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.

First, when there’s nothing, but a slow glowing dream that your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind. Then your country offers you a chance to compete to represent them at Eurovision, the world’s largest song contest with around 200 million annual viewers.

Then you hear the music, you close your eyes, you feel the rhythm wrap around and take a hold of your heart. For 22 Maltese competitors, tomorrow they will take their passion and make it happen, the song’s come alive and they will sing for their lives.

The Malta Eurovision Song Contest has returned as a method of selection for the Mediterranean island nation and 22 acts will perform 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.

Aidan – “Ritmu”

Boris – 8 – “It’s perversely amusing to me that Aidan wrote about half of the songs in this NF, and cunningly kept one of the best songs for himself. Strategy King <3 “Ritmu” sounds like the *exact* sort of tropical R&B song that Malta would normally go for, except this time it’s male-fronted and in Maltese, two factors that truly make it unique. If you told me this entire MESC was a set-up to ensure Aidan won, one way or the other, I would happily believe it, and stan it as well.”

James – 6.5 – “Has a bit of a “Replay” vibe to it, except Aidan is in cheap Western get-up, there’s some tacky Spanish instrumentation layered in here and there, and tequila gets mentioned. If Aidan is going to go full gay cowboy, he has really got to commit. Better hand gestures (e.g. holding your hand like a pistol and blowing imaginary smoke), more suggestive eye movements, replacing the shirt with terrible fringe with just a brown leather vest. Restraint is not your friend at Eurovision (unless restraint is pluralized and you’re Hatari).”

Tyler – 7 – “First of all, just the novelty of a song being in Maltese makes me want to like this entry, but then I just don’t like the song itself oops. The beat feels generic and doesn’t really go anywhere for me other than being in the Maltese language, so while I have a positive feeling of it just for that novelty, there isn’t anything else for me to really like or care for. I think Aidan could be a fun performer with a fringe cowboy suit, but eh!”

William – 7 – “This whole package is a bit of a mish-mash. Not sure what about this Spanish-sprinkled electro pop track calls for a cowboy hat and fringe jacket, but at least he’s going for something. Aiden’s a very charming performer, and I feel confident about his ability to sell this. Would love to see Malta send a native language song. When’s the last time that happened? Maybe not my favorite of the selection, but I think it’s the one that could get Malta the best result in Turin?”

Total: 28.5 points (Average = 7.125)

Baklava feat. Nicole – “Electric Indigo”

Boris – 9 – “Shaking with laughter from the first note. The rhythmic build-up, the lyrics, the way the lyrics are enunciated (“DIIIIIIIVE INTO INDIGO SKIEEEES”), the fucking CHERVOICED bridge. Jesus christ I froth this Classical Music / EDM hybrid that talks like a washing machine and sounds like it’s been soundmixed together inside a concrete mixer SO MUCH. “Electric Indigo” is silly beyond the scope of words. However, in this boredom odyssey of a selection, this trash angel Quartissimo anthem stands out as one of the main purveyors of joy and anti-sleeping pills, so I secretly (I guess no so secretly once this post goes live) hope that it wins the whole thing <3″

James – 5 – “Classical and EDM often tango at Eurovision, sometimes with harmonious results (Moldova 2010) and sometimes like a flaming dumpster rolling into an orphanage (Bulgaria 2009). “Electric Indigo” is another entry that feels held back. The two female singers seem bored, like they’re selling car wax at an automobile convention. The Geoff Norcott look-alike violinist needs to do something other than standing around, and we need to crank up the bass and bring in more dancers. I suspect the song’s writers are more focused on balancing the violin and beats and are over thinking this. Just crank up both, put some ferocity into the vocals, lose some clothes and see what happens.”

Tyler – 6 – “Eh, this is fine. We might see at least one violinist on stage so that’s nice, but then the singing and the song doesn’t take me anywhere that fun. Or high like in the lyrics. It’s middle of the road for me and I don’t necessarily think this is that good or interesting apart from the almost unique name of the song itself. But that’s about it.”

William – 6.5 – “This is absolute gibberish, but it’s committed gibberish. Points for at least doing something a little different. This won’t blend in. Can’t shake the feeling that I should like this song more than I really do? I’m more into it in concept than I really am in execution, but they could do this up on stage in a way that really sells the fantasy.”

