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Thursday, 23 January 2014 14:15

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track 'One Last Ride'

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 One Last Ride, composed by Stephen Rudden to the lyrics of Lawrence Peter Bridge with vocals provided by Daniel Testa.

Daniel Testa, one (1) of the five (5) artists who are making their debut in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, yet not missing any experience in the music scene, both on a local or an international setup, having successfully represented Malta at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, finishing in a highly respectable fourth (4th) place with the track Junior Swing which he co-wrote. Since then, Daniel has undergone several projects, such as hosting the Junior Eurosong in 2009, as well as partaking in the series, D.R.E.A.M.S, a phenomenal success story on Television Malta. When it comes to music, Daniel has been waiting for the opportune moment, although the original material he has released thus far could be found on iTunes, having been published by a German Record Company. At the moment, he is a resident DJ on 89.7 Bay, one of the most popular radio stations in Malta, henceforth, his interaction with the public is somewhat made easier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3ILmzNJeWo

Stephen Rudden and Lawrence Peter Bridge, unknown to the local music scene, but have already garnered fame on a continental level, at least where Stephen is concerned, having successfully co-written and also performed the track Love City Groove at the 1995 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the United Kingdom. The genre of that song in particular was hip-hop infused pop, one which was thought to be somewhat too modern for the mid-noughties. Nevertheless, it managed a respectable position, one which Frances Ruffelle had obtained the previous year, but nowhere near their first runner-up finishes of 1992 and 1993. Whilst the song did not win the Eurovision Song Contest, it was considered a commercial hit, peaking at number #5 on the Official UK Charts, one of the top five largest markets in the world when it comes to music.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 67%

John Scott: The song is very catchy and he has a nice voice. My concern is that it sounds like just like Of Monsters and Men’s song “Your Bones”. I also feel like he is a little too animated in his performance. His stage performance needs to be better to sell the song. This is the sort of record that could really do well in the contest, but I am concerned that the melody is so close to the other song. Otherwise, I would have ranked it higher.

Martin Isherwood: Good voice. Not sure what he's really after here one last 'ride' or one last 'dance' - make your mind up son, mixed messages are not going to clinch this deal. If you're after sex, just say it. A zillion clichés in here. Sounds Irish and oriental at the same time which is interesting. Confusing production - the dance track seems to sneak in out of nowhere.

Sharon Vaughn: Very formulaic, OK but not thrilling.

Stano Simor: Unique hit factor song full of energy, specifically written for the Eurovision Song Contest. Daniel clearly has a big future ahead of him! The songwriters paid careful attention in the creation of this track, counterbalancing the ballad stanzas with the energetic choruses.

Greig Watts: Ooh, I was surprised when the kind of oriental riff comes in at 53 seconds, feels to me like it could appeal to the Eastern Bloc type countries, It does take a while to get going, but I like it when it does and the beat comes in with the main hook and riff together. Would have liked it to hit the full beat more often though, but then again could be something that appeals across the board. I can definitely remember the simple sing-a-long chorus and the oriental type riff really push’s that home, could be an obvious one for Eurovision.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0E73LISsfg

Published in Editorials
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:39

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track 'Oblivion'

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 Oblivion, composed by Philip Vella and Chris Grech to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by Chris Grech.

Chris Grech, lead singer of the band Twenty-Six Other-Worlds which is definitely the comfort zone for the male vocalist considering that it encompasses a rock/metal genre, which best suits his vocal chords. The Eurovision Song Contest on the other hand, is completely different and something which Chris has decided to give a shot due to the massive exposure it is known to give to the participants. Kick starting his campaign just last year with the song Never Walk Away, he left a long lasting impression by virtue of winning the Public Award offered by escflashmalta.com and finishing in third place when it came to the public vote behind eventual winner Gianluca and runner-up Kevin Borg. Music is in his blood, and in his veins and Chris will stop at nothing to get his voice heard by the masses as seen in a variety of events, amongst them Rockestra where he teamed up with Ludwig Galea in 2013 and Teatru Unplugged.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nheEDnXsrhQ

Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta, having been given the opportunity to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest on no less than five (5) occasions, all of which came in the past decade; kicking things off with Desire in 2000, and moving onto 7th Wonder in 2002, On Again .. Off Again in 2004, Vertigo in 2007 and Vodka in 2008, respectively. It has been six (6) years since their last victory and whilst they have been close, most notably with Claudia Faniello and her entry Pure back in 2012, they are yet to head over to the international competition for a sixth (6th) time. Apart from being a successful combination on a local level, it is well worth pointing out that they have also achieved national final success in Norway and The Netherlands where their entries managing third and fourth place, respectively.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 54%

John Scott: He has a great voice, but the song is pretty generic to me. It doesn’t quite become the anthem sort of song that it needs to be for a rock song.

Martin Isherwood: Super high notes worthy of 'The Darkness'. ‘Judas kiss' and 'nest of worries' in the first verse! I'm scared to continue! Good melodies in chorus. There are unfortunately, many singers and songwriters of gloomy songs who know exactly what musical oblivion feels like. Some great moments. Stops rather than ends - feels like a clumsy edit of a longer song.

Sharon Vaughn: The artist is remarkable. The song is too far off topic to be moving. Sadly, the topline melody doesn't match the changes in the melody of the track. 

Stano Simor: Chris is a rocker and demonstrates clearly its distinctive voice. His voice surpassed energy of the entire musical background. This is evident especially in the chorus. But the track in this version does not have the required potential. I would certainly download it to an MP3 player in my car as I travel between Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Greig Watts: For me just feels like an ordinary rock song, nothing different or special jumps out to me to make it above the others. Nice song but as I said previously nice is often not good enough.

Source: Public Broadcasting Servicesescflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KvPzCTTDs4

Published in Editorials

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 Now and Forever, composed by Vinny Vella Jnr to the lyrics of Karl DeBattista with vocals provided by Andreana.

Andreana, the most experienced vocalist in this years’ edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest with seven (7) previous participations; Listen (1998), Theresa (2002), Angels (2003), 24/7 (2004), Let’s Make a Change (2005), So Good (2006), Fired Up (2010). Despite being away from the local music scene and competitions in recent years, she has not been away from the spotlight, having had the opportunity to host two (2) television programmes on Television Malta; L-Ispjun and Min Imissu. Away from music, Andreana is a teacher of Integrated Science and Biology at St Martin’s College in Swatar and an interesting fact is that she has successfully passed on her knowledge to no less than four (4) of this years’ Malta Eurovision Song Contest participants including none other than; Sophie, Daniel Testa, Corazon and Davinia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5aQzkltWF4

Vinny Vella Jnr and Karl DeBattista, working as a songwriting duo for the very first time, albeit having worked with other partners in the past to varying degrees of success. Karl, the lyricist is known to be the former husband of Andreana with whom she has remained closer friends and considers to be an inspiration in her music career. Together, they reached the finals of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest in 2002 and 2003, achieving success when it comes to the tele-voting portion of the competition. Vinny, the composer has also made it through to the final of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on another occassion, that being in 2006 with the song Waves performed by Nadine Axisa. Despite not racking up the public vote, it was considered to be different and original, obtaining the interest of individuals who do not recognise themselves with such an event.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 57%

John Scott: Her voice and performance is very good. I think the hook is really great. Very classic, but also very depressing! With a full orchestra it could be a show stopper.

Martin Isherwood: Smoky attractive voice. Ok melodies but not distinctive. Liza Minelli meets Tom Waits, meets Nena (99 red balloons). Never gets going and just stops.

Sharon Vaughn: She has the perfect storyteller's voice. Unfortunately, there were some inconsistencies in the text that could have been tweaked a bit to strengthen the message. It was a bit hard to follow.

Stano Simor: Now and Forever, the perfect example of a song that whilst not being commercial might still have a hit fact. At the end of the track, I would have given another chord in order to increase the emotion of the lead vocal. Andreana has a specific colour which I love and thus makes her instantly recognisable.

