Perché Sanremo è Sanremo! With less than three weeks until the Sanremo Music Festival, juicy new details are coming thick and fast out of Italy.
On January 18 — during a closed-door, invitation-only meeting held at RAI television studios in Milan — journalists and bloggers from the most important newspapers and music websites had the chance to preview the songs competing in the long-lasting Italian festival and to write down their opinions. Without a doubt, these have been the most read articles in the country over the last few days!
It has been an annual tradition for twenty years, and a celebrated first taste of what we might expect from the entries. As you already know, we won’t be able to hear the songs until the first performance on the stage, as required by sanremese rules and regulations.
We are going to report the general feelings of the press and with our big thanks to the Italian Eurovision source Eurofestival News for sharing it with us.
Moreover, it has been announced who will join Claudio Baglioni on stage as co-host for the five-night spectacle. This year the honour goes to Swiss-Dutch naturalized Italian television hostess and model Michelle Hunziker and Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino.
A SNEAK PEEK OF SANREMO 2018
ANNALISA – “IL MONDO PRIMA DI TE”
The beautiful singer — one of the most desirous and always ready to tread the stage of Eurovision — comes out of this very well. Her voice and interpretation convince the experts. Overall the evaluations are quite positive. It seems we’ll hear a ballad, which once again presents the singer with melodic sounds and contemporary electronic arrangements. There’s a piano, but also the drums.
Paolo Giordano — journalist at Il Giornale and an Italian juror at Eurovision 2013 — talks about “the best Annalisa ever” on the Sanremo stage. The comparison is with the three previous editions (2013, 2015, 2016) she took part in.
We also get to know some of the lyrics: “Siamo fiori, siamo due radici che si dividono per ricominciare a crescere / Un giorno capiremo chi siamo, in una casa senza le pareti, da costruire nel tempo” (We’re flowers, we’re two roots that divide to start growing again / One day we’ll understand who we are, in a house without walls, to be built over time).
DECIBEL – “LETTERA DAL DUCA”
The Duke (Il Duca) mentioned in the title is David Bowie, one of the guiding lights for this historic punk-rock band. Decibel’s song is structured like an imaginary letter that the “Thin White Duke” writes to humanity from the afterlife.
“Io non capisco più certe meschinità, le misere mediocrità / Io vivo in un’altra dimensione” (I no longer understand certain meanness, miserable mediocrities / I live in another dimension).
One or two stanzas appear to be in English. If so, this would return the language to the competition after 34 years of absence (a couple of recent songs quoted one or two English words, anyway, in the title or in the chorus).
Generally, the reviews are not bad. But there are those who recognize in this piece the style of the band’s leader, the well-known Enrico Ruggeri — who has a very respectable solo career — more than the band’s original and distinctive genre.
DIODATO & ROY PACI – “ADESSO”
Journalists appear divided on this one. It’s apparently far from the Sanremese melody, and for many critics its inclusion remains confusing. It starts whispered, then the rhythm becomes pressing. Roy Paci, the trumpeter, comes just at the end with his contribution.
The lyrics are a dialogue about enjoying the moment, with a critique on the limits of technology.
Many reviews quote this phrase: “Dici che torneremo a guardare il cielo, alzeremo la testa dai cellulari” (You say we’ll look at the sky again, we’ll raise our heads from cell phone screens).
ELIO E LE STORIE TESE – “ARRIVEDORCI”
The comedy band’s entry is probably the major disappointment. It has been announced that their participation will correspond with their withdrawal from the scene, after 38 years of career. For this reason everyone was expecting a bombastic song to say goodbye to their fans.
But unfortunately it’s not among their best. An ironic and surreal self-congratulation reminiscent of the Beatles‘ sound. They sing: “Una carriera artistica dolcemente stitica, ma elogiata dalla critica” (A sweetly constipated artistic career, but praised by critics).
ENZO AVITABILE & PEPPE SERVILLO – “IL CORAGGIO DI OGNI GIORNO”
They do what everyone was expecting from them: world music in Neapolitan sauce. The lyrics are strongly centered on the city of Naples and its challenges: “Così lontano e vicino al mondo, al suo coraggio, il coraggio di ogni giorno” (So far and close to the world, to its courage, the courage of every day”.
