He started as a complete outsider but emerged triumphant in Sanremo 2019 with a surprising trap influenced R’n’B song filled with sounds from the Middle East.

Yes, 27 year-old Mahmood, with the contemporary “Soldi”, managed to overturn all the predictions of the night, coming out victorious in a fierce edition of the Italian kermesse. He did it with an autobiographical song, written by himself, together with Dario “Dardust” Faini and Charlie Charles. It was, no doubt, born of suffering.

Alessandro has become a symbol of cultural integration. His song speaks about it from a personal point of view.

“I was born in Milan from an Egyptian father and Sardinian mother, but I grew up with her. I have a reference of a father figure, but it is not very clear. My life has always been this way, looking for a way to fill a gap,” he told Vanity Fair.

His father — who today has four marriages behind him, and children scattered around the world — disappeared when Mahmood was 6 years old (“You leave the city without anybody knowing, yesterday you were here, where are you now, dad?“). Yet he gave him precise references during his childhood, which Mahmood has turned into lyrics and music today.

Ramadan, shisha, and that verse in Arabic — “Waladi waladi habibi ta’aleena (my son, my son, darling, come over here)” — these are a first in Sanremo and the first for Italy at the Eurovision.

“I do not speak Arabic, but there are sentences that I remember, which are part of my childhood,” he tells FanPage. “It’s a perfect memory. Singing those sentences reminds me of a specific scene, at a certain moment of my life”.

A troubled life that becomes an example in which many can identify, analyzed in a rough and lucid way, with a touch of emotion involving despair (“It hurts to be alive, when you lose your pride“).

“My song is a personal outburst to make people understand that, after having been children, a critical sense develops in us towards parents, life, the way we see things. ‘Soldi’ tells a story “.

But the word “money”, let’s be clear, does not just refer to cash: “It does not speak about money on a material level, it talks about how money can change relationships within a family”.

“Soldi” lyrics – Mahmood (Italy, Eurovision 2019)

“Soldi”

In periferia fa molto caldo
Mamma stai tranquilla sto arrivando
Te la prenderai per un bugiardo
Ti sembrava amore ma era altro

Beve champagne sotto Ramadan
Alla tv danno Jackie Chan
Fuma narghilè mi chiede come va

Mi chiede come va, come va, come va
Sai già come va, come va, come va

Penso più veloce per capire
Se domani tu mi fregherai
Non ho tempo per chiarire
Perché solo ora so cosa sei

È difficile stare al mondo
Quando perdi l’orgoglio
Lasci casa in un giorno
Tu dimmi se

Pensavi solo ai soldi, soldi
Come se avessi avuto soldi, soldi
Dimmi se ti manco o te ne fotti, fotti

Mi chiedevi come va, come va, come va
Adesso come va, come va, come va

Ciò che devi dire non l’hai detto
Tradire è una pallottola nel petto

Prendi tutta la tua carità
Menti a casa ma lo sai che lo sa
Su una sedia lei mi chiederà

Mi chiede come va, come va, come va
Sai già come va, come va, come va

Penso più veloce per capire se domani tu mi fregherai
Non ho tempo per chiarire perché solo ora so cosa sei

È difficile stare al mondo
Quando perdi l’orgoglio
Ho capito in un secondo
Che tu da me

Volevi solo soldi, soldi
Come se avessi avuto soldi, soldi
Prima mi parlavi fino a tardi, tardi

Mi chiedevi come va, come va, come va
Adesso come va, come va, come va

Waladi waladi habibi ta’aleena
Mi dicevi giocando, giocando con aria fiera
Waladi waladi habibi sembrava vera
La voglia, la voglia di tornare come prima

Io da te non ho voluto soldi

È difficile stare al mondo
Quando perdi l’orgoglio
Lasci casa in un giorno
Tu dimmi se

Volevi solo soldi, soldi
Come se avessi avuto soldi, soldi

Lasci la città ma nessuno lo sa
Ieri eri qua, ora dove sei papà?

