The Vine reviews ‘I Am What I Am’ for Malta

Song # 39- I Am What I Am- Emma Muscat

Review: “Grows Old Quickly”

This is a sweet little number with some cute moments, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. There are two main problems- the song’s repetitiveness and predictability, and the emptiness of its message. The phrase ‘I Am What I Am’ alone takes up nearly 60 seconds- a third of the song is the same repeated phrase, and it grows old quickly. After the first verse and chorus, I feel like I’ve heard the whole song because there’s very little musical development after this. The choir adds some nice harmonies, and the gospel moments are cute, but there’s just no risk here- everything feels far too safe. It reminds me of the feel-good inspirational videos we’d watch in assemblies at school- inspiring messages delivered in a generic, uninspiring way. And onto the message itself- Emma is singing about her pride in who she is, which is all well and good, but the message doesn’t scratch the surface, let alone make an impression. Has she overcome some obstacles in life? Faced some oppression? Achieved something? Taken a stand? The lyrics don’t give us anything to pin the message to, and this makes the song feel inauthentic and empty. It’s got some nice chord progressions, builds nicely, and Emma has some gorgeous moments in the vocal line, but the song is, unfortunately, fundamentally flawed. 


The one thing going for this song is Emma’s vocals- she has a gorgeous voice and is a strong live singer, which may impress juries. But she’s also in a semi final with Poland, Australia, Sweden, Czechia and Estonia, all songs that I can see juries respecting more than this for their musicality and originality. Televoters probably won’t go for Malta in such a competitive semi. I can’t see this getting into the top 10 which is a shame, because 2019-2021 have been such promising years for Malta. Maybe next year.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind?

I also wrote a review for Out Of Sight- I praised the range of musical ideas we saw, yet criticised the transitions and lack of development of each idea resulting in the song feeling a bit ‘pre-revamp’ and in need of polishing up, but a generally pleasant piece to listen to. It didn’t really move me or have a huge impact, or stand out amongst the other songs, but I do prefer it to I Am What I Am, and it would have been in the 30-35 area for me. 

I know, I know, it’s been discussed to death already but regarding the song change, I feel like this has really hampered Malta’s chances this year (not that they were that strong with Out Of Sight if we’re being honest). The fact that the song is a celebratory anthem written as a quick replacement song crushes any meaning behind it- it feels like a desperate attempt to bolster Malta’s odds rather than a piece that Emma genuinely connects to- and also puts a big middle finger up to anyone who voted in the national final, for Out Of Sight or another artist. I could forgive an internally selected artist changing their song at this point, or a revamp of a national final winning song, but completely changing the song goes against the spirit of the competition for me, and this leaves a bit of a sour taste, which has made it a little difficult to write an entirely unbiased review (though I have tried my hardest, I promise). 

Photo credit: ESCXtra

Song 40. Intention- Bulgaria

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