Total: 26.5 points (Average = 6.625)

Denise – “Boy”

Boris – 4.5 – “An anonymous mid-tempo slog, peppered with “boys” as if that makes it any better? At least Denise is attempting SOME staging based on the previews, but this bland studio version just goes nowhere.”

James – 6 – “When I was looking for this song on YouTube, the first results for me were Deniece Williams’s superb “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.” That song just f&%$ing slays, an anthem to hapless fellas who may not be your ideal dreamboat but whose sweet gestures and pure effort at trying to make you happy more than make up for it. And Deniece hits that whistle tone in the outro! 10 out of 10. Oh yeah, we’re not reviewing that. Malta’s Denise is Denise Mercieca, a hard-working single mom nurse and marketing rep who excelled at X Factor Malta. Denise also talks in the media about the emotional hardship of enduring sneering comments from people about being a single mom. She is “the Boy” in Deniece Williams song, the one who works hard to overcome and succeeds. I just wish the song writer had given her something more than this slight hook-up at a party song. Mercieca deserves more than the “Boy” she’s been given. I hope she gets it in the future and can try again.”

Tyler – 5.5 – “Denise sounds good in “Boy”, but that’s about it for me. The lyrics are quite bizarre to me, but not in a fun way. The lyrics read as if it was translated from Maltese into English, and it reads as clunky and unnatural to me. I think the idea behind “Boy” could be good and something I like, but I don’t care for the execution and the song feels both too short to really go anywhere and too long for me to listen to.”

William – 8 – “Yeah, this one. This one I’m into. I love her voice, and there’s a playful looseness to the interplay between the melody and lyrics. This is a vibe song. You’re going to be into it, or you’re not. I’m feeling it. Can’t wait to see this staged. There’s lots of potential.”

Total: 24 points (Average = 6.000) * Median = 5.75

Derrick – “II”

Boris – 6 – “Three minutes of inconspicuous but mildly enjoyable lounge vibes, performed by the bouncer of aforementioned lounge.”

James – 7 – “I’d be curious to hear Derrick’s story, why his song’s name is “II”, if he also works as a bouncer at the nightclub where he sings. Derrick would be a change of pace for Malta, as I don’t recall them sending a guy who looks like Snake Plissken’s younger brother but sings tender love songs in such a sweet voice. Is Derrick ready to inherit Željko Joksimović’s crown as bad boy crooner? Not yet, as he looks like he needs a bit of work on his presence and hand gestures (the unsung hero in the crooner’s arsenal of seduction techniques). And they need to lose the “II” as the title. If it’s for some lame reason like “it leaves you wondering what “I” is,” ditch it.”

Tyler – 5 – “I really want to like “II” (is it “eye-eye” or “two”? Inquiring minds want to know!) for it being in Maltese, but then when I hear the song talking about harmony and symphony, the music itself doesn’t feel like that at all to me. I don’t really like the melody here, and the song just doesn’t sound good to me! Cacophonous perhaps? Plus points for being in Maltese, but minus points for pretty much everything else. I don’t like this otherwise, rip.”

William – 5.5 – “I mean … points already for not being in English. Some of these other entries should have followed his lead. The song never totally grabs me, but it’s a fun little pop track. It’s not especially unique, but Derrick delivers it well. I could be convinced, with the right staging.”  

Total: 23.5 points (Average = 5.875)

Emma Muscat – “Out of Sight”

Boris – 4 – “I am surprised this is a favourite to win? Huh? “Out of sight” sounds like the jingle for a commercial on glycerine-free soap, or anti-bed watering mattresses or whatever the silly products are that PBS advertise during these endlessly long cash-grabs they call “selection shows”. Malta had better not put Emma between two publicity blocks because you’d accidentally skip this one before noticing it isn’t a part of the commercial block.”

James – 7.5 – “A catchy self-belief banger about leaving some random dude who didn’t value her in the dust. It really only gets going in the second verse when the bass kicks in, and other than the lyrics being bog standard for this sort of thing (“finding the woman inside” and so on), this would be a decent pick for Malta. A revamp and some clever staging, Muscat should have the experience and pedigree to cross the finish line and then qualify Malta for the Final.”

