November 14, 2019

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In recent years, has been on the forefront in chatting to artists who would be heading to the Eurovision Song Contest and hopefully representing their country and achieving a positive result. Next up is Valentina Monetta who will be representing San Marino with the song Maybe (Forse) composed by Ralph Siegel to the lyrics of Mauro Balestri. She looks back at hes experience in the music industry and the manner in which she is taking up the challenge of representing hes country in the biggest music event for the third time.

Valentina, the Eurovision Song Contest is to be noted as a major part of your music career, having given you the opportunity to showcase your talents to a broader audience that the one come to be expected of a microstate like San Marino. Have you thought about what lies ahead in the future?

Of course .. I think the work I've done for me, for my music and for the public who follows me is great and I hope of course that it will bear fruit. Along with Ralph Siegel and the Eurovision Song Contest, I had the opportunity to learn so many things to grow and mature both humanly and artistically and fine tune my talent, I hope to get feedback for my always greater commitment.

In the past two years, you represented San Marino with two completely different entries; The Social Network Song in 2012 and Crisalide (Vola) in 2013 alas failing to get through the semi-final stage of the competition. This time round you will be performing a ballad, in English. Would you care telling us about your entry Maybe (Forse) and how you came to the conclusion of selecting this entry as the one to complete your hat trick?

We had a lot of choice because of my versatility, but in the end, I and my team,  considering the result last year decided of continuing on the same path .. evolving what we somehow managed to convey with Chrysalis. "Maybe", in Italian "Forse" is a song that wants to open a door in the dense mesh of the certainties of which we are constantly looking for. If the certainties give you a temporary feeling of tranquility, at the same time we are trapped in an amorphous bubble as cosmic beings and we cannot do anything but sit tight.

Maybe (Forse) is a breath of possibilities, maybe the idea we have of reality does not match with what really is reality. The moment we allow ourselves in doubt ... maybe to the chance of being something else, it may surprise us and make us fall in love. So... when you're in love you understand this very well and with absolute certainty that we ourselves are something far beyond, with respect to our limited imagination ... Maybe!

Many have commented that the level of songs in this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is somewhat average in comparison to the past couple of years. Have you heard any of the competing entries and do you agree with this statement?

I think every year there have been more or less valid entries. Last year was of really high level and it's a source of pride for me to have arrived eleventh, although I have not gone in the final. Hungary and Germany are my favorites this year.

One of the key figures behind your music career is surely Ralph Siegel, who is also co-writer of your entry in this years’ international competition, alongside Mauro Balestri. The German record producer and songwriter has been responsible for some of the most successful songs ever to come out of the competition including none other than Theater, Papa Pingouin, Johnny Blue and Ein bischen Frieden between 1980 and 1982. How did this collaboration begin and do you anticipate a future working relationship?

For me it was a great fortune to know someone as a great as Ralph .. Great opportunity, great collaboration and I can say that if today I respect my passion for music I owe it to him. Maybe we will continue to work together, maybe not, Whatever happens Ralph will always be a mentor and a significant figure in my career as a singer.

In three years, you have managed to build up a sensational following, one which also stretches beyond the confines of the Eurovision Song Contest. Maybe (Forse) is one of the tracks in your upcoming studio album. Would you care to tell us more about this project and what people can expect of it?

So much to say but better to listen: my album is titled SENSIBILITA, it is full of colors and different styles of music. You listen to songs ranging from pop to soul and funk, from swing to reggae and bossa nova. I would call it a nice eruption of energy; mine, that of Ralph and collaborations with other artists of San Marino: Military Band; Choir of San Marino; Roberto Monti, a great musician of the Republic and beyond; Sara Jane Ghiotti, a friend, colleague and fine singer; the legendary big band ''Of Course'' of Simone la  Maida, great jazz saxophonist and arranger,; a young rapper from San Marino Mirco Moroncelli  aka Gullo and finally with great joy, my brother Vincenzo Monetta, with whom I shared my passion for music since childhood.

Not forgetting the fabulous musicians who follow me for some time now in my live concerts: Simone Migani (piano), Alex Gorbi (bass and electric bass) , Max Castri (drums) who is also the drummer of Raphael Gualazzi, Claudio Malerba, Luke Florian, Mecco Guidi; and great support from Lello Piergiovanni, studio technician who has helped me in what I personally call a masterpiece.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that San Marino would be performing in twelfth place on the night of the first semi-final meaning that it is a relatively late draw, similar to the one back in 2012. Do you believe that the running order has an influence over the final result?

Well everyone says yes .. but beyond the position in the lineup, I think it's what I can pass on to audience that gives me satisfaction.

