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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

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 Brand New Day, composed by Elton Zarb to the lyrics of Matthew Mercieca with vocals provided by Davinia.

Davinia, a resounding newcomer to the Malta Eurovision Song Contest a mere twelve (12) months ago, having entered the competition for the very first time with the song Betrayed, also composed by Elton Zarb to the lyrics of Matthew Mercieca. At 21, she is one of the youngest artists from this years’ crop of participants but nevertheless, experience should definitely not be an issue considering that she has already taken the local music scene by storm, earning a Best New Artist nomination at the Bay Music Awards in 2011 following an astonishing breakthrough with tracks such as Sail Away and Bottled My Teardrops. Following her success in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, Davinia launched a follow-up single entitled You Are My Home to which she also filmed a music video, earning her several positive acclaim and once more a place on Malta’s Top Ten with Nathan D on 89.7 Bay.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DH26TKwtzw

Elton Zarb and Matthew Mercieca, a collaboration which until not too long ago was inexistent in song-writing noting that Davinia was the one who brought them together, in order to work on a track for this competition specifically. That song, already mentioned above, Betrayed, led to a successful third place finish. Nevertheless, this proved to be the beginning of an extremely successful collaboration with Gillian Attard and Gaia Cauchi calling upon the talented duo to write a song which would ultimately represent Malta at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The Start, as it was titled ended up winning the international showcase giving Malta their first ever victory in an event organised by the European Broadcasting Union. It is worth pointing out that not only are they working with Davinia this time round, but they also have a second song, Until We Meet Again sung by Deborah C.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 73%

John Scott: The hook is really strong. I like the post-chorus part especially. The singer also has very good energy. She is instantly likeable. The song is very fun. Overall, this one is very memorable.

Martin Isherwood: Good voice although thinish sounding. Chorus has nothing to do with the title. Melodically strong. 'Hey how you doing' 'Come back to me' 'Hard to handle' 'Next to me' 'Oooh ooh' 'Boom boom'. All I want is you' - are all stronger titles than the actual title 'Brand new day'. Hints of Adele rubbing shoulders with The Nolans. Strong song but hard to imagine it would stand out in the Eurovision crowd.

Sharon Vaughn: Dig Deeper, people! Even on fun songs like this. But this artist is really cute and tries to give her best throughout the whole performance.

Stano Simor: Atmosphere of the song reminds me of a winner from Germany LENA. This song uniquely lifts all up of the chairs. Gimmick uhh uhh uhh remains in my ears and recalls the 70’s. Atmosphere of the song is full of energy. The authors found the right singer for this hit track.

Greig Watts: Nice and pretty introduction and she has a modern delivery of the vocals (not unlike Lena from Germany), has a nice number of hooks and again has a good singalong feeling, which I personally think is a good thing for eurovision, it has to be memorable from the start. I like the double chorus idea, with the 2nd part Ooh Ooh Ooh, Boom Boom Boom, simple but sometimes simple is good!

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m52MWaiT04

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 Because I Have You, composed by Paul Giordimaina to the lyrics of Fleur Balzan with vocals provided by Amber.

Amber, has basked in the spotlight of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on three (3) previous occasions, making her debut back in 2011 with two (2) entries; Catch 22 and Touch Wood, both composed by Ray Agius with the latter having lyrics by Godwin Sant and the former by Alfred C Sant before returning with a vengeance to finish in third place with the impressive Answer With Your Eyes composed by Ray Agius and penned by Alfred C Sant. In 2013, she changed her songwriters by opting to work with Paul Giordimaina and Fleur Balzan, coming up with the eighties tune In Control finishing in fourth place. It is worth pointing out that Amber has also won the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza and represented Malta at the Eurovision Song Contest as a backing vocalist with Kurt Calleja during this performance of This is the Night.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTstdRSgRZ0

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

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 57%

John Scott: She has a very nice voice. The song is too generic for me. It doesn’t say anything new or in an original way. Melodically it is not very interesting. I also feel that the song should get even bigger at the end than it actually does.

Martin Isherwood: Very nice voice. Unclear what or who this about - 'from my first days - feel never alone' - could be a mother or a relationship or spiritual. A good song should allow the listener to share the joy not just observe it jealously. A lot of movement in the song which makes it hard to follow at first as it seems to keep piling in ideas. Never seems to get going even when the key change and build comes in.

