We only have three previews left! Today we travel to the land of pizza, classical art and gelato. It’s Italy!!!
Italy was one of the seven countries to take part in the first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. They will send their forty-third entry this year. Italy have won the contest on two occasions: in 1964 with the song “Non ho l’età” performed by Gigliola Cinquetti and in 1990 with the song “Insieme: 1992” performed by Toto Cutugno. They withdrew from the contest a number of times, most notably from 1998 to 2010. Since their return to the contest in 2011, Italy have placed in top 10 four times. Last year, Francesca Michielin came sixteenth in the final with “No Degree Of Separation”.
The Italian broadcaster, Radiotelevisione italiana (RAI) organised the 67th edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, the inspiration for the Eurovision, to select their artist for Kyiv. The winner of the Campioni or Big Artists category would earn the right to represent Italy and first refusal of the offer. After four days of the festival, Francesco Gabbani was crowned the winner of the festival. Shortly after his victory, he accepted the Italian ticket to Kyiv.
Francesco Gabbani was born on September 9th 1982 in Carrara in Tuscany. His parents owned the town’s only instrument shop. He started off his music career with the band Trikobalto and left the band in 2010 to pursue a solo career. His first album Greitist Iz was released in 2014. He was on the verge of quitting performing in favour of composing but he was encouraged by his record label to enter a song for the Nuove Proposte (Newcomers) section of the Sanremo Festival in 2015. He won with the song “Amen” which peaked at number 14 on the Italian Singles Chart. His second album Eternamente ora (Eternally now) was released in 2016. He also composed the soundtrack for the comedy film Poveri ma ricchi (Poor but rich). This year, he won the “Big Artists” section of the Sanremo Festival, becoming the first artist ever to win different categories of the festival in consecutive years. His third album Magellano was released at the end of April. The song he will represent Italy with in Kyiv is the song he won Sanremo with “Occidentali’s Karma” (Westerners’ Karma). Francesco wrote and composed the song, alongside his brother Filippo and Luca Chiaravalli. The video for this song broke the record for the highest number of single-day views for an Italian song on Vevo and is the first ever Eurovision entry to get over 100 million views on Youtube.
This is the favourite to win this year and it’s easy to see why. Catchy and memorable tune, deep and scathing lyrics criticising Westerners’ attempt to “westernise” Eastern cultures and the Anglicisation of the Italian language, musicality, lots of charm and to top it all off, a dancing ape! This song does not try to be anything else but itself and it is such a breath of fresh air. Standing out from the crowd can get you places and it looks to be taking Francesco all the way to the top. Honestly, unless there is a major slip-up, I can’t see anyone stopping this. Better start brushing off on my Italian then….
What Could Have Been
The songs in Sanremo were of an extremely high standard, as always. Many songs would have made fine representatives for Italy, including Ermal Meta with “Vietato morire” (Forbidden to die). This Albanian-Italian singer came with a drama-filled pop-rock offering that got him to third place on the final night of Sanremo. The song is beautifully crafted, intense and would have continued Italy’s stellar reputation in the contest over the last few years. While I think Italy were right to choose Francesco, it would have been interesting to see how Ermal would have fared.
Buona fortuna Italia!
Can anyone stop Francesco and his dancing ape? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, RAI, YouTube)