Mi chiedi come va, come va, come va
Sai già come va, come va, come va

English translation

It’s really hot down in the suburbs
Mum don’t worry I’m on my way home
You will be upset by a liar
It looked like love to you, it was something else

He’s drinking champagne during Ramadan
On tv they are airing Jackie Chan
He’s smoking shisha and asks me how I’m doing

He asks me how I’m doing, doing, doing
You already know how things are going, going, going

I think faster to try to figure out
If you’re going to fool me tomorrow
I have no time to clear things up
‘Cause I finally found out what you are

It hurts to be alive
When you lose your pride
You leave home out of the blue
You, tell me if

You only cared for the money, money
As if you had any money, money
Tell me whether you miss me or you don’t give a damn

You used to ask me how I was doing, doing, doing
Now how are things going, going, going

What you’re supposed to say you haven’t said yet
Betrayal is a bullet in your chest

Keep all the compassion to yourself
You keep lyin’ at home but you know she knows
Sittin’ there she’ll be asking me

Asking me how I’m doing, doing, doing
You already know how things are going, going, going

I think faster to try to figure out
If you’re going to fool me tomorrow
I have no time to clear things up
‘Cause I finally found out what you are

It hurts to be alive
When you lose your pride
I figured it out in one second
That you, from me

You only wanted money, money
As if I had any money, money
Before you would talk to me till late

You used to ask me how I’m doing, doing, doing
Now how are things going, going, going

My son, my son, darling, come over here
You used to tell me while playing with me looking proud
My son, my son, darling, it seemed real
the desire, the desire to bring things back to what they were

I didn’t ask for your money

It hurts to be alive
When you lose your pride
You leave home out of the blue
You, tell me if

You only wanted money, money
As if I had any money, money

You leave the city without anybody knowing
Yesterday you were here, where are you now, dad?

You ask me how I’m doing, doing, doing
You already know how things are going, going, going

 

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edwqard
Guest

good jiob

edwqard
Guest

good job

Paul
Guest
Paul

nice one

Mahmood Jaha ex Cancelliere dell'Arca
Guest
Mahmood Jaha ex Cancelliere dell'Arca

nice job

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[…] Joci Papai is reminding us once again, how important family is to us all. Mahmood gives us an insight on what it’s like to grow up without a father figure. Oto Nemsadze has a message for the […]

Yanancy Valverde
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Yanancy Valverde

Reading the lyrics, I like it even more!

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[…] ?????? ????? ?? ???? ????? ???????? ??? ?? ??? ????? Wiwibloggs […]

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Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

Mahmood has eros ramazzotti vibes in his voice LOVE THAT Alone from him, the soldi soldi bit is too monotone for me but the rest is fab

i can see myself voting for italy again in final maybe

steven
Guest
steven

Gagnant de l eurovison 2019 !!!!!!!Sure

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

I have to admit…. At first i didn’t like the song at all, but now that i have listened to it a few times it has grown on me. I actually like the song and it has become my favorite of 2019 so far.
I hope Italy does a better staging than usual and his live vocals improve from Sanremo.

Andrea Prunecchi
Guest
Andrea Prunecchi

Just to be precise, it’s the first time for a verse in Arabic in a Sanremo winner and in an Eurovision entry.
It’s the third time that a Sanremo entry has a verse in Arabic. (before Mahmood 2019 we’ve had Peppino di Capri 2001, Eugenio Bennato 2008).

Ferry
Guest
Ferry

The first Arabic in Eurovision was Morocco 1980.

Yuinis
Guest
Yuinis

not the first time in eurovision history, Samira Saed moroccan singer had a song in ESC 1980 totally in arabic

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

wow I was taken off guard with this quite unconventional song and now lyrics are setting fire up high. Cool

Jaceobat
Guest
Jaceobat

Does anyone know what Matteo Salvini is saying in this interview on RAI about Mahmood? https://youtu.be/rthWwLShBUo

Arakkun
Guest
Arakkun

tldr; He didn’t like the song. Salvini is one of the many clowns in Italy long ver: -bullshit about NGO committing some infraction ( to be readed: it shouldn’t sail ) (1) -I don’t like his song. After that he says Bullshit about the expert jury (called “8 radical chics”) and the journalist jury choosing to vote Mamhood ( they do NOT know the votes of people in advance ) to try and demonstrate that vote there should be decided just by people.(2) (1) Salvini violated electoral silence laws, human rights and such just for a few more votes (2)… Read more »

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

Salvini is an idiot and a racist. You shouldn’t care much about his opinion…

Weißbrot
Guest
Weißbrot

Mahmood confirmed, guys. Yaaaaas, time to celebrate!

Loin dici
Guest

Yes! 😀

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

That’s a relief. 🙂

Oli
Guest
Oli

We confirmed! Yassss

Julian
Guest
Julian

The song is very well written. Has a very strong Middle East vibe, only 3 minutes but it was like hearing the rhythm of the muezzin call. And the story adds to that, you can feel the passion, the anger of Mahmood. I think it will do well in ESC. Top 10 for sure.

Ffs
Guest
Ffs

If he hates his father why does he use his surname ? I’d change it . Anyway, the song is good and will do well

Frisian esc
Guest
Frisian esc

Well it takes a lot of time and money to change a surname.

