22 September 2017
Friday, 25 April 2014 17:30

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Austria

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #6, we catch up with Austria (ORF) who will be represented by Conchita Wurst with the song Rise Like a Phoenix co-written by Charly Mason, Joey Patulka, Ali Zuckowski and Julian Maas.

Conchita Wurst was born as Tom Neuwirth on November 6th, 1988 in Gmunden/Austria. The young artist had always dreamed of a career in showbiz. It all really started in 2006 when he took part in the talent show Starmania. In 2007, he joined the boy band "jetzt anders!", which however only survived for less than one year. He first performed as his alter ego Conchita Wurst, the famous long-haired full-bearded lady, in the talent show "Die große Chance" in 2011. 

Since then, he certainly has not gone unnoticed in Austria. More recently, Conchita Wurst participated in the ORF production "The hardest jobs of Austria", where she worked in a fish factory, and in "Wild Girls", where a group of candidates had to survive in the deserts of Namibia/Africa together with native tribes. "For me the most special and honoring thing is that Austria shows tolerance and acceptance and I’m so happy to be this statement. I’m allowed to be the voice of their beliefs during this time and this really makes me very proud."

"We, and not at least myself, want to stand for a society without hate and discrimination. And if I’m honest, I think everyone of the contestants should stand for the same, cause we are joining a very opend minded project, so they should be open minded too." This is just a part of the exclusive interview organised by eurovision.tv which could be seen on the biography page.

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Austria has only won the Eurovision Song Contest one occasion, that being back in 1966 when Udo Jurgens who had already represented the country twice took the podium with Merci Cherie. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, Austria has not been as successful though noting that following a couple of years off, they returned in 2012 to mixed success going into the final with Nadine Beiler and then finishing dead last with the Trackshittaz.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 70%

Greig Watts: This one has already got a lot of press for obvious reasons, I am going to try and judge the song without interference from that, and actually I like the way it feels a bit Culture club/Boy George (funny that) to start with, and then it goes all James Bond in the chorus and 2nd verse. Almost has a Shirley Bassey meets Adele vibe, and actually im really liking the song and almost wishing it didn’t have all the hype around it as it could be a potential winner and the vocalist actually performs it really well, would be nice to just judge the song, but from my own experience in the competition its not just about the song these days

Joseph Zammit: Well this is certainly an interesting one. Here we have the mandatory gay/drag act that has become a staple on the Eurovision stage. This time however, it comes with a twist! The male singer in full drag, also has a full beard! Originality points all round!! Not much to say about this one because the music has nothing to it. Watch any James bond movie and you would have heard this song. It can easily be the new Bond theme for the upcoming Bond movie, 'James Bond – Not a Close Shave!' Also, on a personal note, can there for once be a drag act song which is not about self revelation and fighting oppression? All in all, a relatively predictable and unoriginal song.

Sharon Vaughn: Her voice is divine, and the song is compellingly appropriate for the artist and her journey. However, it does feel a bit Vegas and over the top.

John Scott: The I found the song to be quite effective with interesting retro elements. It sounds like a great theme for a James Bond movie. The song is a great match to his voice.

Source: eurovision.tv

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Published in Opinions
Friday, 25 April 2014 17:03

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Poland

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #5, we catch up with Poland (TVP) who will be represented by Donatan & Cleo with the song My Słowianie - We Are Slavic which they wrote themselves.

Donatan is famous in Poland as a music producer. He created music for more than 50 albums. Many of them received gold and platinum status. In 2012, Donatan launched his authorial album "Equinox" (Równonoc). This album is a compilation of the traditional Slavic sounds with some rap elements. "Equinox" reached, already at pre-sale, the gold status and after few months got granted the diamond sale status. Donatan received many prestigious music awards.

In 2013 Donatan began to work with Cleo. Their single debut We Are Slavs (My Słowianie), produced by Donatan, became a smash hit. Their video clip has become popular on youtube where it has been viewed more than 40 million times. Last year, the single My Słowianie also reached top ten in charts. This song has been chosen as the Polish entry in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.

