Namasté! Alé! On Friday evening RAI revealed the 20 hopefuls for the 2018 edition of the long-lasting Sanremo Music Festival. The lucky contestants will sing-it-out to gain access to the Eurovision 2018 stage in Lisbon, Portugal — and hopefully build on the momentum laid down by Francesco Gabbani last year.
Kicking off on February 6, the contest will feature few Sanremo legends, several bands and duets, FOUR former Italian Eurovision representants — and JUST four female singers. Let’s take a look… but don’t start searching YouTube for their competing entries just yet: You won’t be able to hear the songs until the first performance on the stage, as required by sanremese tradition.
There’s one big change for this edition — and it concerns the host and artistic director. After three amazing editions, the iconic perma-tanned Carlo Conti has passed the baton to novice Claudio Baglioni, one of Italy’s most successful singers and songwriters. And guess what? He is one of the few stars who NEVER took part as a contestant in Sanremo!
Baglioni will guide viewers through the five-episode festival, which will turn 68 in February. It’s old, but it’s still TV gold and remains one of the most watched and most talked-about television programmes in the country.
SANREMO 2018 PARTICIPANTS
ANNALISA – “Il mondo prima di te”
She’s the redheaded beauty lots of Eurovision fans are crazy about and she’s BACK! After her second place in the tenth series of Amici di Maria De Filippi, Annalisa took her career even higher by taking part in Sanremo three times: in 2013 with “Scintille“, in 2015 with “Una finestra tra le stelle” and in 2016 with “Il diluvio universale“.
DECIBEL – “Lettera dal duca”
A punk rock and new wave trio made famous during the 80’s, they recently reunited to release a new album. They hit the Sanremo stage in 1980 with “Contessa“. Their lead singer is Enrico Ruggeri, who represented Italy at Eurovision 1993 with “Sole d’Europa“.
DIODATO & ROY PACI – “Adesso”
The musical relationship between these two Sicilian singers is longstanding. When Diodato debuted in the Newcomer’s section in 2014 with “Babilonia“, Roy Paci — a trumpeter, singer and arranger who mixes ska, patchanka and rocksteady — was his artistic “godfather”. In 2007 Paci and his band Aretuska released “Toda joia toda beleza” a successful collaboration with French singer Manu Chao.
ELIO E LE STORIE TESE – “Arrivedorci”
Elio e le Storie Tese is an Italian comedy rock band formed in 1980. They achieved national fame at Sanremo 1996 with “La terra dei cachi“, a humorous take on Italian lifestyle with which they won the Critics’ Award. We also saw them in 2013 with “La canzone mononota“. They announced their split on October 2017… but they were probably just mocking the audience, in their typical style.
ENZO AVITABILE & PEPPE SERVILLO – “Il coraggio di ogni giorno”
There’s always a place for a wildcard from Napoli. This year, this particular spot has been assigned to Enzo Avitabile, a saxophonist and singer-songwriter. He plays a fusion of world music and jazz, rooted in Neapolitan traditions and characteristic dialect. Avitabile will sing a duet wih Peppe Servillo, who won Sanremo in 2000 with the band Avion Travel, performing “Sentimento“.
ERMAL META & FABRIZIO MORO – “Non mi avete fatto niente”
Two worthy songwriters, both were in Sanremo 2017’s line up as solo artists, the former singing “Vietato morire“, the latter performing “Portami via“. Now they join forces for an unexpected duet — and a shot at victory.
GIOVANNI CACCAMO – “Eterno”
Giovanni rose to fame in 2015 after winning the Newcomer’s section of Sanremo thanks to “Ritornerò da te“. He returned in 2016, reaching third place in the Big section with “Via da qui“, a duet with Deborah Iurato.
LE VIBRAZIONI – “Così sbagliato”
The four-piece band will stage their reunion on the grand Sanremo stage. They made their breakthrough in 2003 with “Dedicato a te” — now considered a cult song of Italian pop music. They’ve been in the competition once before — in 2005 with the song “Ovunque andrò“.
LO STATO SOCIALE – “Una vita in vacanza”
Musically they sit comfortably between indie rock and electropop, and are considered a cornerstone of the Italian alternative music scene. They will jump into the mainstream scene with this debut. One of their most beloved songs is “Mi sono rotto il cazzo“, which contains outspoken lyrics.