Joshua de Cadenex, also known as Joshua Alamu is one of the most well regarded vocal coaches in Malta, working with some of the most promising talents that the country is known to offer. Your duet entitled A Kiss took us all by surprise but nevertheless was well regarded in the music industry. How did you two meet and how did the collaboration take place?

Joshua is just precious and one of a kind. I had the privilege to know him last year during my preparation for “Chrysalis”, he has helped me a lot for the technique and interpretation and I was very happy to have inspired him to write “A Kiss”  for me and even more to have sung it with him, a great honor.

The 2014 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is not too far away especially due to the fact that it has been set for the beginning of May rather than the latter as has been the case in recent years. How are the preparations going along and what are we to expect on the stage of the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark?

I already feel a mermaid! As always I prepare psycho-physically and I take care of my voice.

In 2013, San Marino was the first country to award their points during the night of the final, giving Malta no less than ten (10) points and an astonishing second place. Have you heard our entry Coming Home by Firelight and would you encourage the jury and the public of San Marino to support our country once more for the second consecutive year?

Yes, absolutely!

Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers at

Enjoy your life .. kisses Vale x

Published in Interviews
Friday, 18 April 2014 08:23

Armenia: Interview with Aram MP3 (2014)

In recent years, has been on the forefront in chatting to artists who would be heading to the Eurovision Song Contest and hopefully representing their country and achieving a positive result. Next up is Carl Espen who will be representing Armenia with the song Not Alone co-written with Garik Popoyan. He looks back at his experience in the music industry and the manner in which he is taking up the challenge of representing his country in the biggest music event.

Without a shadow of doubt, it seems that there have been some misunderstandings in recent weeks with the international press reporting on certain comments which you made about Conchita Wurst, the bearded lady who will be representing Austria in this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Would you kindly explain and clarify the situation?

Apart from being a musician, I’m also a comedian. Music and humour are inseparable parts of my life, and some remarks I recently made that were meant in a humorous manner instead may have hurt my colleagues and fans. Those who misinterpreted my jokes maybe haven’t listened to my song attentively, as it reminds everyone that they are not alone. That is the main message. 

I want people listening to my song share my idea that no one is alone in this world, regardless of what country they come from, their religion, what is their medical diagnosis or who they love.  During my visit to Amsterdam I have met Conchita and had the chance to talk with her in person and clarify the situation. I am glad we could understand each other in a right way.  

On behalf of Armenia, you will be the first artist to take to the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 having been slotted in the first position during the first semi-final. What was your initial reaction to the running order and does it make you nervous to know that you will be the one to open a weeklong of festivities?

You know presenting my country to international audience is a big honour for me and I hope I can present it in the best way. My reaction to the selection results when I learnt I’d be performing first was quite positive. “Not Alone” will open Eurovision Song Contest 2014 and I think it’s good! Being a positive person, I have already found an advantage of my situation. I will sing first and then won’t have to be anxious until my turn comes to sing, I won’t be waiting nervous in the backstage. So let’s hope everything happens for good.

In recent years, several public broadcasters have decided to forego their national selection process in favour of an internal choice following consultation with music industry professionals. This has not always been representative of success in the international competition but has still proven to be a formidable outlet of choice. You are the product of such a choice but nevertheless, would you have gone through the trouble of a national selection?

Due to my career path I have participated in many competitions and got used to competition spirit. I would have gone for national selection as I have always wanted to participate in Eurovision, and secondly I enjoy competing, as it keeps me in a working mode.

Not Alone which you composed to the lyrics of Garik Popoyan is the song which you will be presenting during the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Would you please walk us through the song-writing process and why did you select this song in particular?

We have gone a long way with “Not Alone” until we managed to have the version of the song, as it is known to public. Melody of the song is composed by me and the creation process was quite spontaneous. I guess it always happens spontaneous when you have an inspiration all of a sudden. 

Muse visits me unexpectedly and leaves without warning either. Garik, who is my good friend and colleague, wrote lyrics for the melody. The instrumental arrangement, which is really great I think, was done by Lilit Navasardyan. Then it took us some time to work on it with all our team and now we have a strong song, I think.

It is fair to say that you are one of the most popular individuals in Armenia, having first appeared both as a vocalist and a presenter on a number of hit television shows such as X Factor, Idol, My Name Is, Power of 10 and Vitamin Club. How has each experience defined who Aram MP3 is and what can the public expect from you in the next couple of years?

Each experience gave a chance of meeting new people, receiving energy and emotions from them. I love communicating with new people and sharing experiences, people are such a great source of inspiration for me! Apart from this, combination of humour, music, stage performances, anchoring shaped different sides of me as a showman. I am in love with everything that is connected with backstage and on stage performances and happy to have so many ways of doing whatever I love in my life.