Kris P. Kreme
Guest
Kris P. Kreme

I hated my father too, but I kept his surname out of respect for the fact that without the lowlife, I wouldn’t be here and it’s a good reminder not to become like him. Maybe Alessandro feels the similar way.

L'oiseau
Guest
L'oiseau

A super strong narrative, which is an important factor for winning. I think I am going to start betting money on Italy this year… 😉 If he goes to Eurovision, of course… If not, I will be heartbroken…

de to
Guest
de to

Has he decided if he goes to ESC? He must go to Tel Aviv. When deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini says he doesn’t like your song, must be a lot of pressure on Mahmood right now. He must say YES.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Early this morning he said that he will make the decision very very soon (today or tomorrow).

michela
Guest

Yes, It’s confirmed! He will go to Tel Aviv for Eurovision Song Contest!!!

de to
Guest
de to

If you don’t like your father, why use his name? The actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers hates his father and he uses his mother’s name Meyers.

James
Guest
James

So he could take control of his destiny. Let him define his surname, not the other way around.

de to
Guest
de to

Is not the surname of the parent he likes. It can bring bad energy vibes.

James
Guest
James

Hence replacing the -u in “Mahmoud” and changing it into “Mahmood” as his professional name.

Currikitaum
Guest

I mean…is this for real? Let him do whatever he wants with his surname, who are we to question his personal decisions? xdddd

de to
Guest
de to

It sounds good in theory, but it brings bad energy. Is real, this is why people that change their religion, must have a new name too.

James
Guest
James

Islam and many of Christianity’s major denominations don’t encourage converts to adopt a new surname to reflect their newly found faith, especially depending the nomenclature conventions by different cultures. Only their first names are what religious leaders encourage to have it change upon conversion.

Shanfa Chai
Guest
Shanfa Chai

This is actually the first Italian entry that I genuinely like.

La Signora
Guest
La Signora

Same for me, as Italian

Kris P. Kreme
Guest
Kris P. Kreme

Fingers crossed he stays in the competition. 🙂

Chingiz Khan
Guest
Chingiz Khan

People are upset because of his stage name? And people like Mahmood don’t always have to hate their fathers for leaving them and their mothers. There is still a room for hope for the likes of these people if given a chance and they can’t always stay negative about their experiences.

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

Thank you for the article, Cristian! Many people don’t pay much attention to the lyrics of the songs, which is a pity. I’m glad to notice that every year we are getting more entries like this one in Eurovision. Being able to express your feelings and tell your own story through music is a rare gift. In Mahmood’s case, I guess there are many people around the world that are going or went through similar situations. It’s always good to assure them that they’re not alone. So… what I was calling rap, it actually trap? Lesson learned.

Fast Food Music Lover
Guest
Fast Food Music Lover

Such a beautiful song. I think everyone can relate to the abandonment theme that his song is all about.

Paul
Guest
Paul

I don´t….and I´ve never met my father.

Joe-Anna
Guest
Joe-Anna

Well it’s hard to feel abandoned by someone you have never met or had the chance to love. If you had known him you might have felt different once he left.

Azuro
Guest
Azuro

If you want to be part of Italy why not use your actual name which happens to be Italian, rather than the surname of the man you feel betrayed you?

This is a fake story. He is a fraud.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

He’s not your toy!!

Azuro
Guest
Azuro

Guess that makes you the stupid boy? 😛

Lourdes
Guest
Lourdes

His last name is Mahmoud with u. He said he uses Mahmood, bcs except for being close to his real name, it sounds like ” My Mood” and he thought it was cool. I think it’s cool too 🙂

Fast Food Music Lover
Guest
Fast Food Music Lover

Is that really why? I was having fun making puns using his name but now I don’t feel as witty anymore. 🙁

Lourdes
Guest
Lourdes

Yes, that’s what he said in an interview 🙂

Nadors
Guest
Nadors

He doesn’t have to do anything to be part of Italy. Whether you like him or not, good or bad, he is part of Italy.
And btw the surname of the man who betrayed him is like with any one of us the surname of his father and his own.

John
Guest

I guarantee that even if he was using a different name, people like you would find a different reason to try to ‘disprove’ his Italian nationality. Jog on.

Vit
Guest
Vit

he wrote three songs about his father… I don’t think it’s a fake story.

Marc
Guest
Marc

Btw Mahmood and Soldi are cuerrently
charting on Itunes in:
– Italy
– Malta
– Switzerland
– Luxembourg
– Finland
– Belgium
– Ireland
– Spain
– France
– Netherlands
– Germany
– Norway
– Austria
#GoingGlobal

Loin dici
Guest

…wow. Never though it would resonate to Finland too.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Good thing is that Mahmood won’t be the solo pre-contest favourite. Tamta and Lazarev will be overhyped as hell, so others will have the opportunity to prosper.

