Maltese singer earns Sony deal
Kevin Borg won the hugely popular Swedish Idol competition on Friday evening to become the first ever Maltese-born singer to win an 'Idol' competition anywhere in the world.
The series was screened weekly on Swedish channel TV4 and averaged over 1.1 million viewers, with a whopping 1.7 million tuning in on Friday to watch Borg, 22, defeat fellow finalist Alice Svensson with 82 per cent of the vote in front of 15,000 people in Stockholm's Globe Arena.
"Yesterday (Friday) was the greatest thing that could happen to a singer - to perform in front of all those fans screaming my name, it's unbelievable... I'm big!" an excited Borg told The Sunday Times yesterday.
Swedish Idol is based on the successful format that began in the UK and is now used in 40 countries and territories around the world. Around 8,000 people entered the competition, and the initial audition was followed by another four within a few weeks which narrowed the field to 16.
A further phase of the contest in the Canary Islands saw the public eliminating a further six contestants, before the final two were selected in weekly TV shows.
Although not originally among the favourites for the competition, the Swedish audience took Borg to their hearts. But despite eventually emerging as the favourite, he did not think he would win.
"I never had it in my mind; I just went out to do a good show every Friday. If you believe that you're going to win, you get a shock when you don't. Instead, I just worked hard, training all the time, even when the others slept," he said.
His victory has secured him a lucrative recording contract with Sony and his debut album will be released in late February. The final took place exactly a year to the day that he went to live in Arvidsjaur in the frozen north of Sweden with his Swedish girlfriend Sofia. While he may have been hoping for a fairytale end, "never, ever in my wildest dreams did I believe this could happen to me," he said.
In fact, it was his girlfriend that suggested he try for the show. Before his first audition, he had been working as a personal assistant to a person with special needs and he was reluctant because his Swedish-language skills were almost non- existent.
He now constantly has to stop himself from lapsing into Swedish during the interview and, "his Swedish accent can melt the hardest Viking heart", journalist Kalle Holmberg told The Sunday Times.
A VIP party was thrown in his honour following his victory and he performed The Winner's Song in front of a star-packed audience. He was joined at the party by the other contestants, as well as his beloved girlfriend and four cousins from Malta who helped him celebrate.
Borg now faces a non-stop schedule of appearances this week, including a charity concert alongside the singer from Roxette.
"I love to help with these charity things and I always will," said the big-hearted star from Floriana.
Borg may be known to Maltese audiences from his participation in Malta's Song for Europe competition in 2006 and 2007, but he says it is most unlikely he will compete again because of his recording and touring commitments.
Although he is immensely grateful for all the support he has received from the Maltese public, he has "no idea" when he will return.
"Things are crazy right now; it's like a big explosion. I'd love to go back but I have to record my album and do promotion... So many doors have opened for me; it's like a dream... But there is a chance I could be back sometime next year."
In 2006, Maltese-Australian Natalie Gauci, of Maltese descent, won the Australian Idol contest in November last year.