EILEEN SPITERI

I honestly rarely write these kind of posts because I strongly believe in freedom of speech and everyone has a right to think, have an opinion and speak their mind.

But I’ve been reading way too many comments from people that think that their opinion is the only right one (God forbid anyone else has a different opinion) so here are my two cents on this whole debacle that seems to be taking the island by storm;

Year after year it’s the same old story repeating itself when it comes to Eurovision;

Phase 1: Public is divided on whether the singer deserved to win, those not accepting the result will claim that voting was rigged or that televoting should not be used as the public votes on the popularity of the singer or with ‘grazzja’.

Phase 2: Song is unveiled and again you have a huge divide, whether its about who wrote the song, the music video, the style of song etc.…everyone has an opinion- rightly so because anything related to art is subjective and that is the beauty of it. I believe that a true music lover will listen to and love different genres.

Phase 3: Once foreigners start giving good feedback towards the song and singer, the public jumps onboard and starts supporting the entry to an extent where if anyone says they don’t like our entry we jump their bones and tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine

Phase 4: Entry goes to hosting country and rehearsals kick off. We have an opinion on the staging, the clothing, the hair, the make up. We make sure that our opinion is heard by posting on every single post and group not realizing how many people who will be eventually voting for our entry are reading said posts and how they can influence them.

Phase 5: The semi final is aired, everyone is on their sofa waiting to watch. Performance by our entry is done and everyone praises our performance, everyone thinks we have a chance of winning it, our entry was the best by far, it’s impossible we don’t pass for the final right?

Phase 6: If we make it to the final- everyone is eagerly waiting for the final because if we made it to the final then we will be winning because ours is the best. If we don’t make it to the final, then it’s because the voting is rigged- Jury or Televote? Depends on which we got least points from. The narrative changes to ‘We shouldn’t participate anymore’.

Phase 7: Final night, we bombard everyone to vote for Malta because ours is the winning entry no matter what anyone else says.

Phase 8: Results time, everyone is biting their nails, swearing at the TV because some countries are giving their 12 points to their neighbors because it’s shocking to see how Denmark gave their max points to Norway, but it’s expected that we get the max points from Italy, UK and Australia and it’s mayhem if we don’t.

Phase 9: Winner is announced, and it is not Malta.

The buzz phrase is ‘because the voting is rigged’ Jury or Televote? Depends on which we got least points from. The narrative changes to ‘We shouldn’t participate anymore, waste of time participating, we should invest the money elsewhere, we will never win, how much money was spent?’

Irrelevant whether our performance was the best or not (because let’s be realistic, it’s a live performance and the singer is a human being who could easily miss a note here and there due to excitement or a thousand other reasons- it happens to the biggest stars).

The thing that bothers me most is the constant pressure being put on the artist to be perfect and the reasoning that because the public voted for him/her/them then they have sold their soul to the said public and anything done needs to be approved by them first. Destiny gave an amazing performance which she should be without a doubt proud of and the team behind her worked their butts off to make sure that we got the most out of this showcase.

As I said before, music is subjective, and no song/artist/genre could ever be the best because it all depends on the musical taste of the people voting. To some Italy’s entry was described as noise, to me it’s one hell of a rock song which made me look them up on Spotify and I’m obsessed with their album, their performance on stage demanded my attention and made me crave live concerts even more. I am not saying ‘Je Me Casse’ was a bad song though- far from it. We had a strong bop that gave me feel-good vibes everytime I listened to it and no one can ever deny Destiny’s vocal and performance abilities. We did not ‘lose’, we got the top spot from our semi and placed 7th in the final, the best placing we’ve had in a while. From what I’ve been reading, we could have placed 2nd and we’d still be seeing the same reaction because it seems that winning is all or nothing for some.

With the same reasoning, should someone like Coldplay for example be deemed a failure and stop making music just because they didn’t win a Grammy? Of course not! So what’s different when it comes to our local artists taking part in the ESC? Absolutely nothing.

With regards to money being spent and budgets; Speak to anyone that works in the entertainment industry and artists and they will all tell you that in order to create a good and high level product, money has to be invested because as the saying goes ‘You pay with peanuts and you get monkeys’. I have no doubt that our competitors spend way way more than we do.

Spending 2 weeks abroad (because that is the approx. time needed to be spent due to rehearsals) will cost money. Nothing is given for free. The mentality needs to change when it comes to the arts. There are so many people involved in creating a high level act (even if it’s just a 3 minute song) and all these people should be paid for their hard work because this is not a hobby for them, this is their profession!

Should I question how much money was spent on other things in this country like for example the Valletta 18, Notte Bianca, Muzika Muzika, Isle of MTV and so many more events organized? No I wouldn’t even dream of it because I strongly believe that in order to have anything of good quality, money needs to be spent. What some people don’t realise is that participating in the ESC does not only give exposure to the performer but also to our country…does anyone commenting know how much that level of advertising (to promote both the performer and country) to reach those millions of viewers would cost? Most probably it would be much more than what is spent for Eurovision.

We have some amazing talent on this island. There are artists I work closely with and have seen first hand how strong their passion and commitment is towards their music is and that is why they excel is what they do. Anyone that knows me knows how much I support these artists. But with all due respect to 2 groups of people:

Group 1: Those who their idea of the music scene is only linked to the Eurovision, who their idea of being successful stops at representing Malta at the Eurovision, who only release original songs if they are linked to a festival/competition. We need to learn to view this contest for what it is- a platform to showcase, a way of promoting our artists. It can be an experience, but it should not be the pinnacle of an artist’s career.

Group 2: Those who snob the Eurovision and keep insisting that they wouldn’t participate in the Eurovision even if they were paid to do so. Maneskin are a perfect example of how this contest can be used as a platform and they crushed the myth of Eurovision favouring only commercial cheesy pop. They showed how a good rock band could go from the streets to XFactor Italia, to the ESC stage and have their album go platinum. If that isn’t enough to convince you that such opportunities are worth taken and used to your advantage then I don’t know what will. Isn’t the aim of any artist creating music to eventually share it with the world and get recognition?

I only hope that we can one day learn to appreciate the arts the same way we appreciate other things because music should be something that unites us and not divide us.

Well done Destiny and Team Malta for putting your heart and souls into everything you do.

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