category: Music

Euro Vision

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by

By Johnathan Cilia

Malta’s pop sensibilities were raised on the Eurovision song contest. Weened as youths off of any semblance of excessive creativity, Malta’s mainstream pop music industry made it clear that to become popular, you had to conform to the rigid ordinance of those who had sung before you – the statute decreed light, delightful three minute long ballads/odes to Angels, Summer Nights by the Ocean, and the Seven Wonders of the World.

And this is how we always, traditionally, did. Until Chiara decided to step it up. Literally.

Welcome to 2013, Malta.
Welcome to 2013, Malta.

With a new hairdo (shaved side, obviously) and a brand spanking new pair(s) of shiny as fwuck shoes, she’s signed with Hands Up Music and teamed up with American-Icelandic electro-pop producer Haffi Haff, got some rapper dude, and released the single Żarbun.

Ain't nobody fuckin' with Chiara's żarbun.
Chiara’s żarbun.

Using English lyrics, apart from the illustrious title word Żarbun, Chiara explains to us how she walks about, in her żarbun, and how she is ‘a soldier in heels, the queen of it all’. The chorus is an effects ridden, heavy synth electropopper , while the following first verse is an Alpha Woman Mating Call. Her luscious voice is overlayed with the now so common autotune, creating warm enveloping waves of Żraben for 3 minutes.

zarbun 7
“Come to me, my żraben.”

With a heavy pop breakdown, a verse with a rapper (whose volume is turned all the way down until all you understand from his verse is a hip “why hello there”; “lemme introduce mah gurl Chiara”; and a “come on come on” to herald in the aforementioned breakdown) and some slick production levels, Żarbun is the courier of international pop standards reaching our 1980s Guatemalan production standard shores.

And Żarbun’s impact is quite profound. It has reached number 2 in the Maltese iTunes singles chart, just below Daft Punk’s new single Get Lucky, and above and Bruno Mars. In a mere five days, it has garnered 94,000 YouTube hits (as of the 2nd of May)  – and that’s without a video. To put that into perspective, other Euro Visioner Ira Losco’s recent single, The Person That I Am, (which also features a third verse with a rapper [why do so many pop songs feel the need to include these?]) has gathered 101,000 views – but it’s been up for six weeks and has a video.

Chiara must be doing something right. And that thing must be choosing one of the least attractive words in our beautiful Semitic language, and stuffing it into an English song…with autotune. And heavy synths. And a four-to-the-floor beat. And a rapper.

And a producer called Haffi. Producing a song called Żarbun.


It’s all quite poetic. An ex-Eurovision song contestant good girl lovey-dovey ballad belter goes material girl, growing up in this material world. She has a radical makeover, obtains a fetish for shoes and gets foreigners to write her hard-hitting synth pop dancefloor fillers. Chiara’s Adele has now become Chiara’s LMFAO.

It was bound to happen. Malta is fast becoming more global (no matter what this video would have us believe) and Iceland is one of the raddest countries around (they rewrote their unratified constitution using Twitter, how can you beat that?) Cue one badass bitch who is ready to bring Malta into the modern music world and we got ourself Żarbun.

The crowd in this video from 2:36 – 2:40 is our collective faces. Within that crowd, we can all be found.

The backlash on social media has been enormous. But as the illuminating host on Hadd Ghalik points out, even ‘controversy’ is good publicity.

Malta’s time as a quaint humble backwater may be slowly changing. We are being hauled into the 21st century by movers and shakers like Chiara, and by the looks of the grannies dancing in the video, it ain’t even a problem…except for the haters on Facebook.

zarbun 6

Category Music

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