Sadly, Malta has had limited success at Eurovision over the past decade, failing to qualify for the finals on five occasions, and averaging around 17th place over that time when they did advance to the Grand Final. Perhaps acknowledging their recent poor results, the organisers of the Maltese selection process, Public Broadcasting Services (PBS), felt a fresh approach was needed to select their artist for Eurovision 2019.
The former national final ‘Malta Eurovision Song Contest’, was replaced with ‘X Factor Malta’, also the first time this syndicated competition has been held in Malta. After seven months of auditions, a bootcamp, and a series of challenge rounds, one competitor was left standing. The tiny nation had chosen 18 year old Michela Pace to represent them in Tel Aviv.
Michela hails from the smaller of the two Maltese islands, Gozo. She is still attending school, but I suspect her sociology and biology textbooks are gathering dust as the demands of Eurovision increase in the lead-up to May.
Michela’s love of singing started when she was just 13 years old, and since then, she has competed in a number of singing festivals not only in Malta, but on the Continent, too. Genres that most appeal to her include pop, country and soul. On her Facebook page, she comes across as the ‘girl next door’ type, with a strong family bond and a large circle of friends. Given that she comes from such a small island, I wouldn’t be surprised if every single Gozitan knows (or at least knows of) Michela right now.
The song Michela will perform is called Chameleon, with a key message of empowerment, adaptability, and overcoming adversity. The song is polished, radio-friendly pop, with an up-tempo beat that is high impact and high energy - the type of thing anyone could dance and sing along to. Chameleon was written and composed by Joacim Persson, Paula Winger, Borislav Milanov and Johan Alkenäs. Joacim and Borislav have a compelling pedigree at Eurovision having co-written If Love was a Crime (Bulgaria - 2016), Beautiful Mess (Bulgaria - 2017), Dance Alone (FYR Macedonia - 2017), In Too Deep (Serbia - 2017), Bones (Bulgaria - 2018) and this year’s song for Azerbaijan, Truth. In a similar vein, the choreography for Malta’s entry this year is drawing on the talents of Ambra Succi and her team in Sweden, who worked with Loreen on Euphoria in 2012.
Chameleon was one of the last songs to be released for this years' contest, and quickly became a fan and bookie favourite after the release of the music video. I think this is because the video is so beautifully shot, it’s artistic and really reflects the colour-changing ability of the chameleon. And - I’m pleased to see Michela did not try to mimic another chameleon characteristic – the ability to move their eyes independently and to allow them to view at 360°!
For me the great unknown remains Michela’s vocal ability. Having watched a few of clips of her on X Factor, I can’t say I was overly impressed, and as such, I'm concerned that her live performance at Eurovision may not live up to the point of reference set by the studio version. Unfortunately, Michela decided not to perform at any of the Eurovision preview parties (perhaps she has school exams), so we will not be able to judge the way she handles Chameleon’s fun hooks and dramatic drops at this point in time. However, locals will be treated to hearing her perform at two concerts in Malta and Gozo later this month, so this might provide the first clue as to whether Michela’s chances deserve a Top 10 placement or not.
Oh... and did you know? Gozo, is not only the home of the Pace family, but also the Chamaeleo chamaeleon or Mediterranean chameleon!