this one really that much better than Bewsa and Empire?”

Daniel -2- “A rather DIY video in comparison to the other 11 acts, not sure why the Maltese delegation singled out Gail and scrimped on her video. A video which seems to take its cues from the of last year’s Cypriot entry, but taking the relationship drama to the next level where the couple actually gets physical with each other, they literally end up trying to drown each other in the pool. And bizarrely there seems to be this demonic sounding backing vocal, not sure what the intention is with that; perhaps Gail is possessed? Regardless Gail is a competent vocalist, really trying to sell on the emotion of this physically bruising relationship. For all these deep cuts and abrasions, Gail’s ballad fails to conjure goosebumps, it goes nowhere and bears no hooks, completely unmemorable.”

David –3- “That is some range! I really wish that the song could do the same. Gail really just strikes with that vocal range, but it is a huge shame the song doesn’t do the same. There’s a bit of a beat, but even that is very silent, turning the song into a showcase for Gail’s vocal abilities, not that I mind, but it takes focus away.”

James -5- “Great voice, dull song. I was more fixated with the plastic coverings in the video. Why did the plastic sheet they’re sitting on only cover half of the sofa? Did Gail run out of TVM’s video money while making the argument in the car scene? And why is the song called “Wild Card” when it’s not in the lyrics and Gail’s protagonist is trying to break free from a toxic relationship? A wild card is one that can take on any value, so is she saying she is not going to be what her antagonistic ex wants her to be? Of all his sins, she did not mention that.”

 Tyler -3- “Hurray, a boring ballad! This selection really needed this. The start of the song is much too slow for me and too long to keep my interest. Then we hit the chorus where it gets minimally interested, then it’s back to a snooze fest. Why is Gail ending the song with wailing only halfway through? It’s giving me false hope that the song is over. I only care about strong vocals when the composition and lyrics are actually good, but if it’s just trying to tell everyone you’re a good singer by belting high notes for a minute and a half, sorry, that’s not a song, and I’m not interested!”

Yehonatan -7.5- “Wildcard is a solid power ballad that can easily score a good amount of points from the Eurovision juries. I wish there were more things that would set it apart from other power ballads, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and the formula they have been using here works very well.”

Total: 22.5/60

 

DENISE Mara

Boris -6.5- “The general rule with Eurovision anthems is that they are always funny (excited), always unearned in their egomania (complimentary) and always complete gutter trash (affectionate). This one fits the pattern (listing  all potential relationships between lovers and mentioning SISTER-WIFE ♥) and I enjoy it for what it is: a better attempt than Boy. NOW SHUT UP AND WATCH HER WASTE.”

Daniel -4- “Mara kiss my tiara??? I’ve not heard that before. So kudos to Denise for penning that lyric. Elements of this are a blatant Chainsmokers/Sia rip off, and the now oh so familiar jerky production dips in the chorus also in the bridge here, giving the space for an expected dance break. Its in the other moments though that Mara’s merits lie, when its not attempting to emulate anyone or any sound, allowing Denise and her vocal to shine through. The video does hints that Denise is an assured performer, so it would be interesting to see it live… again… but better hopefully.”

David -2- “Somehow, it bothers me that it’s in both Maltese and English, in this case I feel that just one language would’ve been the best possibility. The beat is also a bit slow and not as heavy-hitting as I would like it. Eventually, over time I lose interest over time, and looking more forward to the song ending more than anything else.”

James -2- “What did Anne Frank and Rosa Parks do to catch strays in this terrible attempt at female empowerment? I am not sure what’s worse – Denise’s likening herself to those historical figures, her shoddy vocals, or her costume design, one of which is a grey pair of overalls that make her look like she is starring in some ill-conceived piece of North Korean propaganda. I do like the ring of old white geezers circling her in the video to judge her, though in reality, I suspect those casting aspersions on Mara will be a lot more diverse (i.e. everyone!).”

Tyler-4- Really don’t like the lyrics for this one. I understand wanting to sing a womanhood anthem, but comparing yourself to historical figures like Anne Frank, Rosa Parks, or the Queen of Hearts (?!) because you don’t care about people telling you you’re too loud, was in a movie, and became a mother isn’t a good look. It feels like overconfidence to the point of delusion and doesn’t come close to encapsulating what being a woman is. I like the beat of the song though, and it could have been interesting, but this ain’t it at all!

Yehonatan -9.5- “That’s how you do it Malta!! An empowerment song that doesn’t sound too cliche, with a suxh a sharp chorus that hits you right in the face. And usually that means the verses are weak, but that’s not the case here, as the build for it is even better! It is so sassy, and so bad-ass, this ticks all the boxes for a great place in Malmö. The only complaint is of course, make it longer, it’s 2:15 for the love of god, add another verse in the beginning, do a pre chorus before the final chorus, shake things up somehow but make use of those 45 seconds you have.”