“The Slavic blond girl with the Polish charm and a black voice," they say about Cleo. Cleo is a singer, songwriter, a chorus gospel girl and a painter. She is a woman with many faces, a chameleon discovered by Donatan. This will mark the return of Poland in the Eurovision Song Contest following two years of being absent having last been represented by Magdalena Tul and the song Jestem which did not get through the semi-final stage.

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Poland started to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1994, when on that occasion, the lovely Edyta Gorniak took to the stage with To Nie Ja! finishing in second place, which like Hungary's fourth place achieved during the same year remains the most successful result. In recent years, with the introduction of the semi-final system, the country has not really set the scoreboard alight and has as a result decided to take a break as already noted above. Sending their most popular song in the country is definitely a gamble especially since Europe might find it offensive.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 39%

Greig Watts: Um!, Being western I simply shouldn’t understand this, but it’s the Eurovision contest and there’s been uprising of Slavic nations recently who could well vote for this. Its not my favourite music to listen to, but it feels like a modern attempt to bring Slavic music into the 21st century and its done quite well. I was trying to judge the songs, but video is also a bit distracting and I like the use of the accordion, and clapping!!, So not my own favourite song, but im bumping into the final just because the impact is higher than a couple of the other simple songs!

Joseph Zammit: Okay, good. For a second there I realized that I liked most of the songs I heard so far, which made me worry because it is very unlike me. Thank the heavens that this song came along. What a piling heap of garbage. Where to begin? Let's start with the music. It is lazy, as generic as they come, repetitive, boring and annoying. It only has a simple continuous clap rhythm and some random chords thrown here and there. 

The song is trying to convince the listener that the singer is proud to be a Slavic girl, because slavic girls are the best in the world, and she conveys that message …. by saying that they are great at churning butter, using their bodies to get what they want and staying in the house The lyrics are bigoted and demeaning and yet she sings them in a patriotic fashion. Either this girl is an idiot or she is pulling off a great patriotic stunt for votes. Now I am no radical feminist, but even I find this a bit offensive.  All in all this song was a waste of time to listen. Then there was the video and, well TITS!!! TITS GALORE!! so because of that.

Sharon Vaughn: I found very little positive to say about this one.

John Scott: The chorus is quite catchy even though the lyrics are a bit awkward in phrasing. The verse lyrics are difficult to understand. The musical bridge is quite nice.

Source: eurovision.tv

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Published in Opinions
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 20:45

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Norway

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #3, we catch up with Norway (NRK) who will be represented by Carl Espen and the song Silent Storm written by Josefin Winther.

Carl was raised by his mum, with his two siblings. They lived on an island outside Bergen, called Osterøy. Even though the island is not more than a 40 minutes drive from Bergen city, it is a very rural and idyllic place. Carl has always loved to spend time in the nature, and was a real fishing enthusiast as a boy. His mother sang a lot, and his childhood home was always filled with music. Among his cousins, aunts and uncles, you can find the woman behind the song Silent Storm, Carl’s cousin Josefin Winther, a London based artist and songwriter born in Bergen in 1986. Four years younger than her cousin, Josefin has no problem recalling a day in her life being 12 years. Carl Espen had entered a local music competition on Osterøy, and Josefin was standing with her aunt in the audience.

Carl performed Wild World by Cat Stevens, and ended up winning the whole competition. Josefin was so proud. Since then Josefin has pursued her own career in music, and established herself as a critically acclaimed artist and songwriter. That fact that Josefin has followed her dream, has always been a big inspiration for Carl Espen. As a young man Carl enrolled in the military, and served for six months in Kosovo. In his adult life Carl became a carpenter, specialising in frames and glass. For the past 12 years he has been working for different companies within this industry. He has also done a lot of volunteer work for cancer research, and at night has worked as a doorman at Bergen’s rock bar Garage. Music has always played big role in Carl’s life, and he has carried this dream with him all along. 

Josefin has always thought that more people should hear his beautiful and unique voice, and in August 2013 she finally sat down a wrote a song especially for Carl. She saw that he had so much inside him that needed to be expressed, and she wanted to give him the opportunity to express it through a song that was truly his own. The result was Silent Storm. She played it to him and he knew straight away that this was his song. They decided to enter into the Norwegian national selection, Melodi Grand Prix, and the rest is history. The steps onto the Eurovision Song Contest stage on the 8th of May will not be many, but for Carl they will be crucial.

