Malta Song Festival
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No matter how ridiculous you think the Eurovision Song Contest might be - with it’s bizarre range of songs, strange costumes, downright dubious dance routines and hugely predictable political voting - many Maltese people consider it to be a very big deal!
As an Englishman, we, as a nation, find it very hard to get our collective heads around anyone taking it seriously in any way shape or form. But we’ve annoyed or invaded so many of the participants over the years that we have to have a truly exceptional song before anyone will vote for us and ensure we don’t finish rock bottom of the heap ... again.
As a rule though, we have quite a musical heritage and happen to be quite good at it, so we avoid disappointment by taking the morale high ground, sitting back and laughing at the Eastern Europeans, or Scandanavian nations that spend far too much time in the dark and quite plainly are not good at music!
However, here on Malta talk about a forthcoming contest goes much deeper than giggling about whether Bosnia and Herzagova will once again give Serbia 12 points for the umpteenth time. Here, they really properly care and so are genuinely passionate about the Malta Song Festival – the event that decides the island’s representative for that year.
Held every February, this festival is broadcast live to the nation. It is essentially a string of aspiring Eurovision hopefuls taking to the stage hoping to be picked by the combination of an expert jury combined with public votes. So imagine listening to loads of entres deemed 'not good enough' for the finals!!
These heightened levels of interest are even more difficult to comprehend when you consider Malta’s previous record in the event. They’ve never won! The closest they came to writing Eurovision history was in 1998 when Chiara Siracusa won the Malta Song Festival with her ballad The One That I Love, and flew off to the contest proper, which that year was held in the UK.
And so the Maltese nation was on tenterhooks as Chiara’s entry maintained a steady position towards the top end of the leader board. With only the notoriously flaky nation of Macedonia left to vote, she was in joint-first with Israel! Could it happen? Could it be the year?
Sadly, no! Those pesky Macedonians, no doubt keen to bestow the bigger scores on all their near neighbours, gave Malta ‘nil pwan’. Israel took the crown in the shape of the famously trans-sexual Dana International, which rankles even more as Israel isn’t even in Europe! Malta finished a creditable but instantly forgettable third.
Seven years later, Chiara tried her luck again with another ballad and this time came second, behind Greece. Never one to get the message, she was back again in 2009 but ended up in a lowly 22nd place.
Meanwhile, another chanteuse of the Maltese persuasion, Ira Losco, equalled the nation’s best ever finish with another second in 2002. She went on to become one of the best selling artists in the country and is popular overseas too especially in Germany.
So who will become the first Maltese to take the title? Could it be next time?
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