Should Malta’s Eurovision song be a direct pick, rather than a Malta contest winner?

Malta’s failure to make it to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest is sparking a debate on whether the local contest should be replaced by a system where PBS picks the singer and the song.

The direct pick system appears to have worked for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, which Malta has won twice.

Data issued by the European Broadcasting Union late on Saturday showed that Christabelle’s song Taboo placed dead last in the public vote in Thursday’s semi-final but placed fifth in the vote by an international jury of experts. The combined total of votes placed it 13th, but only the first 10 songs from Thursday’s show qualified for the final.

The call for an alternative selection system started before the final results were announced.

Deo Grech, who hosts a musical entertainment show and regularly attends Eurovision contests, including the latest one, pointed out in a Facebook post that since the semi-finals were introduced, Malta qualified for the finals six times, but failed to make it seven times.

The last time Malta qualified for the final with a song that won the Malta Eurovision Song Contest was in 2014 with Firelight, Mr Grech observed.

“The last time we came within the top three (in the final) was with Chiara in 2005 – 13 years ago.”

He noted that Malta’s entries Warrior and Taboo won the jury and people’s vote in the MESC, Vertigo had all of Malta behind it and broke all televoting records. But all failed to make it to the finals in the Eurovision show.

Ira Losco’s Walk On Water was the last Maltese song to make it to the finals (in 2016). Yet Walk on Water did not win the Malta festival. Ira actually won with Chameleon.

Singers Gaia and Destiny both won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and their two songs were also not chosen from the Malta festival but picked directly by PBS.

Mr Grech’s comments are deemed significant because he presents a prime-time TVM musical entertainment programme – Celebrity Night – and it is PBS which presents the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and handles the Eurovision representation. PBS also selected the songs for the Junior Eurovision.

Mr Grech himself opined in another post that were it up to him, he would have picked Maltese band The Travellers (pictured below) to prepare three songs – cheerful songs in Maltese – with which to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest. The people could then pick one.

The Travellers

Kurt Calleja, a former Malta Eurovision winner, was among those who disagreed with Mr Grech. He said that everyone should be given a chance, in a festival, and he was sure The Travellers would do well there as well.

Cyrus Engerer, who is not involved in the music scene but represents the prime minister in the European Union, agreed with Mr Grech’s view. He said there should be an internal selection after proper assessment of music trends and of the competition in the Eurovision Song Contest, where it was not always the best song which won. What was needed was the best ‘package’ which could be different from year to year.

[source: Times of Malta]