Greig Watts: Sorry I don’t like this one really!, Its not strong or powerful enough compared to a lot of the others, just drifts along, I think the singer doesn’t really carry it either  and lyrics are very simple, too simple for me and the last chorus doesn’t have an impact that it needs. Sorry to be brutal!

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvKOndA_j4c

Published in Editorials

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 Lovetricity, composed by Magnus Kaxe to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by Christabelle.

Christabelle, a female vocalist who decided to focus on releasing material onto radio, rather than competitions, going onto release six (6) singles; I Wanna Know, Flame, Naturally, Everytime I Bleed, Everything About You, Say and Fall For You, all of which made it into the top ten on 89.7 Bay. At the Bay Music Awards, organised by the aforementioned radio station, Christabelle has been successful on seven (7) occasions, going onto win the Best Solo Artist four (4) times (2008-2009, 2011-2012), the Viewers Choice Award in 2008 and the Best Song Award in 2009, respectively. Apart from working on a series of singles, Christabelle has been given several opportunities pertaining to her talent, having been the opening act for Laura Pausini and also got chosen to perform with Gigi D’Alessio during his nationwide tour back in 2009.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLroXihdd00

Magnus Kaxe and Gerard James Borg, the individuals behind this song in particular have managed to build a respectable discography between them, having successfully worked with Dorothy Bezzina, Richard Edwards and Klinsmann on their most recent submissions for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest including; Autobiography, Starting from the End, Fall Like Rome and The Remedy. Magnus Kaxe from Sweden, has incredible experience in the field, having successfully collaborated with the likes of Celine Dion and Clay Aiken, a former winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and American Idol runner-up. In the meantime, Gerard James Borg, is the most successful lyricist in Malta, having songs selected to represent the country on five (5) occasions, and making national finals in France, Romania, Iceland, Norway, Spain and Belgium. Together they are becoming a formidable team, and their approach this time round is a tad different as they have submitted a dance song.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 61%

John Scott: The production is more modern than most of the dance songs. And the post-chorus part is nice. But I think the hook is not strong enough in the end for the song to stand out.

Martin Isherwood: Nice voice if a little processed. Can't really make out the lyrics though. Chorus strong melodically but I'm clueless as to where 'lovetricity' fits in or what it is, but it sounds painful! Throws in a few dance tricks, but never really sounds authentically club like.

Sharon Vaughn: Hate the name, gimmick, gimmick, gimmick. She struggled but couldn't make anything of this over-used approach.

Stano Simor: Surely one of the best productions of the year. This is a pop dance song, which is somewhat up-tempo and has melodic choruses. It works well! Christabelle has a very good attitude in front of the camera and the tracks fits her like a globe. I will keep my fingers cross that this gets through to the Saturday show.

Greig Watts: A good song! It builds nicely throughout and the chorus hits you well in the track, for me the first part of the chorus melody is good but what hits me most is the secondary hook with the La Lovetricity that is definitely the memorable bit. I thought Second chorus was too long and therefore was waiting for this part to come in, but I expect this is due to the 3 minutes rule, so the writers/producers needed to decide whether to have a short chorus and mid section (bridge) or just a long chorus. They opted for the long chorus here; I personally would have done the same but brought the la lovetricity hook in earlier. 

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwa0PwX-AFU

Published in Editorials

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 Love Will Take Me Home, co-written by Glen Vella, Beatrice Eriksson, Marcus Frenell and Michael Down with vocals provided by Franklin.

