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Malta Song for Europe 2001
an exclusive report on the final night by Coryse Borg
The annual Malta Song for Europe is an event eagerly awaited by practically everyone in the Maltese Islands.

Being so small, everyone knows, or at least has some kind of knowledge of the singers, lyric writers and composers taking part, and very often it’s a question of sitting down in front of the television on the night with a pretty good idea of who are the favourites and even who will be the lucky girl or guy to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest.

And this year was no exception. Having been involved in the festival for two years running as a backing vocalist, I knew many of the people involved and, consequently had the opportunity of speaking to some of them in the weeks preceding the festival itself.

And believe me, most of the time, their ‘instinct’, or rather, inside knowledge was right on the money.

Which brings us to an interesting question… taking into consideration the fact that everybody knows everybody here, is it possible that the judgment of the Maltese judges is not coloured in any way?

Not that I am saying that the judges were bribed or influenced directly, but I am sure none of them went into it with a completely unbiased opinion. I think that would be next to impossible.

Maybe, the time has come that the judging panel was made up of exclusively foreign music or media connoisseurs. It is simply my opinion and that of quite a few people I spoke to.

But now, on to the festival itself.

The festival, broadcast on TVM, was well-filmed, with a few of the usual glitches (the camera focused on the audience had a scratch on it (or was it simply a light reflection?) and the colours and light of this camera were awful, as were those of the camera which focused on the judges later on.

It is a pity that something always has to ‘spoil’ what was otherwise a well-filmed production, because the camera used to film the stage, which included a steadicam, were fine.

The lighting on stage was excellent (a foreign light designer was brought in) and the sound was good too.

The presenters of the evening, Claire Fabri, Louise Tedesco and Antonella Vassallo acquitted themselves well although some of the script was superfluous (couldn’t someone find another way of listing the sponsors?)

Hmmmmmmmmm, three pretty girls on stage… personally, I would have opened the evening with a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ theme. It would have made the evening that much more fun I think!

Having a clip of the participants doing some kind of extreme sport before they sang was a good idea although I couldn’t quite see the connection between sports and music. In any case, the clips were well-filmed and quite fun although I have it on good authority that the ‘stunts’ were, in most cases, not done by the singers.

Ira LoscoThe first song of the evening was ‘We’ll ride the Wind’ by Dominic and Doreen Galea and sung by Ira Losco, who also sang another three songs. This mellow song was reminiscent of an 80’s ballad, which was contrasted by the ‘rock’ feel of ‘All I need’ sung by Sheryl Crow look and sound-alike Fiona Cauchi who also wrote the lyrics. Rene Mamo was the composer. Talented Fiona also played guitar on this song.

Ira Losco was back with ‘Spellbound’ which I thought was definitely one of the most well-sung songs of the evening. I had the impression that the author Gerard James Borg must have watched a couple of episodes of ‘Charmed’’ on TV (it is about three witches) before he came up with his lyrics. The composer of this catchy song was Philip Vella.

‘Love will see me through’ by Eugenio Schembri and Doris Chetcuti, saw Olivia Lewis belting out what could become a really good clubhouse hit, while ‘He’s my Romeo’, sung by the lovely Nadine Axisa  and written and composed by Philip Vella, had more of a country and western twang.

‘I wanna be the one’, sung by Marvik Lewis started off like an Andreas Johnnson song and would also not be out of place at a disco. The song was also written by Doris Chetcuti with music by Eugenio Schembri.

Lawrence GrayLawrence Gray’s voice in ‘Count on Me’ by Paul Abela and Philip Vella, was a force to be reckoned with. He sang with passion and his beautiful voice could not but leave one moved. Next up was Karen Polidano with ‘Nothing I can do’ by Rene Mamo. This ballad was rather poignant as it spoke of unrequited love. Karen’s pure but strong voice made this song all the more emotional.

‘Deep inside my heart’ was written by Paul Zammit Cutajar with music by him and Ira Losco who also sang the song. This ballad perhaps made the most of Ira’s lovely voice. Lawrence Gray was back with ‘A song of my life’ by Ray Agius. Again, Lawrence’s voice made the most of this song.

Olivia Lewis next sang the ballad ‘Hold me Now’, again by Eugenio Schembri and Doris Chetcuti while Julie Zahra sang ‘Eternity’ by Rene Mamo and Joe Julian Farrugia – a slow but deep song which would not be out of place in a musical.

Michelle Farrugia, who lives in Melbourne, Australia but has dual citizenship, sang ‘Why Now’ by Vince Pulo, which I thought would fit in well as the opening song of a James Bond film (Hollywood please take note!). Michelle has a powerful voice which should ensure she goes far in the music world. Ira Losco next sang ‘Don’t give up by Ray Aguis, a ‘bouncy’ song with a nice beat.

Tarcisio Barbara was on top form during ‘My three minute song’ a rock song which fused elements of Joe Cocker with Santana. The guitarist/backing vocalist was excellent,  I thought. The song was written by Tarcisio with words by Alfred C. Sant. And finally, young Fabrizio Faniello took the stage for ‘Another Summer Night’ by Paul and Georgina Abela. Surrounded by a bevy of beautiful (female) dancers, Fabrizio look in his element as he sang to the samba beat of the song.

So, those were all the entries… marred on TV only by an advert crawling over the bottom part of the screen at the most inopportune moments (and by the fact that there were countless spelling mistakes in the end credits!)

While the judging was taking place Claudette Pace, sang a few songs, including ‘Desire’… she is such a professional show-woman. She even managed to get emotional in a professional way!

And last year’s winners of the Eurovision, the Olsen Brothers, also belted out a few of their songs. I do not know what other entertainment went on, as the person I was watching the festival at had had enough by then and changed the channel as he wanted a break!

Fabrizio FanielloThere were 7 international and local judges and, of course, the televoting done by the public (46, 320 phoned in to give their vote) which counted as one judge.

The public vote was as follows: third place – ‘Don’t give up’, second place – ‘Spellbound’ and first place - ‘Another Summer Night’.

And now for the overall winners: third place with 116 points went to ‘Count on Me’ (Lawrence Gray), second place with 122 points to ‘Spellbound’ (Ira Losco) and the winner, who will be participating in the Eurovision Song Contest later in the year with 154 points was ‘Another Summer Night’ (Fabrizio Faniello).

So, that was the end of another contest… and now, it’s on to the Eurovision!

Coryse Borg
4  February 2001 
Martin Debattista and Tonio Bonello speak with Song Festival Committee Chairman
Charlo Bonnici, and singer Georgina Abela who penned the lyrics for the winning song.

In Maltese [requires RealPlayer]
CLICK HERE: Eurovision Song Contest 2001

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