Betting Odds have always been pretty close to predicting the final result, having correctly seen to the victories of Loreen for Sweden (2012), Alexander Rybak for Norway (2009), Lena for Germany (2010) and Emmelie de Forest for Denmark (2013). At the moment, you are topping the leader board, with a slender lead over Sweden. How does it make you feel to note such support and do you give such predictions any importance?

I am very much thankful for all the positive feedback I am receiving. This is a huge support for me in this tough period, really. Betting odds are reflecting people’s opinion about my song and I am very touched that it has so many followers. It proves that I am not alone in my musical preferences and that my team and I are working in the right direction.

Despite the fact that Armenia and Malta are competing in different semi-finals, it is worth noting that they will both be opening acts and thus are somewhat aided through this mutual relationship. Have you had the opportunity to listen to Coming Home by Firelight and what are your thoughts?

I liked the song and the video very much. It touches upon the sensitive issue which is very important for everyone in the world. I am very concerned about what is happening in our world: there is so much chaos around us nowadays. I think that artists should be delegates of peace and love in the world and that is what Firelight tries to say in my opinion. 

I also try to deliver a certain message through my song. I really hope that it unites everyone in the world who is in difficult situation now and together we can warm peoples’ heart and don’t let them feel alone whichever hard moments they are going through.

Would you like to say anything to our readers at

Through my song I am trying to spread the idea of love and harmony in human relationships. I wish readers of escflashmalta value their beloved ones and find the harmony. I also invite to join my Facebook page and follow me on twitter to stay updated on my coming concerts and hope for your support in Denmark! Thank you Malta!

Published in Interviews
Thursday, 17 April 2014 17:55

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Hungary

It has become customary for the 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. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #16, we catch up with Hungary (MTVA) who will be represented by András Kállay-Saunders and the song Running co-written with Krisztián Szakos.

András Kállay-Saunders became famous through his participation in the Megasztár talent show, and while working on his career, he soon discovered his love for the Eurovision Song Contest. In his third attempt, he finally won the Hungarian national selection A Dal in 2014 with Running. The song has a very strong message and a personal link to Kállay: "I wrote this song about a childhood friend of mine, and people I have met with similar stories throughout my life. Unfortunately my friend was victim to child abuse, domestic violence. I wrote this song about their experiences and everything that they went though. I would like to raise awareness to this topic."

András Kállay-Saunders was born on January 28, 1985 in New York City to Hungarian model Katalin Kállay and American soul-singer and producer Fernando Saunders. Autumn of 2009, Kállay decided to visit Hungary to reunite with his mother as well as spending quality time with his grandmother. During his visit, he noticed a TV commercial urging talented singers to audition for the nation’s talent competition Megasztár. Kállay finished fourth in the contest but gained a life-changing experience. He realised the doors were opened toward making a life-long dream come true with hard work and dedication. He went on to sign with Universal and permanently resided in Hungary.

In 2012, Kállay entered the Hungarian Eurovision national selection show A Dal, but he unfortunately came short of the finals. During this competition, he developed a pride towards one day bringing the big stage to the country that opened doors to his dream. In 2013 he entered A Dal again with his single My Baby and reached 2nd place. He still had the desire to represent Hungary in Eurovision and wasn’t going to give up trying just yet. While having many songs to his arsenal, Kállay felt it was time to show Hungary a deeper song and chose to send Running, a song inspired by a childhood friend, who grew up dealing with domestic violence and child abuse.

András Kállay-Saunders also has a message for his fans: "I just want to say thank you to everyone who believes in me and supports me." Since returning in 2011, Hungary has been succeeding in getting through to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest with Kati WolfCompact Disc and ByeAlex reaching either a mid-table result, or in the event of the 2013, Kedvesem managing the third top ten result in eleven previous participations. The best result from Hungary was achieved during their debut back in 1994 with Friderika Bayer and Kinek Mondjam el Vetkeimet finished in fourth place with 122 points. Since the semi-final system was initiated back in 2005, it seems that Hungary has faced mixed fortunes apart from the past three years.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 75%

Martin Isherwood: Lyrics seem to be about child abuse and which, whilst a very serious issue, doesn't really seem to sit with the overall vibe of Eurovision Good voice. Ballad feel morphing in to drum n bass - unusual. Good track but I doubt it will enthuse the Eurovision audiences. 

