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Friday, 01 February 2013 18:30

Malta Eurovision 2013: The Semi-Final - LIVE

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Xarabank is the programme which normally airs on a Friday evening but nevertheless, since the introduction of the semi-final system during the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, changes have been made to the overall broadcasting schedule. As a matter of fact, this is that evening and many that are anticipating a superb show shouldn't be disappointed because production values are through the roof. The Public Broadcasting Services has invested a lot of time into this venture and indeed, the results are showing at an international level, considering the almost qualification of Glen Vella with the song One Life in 2011 and the qualification of Kurt Calleja with his entry This Is The Night in 2012. Successful transitions have been made and the aim of the evening is to downsize and make sure that the public and the jury listen to the suitable sixteen (16) entries.

The evening will be hosted by Elaine Saliba and Gordon Bonello whilst Rodney Gauci will be taking on the role of backstage host whilst also doing the commentary with Norman Vella on TVM 2, for those who might not be that inclined within the forum of the competition itself. The official website of the Eurovision Song Contest will not be broadcasting the showcase this evening although showing the final tomorrow night. However, the foreign viewers should not fret because a live stream is being offered on the official website of the Public Broadcasting Services. Twenty-four (24) entries will be competing and eight (8) will have to be eliminated, despite the stunning talent that graces this years' competition. The judges coming from Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Ukraine, Italy and Malta will have a tough decision to make whilst the public vote will count as one of the judges'.

1, 2, 3... Go! 

 

A collage of clips of last year’s winner, Kurt Calleja and his This is the night lead us to tonight’s show... And you get to think: really? Did we really do that?

And he’s now on stage; it looks impressive, indeed. The stage, not Kurt's performance, mind you. 

 

Elaine Saliba and Gordon Bonello appear on stage... and there seems to be an ugly problem with the sound. We can hardly understand what they are saying. Yay, brilliant start! 

And there is goes... we had to have a jibe at last year’s glove!

Everybody is sporting a Vileda glove. Not really funny, is it? Let’s not stretch it, please. It becomes lame. 

The judges are now introduced, with Maria Muscat and Carlo Borg Bonaci being the Maltese ones on the panel. 
 Off we go... not without a fair share of ads, of course.  

01. Fall Like Rome – Richard Edwards (Kaxe / Philip Vella / Gerard J Borg)

When Richard utters a couple of words you can’t but say “Yay, yay! He can pronounce them words properly!” He looks rather stylish and laid-back, with the unnecessary frills (which are usually predominant in this show). His captivating voice keeps you hooked all through. Yet, the song leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t quite do it, really. Too many metaphors and nuances there, so you can hardly follow.  He did give a nice performance, however, much more was expected of him. 

02. Tides of Illusion – Ylenia (Jason Cassar / Mario Farrugia)

Is it my impression or is she a bit off? Something isn’t working there. Also, the choreography seems a bit messed up: the dancers are sloppy and seemingly out of synch. On the whole, it was a rather boring show. The song is forgotten as soon as it finishes - unlike her dress; that we will surely remember. It hits you in the eye. 

03. Perfect Day – Janice DeBattista (Boris Cezek / Dean Muscat)

Janica has a nice voice, almost soothing. Yet, this isn’t really evident in the performance she is giving today. I don’t like the dress much, I think she could have done more with the attire; it looks way too sombre.
 

04. Never Walk Away – Chris Grech (M Borg / P Borg / D Cassar Torreggianni / C Grech)

So there was a lot of hype surrounding this song. Let's see. All right, he’s a very good voice. I’ll grant that. They are having very serious problems: it is not even synced. We are getting a very crappy version of the song. From the bits and pieces we could get at home, it is very evident that the song is one of the best ones thus far. Yet, it does lack a certain climax I believe - though that could easily be fixed. Indeed a good one here!


05. Overrated – Marilena (Philip Vella / Gerard J Borg)

Marilena comes on stage and your eyes start bleeding. Your eyes urge you to chop them off. What can I say? This is the typical song you have to have at such competitions. You will just get it out of your system once it’s over. The show is crap - the dancers/backing are more of a distraction - they surely don’t help the act. Yes, Marilena, totally Overrated. (Again, it was not even synced.)


06. No One’s Home – Petra (Wayne Micallef / Richard Micallef)

So do we have a vintage blues chic here? Well, if we do, she’s vocally stable and the voice is indeed remarkable. I would dare say that, vocally speaking, she’s been the best one so far. The whole act is, to be honest.  Petra has good stage presence (well, apart from her channelling Katy Perry a bit too much) and makes you follow her all through. A strong contestant - it would be a pity not to see her through. 


07. Starting from the End – Dorothy Bezzina (Kaxe / Gerard J Borg)

Dorothy’s impeccable mastery of vocals is impressive. The backing really makes the voice reverberate and blends really well. The acoustics are not doing her voice any justice; it sounds too tinny. Yet, the song is a strong one and, needless to say, makes you listen to it attentively. The whole act was a good one... even though her cheesy hand/arm moves could have been spared. Dorothy should definitely make it.


