Straight after his designation as the Italian representative at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, Francesco Gabbani earned the love and respect of Eurofans all over the world. “Occidentali’s Karma” has already emerged as one of the songs to watch in Kiev. But the song many of you are hearing these days may be different from the one that will eventually appear at Eurovision.

First of all, the Italian entry needs to be cut down. The original version lasts 3 minutes and 37 seconds, which is, of course, 37 seconds longer than the EBU allows.

Then there is the problem of the lyrics. Its interesting mix of scientific and philosophical references might be lost on European viewers if the song stays entirely in Italian. Everyone is going crazy for the dancing ape next to Francesco on stage, but only those who understand Italian understand why he’s there.

And it’s now clear that the singer’s team is exploring ways to address this.

Luca Chiaravalli — author and producer of the song and the orchestra conductor at Sanremo — revealed the news to Soundsblog yesterday. He said:

“We will make some changes and insert some parts in English because the audience could not understand the meaning of the lyrics all the way. The ape put in that way might seem silly. Our goal is to make the meaning of the song understandable, even to those unfamiliar with our language”.

Fans petition for the lyrics to stay in Italian

As ever fans have had strong reactions, and a petition has already appeared on change.org.

In the meantime the song, which won Sanremo 2017, has surpassed 12 million views on YouTube and 1 million streams on Spotify, hitting #3 on Spotify’s Global Viral 50.

It also gained the attention of several international media including France’s Le Figaro.

Can you feel the hype?

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Would you like to hear a bilingual version of the song in Kiev or would you prefer it all in Italian?

Share your thoughts below!

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[…] Italien: Bidraget kan bli delvis på engelskaFrancesco Gabbani vann Sanremofestivalen och kommer därmed att få representera Italien i ESC 2017 med sitt bidrag “Occidentali’s Karma”. Francesco verkar dock vilja att budskapet ska förstås av alla och planerar att, förutom att korta ner bidraget till 3 minuter, översätta vissa meningar till engelska. (Källa: wiwibloggs.com) […]

AngieP
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AngieP

@Racal: I also believe they shouldn’t change the language and keep it entirely in italian. I don’t speak about the whole message. People need to understand the main idea.

@Purple Mask: I don’t say there must be a limit in general. It may be 3.30 or 3.40. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not fair if a country has more time than the other.

Pavlos
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Pavlos

SERHAT 2017

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

It is too early to say, but what if, in the end, Spain will have the best place out of big 5. I like Manel, I don’t mind.
Italy has too much going on and it can be a trap. My opinion, keep it in italian, some people don’t pay attention to english either, and bring 2 gorillas. ha ha ha, if it will be seen as a gimmick, let’s have a party.
Gabbani should look at 2 gorillas like that :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYkBmmOgzSg

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

About the time limit, I would like to answer two points: 1. AngieP: “All the songs should have the same time. I believe we agree on that.” – No, not entirely. I think it more accurate to state that songwriters (including myself) agree that there should be a guide mark of 3 minutes, but with latitude either way of, say, 40 seconds? The problem with having a firm “three-minute rule” in music is that it makes all of the songwriters measure the tempo of the song and then mathematically count the number of measures that can fit into the space… Read more »

Racal
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Racal

@AngieP: If they want people to understand the whole meaning of the song, they need to sing it entirely in English. Singing just one verse or one chorus in English is not enough, it will just sound gimmicky and won’t fit with the rest of the song. Seriously, who understood the meaning of Francesca Michielin’s song last year thanks to that one verse in English? And more importantly, who the hell cared? I do understand their intention, but I still think that they should keep it in Italian. There are other ways to convey the message, with the LED for… Read more »

AngieP
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AngieP

First of all, a general comment about the time limit. It doesn’t matter if the song is 3 min or 4 min, unless there is a limit. All the songs should have the same time. I believe we agree on that. Now, back to Italy. When I read the article, my first reaction was negative. I really love the song the way it is, it doesn’t need any change in the language. I fear it will hurt it. But, think about why they want to add English lyrics. They want people to understand why the ape is there. They don’t… Read more »

Olsi
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Olsi

@Charles Why is Eurovision Song Contest and EBU is investing in high technology to mystify the minds of people. And to take off the mind from the song. Why most of the countries use technology or ballet? Is this Eurovision Song Contest? So why not Italy to do the same when others spend so much money in high technology. What is problem here? If your time stopped in 1956 is your problem not of the others. Ask to France why they are using ballet as background? or other countries why they have guitar to play in their song. Eurovision has… Read more »

Marcus (Day One)
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Marcus (Day One)

This is the first time I’ve heard the song and I really don’t get the hype.