Deo Grech: I rooted for Andras since the very first time I listened to his entry.   He faced a fierce competition in the Hungarian territory at A Dal 2014 from another entry with a similar title 'Running Out of Time', which should have been perfect for Eurovision, too. Having said that, I still prefer Andras' 'Running'.  This is full of emotion and has a very modern production.  With the right marketing, I can see this hitting the radio waves quite easily.  Come May, this will definately be battling it out with the other contenders.  Yes, it will surely be a battle of the ballads at Eurovision 2014.

Stano Simor: Hungary has in recent years quite successful artist, which well represents the unknown Hungarian music scene. András could reach this year especially young generation audience. The combination of slower intro and verses with drum n bass chorus is impressive. The chorus is easy to remember and that's what counts.

Matt Mercieca: I like it! Lyrics are a little blah! with the story telling and what-not. but I love his voice and the beat. and the Chorus is Brilliant!


Published in Editorials
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 13:14

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Montenegro

It has become customary for the 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. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #16, we catch up with Montenegro (RTCG) who will be represented by Sergej Cetkovic and the song Moj Svijet co-written with Emina Sandal.

His talent was noticed so he became one of the best students in piano classes, in the primary and as well in the secondary music school "Vasa Pavic". During the day, at school, he played Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and at night, at home, he played Peter Gabriel, Beatles, Joe Cocker. Sergej was definitely “infected” with pop-rock sound, therefore three years later in 1989 his official musical career started with the band "Burning Heart" in which he played keyboard and sang back vocals. Five years later, in 1994, he sang in a full capacity in the band "Amphitheatre", where he began as a keyboardist and back vocal and he later became the lead vocal. Four years later, in 1998, Sergej begins his solo career by appearing at the summer pop festival "Sunny Skale" in Herceg Novi, where he sang the song You Were A Rose. 

Early in the new millennium, driven by his musical feeling, Sergej announced a new sound in our pop music. His first album Kristina was published by "Goroton" in 2000. New musical tendencies, which were felt in the sound of his compositions, were accepted even prior to the official appearance of his CD. That summer at the prestigious Budva festival called "Song of the Mediterranean”, Sergej sang the song Hours, Days, Years and was well received by the audience and the critics. In addition to the above mentioned song, the following songs I Will Stop The Time, Wake Me Up, City were included on the first album made by the author himself who set a "new sound" so the songs topped all the charts and became the most popular songs of the year. 

Carried by the good feeling that his musical formula is verified by the enormous number of fans of the new pop sound, two years later, in 2002 Sergej released his second studio album Be Like Water, published by "Goroton". With his performances in 2003 at the Mediterranean Festival in Budva where he sang I Exist As Well, which is still the ultimate hit, and a year later at the festival "Eurovision – Euro song Monte Negro" where he sang I Can Not Forgive You he confirmed the position of his musical direction. Next year, in 2005, he released his third studio album When You Need It published by the record company "City records". This album break all records, both in circulation and the audience: songs Look Into The Darkness, Damn You, The Ring On The Table for two years were in the top of the charts in all the countries of former Yugoslavia.

With his fourth album, Half Of My World published in 2007 by “City Records”, Sergej Cetkovic definitely placed his music disc into the history of pop music in the Balkans. The fifth CD 2 Minutes published by “City Records” and “Aquarius Records” was released in the year when this well known musician celebrates a decade of work on Balkan music scene. After ten years of professional career singer and composer Sergej Cetkovic can boast the success of the artist and the businessman, the qualifications for top pop star. This fact supports figures, which are related to album sales (CD), visitors at concerts or any other parameter that is taken into account when the music industry is concerned. Montenegro are yet to find success in the international event with an 11th placing in the semi-final achieved in 2009 still their best result.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 73%

Martin Isherwood: Good voice Feels like it should be Ireland's entry   Great sounding song and production with flavours of ''You raise me up'. 

Deo Grech: Here goes my bias again. I have to declare that this entry hits all the right keys to earn my respect!  Ethno-ballads are amongst my all time favourites. So this follows close on the heels of 'Lane moje' (Serbia 2004), 'Lejla' (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006), and 'Nije Ljubav Star' (Serbia 2012), amongst others.   It's downside might be that it is far too predictable. However, with an elegant presentation on stage this will surely soar high towards the finals.

Stano Simor: A ballad, which in modern design doesn’t forget to decorate a national tradition.There is emotive text, which supports the melody and great voice of Sergej Cetkovic. I believe that "Moj Svijet" will have a place in the final.

Matt Mercieca: Sounds like a nice song production is really nice, I wish I knew what he was saying but either way its a beautiful song.


Published in Editorials

It has become customary for the 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. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #14, we catch up with The Netherlands (AVROTROS) who will be represented by The Common Linnets and the song Calm After the Storm co-written by Ilse DeLange, JB Meijers, Rob Crosby, Matthew Crosby and Jake Etheridge.

