Now that the National Finals season is finished and all songs for Eurovision 2016 have been selected we now have a period of just over a week where we wait for the rehearsals to begin in Stockholm. What better way to fill the time than to look back over the 60 years of Eurovision at some of the best and worst entries that countries have sent to the Eurovision stage. There are 43 countries going to Stockholm to take part in the 2016 edition of our favourite musical extravaganza and we continue our journey with Malta who have never won the contest but have finished 2nd twice and 3rd twice too. They have also finished in the top 10 nine times. They have finished last three times and have failed to qualify from the Semi Finals five times with their lowest Semi Final finish 25th. This has all been achieved in 28 participations. You can check out the previous articles in the best and worst series for Ireland HERE ,Spain HERE, Austria HERE, Bosnia & Herzegovina HERE, Iceland HERE, Belarus HERE, Denmark HERE, Georgia HERE, Germany HERE, Cyprus HERE, Finland HERE, Belgium HERE, Hungary HERE, Switzerland HERE, Ukraine HERE,Moldova HERE, Estonia HERE, Norway HERE, Italy HERE, Slovenia HERE,The Netherlands HERE, Armenia HERE, Azerbaijan HERE, San Marino HERE, Israel HERE,Albania HERE, Poland HERE,Serbia HERE,France HERE, Romania HERE, Russia HERE, Croatia HERE and Czech Republic HERE.
So this year Malta are represented by Ira Losco with the song ‘Walk on Water ‘. We will have to wait and see if it turns out to be more of a best or worst song for Malta but the overall reaction is fairly positive so far and at Eurovision Ireland we just LOVE IT!! You can catch up on our recent article on our thoughts on the song HERE, our article on Malta yet to be winners HERE and our interview with Ira in London recently HERE.
So my selections for best and worst entries are based on a combination of actual results and personal taste. Now Malta have twenty eight entries to choose from making the task a lot easier. There are some great songs from Malta over the years but I am struggling to pick out the three best. So I will highlight more good Maltese entries after I have picked three good and bad ones.
We only have to go back 14 years to find our first song that is one of the best for Malta. The year was 2002 and we were in Tallinn to see Ira Losco singing the song ‘7th Wonder’.
Now this was a dramatic ballad, with Losco singing about how she feels about “the man” – her lover. It was written by the prolific Eurovision writers Philip Vella and written by Gerard James Borg. Malta had asked five local popular singers to do backing vocals for the performance which went down well with the home crowd. Ira Losco will of course represent her country again this year in Stockholm and will have to go some to beat her previous result. This song finished in 2nd place only 12 points behind the winner Latvia with a total of 164 points. This is still the joint highest finish for Malta in the contest.
So moving along we look at one of the worst entries for Malta. We were in Edinburgh in 1972 to see Helen and Joseph perform the song ‘L-imħabba’.
Now the song was a throwback to songs that we heard back in the 60’s. The fact it was 1972 and it was considered old fashioned then says something. The song is a mid-tempo duet with the singers describing a search to find the answer to the question of “What is youth’s big love?” . Helen and Joseph were certainly accomplished singers but sadly had the wrong song. It ended up finishing last with a surprisingly high 48 points. The abnormally high last-place score by contemporary standards is due to the voting system in place at the time, which guaranteed all songs at least 34 points.
So now we move back to look at another best of entry for Malta. We were in Birmingham in 1998 and the performer was Chiara with the song ‘The One That I Love’.
Now the song was a gentle haunting ballad and I was in the audience to hear it that night. I had not rated the song pre contest but when I heard Chiara sing the hairs on the back of my neck were raised. Chiara Siracusa was a young Maltese singer just starting out on a long successful journey. She went on to represent her country another two times in 2005 and 2009. With Eurovision being a national passion in a country that has so far never won the contest, much of Malta held its collective breath in the latter stages of the event as their entry held a joint lead with Israel, with only one country left to declare its vote. But Chiara was to suffer heartbreak in the end, as Macedonia gave her no points at all, leaving her behind the victorious Dana International of Israel, and even pushing her narrowly into third place behind Imaani of the UK. It ended up with 165 points and at the time became the best result for Malta due to its higher points.
Our next song that has to be considered one of the worst was in the year 2006 and we were in Athens to witness Fabrizio Faniello singing ‘I Do’.
This was a song that was co written by Fabrizio and it was his second appearance at Eurovision having already taken part in 2001. The song was an uptempo pop number in which Faniello tells his lover that “I love you like a fool”, despite the fact that their relationship has ostensibly ended. The song ended up finishing 24th and last in the Final with only 1 point from Albania. The poor result is claimed to be as a result of the performance, in which Faniello and his backing vocalist appeared to sing in different keys and frequently miss notes.
So onto our next song that was one of Malta’s best. It was in 1992 and Malmo was witness to seeing Mary Spiteri perform with the song ‘Little Child’.
Now starting with the song it was performed in English. The song is a ballad, in which Spiteri addresses the titular “little child” and informs him or her that she has become old and cynical – as well as delivering the warning that this is the result of growing older. All is not lost, however, as the innocence of the child inspires Spiteri to see the world in a more positive manner. Now Mary became a bit of a fan diva off the back of this performance. She has also before and since tried to go to Eurovision on a number of occasions between 1971 and 2008. It was also confirmed that Mary Spiteri held the longest note for 13 seconds in Eurovision Song Contest history with her performance of Little Child in 1992. The song finished in 3rd place with 123 points which was the best result at that point for Malta.
We now arrive at another song for Malta and it’s another of the worst ones. In 1971 we saw Joe Grech in Dublin with the song ‘Marija l-Maltija’.
It was a song that was the debut entry for Malta and performed in Maltese consequently the first time that the Maltese language or any other Semitic language was heard at the Contest. The song is an up-tempo number, with Grech describing his feelings as he waits at the main bus terminal in Valletta for his lover to arrive. Now Joe was a popular singer in Malta having won The Malta Song Festival as far back as the first one in 1960. He went on to a mildly successful international career too. However the song did not curry favour with the jurors and finished last with 52 points. Again the abnormally high last-place score by contemporary standards is due to the voting system in place at the time, which guaranteed all songs at least 34 points.
So I have mentioned 3 best of songs above but also have to mention the following songs as all great entries too.
1975 Renato with the song ‘Singing This Song’.
1991 Paul Giordimaina and Georgina with the song ‘Could It Be’.
1995 Mike Spiteri with the song ‘Keep Me In Mind’.
2000 Claudette Pace with the song ‘Desire’.
2001 Fabrizio Faniello with the song ‘Another Summer Night’.
2005 Chiara with the song ‘Angel’.
2013 Gianluca Bezzina with the song ‘Tomorrow’.
So there we have it folks, my little delve into Maltese Eurovision history and some of the best and worst moments over the years. Do you agree with all or even any of my choices? Feel free to comment below.
This series will continue with another look at songs over the years for each and every country competing in Eurovision 2016 so keep coming back for more reflections of the best and worst that Eurovision has had to offer us.
Author: Andrew Main
Source: Eurovision Ireland