Michela Pace wins X Factor Malta and is Eurovision-bound

Michela Pace performs following her X Factor victory. Photo: Facebook/X Factor Malta

Michela Pace will be flying the Maltese flag in Tel Aviv come May for Eurovision 2019 after being crowned the first-ever winner of X Factor Malta.

The 18-year-old beat Owen Leuellen, Nicole Frendo and Petra to the title, with her soaring voice winning over TV audiences and wowing the crowd at the MFCC in Ta’ Qali.

Michela’s victory means she will now sign a record deal with Sony and go on to represent Malta at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Israel.

The four finalists were first whittled down to three and then two, with first Petra and then Nicole bowing out.

That left Owen Leuellen and Michela Pace to vie for the title, and the two gave it their all in a final round. But there could only be one winner.

Michela began the final night just as she had started her X Factor journey, with a performance Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja joined her on stage for a duet between rounds, and she then paid homage to her Gozitan homeland in singing The Tramps’ classic Inti Djamant in the second round.

She channeled Lady Gaga for her final song, belting out Shallow with as much might as she could muster.

Record viewers and even political controversy

Her victory caps the maiden season of an internationally-syndicated show which took the UK by storm when it first aired in 2004.

Malta’s version of the show captured the public’s imagination, courted controversy and even seemed to inspire policy makers.

Broadcasting Authority figures released late in 2018 revealed it had managed to wrestle TVM top dog status from Friday night staple Xarabank.

The show made national headlines in October, when Equality Minister Helena Dalli stood up in parliament and took the show’s producers to task for having done “untold damage” to LGBTIQ youth by airing a segment in which a contestant said they “used to lead a homosexual lifestyle” until they found religion.

The Gozo Ministry was far more enthusiastic about the show: late in December, it announced that it would be paying for young Gozitans to watch the show live, under the pretence that doing so would support young Gozitans “in their journey to become professional artists”.

Correction: A previous version stated that Ms Pace is 17-years-old. She is 18.

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