Il-Lejl it-Tajjeb! On the 3rd February, the organising committee of L-Għanja tal-Poplu released the song titles and the names of the songwriters of each of the sixteen (16) qualifiers. It was also announced that seventy-one (71) submissions were received, the highest since its return to the local music scene a couple of years ago, denoting that the changes made to the competition have been appreciated by artists, songwriters and producers alike.
In the past of days, escflashmalta.com had the opportunity to speak to almost all of the finalists in a series of interviews published under the logo acronym GħTP. It was a scintillating experience, and one got to know more about the artists, and the songs they are presenting in the competition. For the very first time in a relatively long period of time, the event hosted by Josephine Ebejer Grech and Clint Bajada will be airing LIVE on ONE Television as from 20:15 CET, and therefore we thought it best to cover the proceedings as they occur in a song-by-song account. Those who wish to view the event on internet may also do so through the official website of the private broadcaster, ONE Television.
The Show (Part 1)
Il-Lejla t-tajba. We kick off the show with the choir of the night! It is a colourful mixture of kids and young singers. What a pleasant energy they are radiating! It is a medley comprising of succesful songs from past editions such as Wellidni and It-Tfal tal-lum.
Clint and Josephine now appear on stage opening the 38th edition of this festival, thanking main sponsors and contributors. Moreover, Clint encourages all present and those watching to sit back and relax, enoy such a very relaxing show, which has a history of being very calm and enjoyable!
01. Mara – Marie Claire Attard Bason (Emil Calleja Bayliss, Andrew Zammit)
The very first song is a relatively powerful one. It’s a celebration of the power of women and the music blends really well with the message of the song, uttered by the woman narrating abuse and lack of respect from others, mainly from her male counterparts. Attard Bason looks very confident and on stage there are 8 people, two of them backing vocalists but the attention is still on the singer. The determination and consciousness of the woman narrating her past and today’s courage are marked very well on her face and in the firmness of her voice! An absolutely great entry!
02. Il-Quċċata – 7 Spadi (Rita Pace, Jeffrey Scicluna)
The first male singer for the night and he seems very sure of what he is singing about and the anger for that someone that is corrupt and doing what he used to complain about is very evident in his voice! It’s like he is telling him off in reality! The chorus is quite catchy and basically delivers a good lesson to those who are ready to do anything to garner power despite the harm they might inflict on others! The title of the song itself represents this fight for power. It’s quite a good entry and I would love to listen to it once again! A job well done.
03. Numri – Estelle Fenech Imbroll (Paul Attard, Mark Scicluna)
Estelle looks very elegant and delicate but there’s something in her first moves that tell me she’s a bit anxious, the first singer to make me think about this. But she now settles down and focuses on her emotions, looking very pensive and nervous, narrating a difficult life of vice and vicious circles going into one another. The atmosphere on stage is absolutely adequate for this song and the blue is very calm. “Ħajti vojta jekk ma nissugrax” champions the prevalent theme of abuse and harshness of life for this festival. This is a very emotional song delivered by a charming lady doing justice to her song! Thumbs up Estelle!
04. Rutina – Tmien Ħabbiet (Jonathan Laferla, Charlie Bonnici)
Rutina, sung by Tmien Ħabbiet kicks off with a very systematic rythm which am not sure whether is running in some bad order. It does not convince me at times and the singing does not really blend will with the lyrics. The voices too, they do not mix really pleasantly either but i DO like the kind of interval in singing for “Hawn Sabiħa!”. It’s quite authentic. Listening to this once is enough I think.
05. Kif Xrobbtuli l-Menti – Frank O’Neill, Christabelle Curmi u l-Likes (Frank O’Neill)
This is a very avantegarde song making use of a huge number of words recently doing their way into the Maltese parlance, such as wajers, plajers and the very popular STESSU. Frank’s hat is quite original and Christabelle’s facial expressions are absolutely flawless, accompanying the lyrics . The band resembling that of the village festa is quite authentic as well! Great! Not amongst my favourite but I did enjoy this!
06. Il-Karba tal-Mument – Christian Arding (Kevin Tanti, Chan Vella)
Christian appears on piano in a very quite and calm posture. He is well focused and lets the words out very pleasantly but also in a strong voice, narrating the unfortunate destiny of a lonely individual lacking parents’ affection. However, this atmosphere ought to be consolidated by everyone on stage and no just the singer! One of the guitarist strangely smiles a bit too much and it really did not go down well with me! Another one about the negatives of life! This is well expected in this festival! I like this!
07. Fejn Huma? – Daniel Borg (George Cassar, Daniel Borg)
Wow! This song begins without the music and it allows all attention on the words and his manner of delivery is like a very casual daily conversation! Interjections such as “Illaħwa” and “illistrina” turn this song into a relevant message accompanied by music, making reference to recent issues that on a national basis made it to the headlines quite a number of times, such as the Mistra issue. The theme is quite common but it has been transformed quite well and this stands out: “Malta fittex erġa’ ejja lura għal li kont”! If only this becomes true! Brilliant!
08. Jien Ma Naħdimx – Karen DeBattista (Rita Pace, Mark Scicluna)
Another elegant singer! Karen has something in her eyes giving power to this fragile female housewife, and she too seems quiet. The lyrics make me go nuts literally for they kind of support the stereotype rather than try and challenge it but the hell with this! I like this song, I like the singer and also the fact that the audience goes clapping in the midst of it! “Jien ma naħdimx imma ma nieqaf qatt”, ok it does not challenge the stereotype but it does give us a clear indication of the pity reality many women are living in nowadays! Amazing song, amazing stage setting and choice of everything really! Kudos Karen! To the top three she must go!