Franklin, a male vocalist who requires no introduction, having been given the opportunity to showcase his vocal powerhouse for the first time during Don’t Stop Me Now hosted by Eileen Montesin on NET Television back in 2012. It was the beginning of a brand new journey, which in turn has seen him work with two former Eurovision Song Contest representatives; Ludwig Galea (2004) and Glen Vella (2011), the latter of whom is his current vocal coach. This will be his second (2nd) endeavour in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, having previously been part of the setup in 2013 with the song Let Your Heart Talk composed by Ray Agius to the lyrics of Alfred C Sant. Currently, Franklin is a resident singer on the weekly television programme Ħadd Għalik produced by WE Media for Television Malta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrlQxg2whug

Glen Vella, Beatrice Eriksson, Marcus Frenell and Michael James Down are the songwriters of this entry, and bring together a wealth of experience, kicking off with Glen, whom many people will definitely recall as to being the representative of Malta at the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2011. His entry One Life failed to get through to the final at the expense of the Swiss entry In Love for a While which surpassed it with just one (1) point. Moving onto the foreign songwriters, a team which has not always worked together but has maintained their status in national finals all over the continent denoting participation in Iceland, Latvia and Romania with tracks such as I Need a Hero, the first runner-up in Dziesma 2013 and potentially a very strong top ten contender for Latvia had it won.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 71%

John Scott: Good singer. The song is good, but not as memorable as some of the other ballads. It just didn’t move me.

Martin Isherwood: Nice voice but sounds like he's swallowed an auto tune. Falling in love for the last time? Poor love must be terrible to be so badly bruised by love at such a tender age. Your teens will be better. Very big and glossy but not really going anywhere.

Sharon Vaughn: This young man is a beautiful thing to hear, and perfect for this genre. It will be interesting to follow his career.

Stano Simor: There is a lot of thought into this song, considering that the songwriters wanted to write an epic ballad from which I got goose bumps. Franklin perfectly mastered the transition from full voice to falsetto and also enriched the whole track with a number of passages, giving the song a full artistic framework which many will surely adore. 

Greig Watts: It starts like a Westlife or Boyzone type ballad, and the singer performs it well, almost has a traditional type arrangement (like Westlife’s You raise me up), so the Irish may love this!! Actually for me this is simple but simple in the right way, memorable tune, builds well, and pulls at your heart strings

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI9jL1TY_Qo

Published in Editorials

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 Just No Place Like Home, written by Johan Bejerholm with vocals provided by Fabrizio Faniello.

Fabrizio Faniello, the most experienced vocalist in this years’ selection process has already been to the Eurovision Song Contest on two (2) previous occasions; in 2001 with Another Summer Night composed by Paul Abela to the lyrics of Georgina Abela; and in 2006 with a track co-written with Aldo Spiteri entitled I Do. It is worth noting that the male vocalist who has achieved success in the music markets of both Northern Europe and Asia has been a part of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on a total of ten (10) occasions, managing a top ten result each time except in 2005 with Don’t Tell It. Away from this competition, Fabrizio has also succeeded in other national competitions, winning the International Festival of Maltese Song with the track Sal-Aħħar back in 1999 and also the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza with Aħfirli Jekk Trid late last year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPwso9PIo9g

Johan Bejerholm, a songwriter whose credentials speak for themselves, having already been to the Eurovision Song Contest as a co-writer to the track Always, performed by Aysel and Arash on behalf of Azerbaijan back in 2010. He has been the principal songwriter behind the comeback of Fabrizio Faniello in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, having successful co-written all his recent entries including No Surrender in 2011 and I Will Fight for You (Papa's Song) in 2012. Despite this fruitful collaboration, it was all about Love-O-Holic performed by Deborah C after the male vocalist failed to get through the second phase. Prior to these experiences, it is worth noting that in 2010, a song which he co-wrote with Thomas G:son, Robert Uhlmann and Arash entitled Allt Jag Vill Ha represented Sweden at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, making him one of the few songwriters to have acquired a taste of both major events organised by the European Broadcasting Union.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 70%

John Scott: He has a very nice voice. The song is good, but a bit too generic.

Martin Isherwood: Starts tentatively but really grows and finishes well. Not sure the ‘just’ is necessary in the title. Great chorus and nice transition back to the verse. It’s a big boy-band ballad which could do well especially due to the good production.