08. Too Little Too Late – Domenique (M Paelnick / M Strasser)

Domenique looks like a wrapped present in that dress and she’s looking twice her age. Jewellery, hair-do and makeup have totally overpowered her. She’s a really pretty girl, but the whole thing totally ruined that. The voice is nice one, but the song is weak. 


09. Ultraviolet – Jessika (T G:Son / Philip Vella / Gerard J Borg)

At first I somehow liked the looks. But then, the whole thing looked as if they’re two different things stuck together (OK, they are ultraviolet, but still...). I must say I don’t particularly fancy the song. Jessica strives to give a great performance, however it does come across as if she is straining her voice. All in all, she tries too hard and it shows. She'd have a better chance if she were to tone it all down and opt for softer and more mellow vocals. 


10. Let Your Heart Talk – Franklin (Ray Agius / Alfred C Sant)

If there’s something you can’t criticise about Franklin is that he is always impeccably dressed, wherever you see him. Yet, he didn’t really convince me here. He has a marvellous voice which hooks you and make you listen to each work attentively. He is having some tiny problems with the base notes; they need to be supported a little better. And perhaps a little more work on the breathing.. but then you say: “who cares?” That ending was superb!


11. When It’s Time – Claudia Faniello (Errol Sammut / C Faniello)

Where’s Carina when you need her? Claudia’s dress was fabulous last year... this year it just won’t do. That outfit looks, well, out of place. She should totally have gone for more of an Annouk sort of look. Which is an absolute pity! She is also wearing too much makeup. The song is beautiful, with gorgeous music. Claudia is actually one the very few singers who seem to improve with each passing years... This song is great for her kind of voice. She seems to have found her genre and range!


12. My Stranger Love – Corazon (Paul Giordimaina / Fleur Balzan)

Corazon looks like the innocent girl you would want to do well. Then you think that she writes her own songs and you say that’s a good bonus. She sits there, and she sort of reminds you of Alicia Keys: sleek, pony tail, long dress, chunky earrings. And then she stands up, and you see that dress. No, it really wasn’t the best option; yet one could say it’s something a bit different. The song would need some more syncopation. I think it would go well with a bit of a blues feel to shake off that classical Eurovision-sort-of-ballad and make it a tad more original. 


13. Needing You – Kevin Borg (Borg / Gribbe / Thornholm / Attlerud / Clauss)

They say Kevin is going to sing and most of the audience goes clapping and shouting - positive sign he needn’t worry much? Well, they surely weren’t clapping for that hairstyle. There is harmony on stage; the backing and Kevin are doing a great job. Yet, the song is not as strong. It’s very pop-band-goes-mushy-in-a-Christmas-special. And what’s with the dancer that joins him on stage? Isn’t she more irrelevant than Franco Debono? (to keep the comedians’ joke going, you know...) Nothing special, really. 


14. Superstar – Scar (Konrad Pule)

I always like Scar, really. I think they break the routine kind of thing. They always come up with a good song and structure; the presentation is simple - as should be. The leading singer is very laid-back, as the song demands. It’s a rhythmic song you need to have. Less is truly more in this case. 


15. Loverdose – Melanie Zammit (N Lundin, M Lundin, Gerard J Borg)

As much as stage presence is important, it is ultimately a song contest. I wouldn’t want to sound too harsh, but Melanie came off as one who hardly has any vocal ability. A pretty face, cool attire, fancy dancing and psychedelic projections in the background just won't cut it. No. The song left much to be desired, which is a pity as was expecting a great performance by melanie. 


16. Fantasy – Danica Muscat (Paul Abela / Joe J Farrugia)

That hair made her look much older than she actually is; but the rest seems to work really well together. Th performance was a good one. She has a good voice and masters it well; though it needs refining. The whole act was positive... BUT, why did you have to ruin it with that “tenkkjuwww” at the end, Danica? 


17. Wonderful Today – Petra & Richard (Wayne Micallef / Richard Micallef)

What’s happened to Petra? The leather skinny trousers don’t do her justice, do they? Also, the duet didn’t work out the way they must have thought it would work. Her voice is literally too domineering: she also comes off as hey-I’m-super-confident-ok?. When they sing together, their voices clash - she sounds flat and he becomes sharp. I surely preferred their individual songs. A poor act. 


18. Love-O-Holic – Deborah C (Bejerholm / Gerard J Borg)

She shrills and belts from the throat, her diction is pitiable and her moves leave much to be desired. The song was so boring and repetitive that I found myself wondering about how they would cope if her extensions were to catch fire.


19. Us Against the World – Gianni (Boris Cezek / Dean Muscat)

Gianni is cool and it’s a pleasure to have on stage, yet he has a weak vocal range. in fact he suffers with some notes. On the whole, the song various on the fun-decent song to sing along. It’s not boring, though it does get rather repetitive. Other than that, the stage presence is good and the whole act made sense together. Not a strong one, though. 


20. Keep Believing – Raquela (Raquela)

Quite a pleasantly different style for Raquela. However, it does get boring at some point, and then, all of a sudden it finishes and it leaves you expecting more to come. The song definitely needs more working. Also, the dress, too reminiscent of a disco ball gone wrong on her, isn’t working all that much here. 