Tasha
Guest
Tasha

Mahmood gave few interviews today for Italian tv, has anybody watched it?
my Italian is not very good, maybe someone can explain what he is saying? i only understood the part where he is talking about his mom’ reaction on his winning and relationship with the father, then he was talking about Eurovision i guees , but i didn’t get is he go or not…
here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHymRLUAXNg&t=15s

La Signora
Guest
La Signora

Mahmood basically said that he wrote this song the last year but it was a little messy so he fixed it with the producers. Then the host asked him what he thinks about the controversies about Sanremo, he said that when you are young it’s quite simple to be wrong, beacause of tiredness and stress (talking about Ultimo who spoke bad about him). He didn’t expect his win, that’s great and unbelievable. His mother is super happy and his home is full of prizes (before the main event he also won Sanremo Giovani with Einar). The father is far away… Read more »

Tel Aviv 2020
Guest
Tel Aviv 2020

I think the fact that people in Italy are upset an Arab won just rubs salt to the wound considering he hasn’t really been in touch with that part of his heritage. Mahmood grew up Italian, is Italian by blood, and calls Italy home. Regardless of his background, why must people look at the differences amongst us?! One simple listen to his lyrics and you instantly realize this is a man feeling betrayed, lost, and in desperate need for someone to tell him that he fits in regardless of his familial history, his ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, or whatever… Read more »

MikolasFan
Guest
MikolasFan

beautifully said!
I sincerely hope we will see Alessandro in Tel Aviv and people there show him love and support:)

Kyna
Guest
Kyna

I relate to this more than songs about how great their father is/was.
Mahmood you have my respect and support.

Fun or ban?
Guest
Fun or ban?

Hmm maybe

Weißbrot
Guest
Weißbrot

YES! A great, modern, catchy song, that is different from all the rest… sung by a passionate artist, who will perform it perfectly and who actually has a deep connection to the song. The lyrics are meaningful, it’s not just a commercial product… Guys, everything fits, what more would I want in a Eurovision winner? I’ve already found my number one.

Weißbrot
Guest
Weißbrot

Nah, can’t do it. Gotta stay loyal to my man Mahmood. 😛 Jokes aside, I’m worried too, that there will be too many good songs in the end. The Netherlands might take my first place, Duncan is amazing.

Fabrizio
Guest
Fabrizio

One more time, one of Italy’s biggest challenge is showing the meaning of the lyrics, what made Gabbani look like a mad man dancing with a gorilla.

vangelis vt
Guest
vangelis vt

So his father disappeared and he is mad at him but as an artist he uses only the surname belonging to his father without even his first name (Alessandro)? I think he is merely selling a sod story.

Ohi
Guest
Ohi

I mean Augusten Burroughs the author says you should take the bad things that happen to you and turn them into something beautiful. He might be doing that here

Female Seroja
Guest
Female Seroja

it seemed real
the desire, the desire to bring things back to what they were

I don’t think he really mad to his father.. he just feel so sorry for everything happened to them.. therefore he created this song..

justafan
Guest
justafan

I don’t know if anyone’s going to read this, but “fiera” means “proud”, it has nothing to do with the English word “fierce”, so “while playing with me looking proud” kind of. Translating it with “fiercely” really changes the meaning of his words there.

Uyo
Guest
Uyo

I’ve never liked Italy’s entry.(Yeah, even II Volo) But I looooove the studio version of this song. It’s on repeat now. The live version is okay, though.

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

This song is awful and overhyped. Where’s the melody, the catchiness? If “Occidentali’s Karma” didn’t win, this won’t either, for sure. It is only overappreciated cause it is somehow exotic and he is cute, but no way this was the best among this year’s San Remo bunch. There were better songs and artists. In addition, I really feel he won cause some people in Italy wanted to protest against the “right” society and government who is currently ruling the country. I mean, just to pretend or make a statement like “look how cool we are choosing someone who sings two… Read more »

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

He was not my favorite either (I wish Irama, Ultimo, Simone and Arisa could all go to Eurovision) but I can still see and appreciate what he brings to the table. And the Arabic part of his song is not very flattering considering the fact that he is confronting his useless father with it. It is an integral part of the song, not something he just threw in. Now as far as how the voting in Sanremo happened, I am absolutely against that. But he is not the one to blame for that.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

omh spanish ppl should just shut up with the embarrassing song they’re sending

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

You are being nasty and rude. Stop

No one has to shut up, since this is a public forum where everyone can express their opinions.