The Common Linnets is a Dutch dream team consisting of Ilse DeLange and Waylon. These two singer-songwriter stars have together found a new and exciting challenge in expressing their love for country music. Ilse and Waylon have known each other since they were teenagers, when they both played the country music circuit in Holland. Right from the beginning they shared a love for country and related genres like bluegrass, folk and Americana. But most of all they shared a passion for true, stripped-down songs that convey pure emotion. That passion led to the formation of The Common Linnets.

The “common linnet” is a songbird that breeds on the heaths in the eastern part of The Netherlands. For Ilse and Waylon, who both hail from that part of the country, this unassuming little bird with its wonderful song is the perfect symbol of what they’re aiming for with their songs. When Ilse DeLange came up with the idea for ‘The Common Linnets’ as a side project, involving different artists each time, Waylon topped the list of musicians she wanted to work with. Both of them immediately agreed upon a rootsy approach. Their mission-statement was clear: writing real country music, stripped of all unnecessary trappings, and inspired by such greats as Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash, but also West coast stars like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and James Taylor.

Writing brought Ilse and Waylon to the Belgian Ardennes and to Nashville, the epicenter of country music, where both Ilse and Waylon feel very much at home. American songwriters Rob Crosby, Matthew Crosby and Jake Etheridge soon came on board, after which Dutch singer-songwriter Daniel Lohues and Dutch producer JB Meijers rounded out the team. Ilse produced the album with JB Meijers. Towards the end of last year the big story broke. During a press conference The Common Linnets announced they would represent The Netherlands for the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen.

The Netherlands, a nation which has not won the Eurovision Song Contest since 1975, when Teach-In took the victory with the popular Ding-A-Dong. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, the country has not proven to be too successful either, considering that they have only managed to qualify on two occasions, the first time being back in 2004 with the group Re-Union and their entry Without You and the second time being just last year when Dutch superstar Anouk took to the stage with the atmospheric ballad Birds. The results have been quite surprising considering that the Dutch have submit some really strong songs along the year, including from Glennis Grace, Edsilia Rombley and 3Js.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 77%

Martin Isherwood: Strong hooks and melodies Lovely production. Reminds me of Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Great song.  Not sure country is really the Eurovision thing. 

Deo Grech: So the Dutch national broadcaster knew that last year's entry singer, Anouk, had a fierce rival....and her name is Ilse deLange.  They also aim to achieve a better result than the one achieved last year. So, they asked Ilse to take part this year on their behalf.   ''Fra i due litiganti il terzo gode''(italian saying).  Clever plan indeed!  Well, here she is joined by her long-time friend to form The Common Linnets.   Country and folk seem to be this year's theme...and I can easily guess why.   These songs were written in the same period when the European music charts were invaded by Avicii's 'Hey brother', Pitbull's 'Timber' and Gary Barlow's ''Let me go'' amongst others.

Stano Simor: This kind of song has a great tradition in the Dutch province of Friesland where it has managed to gain several hits. Acoustic feeling is excellent. Singing and music are perfectly in tune. The song is rather pleasant to listen in the club, such as attacking ESC stage.

Matt Mercieca: I really seem to be loving music from the Netherlands lately ( still love “Birds” from last year) , I really like this song, its super cool , and the harmonies are beautiful it’s a little country and a little Lady Antebellum! With most of the rubbish songs in this years semi final this truly stands out as a beautiful well produced song.


Published in Editorials
Saturday, 12 April 2014 16:15

Norway: Interview with Carl Espen (ESC 14)

In recent years, has been on the forefront in chatting to artists who would be heading to the Eurovision Song Contest and hopefully representing their country and achieving a positive result. Next up is Carl Espen who will be representing Norway with the song Silent Storm written by Josefin Winther, who happens to be his cousin. He speaks of the opportunity at representing his country in such an international event.

Silent Storm written by Josefin Winther is a true gem, a classic ballad which requires a heartfelt rendition in order to reach the masses. What are you currently doing to ensure that the message of the song comes across during the competition and what do the lyrics mean to you on a personal level?

I know that the most important thing in my performance is to be in touch with my emotions when singing it. It is difficult, but important. There’s no actual way to «rehearse» that part, but I try to connect with my inner feeling every single time I sing it. Also I think it’s important to not forget why I’m doing this, and that my dream is to sing for people. Nothing more, nothing less. The lyrics are very personal to me, and Josefin really hit the nail on it’s head when she wrote it to me. The lyrics express the feelings whirling inside me, that often feel like I have a silent storm inside. It also carries a growing hope, that someday I’ll be calm. The song has grown more and more important to me on a personal level. 