Sharon Vaughn: Sounds like a Christmas song. Could do with a bit of modernising. Otherwise, good.

Stano Simor: Charismatic individual, who has enough experience on the world stage. He never disappointed me with his interpretations along the years, and am sure that this will be no different. The chorus is highly emotional but I believe that this is one of the few tracks directly tailored towards the Eurovision Song Contest. In the end, I will put the question out there; When will he duet with Claudia for the competition?

Greig Watts: It feels like a typical song for Eurovision, is that a good thing or not? Will it stand out enough at the finals or will there be many songs like this? Actually a good song and should be rated high up out of the 20, my own opinion is go for something slightly different that is still strong but also stands out from the crowd!

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGQw6TikKcA

Published in Editorials
Thursday, 16 January 2014 06:48

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track ‘Invisible’

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 Invisible, composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by Raquel.

Raquel, a relative newcomer to the local music industry, is a debutant in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, one (1) of five (5) which also include; ChristabelleRyan Paul Abela, De Bee and Daniel Testa. With just one prior competition as experience though, it seems that she is the most green and susceptible to the newcomer tag. As a finalist in the 2013 edition of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza with the song Mhux Pupa Biss composed by Minik to the lyrics of Rita Pace, she finished in ninth (9th) place ahead of more established artists such as Christian Arding, Janice Mangion and Domenique, all of which had previously been part of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. Vocally coached by Ludwig Galea, a former representative of Malta at the international spectacle, Raquel is known to channel dido with her impressive vocal range.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imEw9kGmamY

Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta, having been given the opportunity to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest on no less than five (5) occasions, all of which came in the past decade; kicking things off with Desire in 2000, and moving onto 7th Wonder in 2002, On Again .. Off Again in 2004, Vertigo in 2007 and Vodka in 2008, respectively. It has been six (6) years since their last victory and whilst they have been close, most notably with Claudia Faniello and her entry Pure back in 2012, they are yet to head over to the international competition for a sixth (6th) time. Apart from being a successful combination on a local level, it is well worth pointing out that they have also achieved national final success in Norway and The Netherlands where their entries managing third and fourth place, respectively.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 58%

John Scott: She has a very unique and interesting voice. The song is good. My biggest concern is that her accent is very heavy and it is difficult to understand what she is singing. But she has good stage presence and the song is memorable.

Martin Isherwood: Unusual voice like Dido wearing Bjork's teeth. Wasn't sure what language she was singing in at first although the lyrics seem quite well put together use of falsetto flip and melsima really disrupts the flow. The song meaning escapes me. Almost impossible to understand what she's saying. I'm not sure that this stands a chance in Eurovision. Strange ending just stops.

Sharon Vaughn: There is something really fresh and original about this girl and this song. The falsetto flip is alluring... a little like some other artists but she puts her own spin to it and it works.

Stano Simor: Invisible was the only song that has left me with little emotion from this years’ entries. I did not hear a strong hit factor in the chorus. The song is built too high for her vocal range. It seems that it does not fit her, especially in those high notes. I think Raquel would fit a rebel song better.

Greig Watts: For me I’m not sure the singer matches the song, actually she has a good voice, but sounds a little like she’s trying to be Bjork where the song needs a more pure vocal (in my opinion of course), so for me it doesn’t come across as well as it could, So for me a quite good song becomes a bit more ordinary because of its presentation by singer and fairly basic production. It doesn’t grab me as much as others, sorry

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3hX7XIeR5U

Published in Editorials
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 05:30

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track ‘Hypnotica’

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 Hypnotica, composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by the group Jessika.