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Norway is a scandinavian country which holds the record for the most last place finishes but has still recorded three victories in total; the first one being in 1985 with La Det Swinge performed by Bobby Socks, the second one being in 1995 with Nocturne performed by Secret Garden and most recently in 2009 when Alexander Rybak entertained the masses with Fairytale. Following that success though has been quite difficult, failing to qualify in 2011, and then managing only last place in 2012 before returning back to the top five in 2013 with the song I Feed You My Love sung by Margaret Berger.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 86%

Greig Watts: I love the opening of this with piano and his haunting voice that draws you in nicely! And the chorus does lift me using his beautiful vocal again, almost Celtic, can I say that? Ha ha . Now I am waiting to see if the song builds, and it does and actually this is giving me Goosebumps while I listen, well done Norway good selection in my opinion. Interesting end with the big drop and silence, but I guess the song is called Silent Storm

Joseph Zammit: Not the happiest of songs in this year's competition I'm sure. Slow, brooding, and haunting, it has a soft piano melody throughout the piece with a beautiful vocal melody to go with it. A solid song with a solid build up and adding of instruments with a very hair-raising chord progression leading to the chorus. It is a sad slow song yes, however in my opinion, this song does not fall into the trap of becoming a dreary generic ballad with no feeling. 

It flows and builds up to a climax as any good song should. Overall I quite like this one, though of course, it is one of those songs which will most definitely find much difficulty in succeeding on a pumped up and energetic Eurovision stage. I particularly love it when near the end of the song, the musical climax stops as soon as he sings the word 'Silence'. It shows that there was some poetic thinking behind this song as well. I like that. 

Sharon Vaughn: Very moving, genuine and vocally mesmerizing.

John Scott: A very unique voice. It is very effective against the piano. Overall, a very strong ballad.

Source: eurovision.tv

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Published in Opinions

In 2014, escflashmalta.com worked closely with ONE Radio 92.7 to produce the awards in relation with the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, preceded by the expert opinion feature which led to the presentation of one (1) of the awards. Following a series of editorial team discussions, we are now proud to announce that the feature will return for the international competition with eight (8) individuals from the music industry on hand to listen, review and rank the competing entries.

Semi-Final One (1) set to take place on the 6th May will feature a total of sixteen (16) entries whilst it will also featuring voting from Spain, France and hot country Denmark. Due to the fact that Malta is competing in the other semi-final, we thought it best to include two (2) locals as reviewers for the first show, acquiring the talented Deo Grech and Matthew Mercieca. Nevertheless, they will be accompanied by expert stalwarts Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom and Stano Simor from Slovakia.

Deo Grech, committee member of the International Festival of Maltese Song, and renowned local lyricist responsible for 'Wellidni' (Għanja tal-Poplu 2004 Winner), and Fomm il-Vjolin (International Festival of Maltese Song 2001 Winner).

Matthew Mercieca, co-responsible for the lyrics behind The Start, winning entry of the 2013 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest as well as Betrayed, second runner-up during the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2013.

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Martin Isherwood, known to be the person responsible for the music sector at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts patroned by none other than Paul McCartney, as well as writing Cry Baby, the 2003 entry at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Stano Simor, a well known music producer, songwriter and artist manager from Slovakia who has worked with several artists including none other than former Eurovision Song Contest representatives; Hadise (Turkey 2009) and Tereza Kerndlová (Czech Republic 2008).

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Semi-Final Two (2) set to take place on the 8th May will feature a total of fifteen (15) entries and will also feature voting from United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. With Malta in contention in this particular evening, we thought it would be better to have one (1) local reviewer who does not come from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest, including theatrical performer Joseph Zammit who in turn will be accompanied by three (3) well known songwriters; John Scott from the United States, Greig Watts from the United Kingdom and Sharon Vaughn from Sweden.

Joseph Zammit, represents the possibility of working full time in the arts, having had the opportunity to perform as a vocalist, and as an actor in a series of shows throughout the years, most recently being the December panto at the Manoel Theatre.

John Scott, a seasoned songwriter whose talent has given him the opportunity to work with Little Mix, former winners of the UK X Factor and Nicole Scherzinger, former lead vocalist of American girlband, the Pussycat Dolls.