It sounds like any other Italian song.

It has a nice sound and should do well at eurovision.

But it was clearly written and made in Italian and should be kept that way. After reading the English translation the lyrics really aren’t that clever it has to be said.

It should be kept in 100% Italian.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Normally, I like the Italian entry in Italian, and didn’t like when Nina Zilli or Francesca or whoever adds in an English verse – however in this case, with all the recognizable phrases already there, I think a little more English lines wouldn’t seem out of place (in moderation) – so I vote yay, bring on a chorus “in inglese” – as long as it keeps its essential Italian vibe, I’m okay with it. I really want this song to do well.

Charles
Guest
Charles

@tt: If it’s so much fun to watch, let’s bring all the other zoo animals to enhance all the other participating entries … just to make the contest fair and the distractions equal for everybody. Cause … this is still a SONG contest … not my dog doing tricks with a bone to entertain me while a song is being played and I don’t give a damn about it. Let’s release all the black birds we can find during the Finland’s entry and fill in the Ukrainian arena with as many birds as we can find … what a joyful… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

@fikri: You talk as if YOU yourself even cared a bit for what the song is all about. Viewers don’t give a crap for what the song is about. The gorilla is there … the gorilla is entertaining you … that is what Eurovision has always been … a comedy music freak show … who’s to blame you should ask yourself? So no … not everyone is even concerned with explaining serious lyrics with a gorilla standing there making you dance like a goofball. Nobody gave explanations for the Russian grannies much less for the Ukrainian comedian german-counter-stage-jogger comedy act… Read more »

Charles
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Charles

@Marc: The 3 minutes rules could go … but who on earth would want a 7 hour contest with 40 something countries competing? It’s Eurovision …not a full night til dawn gay club … although … some have tried to turn into one somehow.

Charles
Guest
Charles

@Polegend Godgarina: Your wet dream passion for those Italian arrogant tenor-wannabes who are unable to sell records in Europe after the massive televote and youtube views is baffling to the say the least … But your approach to bilingual songs is not 100% correct … unless you hated Amir’s J’ai Cherché, which I am pretty sure you did because … you had to hate what’s good, there are some few examples of great bilingual songs done from scratch where both languages fit along well together complementing each other not damaging the tune both melodically and lyrically wise … Amir was… Read more »

Charles
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Charles

@merienda: Sin embargo, pides al cantante italiano “keep the song in Italian” en inglés después de decir las clásicas tonterías hispánicas de quién habla de Eurovisión como se hablara de su propia madre? A los hispánicos les enfada que se hable y se cante tanto en inglés … pero les dá igual que uno cante en castellano y que el resto del mundo no lo entienda. Que dios tenga mucha paciencia con las ganas hispánicas de vencer Eurovisión solo para que se realice un pride parade gigantesco en Madrid.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Having English lyrics is not what bothers me … that gorilla (the ONLY reason why everybody is even talking about this) is what is ruining everything for me … when you have the talent and the voice to carry out a strong credible song that speaks for itself (everybody here seems to be on board with the deep meaningful metaphorical lyrics) … everything else is complete bs that is distracting everybody from what really matters. But like old ladies backing cakes and singing everybody dance for no reason at the age of 80 or 90 something, Ukrainian comedian drag queen… Read more »

merienda
Guest
merienda

Después de la decepcionante y bochornosa elección de España, decidí que este año me volvería italiana para Eurovisión.
Por favor, no cambies el idioma de la canción, suena increible en italiano.
La canción va a gustar tal y cómo la cantas.
Keep your song in italian.