Norway has been drawn to compete in the first half of the second semi-final, with the European Broadcasting Union as well as Danmarks Radio allocating slot number #3 for the performance. Have you heard any of the other competing entries and how would you rate the Malta's chances?

Yes, I have heard many of the other contestants, and I’m so impressed by the level of music and artists. I’m very humbled by the fact that I’m in this competition. I just love the vocal harmonies in Malta’s contribution. Firelight is also close to genres I personally like. 

In 2009, it was all about Alexander Rybak and the song Fairytale, garnering a significant lead over the first runner-up to win the Eurovision Song Contest. In the years following that, Norway has only come close to winning once more last year with Margaret Berger finishing in fourth place with her entry I Feed You My Love. What expectations do you have prior to arriving at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark?

I have been an artist for four months now, and I have learned so much. From the day it became official that I was participating in the Norwegian pre-selections, I have received so much positive attention, support, love, fan mail and good reviews, and every day has felt like a new milestone for me. So even to be in the ESC finals is a great honor, and try to focus on preparing as much as I can. I don’t think so much about my chances of winning, etc, but just to focus on really putting my heart and soul into everything I do on stage. My expectations are to meet fantastic people, make new friends, get inspired by all the love for music, and to be blown away by the biggest experience in my life; singing «Silent Storm» for over 100 million people live.

Spotify, a music resource which is vital in the industry, being used to stream songs which are successful at the moment whilst also offering an astonishing back catalogue of albums from all across the world. Your entry, Silent Storm has topped the most listened to track in Norway but has failed to trouble the official music chart. Do you believe that the artist will find it difficult to make an honest career in music with such mechanisms?

To see that my song has been listened to several hundred thousand times, and that it’s the 6th most played song on radios in Norway, is for me just unbelievable. We all know that the industry and the way we listen to music is changing, and I think it has pros and cons. I think the best thing to do as an artist, is to focus on making good and genuine music, and to team up with people who know the industry well, and who are interested in always being one step ahead.  

Whenever nerves creep into a performance, that is where the criticism is known to commence and despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews from a local audience during the Melodi Grand Prix, several people on forums pointed out that you were nervous. Will you be alone on stage come May, or will you have someone to share the nerves with moments prior to the performance and whilst on the actual stage? 

I think it would have been strange if I hadn’t been nervous, whilst making my debut as an artist life in front of the Norwegian people. I am constantly working to develop as a singer and as an artist, and I know I will be able to sing «Silent Storm» even better when I come to Copenhagen. I will have musicians with me on stage, and will also have my singing teacher for last preparations before entering the stage. It is going to be an unforgettable night for me. I am very much looking forward to it. 

Would you like to say anything to the readers of

I would like to send out a warm greeting to the readers of, and thank you for the attention and for reading my interview. I am so grateful for all the support and love I receive, and I want you all to know that it means a lot to me. Thank you! All the best, Carl.

Published in Interviews
Saturday, 12 April 2014 14:15

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Portugal

It has become customary for the 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. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #13, we catch up with Portugal (RTP) who will be represented by Suzy and the song Quero Ser Tua written by Emanuel.

In late 1999, she released the song Nesta Noite Branca, a hit that is still played on the radio and shown on TV today. This year she was invited by producer Emanuel to perform his song at the 2014 Portuguese national selection, Festival da Canção. At the event, which celebrated its 50th anniversary, Suzy sung Quero Ser Tua and won the Grand Final with it. The composer of the song, Emanuel and Suzy have worked together already before this triumph and are now preparing a new album to be released this year.

Emanuel’s skills rapidly became well-known and he was soughed after as composer and orchestrator by well-known 80s Portuguese pop musicians. Among them, Marco Paulo, the most successful singer at the time, to whom Emanuel produced his 1988 album Joana, which was awarded four times platinum. He also become a phenomenon as an artist with the song Pimba, Pimba which sold in excess of 500,000 copies in the first six months alone!

The receptiveness to the new musical concept created by Emanuel was such that the Portuguese record market, in the next two years, changed completely with the emergence of numerous artists, record labels and even television shows and weekly magazines that adopted the new musical style. The media called the new movement "Pimba music", which made Emanuel one of the few people to have their name in the Portuguese Language Dictionary.

