2014: Another Year Filled With Successful StoriesWritten by Elaine Camilleri
Every year brings with it a number of events, festivals and lots of new material that many appreciate and play over and over throughout the year. The editorial board of escflashmalta.com decided to have a look back at the main highlights of 2014, the year that saw two Malta Eurovision Song Contest competitions, the annual competition l-Għanja Tal-Poplu and Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza, the return of the Summer Hit Song Contest and also the Junior Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Malta. There were quite a number of events that kept our site busy and also our readers on the lookout for the next event.
The year started off with Firelight emerging victorious at the Malta Eurovision with their song ‘Coming Home’, the band came together for the Eurovision Song Contest but looked beyond the festival. The Micallef siblings came together along with their friends and gave us the country folk pop entry. One would not say it was a shocking win because some critics did tip the song on doing well, but surely surprised a number when it emerged victorious over public favourites Jessika, Daniel Testa & De Bee. The band managed to reach the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in May and Richard Edwards’ composition received good airplay in a number of countries in Europe. This kicked started their career with new material being released recently and a number of gigs in Germany.
After the Malta Eurovision, it was time for the scene to focus on a local festival in Maltese. A festival that has been going for a number of years and has a good following thanks to the importance it gives to the themes of the songs. The outright winner of the festival was the song ‘Jien Ma Naħdimx’ interpreted by the relative newcomer Karen DeBattista. Mark Scicluna & Rita Pace’s composition was a hit from the get go and after it won the song received substantial airplay on a number of radiostations. The powerful lyrics were surely the reason behind its success; the message portrayed in the lyrics shows the work done by housewives which is normally not appreciated by the other members of the family. It was surely the stepping stone for Karen DeBattista who was participating only in her third festival in three years and after this success she also managed to reach the finals of the Malta Eurovision with ’12, Baker Street’.
The much awaited return of the Summer Hit Song Contest was imminent and many were happy to see that this festival was finally back, after a break of nearly three years. The winner of this edition was Domenique who although still relatively young, she has cemented herself as one of the established artists in the local music scene. Domenique always expressed her love towards festivals and is a popular face in a number of local competitions in Malta. ‘Back to...’ a composition by Mark Scicluna & Emil Calleja Bayliss managed to scoop the top prize in this festival and many commented that Domenique’s strong interpretation thanks to her experience in these competitions was vital in this win. The song was always seen as a strong entry but many saw it as a contender after the stunning celebrity duet Domenique delivered alongside Rosman Pace – a unique factor to this competition.
The annual Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza saw an influx of songs related to the fifty year anniversary of Malta’s independence and even though competing authors were free to write on different subjects, this one proved to be the most popular. The result was surely unexpected as the song which was highly tipped on winning the competition finished in fourth place whilst the young and upcoming star Michela Galea won the judges hearts with her rendition of ‘Mixja Li Bdiet’ a subtle song that speaks about the stages Malta has been through since its independence fifty years ago. Renato Briffa & Alfred E. Baldacchino surely did their homework right as they write a catchy tune, with subtle lyrics that embrace the country’s vision of independence and gave it to an apt, fresh and confident performer who delivered the song strongly. It was a well deserved win for the teenager who won the first festival in her first major competition.
Two other winners who emerged in the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza were Kurt Cassar who won the New Talent Section and Kayley Cuschieri who triumphed in the inaugural edition of Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza Junior. Kurt Cassar reached the finals of the prestigious event and went on to win his section with the song ‘Inservi’, a composition of Elton Zarb, Gillian Attard & Emil Calleja Bayliss. The song was well received from the start and many saw it as a potential winner as the whole package stood out from the rest of the field. This surely opened the horizons for Cassar. On the other hand, Kayley Cushcieri is a known face in the music circles but she surely left a lasting impression when she triumphed with the song ‘Għannaqni’ - an emotional heartfelt song that speaks about a daughter begging her mother to hug her instead of abusing her; another strong message written by Rita Pace to Mark Spiteri Lucas’ composition.
The biggest highlight this year for the local industry has definitely been the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The event was the biggest live broadcast the national broadcaster has put up and Malta was represented by the talented soprano Federica Falzon who rose to fame after winning the popular Italian show ‘Ti Lascio una Canzone’. Federica Falzon had the opportunity of a lifetime performing at such a esteemed event in front of her home crowd and she surely made the most of it as she delivered an excellent performance of 'Diamonds' finishing in a prestigious fourth on the night. Many local fans though would love to see the return of the pre-selection show for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest as this would involve the audience at home choosing their junior representative and also be the perfect showcase for up and coming talent – something which sadly is not given as much prominence as it should.
Given that Malta was hosting the Junior Eurovision, it came to no surprise that the PBS announced that the Malta Eurovision will be brought forward this year. It caught the singers and songwriters a bit off guard and this showed in the number of submitted entries but many critics argued that the quality of songs in the finals was the best it has ever been. Although a tough competition, Amber emerged as the clear front runner and after two strong performances on both Friday and Saturday night it was a unanimous decision by the judges and the public vote that she should be the next Maltese representative at the Eurovision Song Contest. She conquered the festival with Elton Zarb & Muxu’s composition ‘Warrior’ which so far has been well received from abroad. The song is expected to be enhanced and many are looking forward to hear the finalised version of the next Maltese representative.
After all that one can realize that it has been quite a year and if one would think that everyone is currently taking a break, one would be mistaken as in November the committee of L-Għanja Tal-Poplu issued its regulations so the year will be once again kickstarting very soon although the first major festival of 2015 is expected in March and not in February like last year. This is due to having the Malta Eurovision a few months earlier. A festival many would love to see its return would definitely be the ‘Festival Internazzjonali Tal-Kanzunetta Maltija’ which saw its return in 2013 but seems that it was put aside for 2014 because of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. A real pity because it gave light to a number of new Maltese songs in the last edition these include Olivia Lewis’ winning entry ‘Hawn Mill-Ġdid’, Mark Tonna’s ‘Poeta Bla Kliem and Dario & Grecia’s ‘Solitaire’. Maybe 2015 would be a year were one gets to celebrate through more competitions and more songs to feast the keen Maltese music lover.
On behalf of the editorial team of escflashmalta.com, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year filled with joy, health and success in whatever your heart desires. We urge you to keep following escflashmalta.com even through Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news about the local music scene in 2015. All the best.