Racal
Guest
Racal

@Darren: It’s funny you’d mention France, Bulgaria and Ukraine, because these are totally different cases. These songs were BUILT to be bilingual, they were written that way right from the beginning. The “Youhouhou” in Amir’s song was an organic part of the chorus and supported the song’s tempo. The one Bulgarian sentence in “If love was a crime” was meant to be sung that way and brought dynamism to the song. In this case, what they want to do is add an English verse to a song that was originally written 100% in Italian (and very cleverly written on top… Read more »

Sophie
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Sophie

I’m usually all for keeping a song in the native language but in this case I do believe it would be better to add a few more English lyrics. Don’t do a full lyric makeover but just a few more. I’ve heard so much about people ‘feeling’ the lyrics which I unfortunately can not, but would LOVE to.

Darren
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Darren

While there is something quite cheap quite cheap about a 100% English translation, such as bad lyrics, made up words …I think many songs can benefit by going bilingual. Bilingual songs do a great job in both showcasing that specific country while also appealing to a broader audience. Bilingual songs have worked in the past such as France, Bulgaria and Ukraine 2016 …although to a lesser extent with Ukraine, as they probably would have won anyway..for other reasons. Personally I love Italy’s entry anyway, but I have a knowledge of Italian so I quite get the references anyway, so I… Read more »

Rock Me
Guest
Rock Me

NO, KEEP IT IN ITALIAN

AzeriBoy96
Guest
AzeriBoy96

Well, I don’t even like Italian version. I never liked novelty acts like this. They should have chosen Fiorella or someone else imho. :/

Peter
Guest
Peter

IL VOLO won the public vote with everything in Italian, and it’s just going to sound odd if he sings more in english! Keep the song as it isss!!! NO MORE ENGLISH!!!

Peter
Guest
Peter

NOOOOO!!!! No more ENGLISH!!! “Singing in the rain” is good enough!! The song is good as it is with most of it in ITALIAN!!!!!!! For god’s sake, keep it as it is!!!

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

One last thing: the religious question. I don’t know if this has been clarified or not, but here is what I understand so far… As long as the song is not a.) directly preaching a religious teaching or b.) mocking religion, then it should be fine to reference a religious concept or two in the song. “Karma” is both religious AND philosophical, as is “the Buddha,” which the song also directly states. However, is the performance of this song (with the gorilla) going to be deemed as too risky to category B? I think there’s a danger that with the… Read more »

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Typo: anazing = amazing.
(Why does technology invent new words?)

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Oh yeah, thanks to those who have talked about the timing issue. Personally I have always disliked the strictness of the “three-minute rule” at Eurovision, and here we have a prime example of why I dislike the rule so much. I would rather it was a rule with some intelligent latitude per song, to be honest. For this song, one verse will probably have to be sacrificed, and that’s sad. I find Tomas Patrick Davitt’s comment to be accurate; what made me laugh is that one of Malta’s songs is called “Seconds Away,” which takes on a whole new meaning… Read more »

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

Unneeded. Il Volo won the televote with an 80 points’ lead over the 2nd (Polina) with a song all in Italian. This song absolutely doesn’t need English lyrics, they would cheapen it, and it’s not like most people would get the message anyway. Bilingual songs are usually a mess 🙁

SpanishGuy
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SpanishGuy

Please keep it in Italian 🙁

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

The worst case scenario :
Remember France 2014 – Twin Twin – Moustache ?
It finished last, and nobody understood the lyrics that were super deep, about modern lifestyle.

Nitzan
Guest
Nitzan

I totally get him, unlike songs like Grande Amore this song’s message is sophisticated and not understanding the lyrics subtracts from the experience. I only hope that he has good English because if he sounds bad it can hurt his chances, not improve them.

Tomas Patrick Davitt
Guest
Tomas Patrick Davitt

I listened to the song today while watching the song timing – I have no idea how they are going to reduce this down to 3 minutes.
What a testament to how awesome this song is that I cannot find 5 seconds, let alone 37 seconds, that Id be willing to cut!

I cant say the same for the Maltese NF songs – I’d happily cut 2 mins 30 seconds out of all of those songs!