Sharon Vaughn: What she is saying is fine... but please, try a fresher, more creative approach. Saying the same thing that has been said a million times is OK... just look for another way in.

Stano Simor: Amber has a very nice feeling and color of the voice. As a singer, she is definitely ready for the podium in Denmark. The ballad is very well writte, although I think it should have a stronger chorus. In the second part of the song, I would have made use of some backing vocalists to help elevate the song and deliver an emotional rendition.

Greig Watts: I like the nice piano intro and the verse starts and builds up well, the chorus I felt was the pre chorus and was again waiting for it to step up another level to have a bigger impact. It does get stronger the second time around, as the music is building around it and of course when the Key Change happens at the end there is another nice bit of impact. I think as a songwriter myself I am always searching for that extra special part, and this for me is a good song, but it doesn’t quite reach great.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fa-3nFnh50

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. Kicking off the feature is none other than Addictive, written by Ylva and Linda Persson with vocals provided by Romina Mamo.

Romina Mamo, has taken to the stage of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on three (3) previous occasions, making her debut eleven (11) years ago in 2003 with Here Today Gone Tomorrow composed by Dominic Galea to the lyrics of Joe Friggieri before re-emerging in 2005 as part of a trio in a performance of We Can Do Better written by Carm Fenech and most recently with DNA composed by Michael Johannes Tanczos to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg back in 2012. Her experience in the local music scene knows no boundaries having successfully participated in the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza, and the Malta International Hit Song Contest. It is worth pointing out that Romina also released her debut album Eyes on Me back in 2011 featuring several local and foreign collaborations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=877ajrJvtwY

Ylva and Linda Persson, Swedish songwriters who had tried to enter the Melodifestivalen selection through the wildcard selection a couple of years back, but have found refuge in writing songs for foreign artists. They have managed to get into the national finals of Ukraine, where they reached fifth place with the track Love Makes You Beautiful performed by Nataliya, and also Belarus, where they will be going for gold with the song You Will Be Here, sung by Janet. This will be their debut in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, but they will certainly not be in awe of the spectacle considering that they are becoming somewhat accustomed to frolicking around Europe presenting their songs. Addictive is one of two entries in this years’ Malta Eurovision Song Contest which features a team of completely foreign songwriters.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 59%

John Scott: The song is not very strong. She sings well, but the hook is not very memorable. The vocals get a bit lost in the mix.

Martin Isherwood: Nice voice - although sounds slightly more cabaret rather than pop. I'm so predictive'? Ok I suppose to get the rhyme with addictive, but at the expense of the sense. Good switch to the chorus. Reminiscent of Adele 'Rolling in the deep' and Robyn 'Hang with me'. Could do well. Nice production - cool drums.

Sharon Vaughn: Over-used theme... and the wo-oh's in the song don't make it current.

Stano Simor: Nice pop song. The chorus is catchy and the production is also good. Romina looks like a fish in water on stage, making me think that this is not her kind of song. The track should have a lower transposition and maybe in the future she can try a ballad.

Greig Watts: This one I think has a strong chorus, and is quite predictable but that can be good sometimes, it has the secondary hook I long for, something extra to add to the chorus, and make you want to sing back. For me the songs weakness is the lyrics, they are not bad at all, just again want it to be slightly more edgy and less predictable, but good song and not all of Europe will be listening to lyrics as intently as me.

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk8SDVIyb6I

Published in Editorials

Heads of Delegation from thirty-nine competing nations in this years' Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Malmo, Sweden officially presented their entries for the international competition thus bringing the curtain down on yet another season of national selections. The editorial board of escflashmalta.com has been in contact with several professionals from the local and the foreign music industries to help assess the entries in this years' competition. This is one of the features which our portal has coined in the past three years and which has amassed popularity with the readers. Our professional analysts have a look at the videos with a certain detail for the simple reason that they know what it means to create hit songs or nurture talent which has gone onto achieve success in the foreign market. 