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Greig Watts, an accomplished songwriter/producer who has worked with The Overtones, Kate Ryan and Natalia, apart from also co-writing the song What the Time In Tokyo? which in turn hoped to represent Belgium in this years' Eurovision Song Contest.

Sharon Vaughn, an accomplished songwriter who has worked with a number of well known vocalists including none other than Jedward, Delta Goodrem, Agnes, Helena Paparizou, Joe McElderry, Kimberly Walsh, The Wanted, Charlotte Perelli, September and Jennifer Rush amongst others.

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The feature an expert opinion will officially kick off this coming Wednesday with an indepth biography of each competing artist as provided by the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest, together with the individual comments and the cumulative mark, as well as the official preview video as submitted to the European Broadcasting Union a couple of days back. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the latest news as soon as it becomes available.

Source: escflashmalta.com

Published in Opinions
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 22:02

MESC 2014: Reviewing 'Until We Meet Again'

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Until We Meet Again composed by Elton Zarb to the lyrics of Matthew Mercieca with vocals provided by Deborah C.

Deborah C, a female vocalist who has always shown determination to succeed in the music industry, obtaining her first ever results through the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza, obtaining the tele-voting award on three (3) occasions, and finally winning the competition with the track Jekk Nużaw Moħħna in 2012. Her entry into the Malta Eurovision Song Contest was actually a couple of months later with the song You Make Me Go Uh Uh featuring the vocals of Leila J. She followed it up, with yet another participation in 2013, this time with a song entitled Love-O-Holic written by songwriters who have collaborated with Fabrizio Faniello on countless occasions. At the moment, Deborah C is one of the resident singers of the weekly show, Ħadd Għalik produced by WE Media and hosted by Angie Laus. There she is joined by Kevin Paul, younger brother of former representative, Kurt Calleja as well as fellow semi-finalist this year, Franklin.

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Elton Zarb and Matthew Mercieca, a song-writing team who have taken the local music industry by storm in just twelve (12) months, having had the opportunity to work with Davinia during last years’ edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest with the track Betrayed, finishing in a credible third (3rd) place. Just months later, the collaboration continued to achieve successful results, writing the winning entry of the 2013 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, The Start with Gillian Attard of La Voix Academy and Gaia Cauchi, having been directly engaged by the Public Broadcasting Services. This is the second entry with which they are competing with in this years’ edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, alongside Brand New Day by Davinia. Both Matthew and Elton had other entries in the second phase of the competition with other respective songwriters including Carlo Gerada and Rita Pace but without any success.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 63%

John Scott: Nice performance and the song is pleasant. But it doesn’t go anywhere and leaves no impression at all.

Martin Isherwood: Good voice but sounds like in a difficult key for her. Don't want to say goodbye because I know it's not forever' is a bit confusing given the song meaning - 'Until we meet again'. Sort of a Motown / S Club feel. Could benefit from better production. Brass and strings sound a bit like not very good samples.

Sharon Vaughn: Too cute, too little, too rhymie. For me, the "happier" the track, the more intense the lyric should be to make it interesting and to cut the sweet.

Stano Simor: I must say, I remember Deborah from last year, having an extremely good interpretation and perfect camera work by the Public Broadcasting Services. An artist has three (3) minutes to take his camerawork and I could see Deborah benefitting from this easily. Fingers crossed, as this is a really good song for her.

Greig Watts: Nice happy intro, and keeps going up to the chorus, but for me the chorus doesn’t hit as big as I want it to, I expected more, its not bad at all, but not as good as others I have heard so far.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:30

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track 'Ten'

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Ten composed by Paul Giordimaina to the lyrics of Fleur Balzan with vocals provided by Corazon.

Corazon, known to many as a singer/songwriter is partaking in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest for a third (3rd) consecutive year, having previously reached the final with Mystifying Eyes and My Stranger Love in 2012 and 2013 respectively. It is fair to say that the vocalist has achieved most of her success in her mother tongue, competing in the prestigious L-Għanja tal-Poplu festival on five (5) occasions, and being crowned winner three (3) times with the tracks Hawn Jien (Here I Am), Tal-Aħħar (The Last Time) and Mill-Għajnejn ta’ Tifla (Through the Eyes of a Girl). She wrote both the music and the lyrics to those songs, and most recently showcased her own work in a debut album bearing the name of her first successful song, Hawn Jien. Apart from being a vocalist, Corazon has shown outstanding qualities in the entertainment sector, having hosted L-Għanja tal-Poplu back in 2010 and also given the chance to host the daily television programme, TVPM on Television Malta.