Portugal, known to be the country with the most participations in the international music competition and yet to master a victory. Their most successful tries in recent years were back in 1991 with Dulce Pontes and the song Lusitana Paixao, in 1994 with Sara Tavares and the track Chamar a Musica and last but not least in 1996 when Lucia Moniz almost troubles the top five with the song O Meu Coracao Nao Tem Cor. In their last two participations, the country failed to get out of the semi-final stage of the competition despite presenting a beautiful entry entitled Vida Minha, sung by Filipa Sousa back in 2012. They are returning to the international showcase after a year off.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 40%

Martin Isherwood: Nice to hear a song not in English   Nice voice. Nice, but not particularly hooky. Nice to hear an accordion.  Not quite as catchy as the Lambada.   Nicely Latin.  Don't think it's a winner.

Deo Grech: I have nicknamed this entry as the 2014 comeback for the notorious 'Lambada'. Suzy is currently suffering from the hated-in-her-own-homeland syndrome as the Portuguese seem to have preferred Catarina's ''Mea Culpa'' to this...and I can't blame them!  People in the audience were booing and even left their seats as soon as she was declared as the winning entry. Not a great comeback for Portugal at the Eurovision, at all! They need to fix her live vocals too or else this will be yet another wasted opportunity for Portugal.  And by the way, Portugal and Malta share the same Eurovision record....both with the longest participation without ever winning the contest.  We need to change this record, pretty soon! We have to!

Stano Simor: Very unusual song from the most western part of Europe, with influence of Balkan. Quero Ser Tua has set high expectations in trying to achieve a hit song but unfortunately, the potential does not appear anywhere. She will most likely appeal to the southern part of Europe. 

Matt Mercieca: Im very unbothered about this, I don’t love it but I don’t hate it, the latino beat is kind of hot! but over all its very blah! and at points very silly!


Published in Editorials

It has become customary for the 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. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #12, we catch up with San Marino (SMTV) who will be represented by Valentina Monetta and the song Maybe (Forse) composed by Ralph Siegel to the lyrics of Mauro Balestri.

In her childhood she discovered the love for music, listening in a tireless way to various musical styles, creating and forming over time a specific taste. Although she has not dealt with an academic background, she had studied piano and singing by herself, reaching the same professional high quality. Starting from 1995, she has been working with the best local musicians, becoming a versatile singer with a great talent for improvisation; her voice is both colorful and versatile, ranging from jazz to melodic Italian, from soul to R&B and pop. 

Valentina's artistic versatility has allowed her to deal with varied work experience as a singer, actor and presenter, and she had even composed the music and written the lyrics to her first solo album, a celebratory work of personal and professional balance, releasing the CD, Il Mio Gioco Preferito, recorded with the trio My Funky Valentine (Simone Migani on piano, Massimiliano Castri on drums, Alex Gorbi on bass). In 1995 Valentina started an adventure with her first band Tiberio, and soon thereafter formed the Parafunky. She was also part of the group 2Black, as well as forming the female vocal duo Harem'B. 

In 2012 she took part in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, on behalf of San Marino. In March of 2012 she has worked with Fabrizio Raggi staging the show Ma Che Differenza Fa, a tribute to Ornella Vanoni in which Valentina shows her singing and acting talent. In August 2012, still directed by Raggi, she was the protagonist of Camelia, a musical commissioned by UNICEF, in which Valentina presented her songs together with covers of some great Italian singers and songwriters. Her most recent experiences are all with her live band My Funky Valentine. Performing live for Valentina is crucial.

Valentina Monetta, a star in San Marino following her experiences on behalf of the microstate at the Eurovision Song Contest, noting that she is trying to prove herself the third time lucky, having finished in fourteenth place during her first participation in 2012 with The Social Network Song and in eleventh place in 2013 with Crisalide (Vola). Prior to Valentina, San Marino did have other representatives, one of them being Senit back in 2011 as well as the group Miodio. It is worth pointing out that all of the artists have been from the microstate, something that might have not been the case with Luxembourg back in the day.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 56%

Martin Isherwood: Ok voice, flat in places. Keeps moving, hard to get hold of what it is as it keeps changing and morphing.   This is also a bit Bond theme like in places, starts of all moody and ends up like a 70s disco track with ABBA and Evita, flavours.  Then it just stops - leaving you wondering if she's finished. Not a great song.

Deo Grech: Three times in a row....One must give it to Valentina that she is trying her very best to achieve one of the best results ever not only for herself but also for her beloved San Marino.  Will she make it to the finals?  Maybe!

Stano Simor: One of the few songs that retain the typical ESC style and that's good. Chorus is not strong enough and Valentina rescues this chorus with her brilliant voice. Title MAYBE clearly gets under your skin after the first listening.

Matt Mercieca: hahahaha I don’t know why but I find this song  REALLY funny! I start doing this little dance to it! The backing vocals just kicked in (no comment), it sounds very out dated oh wow now she’s talking to us, nah not for me.


