With enough friends (and alcohol) around you, we’ve all been drawn to some passionate karaoke. But why is it that, bar Xemx, none of these songs are the beautiful Maltese classics? These are some of our favourite lyrics from Maltese songs, in no particular order.
1. Brodu: Iċ-Ċimiterju
It’s impossible to pick a favourite verse from this song without feeling bad for leaving out another – the whole song reads like one beautiful poem. Here’s one of our favourite moments:
“Il-kuġin qalli tinkwetax għax għal hawn m’aħniex
Trid jew ma tridhiex.
Ma tridx teħodha f’sens ħażin,
Li jrid jgħid hi din,
Li ma tridx titlef ħin”
2. Brikkuni: L-Assedju ż-Żgħir
Another tough one – how can you pick a single verse from the dozens of great songs in Brikkuni’s discography? Well, forced to choose just one, here’s our pick; an intelligent, somewhat tongue-in-cheek first-hand account of an illegal immigrant who tries to start a new life in Malta.
Released in 2008 as part of Brikkuni’s album Kuntrabanda, this song is even more relevant a decade after its original release. With sarcastic jabs at racist perceptions such as “Jiena Musadebi Dauda mill-Kosta ta’ l-Avorju ġejt biex nisirqilkom xogħolkom u niklilkom xi tarbija”, the song constantly challenges the way we look at refugees living in Malta and how sometimes, a simple difference in skin colour can drastically change the way we treat people. This idea is best reflected in perhaps our favourite line in the song:
“Sħabi għammduni mitejn darba iżda fl-aħħar laqgħuni
għax miksi bl-għabra tal-franka sirt abjad u issa… issa drawni.”
3. Plato’s Dream Machine: Temenza
A modern classic that gets the crowd going whenever PDM turn up. Full of many sing-along moments, such as the iconic “L-isfar bela’ l-aħdar, l-isfar bela’ l-aħdar, l-isfar bela’ l-aħdar, u sfar”, Temenza never ceases to get people warming up their vocal chords. While we wait for PDM’s new album to be released very soon, here’s our favourite verse off Temenza, which is so good that it actually has the music video turn into a momentary lyric video:
“Iskot ħa tisma’ tajjeb,
iskot rajtha mill-bogħod
lil hinn mill-materjali,
4. Stalko: Il-Mara ta’ Fuq il-Bejt
Song starts at 49:20
Yep, Stalko also sing in Maltese! The closing track on their debut album Grandiloquence is a tribute to all things Maltese; drying out clothes on sun-kissed rooftops and the heartbreaking pang of nostalgia and loneliness. Written by Simone Spiteri, our favourite part of the song is the perfect scene-setting to the uptempo of Stalko’s folk tunes:
“Saqajn twal, Ġenbejn kbar
Xagħar folt mgħaqqad mar-riħ
Fuq il-bejt, Lejl kalm żejt
Ta’ kuljum tgħabbih
Friskatur, mgħobbi jfur, Naxret żgħożitha għal min jiftakar dawk l-ijliel…”
5. The Travellers: Xemx u Xita
The Travellers are one of the most hyped mainstream bands of the last year, creating their own trumped-based ska-meets-reggae-meets-folk anthem niche. The Travellers have amassed an impressive average of 100K on their YouTube music videos, which is quite the feat in Malta. Here’s one of the lyrics that shifts when read on its own.
“Fjura tikber minn bejn l-irmied, il-qamar waqa’ u sar biċċiet.
Fejn tħoss il-qalb dejjem hemm l-uġieh, li tara l-għajn huwa biss it-tmiem.”
6. No Bling Show: Luċija u Samwel
It seems like there was a time when absolutely everyone in Malta was talking about Luċija u Samwel. The sad tale of a poor Maltese girl who wound up with the wrong crowd, the song’s lyrics are as strong as the imagery that Take2 provides with its now-iconic video (featuring a younger Mario Vella as the coolest funeral-speech priest ever). In the pivotal point when Luċija lets her guard down for one night at the club, we’re going to let the perfectly-telling lyrics do the talking:
“U sellmittli hi, jien qas tant għamilt reazzjoni, tfajt id waħda fuq spallejjha u għafastilha l-emozzjoni,
Staqsejt hux kollox sew, u qaltli ‘Aħħ mank dejjem hekk!’, u ntefgħet f’nofs il-kotra, u ingħaqdet maż-żufjett.”
7. Hunters Palace: Tal-Metall
Video warning: clip features ‘artistically obscured’ crashes and animal deaths.
The majority of Hunters Palace’s discography is extremely divisive in nature; people either really love them, or cannot stand them. Their thought-provoking music and lyrics are sometimes hidden behind apparent simplicity and repetition. But when the energy gets going at their (rare) live appearances and everyone starts chanting, one gets the feeling that things go deeper than they might have initially seemed. Here’s one such case:
“‘Għandi għandi għandi għandi għandi memorja.
Kemm nixtieq li kont tal-metall.”
8. Norm Rejection: Malta Not For Sale
Michael Briguglio’s heavy metal project is one of those anti-establishment bands that have songs which are sadly becoming more and more relevant by the second. Beyond their classic Kemm Hawn Dwejjaq Fil-Pajjiż, this song deserves a spot for just how spot on some lyrics are, including “Taxxi kbar, ma niġbru xejn”, or the amazing:
“Viva il-kapitalisti, għawx għalihom il-ministri, ’64, ’79, lagħbuhom Super 5”
9. *etnika: Maddalena (Carlo Satariano)
*etnika is an insanely talented six-piece group (fronted by none other than Beangrowers’ Alison Galea). One of the standout tracks on their debut album is Maddalena, a trip folk cover of a traditional għana chant from 1931, with lyrics by Carlo Satariano and music by Vincenzo Ciappara.
The original humorous tune about unrequited love was published by Anthony Damato as part of the first series of Maltese HMV gramophone discs, and has finally been given a breath of fresh, twenty first century air. The lyrics are also given a haunting new feel.
wiċċ taz-zokkra, wiċċ il-hena,
jiena ġejt appost għalik
fittex oħroġ ħa’ ngawdik
Xitla sbejħa ġo l-ġnien għandi
kemm ilma ġarrejt għalik
meta ġejt biex il-frott tagħmel
u ħaddiehor qed igawdik.”
10. Mary Rose Mallia – Rajt Raġel
A younger Mary Rose Mallia pining over a rugged countryman is as good as Maltese traditional songs get. Each and every second of this adaptation of one of Joe Friġġieri’s poems is poignantly devastating, but a definite standout moment are the ending couple of seconds:
“l-inbid sar demm fuq ix xewk li jwarrard mall-mogħdija, u d-demm sar ħall taħt ix-xemx qalila.”
11. L-Aħħar Bidwi f’Wied il-Għasel
Alfred C. Sant’s lyrics and Paul Abela’s music has been immortalised dozens of times over the decades, but Sammy Bartolo and the New Cuorey’s version is definitely the most iconic. We’re not going to pick out one single verse of this song, because think everyone should memorise all of it and be able to sing it on the spot, wherever whenever.
BONUS: Brikkuni: Rub Al Khali
Fine, we cheated and added two Brikkuni tracks. But there really is no way we were going to just choose a couple of words to represent the band. And with a new album literally days away, here’s one of our favourite lyrics from their new material, to remind us that no matter what…
“Iddur kemm iddur iċ-ċentru jibqa’ fejn ikun, fejn ikun.”