21. Tomorrow – Gianluca Bezzina (Boris Cezek / Dean Muscat)

Gianluca's smile is infectious, as is his song. It's a cheeky sing along song without that typical Eurovision stamp to it. The stage setup is simple, as is his outfit which match the easy breezy mood of the song brilliantly. Having said that, I can't help but feel that the beginning, as well as the bass line and harmony resemble train's 'Hey Soul Sister' a tad too much. 

22. In Control – Amber (Paul Giordimaina / Fleur Balzan)

Amber is coming across as too nasal. Her singing is good, but that high note sort of hurt the ear. It was a rather good act on the whole, pleasant to follow. I found nothing special in it that will make me think of the song afterwards. Also, the attire wasn’t really the best they could go for. Her dress did not really and truly suit her, and the the backing vocalists’s dresses being didn’t fully complement the idea there. 


23. The Remedy – Klinsmann (Kaxe / Philip Vella / Gerard J Borg)

Kinsman seems to be another artist who strives to improve every year; it shows that he's growing and maturing. Then again, as always, he's a little too 'Busted', yet the song is decent. The tune is Catchy yet nothing to write home about. "Woow woow" seems to be his motto, he always finds a way to sneak it into his songs, year after year. All in all, though, a decent performance. 

24. Betrayed – Davinia (E Zarb / Muxu)

I have this ambivalent feeling about Davinia. I think the dress could have been better, as this one had a bit of a tacky feel to it. She has a surprisingly appealing and sultry voice. I admit I liked the whole act. It was good all through I believe. She should make it through as I think it is a strong one. 


 

The Show (Part 2)

 

Now that we are done listening to the songs, the hosts have opened the tele-voting. People have 15 minutes to vote for their favourite act. And what do the televiewers get during this time? You get ads on end... and it seems this interval is turning into a rather prolonged one. Though I’m not that keen on it, I believe it would have been much better to have some sort of filler. 

 

The filler seems to have been sorted - we have a recap of the 24 songs.  

 

And now that the 15 minutes are over, the tele-voting has been closed ...to be followed, of course, with another long list of ads. 

 

After a longish chit-chat with the contestants, when everybody was expecting the finalists to be announced, Chris and Moira take to the stage. And hey, why do we even need to have tomorrow’s final? Moira sounds brilliant tonight - let’s all vote her in, shall we? 

 

After two great performances by Chris and Moira, Alex Alden performs a cover of Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. I personally think this wasn’t a very wise choice; you don’t have an unplugged performance as one of the fillers in a national contest.  

 

Qualifiers

 

Betrayed – Davinia (E Zarb / Muxu)

 

Love-O-Holic – Deborah C (Bejerholm / Gerard J Borg)

 

Never Walk Away – Chris Grech (M Borg / P Borg / D Cassar Torreggianni / C Grech)

 

Us Against the World – Gianni (Boris Cezek / Dean Muscat)

 

Perfect Day – Janice DeBattista (Boris Cezek / Dean Muscat)

 

Ultraviolet – Jessika (T G:Son / Philip Vella / Gerard J Borg)

 

Too Little Too Late – Domenique (M Paelnick / M Strasser)

 

Starting from the End – Dorothy Bezzina (Kaxe / Gerard J Borg)

 

Wonderful Today – Petra & Richard (Wayne Micallef / Richard Micallef)

 

Tomorrow – Gianluca Bezzina (Boris Cezek / Dean Muscat)

 

Fall Like Rome – Richard Edwards (Kaxe / Philip Vella / Gerard J Borg)

 

Needing You – Kevin Borg (Borg / Gribbe / Thornholm / Attlerud / Clauss)

 

Superstar – Scar (Konrad Pule)

 

My Stranger Love – Corazon (Paul Giordimaina / Fleur Balzan)

 

When It’s Time – Claudia Faniello (Errol Sammut / C Faniello)

 

In Control – Amber (Paul Giordimaina / Fleur Balzan)

 

 

For televiewers, what proved to be the highlight of the show was the dismal sound quality throughout the first half of the show. Yet, all in all, I admit this evening showed a true improvement on previous years, probably due to the fact that artists who are not synonymous with the show participated for the first time, which improved the quality of the songs offered drastically. This also offered a bigger diversity in terms of song styles and genres, since lyricists and songwriters who used to write most of the songs in previous years seem to have lost their monopoly...

 

On the other hand, I must say the presenters did a better job this year. Yet, this is not because they were wittier or anything of the sort: they were just lucky that the elections are  round the corner. In fact, just to make sure that they combine two of the Maltese population's obsessions, they went all out with snide election remarks/jokes. It seemed funny at first, but then it all went floppy when they started stretching it. In a post-show press conference, it was revealed that the opening act in the final will be Superstar by Scar whilst the closing act will be Domenique with Too Little Too Late. The rest of the running order will be decided by the producers in the next couple of hours.

 

Source: TVM, escflashmalta.com

Last modified on Monday, 04 February 2013 13:34