Total: 28/60

 

MATT BLXCK Banana

Boris -1 – “BE’ELEXEEKAY spells out BETRAYER this year. It seems like a hackjob, to like Topic a lot more than Banana, but I fail to see why it would be controversial?  Topic is a fun unpretentious drag song that is deliberately bad for shits and giggles and it is never winning MESC. Banana on the other hand is a cynical attempt at “funny novelty” and TikTok virality and has the finesse of a fire alarm. The real ringer however, is that Banana is a Sean Banana song and not a Matt Blxck song, and that makes it painfully hetero-coded. That Matt Blxck -who OWNED the camp scene in MESC with his graphic tongue-in-(ass-)cheek anthems about his merry messy sex life- would sell himself out like that for Swedish heteronormativity, is perhaps the biggest non-Norway disappointment of the season so far. This is the choice for Malta if the objective is to score even fewer televote points than The Busker did.”

Daniel – 7- “If Norway and other Scandinavian national finals are attempting to send bleepy eurotrash AI inspired pop songs to Eurovision, why can’t Malta send its own version of a novelty track. In fact its endeavoring to send two one-hit wonders, Greta Tude and now Matt Blxck with Banana. I find myself approving with Matt Blxck is doing, leaning into humor, incorporating quirky instrumentation, soundbites from his local dialect and infectious dance moves taking us through a journey of body-positivity and empowerment. Banana is equal parts catchy, equal parts chintzy and equal parts absurd. What strikes me most is Matt Blxck himself, his unabashdness is thoroughly entertaining, appearing to have fun and not taking the whole Eurovision process too seriously. Is it risky? yes, but maybe worth it. ”

David – 1- “I’m just gonna say, what I’m thinking… “what in the fuck am I even fucking listening to???”. Yes, it’s damn entertaining, and I hate myself for enjoying it. Song wise, it’s a disaster, but I’m entertained??? I’m laughing, but also… what the fuck, really?”

James  – 1 – “There are defenders of this out there proclaiming that this is “so bad, it’s good!” Or that the cringe is intentional. No, sometimes trying to be crap for the sake of giggles just ends up as crap, and Eurovision is littered with the corpses of gimmicks like this. If this gives you the jollies, good for you. I will judge you and question your sincerity as a Eurovision fan, though. However, this is so cringe it gives me the willies. And for all its cringe, Matt even screwed up the video. If you want to sell banana jokes, why are the dancers all clothed women and not buff, oiled up shirtless dudes? I would have admired this more if he committed more to his own terrible jokes.”

Tyler – 2 – “Nope, every Matt Blxck entry has been diminishing returns to me. I’m sure this song could be “goofy” and then have fans to it, but come the hell on. Banana is incoherent, filled to the brim with nonsensical lyrics that provide nothing of value. The song is grating immediately at the start and doesn’t let up, all in the name of being quirky (debatable). If there was a point at all to this song, then maybe I could ironically stand this entry, but if this wins for Malta, it’s an easy last place for the year.”

Yehonatan – 8-  “It took me a long time, but eventually I got on board with this song. This is of course another clear case of Käärijä-fixation with a chorus of mostly random sounds, and random lyrics, but for some reason it works, maybe? It’s very colorful,  not only in regards to the music video, which is the only one that doesn’t look like it was film in the same underground parking lot. It is simply full of joy and charisma that no one can take from Matt Blxck, and then I can forgive it for being very annoying, and like it for what it is.”

Total: 20/60

 

Final ranking of MESC 2024 finalists according to ESCUnited reviewers:

1. ErbaSirena, 42

2. Sarah Bonnici – Loop, 35 

3. Miriana ConteVenom, 32.5

4. Janvil – MAN, 30.5

4. Haley Azzopardi – Tell Me That It’s Over, 30.5

5. Greta Tude – Topic (Bla Bla), 30

5. Ryan Hili – Karma, 30

6. Denise – Mara, 28

7. Lisa Gauci – Breathe, 24

8. Gail – Wildcard, 22.5

9. Nathan – Ghost, 20

9. Matt Blxck – Banana, 20

 

 

MALTA AT EUROVISION

Prior to the 2024 contest, Malta has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest thirty-five times since its first entry in 1971. Malta briefly competed in the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1970s before withdrawing for sixteen years. The country has competed in every contest since their 1991 return. Malta’s best placing in the contest thus far is second, which it achieved on two occasions. Both in 2022 and 2023, Malta failed to qualify for the final with the songs “I Am What I Am” performed by Emma Muscat and “Dance (Our Own Party)” performed by the Busker. On 30 January 2024, an allocation draw was held to determine which of the two semi-finals, Malta was drawn in the first half of the second semi-final.

 

Who do #YOU think will win MESC and represent Malta at Eurovision 2024? Do you agree with our thoughts? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page!

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