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Paul Giordimaina and Fleur Balzan, known to be experienced songwriters in the local music scene, and having already been granted the opportunity to pen a representative entry for Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest, that being One Life performed by Glen Vella in 2011. Nevertheless, their success at the selection stage of the competition is unprecedented, having finished as the first runner-ups on at least three (3) occasions, kicking things off with Take a Look performed by Olivia Lewis in 2004, moving onto Someday sung by Eleanor Cassar in 2009 and ultimately finishing off with Just a Little More Love by Glen Vella in 2010. Paul, also a singer, took to the stage on behalf of Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Georgina back in 1999 as they galloped to sixth place with the song Could It Be composed by Paul Abela with lyrics by Ray Mahoney.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 46%

John Scott: Nice performance and the song is pleasant. But it doesn’t go anywhere and leaves no impression at all.

Martin Isherwood: Ok voice - not particularly strong. Nice idea of counting up from 1 to 10 but it doesn't really come off, as the references to the numbers are flimsy at best: e.g. '8 is a message of hope - nine the end of a hurdle'? The chorus is ok but nothing special. She may be aiming for Ten, but I doubt she'll get anything like it in this competition

Sharon Vaughn: In order for a song like this to work, it has to be Paul Simon brilliant. This one didn't approach that level for me.

Stano Simor: Corazon, that type of artist who immediately draws you in. She has an extremely pleasant and teenage colour in her voice. The chorus is infectious and the backing vocals do their bit brilliantly. The lyrics sit the song and performer well and the transposition at the end was very good indeed.

Greig Watts: Feels a little too ordinary again for me, doesn’t have the impact of some of the others in the song or production, the singer delivers it well, but for me this is falling into the just ok category.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions
Monday, 27 January 2014 19:24

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track 'Take Me'

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Take Me which was written by Boris Cezek with vocals provided by Pamela.

Pamela, a female vocalist who witnessed the move of venues between the Mediterranean Conference Centre and the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre throughout her previous seven (7) participations with tracks including none other than Play On (2005), Reachin’ Out (2006), All About a Life (2007), Whispers (2008), Loved By You (2008), Before You Walk Away (2009) and Hold On (2010). Despite being away from the competition in the past four years, Pamela has still been involved either as a backing vocalist during the selection process or at the Eurovision Song Contest, having joined Thea Garrett and Glen Vella with their respective entries My Dream and One Life in 2010 and 2011. At this point in time, Pamela has been working exclusively with Paul Giordimaina and Fleur Balzan, releasing a collection of songs entitled Whispers back in 2008 for public consumption.

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Boris Cezek, responsible for writing both the music and the lyrics of Take Me will be making his solo song-writing debut when it comes to the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. At last years’ competition, Boris in collaboration with Dean Muscat was responsible for three (3) entries in total, those being; Perfect Day, Us Against the World and eventual winner, Tomorrow. The latter succeeded on an international level, garnering eighth place at the Eurovision Song Contest and also breaking through the music charts in Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom. One has to keep in mind that prior to 2013, Boris Cezek had never written any songs for the international competition, working with the likes of Kristina Casolani and Miriam Christine on their music releases, intended for radio.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 78%

John Scott: Very nice voice. The song builds musically really well. It has a big anthem feel to it. My only negative is I would like to have heard a vocal bridge instead of the “la la la” part.

Martin Isherwood: Nice husky folky voice. Not sure what's it’s about: 'take me to that sycamore tree …. before we say our goodbyes'? The lyric is probably too personal to be universally understood. Great melody. Quite Cher like in some ways. Nice production. Nice middle folky section.

Sharon Vaughn: Love her voice, it fits this nice Celtic vibe and she manages to not over sing in spite of this slightly over worked track.

