This year’s Eurovision will be Malta’s 34th entry into the Song Contest (including last year’s cancelled event). Over the years, we’ve had countless entries that have been memorable, total flops or just mediocre, but what about the entries that nearly represented Malta?
Just imagine, even though we’ve only had 34 entries vying to win Eurovision, we’ve had dozens of entries vying for the chance to get that title, what if the runner ups in some of these years could have had a better chance?
Let’s take a small trip down the last few years of Eurovision selections, back to when we actually had a full-blown contest to decide our Eurovision entry at least and see if perhaps Malta could have stood a better chance with a different choice.
2018: Richard & Joe Micallef’s heartfelt and touching duet
Audiences were already familiar with Richard’s entry into Eurovision in 2014 when he’d represented Malta alongside the band Firelight. 2018 brought this father-son duo to the stage with a unique sound for Eurovision – especially in Malta.
In many ways, the style felt as if Firelight was back, yet with a more wholesome and touching country-style song that, to this day many feel would have been a real contender in what would turn out to be a bloodbath of competition in 2018’s Semi-Finals in Lisbon.
Even in the song selection for Malta, it was a tough contest between this, Brooke Borg’s Heart of Gold and the winner of Malta’s selection process, Christabelle’s Taboo.
When it comes to deciding whether Malta would have stood a chance of getting a better result than failing to qualify to the finals, that is up to one’s perspective. What is certain, however, is that we’d have had an extremely hard time coming close to beating Israel’s entry Toy – which has become an iconic Eurovision anthem.
2017: Janice Mangion reminds Malta of the beauty of our language
Malta has not sent a song with a majority of Maltese lyrics in longer than most people can remember, with many people believing that Malta would not stand a chance by sending a Maltese song to compete.
Yet, 2017 in many ways made several people stop and reconsider that stance. Kewkba was a beautiful, heartfelt ballad that highlighted the beauty of the Maltese language – and has continued to be an extremely memorable song in Malta to this day.
In a year that saw Portugal’s own beautiful ballad (which was in Portuguese) win, it is very possible that Kewkba could have risen into a high position in the final – and who knows, maybe even land Malta a win.
With less than 500 votes difference, Mangion is the closest person on this list (who we can confirm due to differences in voting systems) who nearly ended up representing Malta.
In the future, Kewkba should stand as an example that Malta should not be afraid of trying out songs in our own language – songs in a country’s native language have done extremely well in the past at Eurovision. In recent years, Portugal, Ukraine and even North Macedonia are all notable successes (with North Macedonia technically having a huge chance at winning under old voting rules).
2016: A Golden ticket at success and Malta’s notorious song change
2016 was an interesting year in Malta’s internal selection, not only was it the return of Ira Losco – who entered with two songs, but it was also a close race between Ira and Brooke – both of whom were highly favoured in their own rights.
For years, Brooke has been favoured (especially by international juries) whenever she has competed to represent Malta, and Golden was a year in which she was at one of her most powerful entries.
Ira meanwhile competed with two songs and ended up winning with Chameleon, only to change her song to Walk on Water. As such, technically 2016 has two ‘nearly entries’.
Overall, Golden would most likely have beat out Chameleon if anyone else had competed with the song. Ira had a huge backing not only because of her talent but also the hope that she could rise to first place after her previous entry into Eurovision in 2002.
The Contest in 2016 does go down as one of the more controversial wins, with Ukraine’s winning song, 1944 being accused of being too political in light of the tensions that were escalating between Ukraine and Russia at the time.
That said, Malta could maybe have gotten better than 12th place, maybe even to the top 5, but just as with 2017 – it is hard to tell unless it was actually seen.
2015: The year of two warriors
Malta ended up sending Amber with her song Warrior to the contest in 2015, to coincidentally competing against Georgia’s song with the same name. In the end, Georgia passed into the final while Malta failed to qualify.
When it came to selecting a song for Malta though, Christabelle’s Rush came in second, offering a fun and peppy song compared to Amber’s empowering and emotional ballad.
Both of them were definitely what you can expect from Eurovision entries – however, it is unlikely that either entry would have overall made much of a difference in the overall score of that year.
2015’s contest was very difficult (though not as bloodthirsty as 2016 and 2018) and it is unlikely that any song could realistically ever top Måns Zelmerlöw’s Heroes.
While not all of the entries on this list may have made a significant change to Malta’s placement in their respective years’ contest, it is always interesting to see the ‘what ifs’ of any contest. In many ways, Malta may have already had a potential winning song that we simply thought was not good enough.
It is a prime example of why we must never be afraid to keep trying and experimenting with songs. As amazing as it is to win Eurovision, it is also the perfect platform to have fun and explore all sorts of different genres.
What song do you think could have won Eurovision but was never selected?