Malta has Decided: It’s Kurt Calleja!
After a marathon of a National Final, where sixteen hopeful performers took the stage for the chance to become Malta’s twenty-fifth Eurovision representative, we finally have a winner. In a closely-fought final, twenty-two year old Kurt Calleja bested his competitors and took home the trophy with “This is the Night”, which he co-wrote with Johan Jämtberg, and Mikael Gunnerås. He came in second with the jury’s vote, but took the lead through the public televote, and snatched victory away from seemingly perpetual runner-up Claudia Faniello.
Kurt may appear young, but this is already his third shot at the ESC. In 2010, he shared a duet with Priscilla Psaila and ended up coming in 12th place with “Waterfall“. He came back as a soloist the following year, and took the bronze with “Over and Over“.
“This is the Night” is a fun, lighthearted song that seems to work in a similar vein as last year’s “One Life“, only not as flamboyant and over-the-top. I am almost tempted to call it a male counterpart to Ivi Adamou’s “La La Love“, which will represent Cyprus this year; they both share the summery, danceable feel that seems to go hand-in-hand with living on a Mediterranean island, but aren’t particularly deep pieces of musical craftsmanship. Malta will be performing in the Second Semifinal (incidentally, “This is the Night” is the first official song unveiled for the May 24th show). He’ll be going up against heavy-hitters from the Balkan region, as well as possible voting blocs spanning the former Soviet Union and Caucasus. Malta has only qualified for the Finals once in the past five years (although Glen Vella missed out on 2011’s Finals by a single point), and Kurt may have a tough time making it to the big show, but he has a little over three months to polish up what is already a decently strong (or, at the very least, entertaining) entry.
And, for the record, while I generally enjoy “This is the Night”, I’m still slightly disappointed that my pre-contest favorite, Richard Edwards, missed out this year. 2011’s runner-up with “Finally“, he came in a respectable fifth place this year with “Look at Me Now“, which is currently the only Maltese Preselection song to make it onto my iPod. I sincerely hope he tries again next year; maybe the third time will be the charm for Richard, as well.