Editorial

What are we going to do about… MALTA?

In the first of an occasional series, we explore what possible new paths the competing nations can take when their choosing their songs for Eurovision, and debating whether a different approach could indeed lead to better results. And we’re starting with everybody’s favourite underdogs… Malta.

If your only experience of Maltese music comes through their national final process, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that almost their entire industry consisted of curly-haired girls in shiny frocks, and impish young lads getting a bit jangly. Indeed, the same old faces have turned up so often in recent years that we started to suspect that all the island had to offer was either an endless string of hotel bar singers all queuing up patiently for their turn at Eurovision, or the doom metal mongers who growl and grind at underground noisefests worldwide once the darker evenings draw in. And of course, neither of those have an especially good track record in this contest.

ira-losco-2nd-rehearsal-PHOTO-BY-DANIEL-DANASTASI-600x397

It’s not that they haven’t come close. Our lady of the rock, Ira Losco, has had a couple of respectable attempts, and dear old Chiara so nearly brought it home, too. But where the selection process for Malta at Junior Eurovision has taken a couple of risks with Gaia and Destiny and garnered some great success, its grown up cousin just doesn’t seem to want to take the plunge. After all, the last reasonably left field entry they sent was Julie & Ludwig – and that was just… weird. (Click here for our feature on the best and worst of Malta at Eurovision).

Surely there must be more to their music scene than that? I’ve always suspected that there must be some great stuff hiding in the cracks that never gets so much as a consideration for Maltasong, so it was with great interest that we travelled to the glorious rocky isle last weekend to attend the the delightful Earth Garden festival – a weekend long event packed with international acts and the best of the local underground scene. And boy were we pleasantly surprised.

Earth GardenAt a festival that was loosely based around the concept of world and roots music, I saw a good half dozen acts that could hold their own against the great and good of Europe, and who, if put together in one place, could make up one heck of an exciting national final. So who should we be trying to encourage to throw their hat into the Maltasong ring? And who would give them the best chance of finally taking home the big glass microphone? Well here’s a few suggestions to whet your whistle, and prove to you that there’s much more to music of Malta than you’d ever imagined…

Cushion

Earth GardenOK, so they don’t have the most inspiring of names, but their relaxed blend of Western chill out grooves and traditional Indian sounds will have all bar the most curmudgeonly among us swaying along with a smile on their faces. They’d certainly add something new, fresh and intriguing to the contest – and all in a considerably less cringeworthy manner than that terrible Shava mob from Finland a couple of years back. Click here for some lovely laid back vibes.

KażinSka

Earth GardenIf you’re looking for something a bit more lively, then you wouldn’t go too far wrong with putting a little bit of KażinSka in your lives. Their entertaining fusion of Maltese festival folk, kletzmer, ska, and just about every other party music from across Europe would go down a storm with the televoters across the continent – if perhaps not the first ten rows in the Kyivian moshpit. Click here and prepare to party.

Pon Di Corner

Earth Garden
OK, so hip hop has never gone down particularly well at Eurovision, but that’s because it’s never really been done properly, and this Malta-based crew are just bursting with enthusiasm and likability. What’s more, they’re an international, multi-lingual outfit, and although the Venezuelan member may not draw in too many votes, the French and Sicilian ones almost certainly will, and the PDC posse would add a fun flavour to what is becoming an increasingly safe and staid event. They absolutely tore up the crowd at Earth Garden, so with a bigger stage and an enormous audience there’s no knowing how much further they could take things. Click here to see the boys in action.

Brikkuni

Earth GardenNow this would be a controversial choice for the Maltese, but this fella almost single-handedly forced the Maltese language back to the forefront of his local music scene, and would offer a dark and mysterious sense of tension rarely seen at the contest. You know all those grumbly middle-aged men who just miss out on winning Sanremo every year? Well imagine one of them mixed up with the best bits of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and a random street drinker, then make him mumble a life-affirmingly bleak treatise to a lost world – like some malevolent Peter Nalich with a bit of oomph to him. I’m not sure that I could imagine anything better. Click here for some gloomtastic fabulosity.

The Rifffs

Earth GardenOlder members of the Eurovision Ireland readership may just remember hearing tell of a curious Maltese ska band that dear old John Peel used to play occasionally. Well they’re all a bit more long in the tooth these days, but they can still throw down a considerable selection of rocksteady beats – and as the Greeks have shown in recent years, a sufficiently summery guitar-fuelled stomper will always be a vote magnet. Click here and prepare to skank.

Tribali

Earth GardenThere are many in the Eurovision community who have been bemoaning the lack of the kind of ethnicky entries that the folks in South East Europe used to be especially good at in recent years. Well we fancy that Tribali here are perhaps the best placed of the Maltese acts to replicate that kind of success. A winning blend of the musics of the East, the West and who knows where else, their action-packed world fusion sounds and infectiously energetic live show would have them stomping in the cheap seats. This mob are almost the perfect fit for a contemporary Eurovision – quick, someone give Maltese telly a call and suggest them, because we’re convinced they’d play a blinder. Click here for Malta’s best outside bet.

PBS
Of course, we’re not expecting to see any of the above acts grace a Maltasong stage any time soon, but it’s a lovely thought. And with even their most popular pop acts failing to make too much of an impact on the left-hand side of the scoreboard in recent seasons, it’s surely worth the experiment to go against the flow and select something a little less usual to see if it garnered any better results in the contest. We reckon it’s worth a pop – so come on Maltese telly, broaden your horizons!

If you should want to see some of this great Maltese music for yourself, the next Earth Garden is taking place in the first weekend of June 2017 – and we’d wholeheartedly advise that you go, as it’s perhaps one of the loveliest little outdoor shows that we’ve been to in years! For more information about the next bill as the year goes on, go to www.earthgarden.com.mt – you’ll discover some cracking bands even if you don’t make it over for the show.

And if you’ve got any better suggestions for possible Maltese acts, or even from another nation of your choice, then please do let us know via the comments box below!

Author: Roy Delaney

Photographer (Earth Garden): Catherine McCarthy

Source: Eurovision Ireland

 

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