Jessika and Jenifer Brening are here to tell you who they are. (Spoiler: They are San Marino’s Eurovision act this year.)
Jessika Muscat is a Maltese singer who has been a staple at Malta’s national finals over the past decade or so. Her best finish in 2016 when she placed seventh with the Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg song “The Flame.”
She is paired up with German singer Jenifer Brening, who finished fourth on the German talent show The Winner Is in 2012. Jenifer replaced San Marinese rapper Lorenzo “Irol” Salvatori, who dropped out because “Who We Are” was “too poppy” for him.
Irol still retains a songwriting credit on “Who We Are,” but it seems like half of Europe has a songwriting credit on” Who We Are.” The big name for Eurovision fans is Zöe Straub, Austria’s representative at the 2016 Song Contest and one of the judges for San Marino’s 1in360 national final competition this year. She is joined by her dad, singer-songwriter Christof Straub, who co-wrote her Eurovision entry “Loin d’ici.” Rounding out the credits are the aforementioned Jenifer Brening; Matthias Strasser, who has contributed songs to past Maltese national finals; and Stefan Moessle, part of the Secret Sounds music production team that has contributed music to the TV show Dance Moms.
“Who We Are” sounds the songwriting crew heard “Heroes” and thought that it needed some girl power, so they inserted Mel B’s rap in “Wannabe.” At face value, this should work, but it really falls short in practice.
That’s because “Who We Are” in its 1in360 form was rough. Jessika’s performance was a bit too stiff and a bit too smiley. She’s an experienced performer, but she looked like a fresh-faced amateur. The whole package needs to be polished up quite a bit to work on the big stage in Lisbon.
Despite our qualms, we are happy to see San Marino jumping into the current era of Eurovision after splashing around in Ralph Siegel’s antiquated style for so long. And if Zöe wants to usurp Uncle Ralph as San Marino’s songwriter-in-residence, you won’t hear us complain. We look forward to what she and Valentina Monetta cook up next year.