Be polite, please

Best from Spain

Weißbrot
Guest
Weißbrot

I mean, you weren’t very polite either, calling a song ,that probably means much to its artist “awful”. You know, there has been put lots of thought and work into “Soldi”. Just writing “Best from Spain” doesn’t make your whole comment polite lol. It’s like walking up to a girl in a bar saying “Hey, you’re freaking ugly. Kind regards.”

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

OMG You all have very thin skin…

If a song sounds awful to me, I have the right and freedom to say so!

I always end up my comments with “Best from Spain”, because for me it is always fun and nice to participate in this blog.

Best from Spain, btw

Loin dici
Guest

You are a part of us, too, anyways 😀 I see there are no real problems in this comment, and I can respect it, yet the delivery of the comment isn’t good, IMHO. I’ve learned some good knowledge about expressing opinions in this blog–one of the most important is that, to give a good delivery, you can’t only give your idea to one side only (amazing/awful), but to both. Praising too much would look delusional, and bashing too much would be sore. This comment is still heavy to the negatives, would be better to add something you would still praise… Read more »

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

So I guess you two are even now.

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

No, we are not.

I expressed my opinion in a polite manner, and I did not say “shut up” to anyone.

Best from Spain

Alkisiti
Guest
Alkisiti

YESSS!!! Right’on sister!

Alkisti
Guest
Alkisti

What a said and reactionary comment, probably from a Vox voter. Shame on you.

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

Hahaha Shame on you for not respecting others’ opinions! Take your pills

Best from Spain

Andrea Prunecchi
Guest
Andrea Prunecchi

The jury – led by Maestro Mario Pagani – and the journalists tried to select the best song and the best musical project. The fact that it’s topping the charts after the festival it’s a clear evidence of it. The rules of Sanremo introduced back the jury to avoid fandoms to determine the Sanremo result, and some songs needs to be listened a few times more than others. The organisers were tired of Festival when the winner is ignored by the charts, and they are always looking for a system where the winner can shine in the charts as well.… Read more »

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Thanks for the translation!

Tonton Fée
Guest
Tonton Fée

Must not exaggerate. it’s good but it’s not the song of the year either. it will work staging. the orchestra is a track.

Stan
Guest
Stan

can you use ‘f*k’ in a lyric at eurovision?

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

The f-word comes from the wiwibloggs translation, which isn’t the official translation. I’ve asked our Italy correspondent Cristian and he says “te ne fotti” is used to mean “you don’t care”. It’s strong language, but isn’t considered super offensive in Italy. It’s something that doesn’t exactly have an English equivalent to convey the same level of intensity.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

u don’t give a damn would be the correct corresponding translation in terms of offensiveness

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

‘te ne fotti’ can be easily turned into an inoffensive ‘non te ne importi’, same meaning + no need to change the melody n rhymin

Luz
Guest
Luz

It’s truly amazing how you can connect and relate through music. When I heard this song the first time, I was struck how dark, moody and intense it was. Something familiar stirred in me as if I was feeling his pain and emotion. When I read the lyrics, I cried because I too grew up without a father figure due to similar circumstances including the immigration factor. This is one powerful song and I encourage everyone to read the lyrics and reflect. If you have your fathers, hug them, tell them how much you loved them and realize how fortunate… Read more »

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

He’s great. An Artist!

Skiwalko
Guest
Skiwalko

This song is a bomb of emotions, that feels like it’s going to explode in any moment. It’s a collage of memories, images from the past, feelings you felt your whole life, but couldn’t express. It’s hadd to find Eurovision comparisson, but if I had to, I’d say Hungary 2018 – skmilar sensibility.

Ani
Guest

I really want italy to win. And i know we havent heard the heavy weights yet like Sergey, Tamta, Srbuk etc but this will still be at the top imho

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I realized that this is actually the kind of Eurovision entry I always advocate for. An actual artist, an actual story, an actual meaning. You know, substance. I want much more articles about Italy and Sanremo, also from the other participants who didn’t win. After the Nordics continue to let me down down down, I think I have finally found a praiseworthy Eurovision nation. I get that Sanremo is not all primarily a Eurovision selection but in our world it can be regarded as such, so I think it is valid to say: Best national final in terms of song… Read more »

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

this is truly an emotional, insightful and personal song. even i got touched by his story….. he truly deserves his acclaim and success, what an amazing musician in the italian music scene !

Tasha
Guest
Tasha

Amazing lyrics and very touching story behind it , Alessandro is beautiful man with beautiful soul…