Jessika, one of the most popular artists in the local music scene for the time being, mostly due to her main role in the hit television series, Il-Klikka which airs Thursday nights on ONE. Following her debut at the Malta Eurovision Song Contest back in 2008 with the track Tangled composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg, she has never looked back and made it through to the live stages on a further three occasions; in 2011 with Down Down Down which she co-wrote with Philip Vella; in 2012 with Dance Romance also co-written with Philip Vella and finally with Ultraviolet composed by Philip Vella and Thomas G:son to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg in 2013. Amongst the vocal coaches that Jessika has had the pleasure to work with, there have been none other than Seth Riggs and Joshua Alamu, the latter having just released a duet with Valentina Monetta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wikHRTwRdA

Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta, having been given the opportunity to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest on no less than five (5) occasions, all of which came in the past decade; kicking things off with Desire in 2000, and moving onto 7th Wonder in 2002, On Again .. Off Again in 2004, Vertigo in 2007 and Vodka in 2008, respectively. It has been six (6) years since their last victory and whilst they have been close, most notably with Claudia Faniello and her entry Pure back in 2012, they are yet to head over to the international competition for a sixth (6th) time. Apart from being a successful combination on a local level, it is well worth pointing out that they have also achieved national final success in Norway and The Netherlands where their entries managing third and fourth place, respectively.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 65%

John Scott: Reminds me a lot of the 2012 winner ‘Euphoria’, but I feel it’s not as strong. The vocals are not strong at all. Overall, it is not a great or memorable performance.

Martin Isherwood: Nice raincoat style dress. I'm in Hypnotica'? Where is that? Is this in English? Some strange lyrics - seven shades of you? Something’s roaming over my …? Shades of the David Guetta – Titanium. Given the 2012 winner 'Euphoria', it's probably not going to be a winner, but it is a decent track.

Sharon Vaughn: Again, an over-used approach but this somehow moves into pure Eurovision territory. A little too close to Euphoria on the title line, but very commercial.

Stano Simor: Jessika looks very good on stage. She also has a nice strong voice. I believe that Hypnotica should be at least one tone lower, in order to fit better with the colour of her voice. Definitely a very good dance song and with the right performance, it will look great on screen.

Greig Watts: Opening riff is reminiscent of Cry for you by September but just in feeling not in notes. I like the song, I worry that this will be performed well live though as not all dance songs come across well live, also from an English lyric perspective, what is Hypnotica?

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfVuujEuy7E

Published in Editorials

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 Coming Home, written by Richard Micallef with vocals provided by the group Firelight.

Firelight, the name is new, but the content definitely is not. Richard Edwards and Michelle Mifsud are the lead vocalists of this song, having previously been on stage together as lead vocalists on another two occasions; in 2003 with Take Me Back Again and in 2005 with It’s Up To You. Nevertheless, Richard has been super successful as a solo artist, having also been part of the competition on another four occasions; in 2011 with Finally (2nd), in 2012 with Look At Me Now (6th) and in 2013 with Fall Like Rome (13th). The group has been confirmed to be a project which will continue following the competition with the group set to release their debut album in a couple of weeks. It is worth noting that those which feature in the project also include; Tony Polidano, Matthew Ellul and Leslie DeCesare.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHLoFKCtw-s

Richard Micallef, also known by his stage name as Richard Edwards is a seasoned songwriter, co-written songs with his brother Wayne Micallef, during the early stages of their respective career. As a matter of fact, they were responsible for at least three (3) entries in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest prior to their solo career paths, two of which they performed and have been noted above, and another entry in 2005, that entitled Let’s Make a Change performed by Andreana and Christian Arding as a duet. After a couple of years off, Richard engaged in a successful collaboration with Jan Van Dijck, coming up with songs such as Finally (2011) and Look at me Now (2012). As from 2013, he reverted to writing with brother Wayne, and was responsible for Wonderful Today, a duet with Petra Zammit and also No One’s Home, a solo entry for the aformentioned Petra.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 69%

John Scott: Good energy and vibe among the band members. The vocal mix is quite nice. I think the song is good, but not great. The hook did not stay in my head after it was over.

Martin Isherwood: Well sung. Lots of nice words but not necessarily in the right order. Very confusing lyrics. Not sure if he's coming or going. Mumford and sons inspired. I'd be surprised if this does well despite it being pleasant. Unusual switch to the female vocal in the middle section and not sure why? They look like a lovely family.