Stano Simor: This song could be used as the soundtrack for Disney fairytale. The song is very well written, both music and lyrics and one could denote the bridge as impressive and contagious. Pamela has an incredibly nice colour of voice, especially when singing low tones.

Greig Watts: Another ballad with a kind of Celtic feel that can appeal to the Irish! I like it again, slightly less traditional than Love will Take Me Home, but has a similar feeling. Nice and simple again and I can remember it. Also has a good extra hook with the la la la part, I like it, definitely in my top 5.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Some Kind of Wonderful which has written by Wayne William who is also the vocalist.

Wayne William, a male singer/songwriter who definitely knows the confines of the competition pretty well, having already been a part of the showcase on no less than six (6) occasions; Take Me Back Again (2003), It’s up to You (2005), Where You Belong (2009), Save a Life (2010), Everybody Sing (2011) and Time (2012). Despite not being a part of the competition as a vocalist in 2013, it is worth pointing out that he co-wrote two (2) entries; No One’s Home performed by Petra and Wonderful Today sung by Richard and Petra. It was an extremely busy couple of months for Wayne, following his marriage to Emily and also finalising his debut album The Parade, one which includes several new tracks as well as two which had been previously published and have now been re-mastered.

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In recent months, Wayne has adopted a stage name, rather than making use of his surname Micallef and having had a chat with the singer/songwriter, it made a lot of sense noting that the foreign audience was finding it extremely difficult to pronounce his surname. Whilst Wayne is an accomplished vocalist, his songwriting skills have yet to be tapped into with regards to other artists noting that he has only worked with his family members; Michelle Mifsud and Richard Edwards apart from Petra whom at the time of the competition was dating his brother and thus made logical sense to join the illustrious Micallef clan. Just a couple of weeks back, the editorial team at escflashmalta.com had the pleasure of reviewing The Parade which we urge you to purchase through iTunes as soon as possible.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 62%

John Scott: The singer has a very nice voice. The song is decent, but not the most memorable. I also don’t like the way the singer pronounces the word “wonderful”.

Martin Isherwood: Nice voice but nothing stand out. Interesting title and although deliberately vague in its use of 'some kind' it makes it hard to know what the song is about. Decent verse although the chorus doesn't jump out. Starts like an Oasis track mixed with Christian Rock. Competent but uninteresting, not really a Eurovision song.

Sharon Vaughn: Nice song, good singer, but no chills and no sparkle dust.

Stano Simor: Great radio friendly song. Wayne has a nice colour with good technique of the voice. Authors of the song have worked hard and wrote a song with a nice text and music. The band behind the singer makes a good atmosphere.

Greig Watts: Seems like a nice building acoustic pop/country ballad, Performed well and builds nicely throughout, feels like a nice song, but not sure it’s strong enough to have a big impact in Eurovision. Nice but maybe Nice is not enough!

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions
Saturday, 25 January 2014 03:10

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track 'Safe'

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Safe, composed by Mark Scicluna to the lyrics of Emil Calleja Bayliss with vocals provided by Miriam Christine.

Miriam Christine, a singer/songwriter whose talent was quickly unravelled, having been selected to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest with the track In a Woman’s Heart composed by Paul Abela to the lyrics of Alfred C Sant. Reaching a respectable tenth place, Miriam continued to build on that experience and went onto give concerts in Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Turkey, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom. She then entered the studio on countless occasions working on three (3) studio albums; Smile ‘n’ Shine, L-Emigrant and Little Zee, the latter of which garnered considerable promotion and airplay on both local and foreign airwaves. In the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, Miriam is making her fifth appearance, having also taken part in 1995 with The Way You Are, in 1996 with In a Woman’s Heart, in 1998 with It’s up to You and in 2009 with Mama. The participation comes on the backbone of the upcoming hosting duties on the programme Poppins set to air on Television Malta.

