Photo: Kris Micallef (can you believe how good she looks?)
Mary Rose Mallia’s name is not unknown to the Maltese public, but her status as an absolute legend seems to be. Most will know her as an actress from TV, or, as happens in Malta, as a friend of a friend who used to be on Simpatici. But as a gay man, I feel it’s my responsibility to elevate talented women to diva status, and it’s high time Mary Rose had some local stans.
If you were born after 1995, you may not know that (or as you might say: you’ve been sleeping on the fact that) Mary Rose has one of the most recognizable and interesting voices on our island. She’s not a 13-second belter like fellow Mary, Spiteri, but she can certainly hold her own on a stage. And while beloved for blackening out her teeth and backcombing her hair, Is-Saħħara ta’ Wied Għafrid could never do justice to the tone of her voice.
If you’re a fan of Lana Del Rey, or dare I say it, Edith Piaf (ne viens pas pour moi), there’s an unknown softer side to Mary Rose that’s best enjoyed on a warm summer evening, sitting on your balcony with a particularly green cigarette. The song Rajt Raġel is a journey, but unlike a Maltese flyover, it never really got the press conference it deserves.
While I am out here pushing Mary Rose’s music onto you like it’s a Mariah Carey CD and I’m, well… me, I’m not here to pull an X Factor and pretend to be discovering talent everyone can see plain as day.
The real discovery of Mary Rose’s talent happened back in the 80s by the Germans. If you think Beyoncé vs Sascha Fierce is a day-to-night shift, just wait till you see what happens when Mary Rose becomes Mary Charles.
Mallia’s stage name as she dominated Deutsch airwaves, between being cast in popular musicals and almost making onto Les Mis, Mary Charles managed to release one total banger before issues with the Berlin wall and family obligations called her home. But regardless of what could have been, or the lack of Grammys that came after the release, everything about Blue Summer Lies screams 80s success. From the Bonnie Tyler dance beat to the fluffy perm and pink lip in the music video, there is something to love in every second of this song.
To any Maltese DJ out there who’s hosting a throwback party, you 100% need to include this song in there, because it syncs up so well with many other songs and there’s no excuse to not give the people what they want. Just maybe lower the treble a little.
But it’s not only about the nostalgia with Mary Rose.
After a number of years laying low (especially musically), 2018 saw her return to the music scene with an entire nine-song album (and fun little launch party in Valletta).
The music, which you can (and should 100%) stream on Spotify or buy on iTunes, represents a new period in Mary Rose’s life. Is it as beautiful as ‘Rajt Raġel’ or catchy as ‘Blue Summer Lies’? No. But her voice is strong and memorable as ever. And for her to take the plunge and launch new music after being away for so long takes guts, and the combination of talent and chutzpah should always be rewarded.
Listening to the self-titled album makes one thing absolutely clear: this woman needs a cabaret show for fans new and old to be moved by her voice and laugh along with her cheeky sense of humour.
I’m not one to be over-presumptuous, but if this (dream) show ever happens, I’d suggest three simple things to Mary Rose. She should start and finish the show with her new song ‘Forever Young’ in different arrangements (fight me, it sounds like Jessica Lange doing Life on Mars). She should hit all the classics including Ġensna’s Din L-Omm, and she absolutely must drop Il-Festa. It might be a fan favourite, but it’s a mood killer and I will not stand (or rather sit around a candle-lit table with wine) for it.
One of the main reasons I’m warning you to not sleep on Mary Rose Mallia’s talent is because I did – and it was a mistake.
Last year, I called her for an interview around the time of her album launch, and things got in the way and the interview was never published. She never called to complain or ask what was up next. She just trudged through and carried on working – just like a real diva, the antics are only for the stage, not in real life.
There is no doubt left in my mind that she’d slay a cabaret show, and now that we’re working on getting her some younger stans, we’re hoping to hear a few “yes gawd” and “slay mama”s from audience when she does.