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

The true test of a good song is when it can be sung in any language (i.e. multiple languages) and still sound good. Nicole’s song for Germany in 1982 was the best example of this; another is “Molitva” (Serbia 2007) and so is Birgit’s “Et Uus Saaks Alguse” (Estonia 2013) that astonishingly has also been recorded in many other languages including Spanish and English and still sounds good in all of them!! (Estonian is the still the best version though. :p)

Racal
Guest
Racal

@Pollaski: These numbers are total bs. In a song contest, the main criteria is the song itself (and the performance), not the language. The reason the songs you’re referring to didn’t qualify is because they were not good, not because they were sung half in English.

Pavlos
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Pavlos

San Marino 2016

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[…] Italy: Francesco Gabbani may add English lyrics to “Occidentali’s Karma” for Eurovision – Straight after his designation as the Italian representative at the … […]

John Egan
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John Egan

Il Volo roared to a televote victory entirely in Italian. This is a much better entry.

Racal
Guest
Racal

Stop butchering your songs with English lyrics, oh please stop it…

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

I’ve suggested to highlight the ‘Evolution Scale’ on the screen behind Gabbani. Sadly, translation of the words will not help too much because some people, even if they hear in english “the naked monkey dances” they will still think is a gimmick. It will be hard to make everybody understand that many books are the inspiration for these lyrics. Just let it in italian.

Candy
Guest
Candy

Celebrating diversity with 20+ songs in English?
Occidentalis Karma is perfect the way it is. The lyrics are complex and people who aren’t familiar with the references he makes wouldn’t even understand what the song is about if it were sung in English.

Möhrant
Guest
Möhrant

Regardless of the language, I think a dancing ape on stage will be considered crazy Eurovision. As long as it’s done well, added English lyrics shouldn’t hurt the song though.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Not everyone is familiar with the concept of man as “the naked ape” or Morris’ book (which is really good and I recommend it). So if the lyrics can just share a bit more information, it’s going to help the performance, not hurt it.

The worst reaction would be “Lol, what’s that funny gorilla dancer got to do with anything? Eurovision is so cray-cray!” But as others have said, other aspects of the staging could be used to clarify the message of the lyrics.

Mil
Guest
Mil

I think adding English is a good move, but it should be done in a clever manner, not just throwing in a couple of lines in English.
“Jamala won last year by starting in poorly-enunciated English” – Jamala’s grabbed everyone’s attention by saying in the very third line: “They kill you all…”

DR
Guest
DR

@Marc

I agree songs should be longer. But when every song is adding length it lengthens the song very quickly. If just 30 seconds per song the the final will grow by 13 min. I don’t mind but others will.

DR
Guest
DR

I thinks it’s a good thing, cos it will make casual viewers understand the gorilla. No one will be reading a translation on the night.

Marc
Guest
Marc

The 3 minutes rule needs to go. It goes against art and creativity. It’s just terrible.

Occidentali’s Karma is perfect as it is right now
It’s having a massive sucess in Italy and internationally. I underatand the fear about the Gorilla thing not being understood, but televoting don’t care about lyrics and they will think it’s a cool act overall with such a catchy tune and a charismatic singer.

Italy doesn’t have any close competion so far, so be honest with the song and Europe will love it.

Pollaski
Guest
Pollaski

Adding English is good. The numbers back it up. Since 2010, 53 songs have had no English whatsoever 29 have failed to qualify (55%) 6 finished below 20th (11%) 5 made the top 10 (9%) 2 made the top 5 (4%) Since 2010, 16 songs have been primarily non-English, but contained some English lyrics 4 failed to qualify (25%) 3 finished below 20th (19%) 5 made the top 10 (31%) 2 made the top 5 (13%) In short, despite accounting for a little less than a third of completely non English entries, songs with some English have had the exact… Read more »

craig
Guest
craig

I’ve only just gotten around to watching the live version from San Remo. Sure, it needs 30 odd seconds culled and he needs to make more eye contact with the cameras, but other than that, it’s a pretty great Eurovision entry as it is I’d have though. The vocal is great, the staging great.. there’s a gorilla…….

Eurovision Fan NZ
Guest

I might not understand Italian language but I think the song might loss its power if some of the lyrics are changed to English. I looked up the translation of the song a few days ago so I know what the ape means. On the other hand, the lyric change might increase Italy’s chances in Eurovision. 50/50 chance in my opinion.

ESCFan
Guest
ESCFan

I was sceptical on first listen as I can understand the lyrics but now I can say I love it <3