Sharon Vaughn: I love this group! Great harmonies and wonderful individual voices. I was sold! But one note... please, PLEASE lessen the use of the tambourine player... at least mix him back and don't put him right behind the lead singer, it is very distracting!

Stano Simor: I like it! I can feel a lot of positive energry in this band. It’s amazing! Traditional instruments always give a different dimension of any song. Firelight are amongst my favourite performers in this years’ competition and this is a really good song, which I see in Eurovision. Feminine vocal pleasantly refreshes the entire song.

Greig Watts: Ah for me this song is a big letdown, I thought it started well and the verses and voices are nice to listen to, but there was no chorus to start with, it comes round the second time but I’ve almost lost interest by then. I enjoy it when the female voice comes in and the two voices contrast well, actually it’s a song that might be good to listen to in the car whilst driving home, but I could not sing this back to you when it’s finished so unfortunately it’s going to get forgotten.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqP65vGsmk0

Published in Editorials

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 City Lady, composed by Paul Abela and Ryan Paul Abela to the lyrics of Joe Julian Farrugia with vocals provided by Ryan Paul Abela.

Ryan Paul, a relative newcomer to the stage of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, having previously been an observer to the countless occasions his father and mother had been involved, noting that they have even been to the international competition, on more than one occasion. Ryan is more a musician rather than a performer but with his radical change in appearance across the years, could definitely earn repute in the industry. He is more accustomed to performing in musical theatre, having been instrumental in several productions, including none other than; The Sound of Music, Les Miserables, Legally Blonde, Evita and Godspell, to name a few. When it comes to competitions, experiences have been limited, noting a double appearance in the Malta Junior Eurosong competition as well as a one-off participation in the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2tqgDGI8k0

Paul Abela and Joe Julian Farrugia, an experienced duo in the field of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, with their most notable success achieved thanks to a group known as Trilogy which featured Eleanor Spiteri, Roger Tirazona and Cliff Zammit Stevens with Daniel Debono replacing the latter after different opportunities came to fruition. Their entries; This Heart of Mine, Starlight and The Song in Your Heart will be forever remembered by the public not for their third, second and sixth place finishes but for their message and warmth. As a songwriting duo, their most notable success came at the 2005 Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza and the 2013 International Festival of Maltese Song with the songs Ix-Xemx Mill-Ġdid sung by Eleanor Cassar and Hawn Mill-Ġdid performed by Olivia Lewis, respectively. As a composer, Paul Abela has already experienced the Eurovision Song Contest in 1991, 1996 and 2001 whilst he also conducted the orchestra in 1992 with a song his wife composed.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 49%

John Scott: The hook is quite catchy. The verses are not quite as strong and some of the lyrics could be better. However, the song very effectively captures the retro sound of the 70’s and 80’s. Retro sounding records have been very popular lately, but most of them incorporate some newer sounding elements as well. This one lacks those newer elements that would probably make it competitive in today’s market. 

Martin Isherwood: Decent enough voice. Not a clue why it's called City Lady. Lyrics use lots of bog standard clichés. Nice melodic chorus. Tavares without the fancy suits and cool dance routines. Not sure about 70's disco in jeans. Might have done well in the 1974 contest but I doubt it for this one.

Sharon Vaughn: This has about every cliché musically and lyrically, song wise, that one could squeeze into three minutes. Not a drop of soul in a soul motif.

Stano Simor: Kool and the Gang from Malta! This kind of song is not typical for the Eurovision Song Contest and frankly, I do not think that it is time for this genre to take off again. City Lady is an energetic song and has a good groove. Ryan certainly captivates the female audience. Whether this will be enough to Denmark, we will see.

Greig Watts: Has a good sing-a-long melody although I thought the sound of production was quite outdated to start with. When the chorus comes back in again its pleasant to hear and I can remember it from the first time so has good potential to be memorable but I’m left wondering if the song would have been better presented with a different style of production, maybe?

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEtIGo-RoKY

Published in Editorials
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