The first of the contest’s two Mediterranean island countries is up next and it’s one of Eurovision’s most enduring and endearing of contestants – Malta. Together with France, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, they’re one of the few countries never to have missed a contest since 1991. Between 1991 and 1998, they never finished outside the top 10, coming third twice. Then in 2002, they got even closer, finishing as runners up to that year’s winner, Latvia. The artist who took them to that runner up spot was none other than Ira Losco, this year’s entry. Can she go one better than last time?
It is certainly one of the favourites, or has been identified as such in the betting, on the Eurovision blog sites, even in mainstream media when they’ve listed the favourites, Malta’s name keeps coming up. So it’s perhaps a little surprising to see this at number 17. Still a relatively high placing, but not at the top. The song itself is not the song that Ira won the Maltese national final with. Online reaction was not positive and the Maltese changed the song (very close to the submission deadline in fact). It’s a much stronger song and the online fandom generally reacted well to it. It’s actually a song penned by the Swede (of course) Molly Pettersson Hammar who was a contestant in this year’s Melodifestivalen who was eliminated in the Andra Chancen round.

I was absolutely certain a few weeks ago that this would qualify for the final, but I’ve begun to doubt myself a little now. For such a fan favourite, I was expecting this to finish top 10 in this ranking and I do remember Amber’s “Warrior” being lauded in a similar way last year with a song not entirely dissimilar. That song didn’t qualify (albeit narrowly as it came in 11th) and this year Malta are in a tougher semi-final and there are more contestants in it. You can’t help feeling that for all the fanfare and assumptions of how good this is, that it’s not that much more than a second hand song that wasn’t used by someone who didn’t even make it to the Swedish national final. Maybe that’s a little harsh but I just have some doubts…

Live at London Eurovision Preview Party:

Malta at the Eurovision Song Contest:Malta Eurovision 2016

First entered: 1971

Appearances (excluding this year): 28

Best result: 2nd in 2002 and 2005

Last year’s result: 11th in semi-final (did not qualify)