Tyler – 5.5 – “I’ve listened to this song two times and I don’t remember it at all. I think it’s fine? But also clearly not that memorable. I think Emma sings the song well? But I don’t care for the beat or anything. This is a nice song to NQ to so…I don’t know what else to say. Like, comment, and subscribe to the ESCUnited YouTube channel.”

William – 7 – “OK, at least we’re getting some VOCALS with this one. If she can deliver these notes live, we really might have something here. This isn’t the most unique musical composition in the world, but it gets the job done. Lots of room for dramatic, impactful staging, too.”

Total: 24 points (Average = 6)* Median = 6.25

Enya Magri – “Shame”

Boris – 5 – “A bit too dated of an eletropop ballad to really be memorable in this gargantuan field.”

James – 7 – “”Say my name, say my name, I’ll blaze through in a raging flame!” she shouts in the chorus. Is she Candyman? And if I run around yelling Enya, I’ll be locked up in an asylum with no-one but orderlies chortling, “bet you wish you could sail away now, dips%$&!” Despite the song’s name, it’s a female self-empowerment banger. A lot of steam is lost at the bridge, and they really should have shot for a more explosive, triumphant ending. At present, it just trickles to an end like an Orinoco Flow.”

Tyler – 6 – “Enya sounds great in this song, and I think this could be a fun song with the right performance, but I feel sort of blah about the song overall though. It seems fine, nothing too special to make it stand out for me though, so while I think it’s okay, okay just won’t cut it in the cutthroat world of Eurovision, so step it up where you can and good luck!”

William – 7.5 – “YES! Thank you, Enya. Finally an entry with some zest! Love her vocal tone. She’s got a VOICE, and she knows it. Enya’s just showing off on this song, and I’m not mad at her. The music track is propulsive, dynamic, and a little unpredictable. This has the potential to really HIT on stage, and I so hope it does … for all our sakes. We need Enya to wake everybody up.”

Total: 25.5 points (Average = 6.375)

Francesca – “Rise”

Boris – 3 – “The giantess from “Double Trouble” is back and oh dear what a downgrade. “Rise” would have been interesting if you could pretend it was about a baker preparing a giant loaf of bread. It’s just as white and bland as one!”

James – 7 – “A decent self-empowerment ballad. This is done well as this Eurovision trope goes, with a subdued start where Francesca assesses her current status, and the orchestration starts to come in slowly as she finds her inner strength to overcome and then a choir comes in to lead Francesca out to a triumphant ending. The formula works, Francesca does it well, but it does lack some distinctiveness. Much will depend on staging to give “Rise” some character. As we’ve seen at some other national selections, competence and class can be outshone by nose-picking yokels with a gimmick, so hopefully Francesca is given decent staging and costuming options to help sell “Rise” to the Maltese public.”

Tyler – 4.5 – “I think Francesca would be served with a better song, especially a better ballad. But “Rise” feels like a song where they had a hook for the first half, then just ran out of ideas so tried to put in the word “rise” as many times as they could as a writing exercise. The second half of the song feels quite lazy to me and not nearly as uplifting as intended, so while this was a good effort at a ballad, I really didn’t like this at all sorry.”

William – 4.5 – “Francesca’s got a very evocative vocal, and I’m feeling the drama. This is the kind of song they were putting in trailers for dystopian YA adaptations ten years ago. Lay this on top of footage from, like, The Maze Runner or something. It would fit right in. The mix on the canned gospel choir backing vocals here is at least a little lusher and less tinny than in some of the other offending entries.”

Total: 19 points (Average = 4.75)

 

At the end of Part One, Aidan Cassar leads the pack. But with only 7 of 22 acts down, will he hold on to the lead and earn ESC United’s recommendation to represent Malta at Eurovision 2022? Find out shortly.

1.) Aidan Cassar – “Ritmu” – 28.5 points (Average = 7.125)

2.) Baklava feat. Nicole – “Electric Indigo” – 26.5 points (Average = 6.625)

3.) Enya Magri – “Shame” – 25.5 points (Average = 6.375)

4.) Emma Muscat – “Out of Sight” – 24 points (Average = 6)* Median = 6.25

5.) Denise – “Boy” – 24 points (Average = 6.000)* Median = 5.75

6.) Derrick – “II” – 23.5 points (Average = 5.875)

7.) Francesca – “Rise” – 19 points (Average = 4.75)

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.

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