12 Most Beloved Maltese-Language Songs Of All Time
From Xemx to Xwiek and everything in between...
If there was any taboo about the Maltese language being used in pop music, it sure as hell has disappeared over the past few years, with fan-favourite Maltese musicians taking to their mother tongue to deliver relevant and poignant tunes that are very much standing the test of time.
Apart from these new tracks, however, here we'd also like to pay our respects to some of the most notable Maltese songs for the past.
Get ready to feel patriotic.
1. Xemx by The Tramps
It may have been covered by everyone from the Big Band Brothers to Ira Losco and Gianluca Bezzina, while also inspiring the ironic title to Guze Stagno's sophomore novel, but The Tramps' 1970 romantic ditty -- penned by Dominic Grech -- remains a reference point for Maltese-language music. To say nothing of weddings.
2. L-Ahhar Bidwi f' Wied Il-Ghasel by Sammy Bartolo
This melancholic lament for the rural life was first released in 1976 was also included in Claudio Baglioni's 2007 Malta concert -- with the Italian singer-songwriter recording his own version of the classic song a year later.
3. Ix-Xewk u X-Xwiek by Brikkuni
This romantic interlude goes down really a treat in the middle of Brikkuni's beloved, blistering debut album Kuntrabanda! (2008).
4. Sieħbi fil-cupboard tal-kċina by Walter Micallef
Walter Micallef's poignant and hard-hitting song about child abuse is practically Malta's Luka, and it also got the Big Band Brothers treatment not too long ago. An engaged singer-songwriter, Micallef's repertoire also includes the unforgettable -- and, sadly ever-relevant -- Lil Malta, which denounces Malta's rampant over-development drive. And on that note...
5. Malta Not For Sale by Norm Rejection
The heaviest track on this list by far, and probably the most niche. But the durability of this entry can't be denied. A livid diatribe against the Maltese tendency to whore out the country for a quick buck, its crushing riffs -- and pithy Maltese lyrics -- could even be heard during the landmark protest against the construction of the American University of Malta at Zonqor Point.
6. L-gharusa tal-Mosta by Frans Baldacchinio 'Il-Budaj'
Practically all of Frans 'Il-Budaj's discography would be worthy of addition to this list -- considering his great impact on the ghana tradition, and its popularisation -- but the story of 'L-Gharusa tal-Mosta' has the added weight of folk narrative in its favour.
7. Mur Hallini by Freddie Portelli
The iconic song for Malta's rock 'n roll granddaddy.
8. X'Se Jsir by Corazon Mizzi
Winner of the top prize at the 2016 edition of L-Ghanja Tal-Poplu, X'Se Jsir cemented Corazon Mizzi as one of Malta's foremost singer-songwriters.
9. Ic-Cimiterju by Brodu
Somehow hitting that strange sweet spot between crushing melancholy and total chillout vibes, Brodu have produced something truly wonderful here.
10. Lucija u Samwel by No Bling Show
Lengthy and ambitious, with Lucija u Samwel No Bling Show teased at the limits of local hip-hop, producing an urban tragedy the likes of which the Maltese musical scene hadn't seen before.
11. Gahan by Kantilena
One of the first bands to ride the wave that Brikkuni first unleashed, with this song Kantilena channel one of Malta's most beloved folk characters.
12. Fil-Kju by Mistura
A cover taken from the satirical programme Ahn' Ahna jew M'Ahniex -- and in so doing, it channels yet another beloved local institution -- this takedown of Malta's tendency towards political nepotism, originally penned by Vince Fabri, is both funky and on-point.