Overall, the critics reward the undoubted class of this couple, but some of them remain doubtful about how much this experiment will work on the Sanremo stage.
ERMAL META & FABRIZIO MORO – “NON MI AVETE FATTO NIENTE”
This entry will spark a lot of conversation. The duo — considered the big favourite to win — sing of terrorism and how to react, citing many bloody attacks that have hit the world recently (in Egypt, Barcelona, Paris, London, Nice and so on).
The catchy and rhythmic neo-folk melody is the antithesis of its strong lyrics: “Tutto va oltre le vostre inutili guerre / Non mi avete fatto niente, questa è la mia vita che va avanti” (Everything goes beyond your useless wars / You never did anything to me, this is my life that goes on).
GIOVANNI CACCAMO – “ETERNO”
The song is built, according to what we read, almost exclusively on Giovanni’s voice and his emphatic interpretation. Journalists are not crazy about this entry, which they consider very traditional…and maybe too much so.
Piano, hints of pinched strings, a long instrumental intro and predictable lyrics: “Soltanto gli occhi tuoi, per sempre gli occhi tuoi” (Only your eyes, forever your eyes).
LE VIBRAZIONI – “COSÌ SBAGLIATO”
Rhythm and vitality. The four-piece band will stage their reunion on the grand Sanremo stage with a track not that different from those that made them famous. Pure pop rock.
“Tienimi stretto al buio e dimmi che mi vuoi bene anche così, così sbagliato” (Hold me tight in the dark and tell me that you love me even so, so wrong).
LO STATO SOCIALE – “UNA VITA IN VACANZA”
They represent the successful Italian alternative music scene. Their entry is described as the only lively and the most radio friendly song of this year’s kermesse. Owing to this, almost everyone appreciated it.
A post-indie melody with strings à la Coldplay and a refrain that immediately sticks with you: “Una vita in vacanza, una vecchia che balla, niente nuovo che avanza ma tutta la band che suona e che canta per un mondo diverso” (A life on holiday, an old woman dancing, nothing new that advances but the whole band that plays and sings for a different world).
Andrea Laffranchi of Il Corriere della Sera — who also served as Italian juror at Eurovision 2014 — nominates Lo Stato Sociale as the ideal candidate for the Eurovision 2018.
LUCA BARBAROSSA – “PASSAME ER SALE”
A love story completely sung in Romanesco — a variety of regional Italian spoken in Rome, especially in the core of the city. It’s a first in all of Sanremo history.
The music recalls a slow waltz, but also the typical “stornello” — a kind of nursery rhyme very popular in the Central and South Italian tradition. Barbarossa’s courage is praised, but the judgments on the song are not entirely positive.
“Passame er sale, er sale fa male / Passame er tempo, er tempo non c’è / Passame armeno i momenti che ho vissuto con te” (Pass me the salt, the salt hurts / Pass me the time, there’s no time / Pass me at least the moments I shared with you).
MARIO BIONDI – “RIVEDERTI”
He’s a crooner and some dare comparisons with Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. A particular piece of music, with a 20-second intro of piano, lures us into a nightclub-like atmosphere, intimate and refined.
Critics seem less enthusiastic about this soft song with retro tones and nostalgic words. Maybe too elegant and niche. Some think he will go unnoticed.
We must consider that according to the bookmakers he is (was?) one of the favorites for first place.
MAX GAZZE – “LA LEGGENDA DI CRISTALDA E PIZZOMUNNO”
In the last five years Gazzè released several pop earworms which conquered the charts in Italy. He returns to Sanremo with a slow opera track. A classic but recognizable piano ballad that emphasizes the orchestra with powerful strings arrangements.
The lyrics are described as a tale told by a bard: “Ma io ti aspetterò, io ti aspetterò, foss’anche per cent’anni aspetterò, fosse anche per cent’anni / Io ti resterò per la vita fedele” (But I will wait for you, I will wait for you, even for a hundred years I will wait, even for a hundred years / I will remain for a lifetime faithful to you).
NINA ZILLI – “SENZA APPARTENERE”
Sadly, Nina has received a lot of negative critiques. This because she proposes herself in a slightly different — and not convincing — way compared to her past.