09. Immigrant Regolari – Teddie Zammit (Rita Pace, Teddie Zammit)
What strikes me most is the energy that Mark Lawrence is radiating! He seems so passionate playing the piano. Teddie with quite an emotion narrates the life in transition of a migrating bird and it does remind me of the fate of human immigrants but it really does not stand out, except for the last bit, whereby the music changes course. Still, does not impress me.
10. Pupa – Denise Spiteri (Mark Laurence Zammit)
Denise to me appears like a younger Corazon, delivering a very strong interpretation of her song! I like all the energy and the control she has on her voice. Simply calm and pleasant! Thumbs up to this too!
11. Il-Bamboċċu, Il-Bambinu u l-Budaj – Frans Casha (Frans Casha)
And off we go to a year or two back. Something went wrong but we’re now back on track and the song kicked off as expected seconds later. This might seem old fashioned, considering all songs preceding it and looking at the backing vocaist wearing a traditioanlly Maltese dress and head piece but it does make us think of the prevalent music of the past. The dominant colour on stage is red and White, a strong link to the Maltese flag and identity. Frans Casha is accompanied by a female voice which blends quite well but does not blend quite well all the energy of the the young man behind him on the synthesizer. Frans’s calmness contrasts quite well with all his head movements! It does not do justice really! A very average entry.
12. Wara l-Kanċell – Miriam Christine u Olivia Lewis (J J Farrugia, Miriam Christine)
Miriam Christine starts off the song playing the piano and she immediately immerses us in their mysterious world. Olivia is on the other hand standing in centre stage and their voices are kind of AMAZING! They perfectly accompany each other without any faults! Olivia delivers the song firmly and Miriam Christine is all focused on the playing and her singing! It’s quite a breathtaking entry! I really do not want this to reach its final seconds! They have the perfect pronounciation and synchronisation! Ought to WIN.
13. BħalGħasfura – Mario Debono (Mario Debono)
Do not know wheter David Azzopardi with his Pastizzi chant or the Greenfields have taken over the stage but Mario is managing to make me sing to his tune! It’s quite a relaxing song but I would have preferred him singing alone rather than along the backing vocalist! The melody is quite enjoyable too. This probably will be forgotten very soon.
14. Djarju ta’ Tifkiriet – Simone Gauci (Emil Calleja Bayliss, Mark Spiteri Lucas)
Simone seems very focused and all serious but then she breaks into a very sweet smile and her emotion follows the lyrics! She delivers her song with a delicate passion that is convincing. The chorus is absolutely fascinating, magical I dare say, it’s flowing pace is quite authentic too. Standing on the same spot with a standing microphone is the right choice and Simone’s gaze at the end completes the circle! This is a promising entry! Would like to listen to it once again!
15. Liberat – Teddie Zammit (George Cassar, Teddie Zammit)
And once again, it’s Teddie. But he’s back with another song that does not really impress me! The stage setting suits the song really well and this time round this guitarist does make justice to the song for he follows the correct emotion and gestures, so thumbs up to this young champ! I like the ending and how the song fades away to its final seconds.
16. Insellmulkom – Domenique (Joe Chircop, Philip Vella)
And the final song, entitled Insellmulkom looks like it is hinting the final entry for this 38th edition of the festival! But it surely does NOT deserve a final ranking for it is a very powerful song! Domenique is not new to such festivals and surely not with this theme! It reminds me of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza and it stands out particulary tonight for it’s the sole song bearing a patriothic theme. She goes very high in her notes and looks determined to succeed and make our ex Presidents and Prime Ministers feel very proud! It’s a song thanking all those who stood up for our country and showed courage! She looks magnificent and does great justice to the lyrics! Another song chasing the trophy for the night!
The Show (Part 2)
All 16 songs are now being scrutinised by the Jury, comprising of David Aloisio, Vince Fabri, Rosabelle Bianchi, Eric Montfort, Elaine Falzon, Kevin Farrugia, Maria Abdilla and David Azzopardi.
In the meantime there’s a long intermission.
There is now an interview with Walter Micallef about the history of the Maltese song during turbulent times and the need to give the song in Maltese the respect and attention it deserves!
Corazon follows Walter and speaks about her first debut at the l-Għanja tal-Poplu way back in 2006 with Kieku Taf. She ends by emphasising the need to keep on producing good quality songs in Maltese so as to keep the pace and keep on developing and safeguarding our national language.
And back to Sir Temi Zammit Hall.
Clint points out that this is a celebration of anything that makes us Maltese!
Now it’s time for the Għanja tal-Poplu Choir with its contribution entitled L-Għanja tal-Maltin.
Now Corazon is delivering three of her songs included in her recent album: Hawn Jien. The first one was Illejla b’Xejn and now she’s delivering Id-Dar tan-Nanna. Before delivering the last song, she elaborates a bit on this album and emphasises that good quality music in Maltese may arouse very strong emotions. Her final song is going on now and it is Jgħidu Kien Hawn Raġel.
And it is now! Results are soon to be released!
The best Young Talent: Pupa (Denise Spiteri)
The Best Interpretation: Il-Karba tal-Mument (Christian Arding)
The best Singer/writer: Kif xrobtuli l-Menti (Frank O’Neil)
The best Social Theme: Rita Pace (Il-Quċċata)
2nd Runner up: Wara l-Kanċell (Miriam Christine and Olivia Lewis)
1st Runner up: Kif Xrobtuli l-Menti (Frank O’Neil, Christabelle Curmi u l-Likes)
WINNER: Jien ma Naħdimx (Karen DeBattista)