I am becoming really irritated at the way The Malta Song For Europe has been touted over the past two decades. The anticipation, pageantry, and worse still, the predictable dross that has characterised this festival seems to be growing year by year. I attribute such success thanks to the hype that it has been getting from so many stations, especially TV stations. Why don’t these selfsame stations state that the Eurovision is not exactly the be-all and end-all of one’s musical career or that it does not reflect or represent what is really going on in Malta and indeed, Europe? So, why all this fuss, all this emphasis on this festival? I find it so irritating because not even Eastern European countries who are actually fond of this festival, place so much emphasis and channel so much funds for this event.

Thank God that nowadays thanks to much better communications, which in themselves brought better contacts, local musicians have had and still do have much more opportunities than ever before to travel, tour and prove themselves without the need to resort to the Eurovision Song Contest or even Malta Song For Europe in order to try their luck and further their career. What angers me and many others who are not so keen about this festival is the fact that it sets perceptions and thus virtually kills off any chance of creativity. This has been evidenced over the years with so much trite and pathetic songs, which in turn, brought some very snide yet witty remarks from a few commentators, not least one Terry Wogan, who on his own steam, has made alternative Eurovision shows out of his frequent observations and comments for the BBC on Eurovision night.

This year has indeed been one of the worst ever Malta Song For Europe. Presentation-wise, it was quite good and the new committee surely deserves credit for at least, working hard to rationalise funds, and hosting a good effective spectacle with adequate funds. The new committee’s way of choosing the winner should perhaps be re-considered as I still believe that the judges should have some say even in the final choice. Although the option of short-listing three songs has helped in making a fairer choice, I still feel that even at this stage, the jury should be given some form of percentage in order to give a clearer and a truer picture of proceedings. The presentation itself may have lacked improvisation bar the Russian language joke. However, all in all it was good clean fun, at least, more interesting to watch than most of the entries, which sounded so drab, so predictable and so soul-less.

Chiara’s What If, was arguably the best of the lot though it fell short of its predecessors yet the song has already been given a boost by the singer’s superb, strong yet floating delivery. Its composers are not Maltese and I feel that some of our best composers can well and truly compete. The other two finalists came from the Paul Giordmaina and Fleur Balzan songwriting fold.

The songs in question, Before You Walk Away sung by Q and Someday, delivered by Eleanor weren’t bad but still lacked sparkle. Kylie Coleiro made a good transition from the Junior Eurovision with Let It Shine, an Andrew Zahra and Julian Farrugia composition. Elsewhere, I expected better offerings from the likes of Trilogy and J.Anvil. Besides, I found Classic Rebels Tonight At The Opera and Baklava’s Kamikaze Lover rather disjointed affairs. It may be true that there are a lot of cross-overs going on but there are also ways and means of doing such cross-overs. Christian Curtis