The focus is more on the lyrics. Basically, it’s a feminist song, of a woman who changes and still looks for her happiness. There’s also a reference to violence against women, a topic frequently debated in the public sphere in recent months.
“Donna che ha paura, donna che ha trovato il vento sulla faccia, il mare in una goccia / Non li chiamo più lividi, sono colori e ci gioco” (A woman who is afraid, a woman who has found the wind on her face, the sea in a drop / I do not call them bruises anymore, they’re colors and I play with them).
NOEMI – “NON SMETTERE MAI DI CERCARMI”
Dissenting opinions. There are those who find it weak and those who consider it powerful, “bewitching like a hug”, and see it on the top 3. Generally, however, this entry doesn’t seem detached from her discography.
Therefore, it should be clear what to expect: a passionate ballad sung at the top of her lungs.
“Non smettere mai di cercarmi dentro ogni cosa che vivi” (Never stop looking for me in everything you live).
ORNELLA VANONI, BUNGARO & PACIFICO – “IMPARARE AD AMARSI”
Ornella is a living legend — she’s the Italian songstress with the longest-running career. Perhaps also for this reason the judgments are positive and respectful.
A melodic, melodious, elegant track. “A beautiful Italian song, a lesson for life” writes Andrea Conti for RTL 102.5.
“Bisogna imparare ad amarsi in questa vita, bisogna imparare a lasciarsi quando è finita” (We must learn to love each other in this life, we must learn to leave when it’s over).
RED CANZIAN – “OGNUNO HA IL SUO RACCONTO”
Surprisingly, a true energetic rock song from the 67-year-old songwriter and bassist, former member of the band Pooh — one of the longest-running bands on the planet.
A hymn to the uniqueness of the human journey: “Ogni uomo ha un suo preciso istinto, un suo esclusivo canto / Ma non c’è mai una storia uguale a un’altra, ognuno ha il suo racconto” (Every man has his own istinct, his exclusive chant / But there is never a story that is the same as another, everyone has their story).
RENZO RUBINO – “CUSTODIRE”
After two placements in the top 3 and one Critics’ Prize gained at Sanremo in 2013 and 2014, journalists were expecting much more from this artist.
It’s not a predictable track but it doesn’t reach his common levels of originality. Probably it needs more than one listening to be appreciated.
“Puoi custodire l’affetto nell’insolenza / Non fare così, abbracciami dai, arrabbiati poi” (You can shield the affection into insolence / Don’t act like that, hug me, come on, get angry later”).
ROBY FACCHINETTI & RICCARDO FOGLI – “IL SEGRETO DEL TEMPO”
These two are also former members of the band Pooh. And the problem with their song is that — apparently — it could have been sung by Pooh themselves… in the 80’s.
An entry without surprises and a refrain that does not get stuck in your head. Rejected.
“Io ti ho visto impazzire d’amore, ubriacarti di felicità” (I have seen you going crazy with love and get drunk with happiness).
RON – “ALMENO PENSAMI”
There’s the victory — or more likely the Critics’ Prize — in the future of Ron. The ginger songwriter failed to make the final in Sanremo 2017, but this year he seems destined to move and win many hearts with this unreleased song penned by the late Lucio Dalla.
And only Ron, who worked a lot with the Italian genius, could probably sing it with the same intensity as his mentor. Every single review promoted him, several journalists cried. There is little else to say.
“Ah, fossi un piccione che dai tetti vola giù fino al suo cuore” (Ah, if I were a pigeon flying from the roofs down to her heart).
THE KOLORS – “FRIDA”
You may remember them for their participation in Wiwivision 2015. At Sanremo it will be their first time singing in Italian. The common feeling is that they have failed the challenge.
A track that would be very radio friendly but built almost entirely on the refrain and on the word “Mai” (Never), obsessively repeated in the chorus. Frida is the painter Frida Kahlo, known for her self-portraits.
“L’amore non è che una sfida, sarà la nostra regola come per Frida” (Love is only a challenge, it will be our rule as for Frida).
What do you think of the Sanremo 2018 lineup? Can one of these artists give Italy its third victory? Share your thoughts below!