After three months of auditions, the X Factor Malta live shows have finally begun. And with the live shows comes eliminations. There are only four live shows — including the grand final — so it was clear we would be saying goodnight to more than one act. But there was a big shock with who one of those acts turned out to be.

The final 12 acts faced the live audience and cameras at the Malta Fairs & Conventions Centre. While some of them have experience in such scenarios, others were novices. But who would survive the first vote?

The show kicked off with a group performance. The group sang “This Is Me”, exactly the same opening group performance as the first gala of OT 2018. But the X Factor Malta showed that trademark over-the-top staging that fans of MESC have come to know and love. It also featured throughout the show, ensuring that Malta’s vibrant performing arts community was not left out.

At this stage there’s no idea of who is topping the weekly vote, but we can get clues of popularity from reactions on social media. So let’s take a look at one act in each category who made an impact.

We got further OT 2018 vibes from Michela Pace, who performed LP’s “Lost On You” — also sung by Alba Reche on OT. The Maltese 17-year-old showed she is in control of her smooth, expressive vocals and nailed the performance.

MC Owen Leuellen had been wowing the judges with his heartfelt original raps. But tonight he performed Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”. He deftly delivered the swift rap, multitasked with the sung chorus and thoroughly entertained the MFCC audience.

Girl group 4th Line opened the show with an attitude- and harmony-laden performance of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor”. With the two other girl groups ending up in the bottom three, 4th Line showed them how it’s done.

Petra tackled 4 Non Blondes’s singalong classic “What’s Up?” While Petra perhaps seemed a little nervous in the beginning, the song turned out to be a perfect match for her. She really got stuck into it and delivered the performance with grit and emotion.

We’re also going to give a shout out to Kelsey Bellante, who performed Katy Perry’s woke bae anthem “Chained to the Rhythm”, including Skip Marley’s rap. We are in love with the staging — the dancing girls and the people with televisions on their heads. Malta, never stop being you!

But this is a competition and there had to be eliminations. Sisterly duo Kayati were first to leave, having received the least amount of votes. While the duo were consistently good in their auditions, they were noticeably pitchy in their live show performance, especially as the performance went on.

Then it was time for a sing-off between the other two acts in the bottom three: MESC veteran Franklin Calleja and girl group Xtreme.

If we’re honest, Xtreme’s first performance was messy. There was too much going on and they didn’t quite click as a group. Franklin’s performance was miles better. But here’s the thing with Franklin — while he is easily one of the best singers on the show, he perhaps comes across as too professional for the X Factor. In a show that’s all about journeys and growth, where is there left to go for a singer who is already at the top of his game?

Both acts did well in the sing-off. Xtreme lifted their game with Jess Glynne’s “Take Me Home”, and Franklin slayed with Emeli Sandé’s “Clown”. It came down to the judges and they ultimately chose to send Franklin home, ending his X Factor Malta journey — and his chance of representing Malta at Eurovision 2019.

Needless to say, some viewers are disappointed, but as others have pointed out, if fans wanted Franklin to be safe, they should have voted for him.

We’re sad to see Franklin go, but he’s been aiming for Eurovision since 2013 and we’re sure this won’t be the last we hear of him. #franklin2020

The X Factor Malta continues next Sunday, with the second live show, including more performances and more eliminations.

X Factor Malta – Live show 1 performances

What do you think? Which performances did you like? Are you happy with this week’s eliminations? Tell us in the comment section below!

Read more X Factor Malta news

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Am.casablancas
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Am.casablancas

Thanks God they ditched Franklin Calleja, this dude have always been in their pre selections and yet he always sends very lame songs. If Malta wants to do well, they need to embrace new artists because is so sickening to see the same people (even if we’re talking about a very small nation); or at least try new genres, sending ballads every year is unacceptable especially if they are extremely flat.

Efraim
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Efraim

Nice voices, solid production values… Malta isn’t playing around this year. Owen looks like the strongest contender to me so far.

Héctor
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Héctor

Is it me or are they really doing playback during the intro “This Is Me”?

James
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James

They were. Probably so they don’t have to use their vocals until their actual live performances.

Joshua Alexander
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Joshua Alexander

Robyn is probably crying her a** off cause of Franklin. I am rooting for ben now. Give us them purplle vibes in tel aviv.

Talentina Monetta
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Talentina Monetta

Franklin is a one-trick pony, I’m glad he’s out

Tomame
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Tomame

Franklin didn’t deserve to go home. Maybe next year..Now rooting for Owen

Joe
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Joe

They’re not screwing around. This is the most effort I’ve seen from Malta in quite some time.

GUEST
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GUEST

What an AMAZING production. Malta should be proud with the talent that is involved in this competition.

Esc1234
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Esc1234

I hope they save some money for their entry cause as I can see TVM is paying a lot for the show