LUCA BARBAROSSA – “Passame er sale”
A singer-songwriter, he tied his image to the city of Rome with his debut in Sanremo 1981 with “Roma spogliata“. He has returned to the Ariston Theatre several times, most recently in 2011 with “Fino in fondo” feat. El Sueño de Morfeo’s Raquel del Rosario. Barbarossa also represented Italy at Eurovision 1988 with “Ti scrivo (Vivo)“.
MARIO BIONDI – “Rivederti”
A real crooner with a soulful, warm voice, Mario Biondi came to the public’s attention when he was 33 with the international hit “This Is What You Are“, which was also nabbed a spot on the BBC Radio 1 playlist. He has published several albums — always singing in English. Five of them topped the FIMI Italian Albums Chart. This will be his first participation in Sanremo.
MAX GAZZE – “La leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno”
His unique and a bit over the top style has won this songwriter and bassist the recognition of both the public and critics. He can boast nearly thirty years of success and four participations in Sanremo: in 1999 with “Una musica può fare“, in 2000 with “Il timido ubriaco“, in 2008 with “Il solito sesso” and in 2013 with “Sotto casa“.
NINA ZILLI – “Senza appartenere”
This name will surely make many of you happy. Eurofans still remember her for reaching 9th place at Eurovision 2012 with “L’amore è femmina (Out of love)“, after taking part in Sanremo the same year with the big ballad “Per sempre“. This will be her fourth attempt, counting her debut in the Newcomer’s section in 2010 with “L’uomo che amava le donne” and “Sola” in 2015.
NOEMI – “Non smettere mai di cercarmi”
The lioness of Italian pop music, she roars with soul influences and has won many hearts since the second series of X Factor Italy. We’ve seen her on the Sanremo stage four times already: in 2010 with “Per tutta la vita“, in 2012 with “Sono solo parole“, in 2014 with “Bagnati dal sole” and in 2016 with “La borsa di una donna“.
ORNELLA VANONI, BUNGARO & PACIFICO – “Imparare ad amarsi”
Sanremo legend Ornella Vanoni — known for her sophisticated pop-jazz style — is the Italian songstress with the longest-running career, having constantly been in business since 1956. The many hits in her discography include “L’appuntamento“, “Una ragione di più“, and “La voglia, la pazzia“. In 2018 she’ll record her ninth appearance in the contest, taking the stage with two talented songwriters, Bungaro and Pacifico. They also participated in Sanremo, most recently in 2004 with “Guardastelle” and “Solo un sogno“.
RED CANZIAN – “Ognuno ha il suo racconto”
Lead vocalist and bassist of the band Pooh — one of the longest-running bands on the planet, which has sold over 100 million records and won Sanremo in 1990 with “Uomini soli” — Bruno “Red” Canzian will compete for the first time as a soloist.
RENZO RUBINO – “Custodire”
Renzo Rubino impressed the public when he entered the Newcomers’ category in 2013 with “Il postino (Amami uomo)” — a classic love ballad with openly gay lyrics, which won the Critics’ Prize. One year later he placed third in the Big section with “Ora“.
ROBY FACCHINETTI & RICCARDO FOGLI – “Il segreto del tempo”
Together with Red Canzian, they also have been members of the band Pooh — and successful solo artists. Riccardo won Sanremo 1982 with “Storie di tutti i giorni“, a worldwide Italian classic. He also represented Italy at Eurovision 1983 with “Per Lucia“, placing 11th. Roby took part in Sanremo in 2007 with his son Francesco, singing “Vivere normale“.
RON – “Almeno pensami”
In 1996 Rosalino Cellamare’s long career as a songwriter culminated with his Sanremo win with “Vorrei incontrarti fra cent’anni“, a duet with Tosca. Seven times for him at the Festival, the last one this year with “L’ottava meraviglia“.
THE KOLORS – “Frida”
This funk-rock trio took the gold medal in the fourteenth series of Amici di Maria De Filippi. Afterwards they sold more than 200,000 copies with their album “Out” — which included the hit single “Everytime“. It remained at the top of the FIMI Italian Albums Chart for twelve weeks.
Last May the pre-Eurovision favourite Francesco Gabbani managed to reach 6th place in the grand final with his earworm “Occidentali’s karma”. Do you think any of Sanremo 2018’s acts can finally give Italy their third victory? Who has you feeling the most optimistic? Let us know in the comments box below!