Lynn Chircop, a virtual newcomer to the music scene, astounded the audience yesterday after she beat tough competition with her song To Dream Again and clinched the top spot of this year's Song for Europe Festival.

The 22-year-old singer squeezed past Lawrence Gray, one of the favourites, beating him by just three points and coming first to the surprise of the 4,000 people who packed the gigantic tent at Ta' Qali.

Lynn too was speechless at the result and she could not contain the tears of happiness.

"I just don't know what hit me. I guess after I made it to the final night there was no turning back. But despite the nerves and excitement I managed to muster all the confidence and enjoy those three minutes on stage," she said shortly after being announced the winner.

Her song, which has a catchy chorus, was composed by Alfred Zammit to lyrics by Cynthia Sammut.

Sporting a bright pink shirt which revealed a sequined bra top and long skirt which skimmed her sleek physique, Lynn won the hearts of the public, who this year had 50 per cent of the vote. The remaining 50 per cent were distributed between five international judges.

Asked to comment on how the televoting swayed the judges' choice, Maltasong chairman Charlò Bonnici stressed this was quite normal and happened in other countries where a high percentage of the end result was decided through televoting.

"I believe that the public voted for the best song. We felt televoting should have a weight of 50 per cent because we want to give the public a voice - Lynn deserved to win and I'm sure she'll do us proud in Europe," Mr Bonnici said.

Lynn will represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Riga, Latvia, on May 24.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Gray, who has been taking part in the contest for the past five years and was constantly being named as the favourite in the past weeks, had to be content with second place.

Gray was awarded 147 points for his upbeat melodic song Why Not, which was composed and written by Ray Agius. The public gave this song the maximum 100 points

Günther Chetcuti, who wooed the audience with his Enrique Iglesias fresh looks and upbeat song, Light of My Life, placed third with 125 points. The song was composed by Paul Abela and Roger Tirazona and written by Doris Chetcuti.

Last night's festival, which was held under a huge tent for the first time, after years of being held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, was deemed a success by Mr Bonnici.

"We managed to pack both nights and this shows that people welcome new ideas," he said.

Presenters Mireille Bonello and Gianni Zammit had the crowd entertained and Gianni's alter ego Ali Bubaker had the crowd in fits with his antics and witty remarks.


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