Malta has a long Eurovision history, and is one of only five countries that haven’t missed an edition since 1991. That was the year that the nation returned to the Eurovision family, having been absent since 1975, and by the turn of the century they had established themselves as regular contenders, earning eight consecutive top ten places between 1991 and 1998, including third places in 1992 and 1998, and runners-up spots in 2002 and 2005.
They’ve struggled in the last few years, and have failed to qualify for the final in three of the last four editions, but this time round they could be in line for a return to form with their catchy entry called Chameleon, sung by the winner of the first edition of Malta’s X-Factor, Michela Pace.
The song is one of the most chart-friendly Eurovision entries, and is one of the best songs that Malta have come up with in recent years. It is rated more highly than the last Maltese entrant to reach the final, Walk On Water, which ultimately finished twelfth, and the strength of the song explains why bookmakers are not taking any chances, generally pricing Malta at around the 20/1 mark, putting it in the same bracket as Cyprus, just outside the top six.
Malta backers may have some concern about Michela’s ability to sell the song. While the eighteen-year-old has an excellent voice, which enabled her to see off the domestic competition, her lack of experience of performing on a major stage, and her limitations as a dancer will put pressure on the choreography and stage planning for the Maltese entry.
But given Malta’s history of punching above their weight in this contest, she certainly can’t be written off. The Maltese delegation have shown an impressive ability to draw jury support from all quarters, and this time round, they have also opted for YouTube promotion over the traditional fan concert-based publicity, which could prove to be a clever move, opening the possibility of the song going viral ahead of the contest. Don’t be surprised if Michela turns out to be a serious contender on May 18.