They will pass on their comments on each of the respective tracks and give a mark out of ten, but then, the final ranking of qualifiers will be very dependent of their top ten ranking. Each of the direct qualifiers, six in total where given voting rights in each of the respective semi-finals and therefore the professionals as decided by the editorial team to cover which semi-final would listen to the competing entries along with the direct qualifiers who would be voting in that respective semi-final. One of the major revelations of this years' Malta Eurovision Song Contest has surely been Matthew Mercieca who is known in the local music industry as Muxu. His talents as a singer/songwriter have never graced the festival scene but surprisingly, people were stunned to listen to the lyrics he penned to the track Betrayed performed by Davinia to the music of Elton Zarb. It has an appealing feature which the jury adored and as a matter of fact, it managed to finish in third place to the surprise of many. The quality is becoming more of an issue in Malta hence why this track was not overlooked. Muxu on the other hand has released two singles in the past couple of months including So Good and Pour Down On Me, earning a couple of nominations at the Bay Music Awards and Malta Music Awards. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DH26TKwtzw

Joining him in analysing the first semi-final will be none other than Lina Eriksson, based in Sweden and signed to EMI Music Publishing in Scandinavia. Her worked during the past couple of years surely speaks for itself noting that she has managed to make the Melodifestivalen competition on six out of the past eight years including with more than one entry in 2010 and 2012 respectively. In the latter year, Baby Doll performed by the group Top Cats made it to the final finishing in a respectacle sixth position. Away from the Melodifestivalen, Lina Eriksson alongside her husband Marten Eriksson, a songwriter and producer himself have worked on a number of renowned tunes including for example This Moment by Marie Picasso and Vill Da Dig Igen by Thomas Di Leva. She was also a co-writer for It's For You performed by Niamh Kavanagh for Ireland in 2010.

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

Czech Republic was a competing country in the Eurovision Song Contest but decided to stop competing altogether following successive disappointing results. One of the prime songwriters and music producers of the country is none other than Stano Simor, having done a lot of work with a variety of artists including Tereza Kerndlová, for whom he had written the song Have Some Fun alongside Gordon Pogoda. Stano Simor comes from an industry which is somewhat accustomed to different tastes to what Malta has become to enjoy over the years, but not in an exclusive manner especially considering that he is currently managing pop/rock artist, Mista who was quite close to being the Slovakian representative back in 2010. He has worked on several studio albums, all of which have gone at least 1x Platinium and that is definitely a statistic which should always be accounted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzh7f7H5YDY

For the second semi-final, the format is kept the same with a female and two males joining the proceedings and kicking off things is none other than Martin Isherwood whom escflashmalta.com is proud to present as one of the annual partners in this respective feature. Martin Isherwood is a leading figure at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, being the Head of Discipline and bringing to the table more than twenty years of experience within songwriting, producing, sound engineering and managing artists. As a matter of fact, he also won the Song for Europe competition with his song Cry Baby which despite being a pop song written for the times was not performed to the expected standard. Such a figure has been quite successful and currently is a Board Member of the Merseyside Music Development Agency in order to help support aspiring artists in their dream to reach out to the masses and be successful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAJ62IG3gBo

In the past couple of months, we have closely worked with Sharon Vaughn and indeed, she has become a regular contributor to our projects. Her success within the foreign music industry speaks volumes having targeted several markets, most notably the larger ones in the United States of America as well as Australia and also the United Kingdom. The repertoire of artists that she has worked with is phenomenal and not only that but she had been involved in some of the most intriguing hits throughout the years including Release Me by Agnes, The Guardian by Delta Goodrem and Fahrenheight by Joe McElderry whilst also having tracks included in albums by Malena Ernman, Brian Kennedy, The Wanted, September and Jedward, having written their Eurovision Song Contest entry last year. One note towards local artists is surely the fact that she correctly predicted Gianluca to win this years' Malta Eurovision Song Contest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G7eDpMGe1k

The final individual which we have included within the analysis of the second semi-final entries is a songwriter, producer, and a sound engineer who has been working with a number of local artists in the past two years of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. Magnus Kaxe, born in Sweden but based in Germany has collaborated with various artists all across the world with success achieved in the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and South Africa amongst others. The most notable successes surely are those which he has helped write and indeed, he has written two notable tracks, one entitled Higher Ground performed by Amy Diamond and the other being Falling by Clay Aiken, runner-up of American Idol. Nevertheless, he has met the likes of Britney Spears, Aqua, Celine Dion, Westlife and Will Young whilst working on their respective singles and studio albums. This year, he was competing in the national selection with Klinsmann, Dorothy Bezzina and Richard Edwards and hopes to return next year. The project will be launching in the first week of April, so stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news.

Source: escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7Oa0uWxAbE

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