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Mark Scicluna and Emil Calleja Bayliss, a song-writing duo who are fast establishing themselves in the local music industry, especially when it comes to competitions. Prior to their debut participation in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, they made the finals of three major song festivals; L-Għanja tal-Poplu with the track Għal Dejjem sung by Marie Claire Attard Bason; Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza with the song Riflessi performed by Karen DeBattista and most recently the International Festival of Maltese Song with Mark Tonna and his entry Poeta Bla Kliem. The latter was first runner-up to Olivia Lewis’ Hawn Mill-Ġdid missing out on the top spot by three (3) points. Seperately, both have reached success in L-Għanja tal-Poplu and the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza with tracks such as Pupazz (Rita Pace) and Tal-Komma Twila (Grecia Bezzina), penned by Emil Calleja Bayliss as well as Virtwali (Estelle Imbroll) and Eternità (Janice Mangion) composed by Mark Scicluna.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 66%

John Scott: She has a great voice and the song builds very nicely. The chorus is instantly memorable.

Martin Isherwood: Lovely voice. Safe is a good title but the lyrics don't do it justice. Lots of distant descriptions, but not much personal feeling - 'this emotion can never be explained' strange mixed similes and metaphors - 'A flame that burns like fire' - genius!. ‘Safe like a child - mother's arms' 'this love has no restriction' all a bit confusing. If it's a romantic song the mother simile doesn't really fit and sounds a bit weird.

Sharon Vaughn: A lovely sentiment and she makes me believe her.

Stano Simor: Safe has an extremely strong chorus, one which could easily be remembered, and something which proves to be vital in such a competition. The music is well done, seems that there was a lot of effort but what really shines for me are the lyrics, clearly one of the best. Miriam has managed to master an excellent song.

Greig Watts: A lovely Piano intro again, and the verse draws you into want to listen to the song, for me it reaches the chorus at the right time and the chorus lifts you again. I still want a little more and am searching for this second hook in the chorus (maybe I am wanting the impossible as the songs are required to be short and I think the ballads suffer with this). It’s a good song and is performed well and builds in all the right places.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Pin the Middle, composed by Peter Paul Galea to the lyrics of Debbie Stivala with vocals provided by De Bee.

De Bee, one (1) of the five (5) artists who are making their debut in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, and one which is also very much a newcomer to the local music scene in general. As a matter of fact, her experience in the entertainment industry has always amounted to spectacular one off events, some of which are held every other year including Voices and others which take place once in a blue moon such as Xirka Rock and What the Funk?. De Bee, whose real name is Debbie Stivala aims to visit as much countries in the world as possible, whilst also hoping to help those in need, hence her participation in a number of charitable causes. In 2013, she released her debut single Just Like You co-written with Wayne Camilleri prior to leaving for Australia where her entry for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest was actually written.

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Peter Paul Galea and Debbie Stivala, songwriters of this entry in particular are putting their creativity alongside each other for the very first time. It is worth noting that Peter Paul is known to the local music scene as a musician and songwriter of the group, Tribali. The world music group have amassed great popularity both on a local and an international level, having had the opportunity to tour Australia on more than one (1) occasion. Debbie Stivala is also the vocalist, albeit making use of a stage name, something that is being done on a frequent basis by artists in Malta who also happen to be songwriters. This is her second songwriting credit, but nevertheless, performing your very own lyrics is just astonishing especially due to the fact that no one else can give them the same depth.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 71%

John Scott: Very original and unique. I think it’s pretty catchy. Not sure how it would translate in a live performance. Definitely a unique choice.

Martin Isherwood: Nice smoky voice. A bit cabaret - as in 30s Berlin. Pin the middle - sounds like a knitting pattern instruction. Not a clue what the song is about. Nice major minor inflections. Sort of druggy influence off it feel. Almost more-ish. Very strange introduction with eastern flavours then slips into a Herman's Hermits, Calamity Jane. Country, 1960's pop thing. With fiddle! Altogether a bit cracker.

Sharon Vaughn: Intriguing! She reminds me a bit of Edith Piaf and is exotic and sultry while singing about butterflies... not an easy thing to do. Special.

Stano Simor: Very unusual structure of a song for this kind of competition where the main instrument is the banjo. Yes, even country feeling may be just what the jury and the audience support! Lyrics sit well for this style of music though. Still, I believe that De Bee should have opted for a typical ballad rather than this country sound.

Greig Watts: Interesting introduction again, leaves you wondering whats coming and does feel different to what I have heard so far. Has a little bit of a 60’s pyschedelic feel to it. Again a nice singalong and memorable melody, not the obvious Eurovision one but sometimes the different ones work better and stand out.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions
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