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MALTATODAY 8 January 2023

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11 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 8 JANUARY 2023 A group of environmental activ- ists and artists have teamed up to highlight the importance of endemic insects and their de- cline. Model Madeleine Baldacchino was photographed by Kurt Par- is, in a project that featured as- sistance from naturalist Arnold Sciberras, as well as hairdresser Elena Cassar and make-up artist Gia Marie Wait. Each photo tells the story of a local insect species which is currently in decline, and most of the depicted creatures could face extinction in the coming decade due to climate change, environmental degradation and pesticides. "These incredible creatures exhibit many extraordinary be- haviours which are unthinkable in other forms of life," natural- ist Arnold Sciberras told Malta- Today "By making a few small changes in your life, you can help curb the current situation." In the set of photos, Baldacchi- no depicts Mother Nature while the specimens on her, which were found deceased or from old collections, highlight the peril of extiction. No insect was killed for the production. Critters' climate threat Model Madeleine Baldacchino, a biology graduate, highlights insects facing extinction in a series of photos by Kurt Paris MATTHEW VELLA MALTA'S Eurovision Song Contest heats return after a three-year hiatus in which X Factor Malta's winner was au- tomatically selected to represent the island in its quest for Eurovi- sion glory. Now the MESC winner will be once again selected by a mix of audience votes and judges, marking a return to form for the Maltese competition. But added to the mix are five contestants hoping to win Mal- tese hearts with that rarest of ingredients for Eurovision en- tries... the Maltese language. Singers Aidan, Clintess, Chris- tian Arding, Maria Debono, and Mikhail will present their songs singing in Maltese, hop- ing to take to Liverpool a Mal- tese entry sung in Maltese. Malta's post-Independence struggles with using its na- tive language in popular mu- sic seems to have died with a new generation that ushered in bands like Brikkuni, Xtruppaw, Djun, Brodu and many more. At least 40 years since becom- ing an independent republic, the colonial hangover that mocked the use of Maltese in pop seems to have been greatly weakened. Toni Sant, an academic and broadcaster who has chron- icled Maltese music and so many of its popular and dias- poric offshoots with his Mużi- ka Mod Ieħor podcasts, knows that today's gen- eration can explore its Maltese identities and language more freely without the burden of colonialism. "While the underground scene did its part in ex- perimenting with al- ternative pop music in Maltese since around the turn of this cen- tury, ultimately it is through pop song contests that the gen- eral Maltese public is likely to embrace the idea of Maltese-lan- guage songs as a natural thing," he satys in an email from Man- chester, where he is the direc- tor of the Digital Curation Lab at MediaCityUK with the Uni- versity of Salford. "This is not to say that we should be linguistic purists. Languages survive because they remain alive in people mouths and minds. Moreover, we're discussing pop music here and not academic approaches to language analysis. So we really need to lighten up in terms of discussing the use of Maltese for Malta's Eurovision Song Contest entry." Sant in fact cautions against the fey hopes of seeking nation- al validation in the schmaltzy muzak of the Eurovision Song Contest, which every year sees Malta experimenting with different styles and shows to clinch the trophy. "This is not a winning strategy for 2023 or even 2024 but it can certain- ly become part of what makes Malta's future entries more no- ticeable, especially if coupled with appropriate melodic or rhythmic hooks," Sant says of Maltese-language entries. "The best thing about having a Maltese-language song at Eu- rovision is the opportunity to spread the fact that this small nation has its own language. This is something not only worth noting but something that can give Malta the sort of edge needed in a televised song contest like Eurovision, where difference is a key strategy for attracting attention." Sant believes it is very unlike- ly that Malta will ever win the Eurovision with the same set of strategies it has used in past decades. But by re-introducing the Maltese language to the pan-European stage, he thinks Malta could acquire an alter- native edge towards attract- ing the attention of audiences. At least, "for something other than forgettable pop drivel." Maltese (the language) is back in Eurovision heats Malta could acquire an alternative edge towards attracting the attention of audiences. At least, Toni Sant hopes, "for something other than forgettable pop drivel"

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