Published in Editorials

In recent years, several public broadcasters have foregone promotional tours in an effort to present the most credible act possible on the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest and it seems that 2014 is no different with most countries opting to work on their presence rather than going abroad. Whilst Firelight have just returned from The Netherlands and will be jetting off to the United Kingdom in the next couple of hours, Malta has been visited by Hersi Matmuja who will be representing Albania come the international spectacle this May. There she will be performing the song One Night’s Anger composed by Gentian Lako to the lyrics of Jorgo Papingji.

During her short visit to Malta, Hersi had the opportunity to meet up with both Firelight, who will be representing the nation at this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Coming Home and Gianluca, the male vocalist who brought the country back into the top ten for the first time since 2005, and is currently scaling the top of the local charts with his latest single Light Me Up. She also gave interviews to a variety of television programmes throughout the day including none other than TVAM hosted by Norma Saliba & Pablo Micallef and Euromix hosted by Frederick Zammit on Radju Malta 2. Hersi will be performing her entry One Night’s Anger during the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Stay tuned to for all the latest news.

Source: PBS / TVM

Thursday, 10 April 2014 13:14

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Moldova

It has become customary for the 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. Martin Isherwood, Deo Grech, Stano Simor and Matt Mercieca from the United Kingdom, Malta and the Czech Republic have been entrusted with the first semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 6th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and thus moving onto number #11, we catch up with Moldova (TRM) who will be represented by Cristina Scarlat and the song Wild Soul composed by Ivan Akulov to the lyrics of Lydia Scarlat.

Cristina was born on March 3rd, 1981 into a family with traditional music roots. From an early age, music was Cristina’s constant companion. She plays piano and violin. Cristina’s first education was a chorister and a conductor. But her vocal abilities motivated her to continue her studies as a vocalist. In 2006, Cristina graduated from the Moldovan music conservatory. Throughout her career as a singer, Cristina gained a great experience by competing and winning prises in a wide range of festivals and contests, including the International Festival of Arts Slavianski Bazaar in Belarus.

Being one of the most powerful voices of Moldova, Cristina is also a lead singer of the Presidential Orchestra. Cristina is the mother of two children and a loving wife. At her age of 33, she is regarded as one of the most strong-willed and determined women of Moldova due to her amazing ability to successfully combine career with family. Representing Moldova in the Eurovision Song Contest is Cristina's most persistent dream. This year, after two previous attempts (in 2013, Cristina came 2nd in the pre-selection), Cristina Scarlat finally won the national competition and has the chance to live her Eurovision dream.

Ivan Akulov composed Cristina’s Eurovision entry Wild Soul. He was born in 1985 in Chisinau, Moldova. Ivan started to write music already as a teenager. Ivan discovered his talent as a composer as a young teenager and continued developing his skills by collaborating with various Moldovan and international artists. Lidia Scarlat is Cristina's 23 years old niece. She graduated with a First Class Media Arts degree at Royal Holloway, University of London, in the UK. Despite being a film & TV professional, Lidia's music and rhetorical skills have been highly appreciated on numerous occasions. In 2013, Lidia was the official Teleradio Moldova's live commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest. Lidia has been writing lyrics for her aunt Cristina for over 5 years.

Moldova, a country which almost boasts a perfect qualification record in nine participations, with only one failure, that coming at the hands of Geta Burlacu and the song A Century of Love which had only garnered thirty-six points to finish in twelfth place. Three other entries through barely scraped the barrel, finishing in tenth place in the semi-final, before going onto achieving upper to lower table results. In 2013, it was all about Aliona Moon and her fluorescent dress, which stole all the attention, to achieve eleventh place, ranking just outside the top ten for a second consecutive year. Moldova is a country which brings a lot to the table especially considering the low budget that they have at their disposal.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 48%

Martin Isherwood: 'Mercy I have no feelings of mercy, Destiny left me so empty.'  Like a rock song without the rock.  A bit Bond theme like. All a bit dark for Eurovision.

Deo Grech: This is interesting. The lyrics are daring and original. It's a pity that the diction is far from perfect. This entry's chances will surely soar if the singer fixes her heavy diction. Looking forward to watch the stage performance as I guess that we are in for an artistic this song lends itself perfectly for something out of the ordinary.

Stano Simor: Nice, strong deep voice fits very well into "James Bond" style song. Dubstep feelings sliding track from floods 20 years old into musical style 2014. Refren endured by arranging more support. Strong chorus that has a very good chance to impress the public in Denmark.

Matt Mercieca: I'm getting a little bored starting my reviews with DICTION! DASTINY [sic], this song really REALLY bugs me, just isn’t working for me! SOZ!


Published in Editorials