EDITORIAL – For the 66th time, RAI is holding the world famous Festival della Canzone Italiana (Italian song festival) in the lovely Ligurian town of Sanremo. Sanremo festival was the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest, and is probably one of the most popular national selections of them all. But unlike Melodifestivalen in Sweden, no staging, no firework… Sanremo (just like its Albanian copycat Festivali I Këngës) is a true song festival, focusing on the song, the singer and the live orchestra. This year’s edition started on Tuesday and will last up until next Saturday. Artists are divided into two categories: “i Campioni” (established artists) and “i Giovanni” (newcomers). In this review, I will focus on the first category since the 2016 Italian Eurovision entrant should be the winner of “i Campioni” (just like in 2013 and 2015).
Lorenzo Fragola – Infinite Volte (Countless times)
Young Lorenzo is back this year on Ariston’s stage. It’s the first of a long list of powerful Italian ballads this year. The song is nice, well delivered, but nothing special I’m afraid, as if that entry had been performed tenth of times before at Sanremo Festival.
Noemi – La Borsa Di Una Donna (A lady’s handbag)
That’s veeeery Italian: a woman with a strong voice giving a strong performance with a powerful and melodic ballad. Like a modern version of Mia Martini. Noemi is a great performer, but I’m not a big fan of this song. Her previous Sanremo entries were way better.
DEAR JACK – Mezzo Respiro (Half a breath)
A traditional pop ballad from the band. It’s nice to the ears (even if the voice isn’t flawless), but it is easily forgettable. This one may find it difficult to stand out…
Giovanni Caccamo & Deborah Iurato – Via Da Qui (Away from here)
Here is the romantic duo of this year’s festival. It’s nice, sweet, a little outdated maybe. It’s a very traditional Sanremo ballad with no surprise. Back in the 1990’s, this one could have been called a favourite.
STADIO – Un Giorno Mi Dirai (Someday you’ll tell me)
This ballad is a slow one which could not be called powerful until the music really stats, halfway through the act, and turns into a king of rock ballad. It is not bad, it is not good either… I like it, but I would dare to call it a strong performance.
Arisa – Guardando Il Cielo (Staring at the sky)
The 2014 winner is back! Once again, she pleases the audience with a nice melodic simple but powerful Italian ballad. I just love her voice but unfortunately Arisa has already declared that in case of victory, she wouldn’t accept the job for Stockholm… Too bad since I would consider it a favourite this year again.
Enrico Ruggieri – Il Primo Amore Non Si Scorda Mai (The first love can’t be forgotten)
You may all remember Enrico from the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest. Well, after all those years, it’s the same recipe, a manly song almost a rock one, a very Italian tune, a bit outdated I’m afraid…
BLUVERTIGO – Semplicemente (Simply)
At last an almost up tempo song! But this song is a bit strange with lots of breaks though a melodic tune. The lead singer, in my opinion, lacks a powerful voice and I’m not sure the song goes anywhere actually…
Rocco Hunt – Wake Up
My personal favourite. A joyful, energetic and rather melodic rap act that “wakes up” the Teatro Ariston. The “social” lyrics are up to date and I could easily see him on Eurovision stage! The song is partly sung in Napoli dialect.
Irene Fornaciari – Blu (Blue)
A dramatic ballad about the refugees to end up this first evening. Nice but… boring I’m afraid. The song never reaches a climax and can be forgotten just after the last note is played.
During this first evening, an indicative televote took place to show which 4 entries are threatens by elimination. The ones in the “red zone” are Irene, Noemi, Bluvertigo and Dear Jack.
Dolcenera – Ora O Mai Piu (Le Cose Cambiano) (Now or never things are changing)
The beautiful singer is giving a strong performance, playing the piano. The song is a nice powerful ballad that grows stronger and stronger with a slight jazzy touch. Maybe not be the most modern track here, but it’s classy and quite enjoyable. And… what a voice!
Clementino – Quando Sono Lontano (When I’m far away)
Another rap act, and maybe not the best one I’m afraid. To be honest, listening to this song is a bit exhausting and the voice ain’t that good (especially during the chorus).
Patty Pravo – Cieli Immensi (Immense skies)
Sanremo veteran is back! The wax-faced singer (…) is singing a veeeery Italian entry. A powerful though not flawless voice, a bit overacting, a strong melody for a rather outdated song in my opinion. But the lady remains a monument of Italian music (I guess).
Valerio Scanu – Finalmente Piove (Finally it’s raining)
That is the typical Sanremo song. Valerio looks like the younger brother of Marco Mengoni. It’s a melodic and powerful ballad. Young Valerio definitely is a great performer.
Francesca Michielin – Nessun Grado Di Separazione (No degree of separation)
Another powerful ballad, but this one is a bit more modern. The young artist is a true performer! She looks fragile, but when she starts singing… the impression fades away. A really nice song that I could call another hot favourite.
Alessio Bernabei – Noi Siamo Infinito (We are infinite)
At last a pop song in this year’s line-up. Alessio is giving a strong performance for a song that some may find a bit too repetitive.
Elio & Le Storie Tese – Vincere L’Odio (Overcoming hate)
Oh God, what is that? I just can’t describe it! It’s not a single song, but a bunch of tracks at the very same time. Some may call it “joke entry”, others will say it’s “Italian creativity”. I would just say it’s fun, well performed and entertaining.
Neffa – Sogni E Nostalgia (Dreams and nostalgia)
An original song which could be played in some circus (don’t ask me why, but that the impression I have). A bit outdated once gain and not that enjoyable I’m afraid…
Annalisa – Il Diluvio Universale (Universal flood)
Though I do prefer her 2015 entry, Annalisa’s song is a nice one. Once again, a powerful ballad and a great voice. A bit too dramatic maybe but this is a strong contender I guess.
ZERA ASSOLUTO – Di Me E Di Te (Mine and yours)
Here is a male duo to finish this second evening and conclude this year’s line-up. The song is a mid- tempo one. After so many ballads, it’s nice to hear, though it has nothing special (not to say it’s rather boring).
The 4 songs in the “red zone” are Zero Assoluto, Dolcenera, Neffa and Alessio.
What’s next then? On Thursday, all artists will perform covers. On Friday, all 20 songs will be performed again, and 5 will be eliminated. On Saturday, it’s the big final with 15 entries competing for the trophy (and a ticket to Stockholm).
To make it short, as a huge fan of Sanremo, I would say that this year’s line-up is a bit disappointing, weaker than last year and that “originality” isn’t the motto this year, even though some entries are exceptions to this statement (Rocco Hunt, Elio, Francesca or Valerio). I cannot see any of those 20 songs doing incredibly well in Stockholm, but Italy can always surprise us (especially with the outcome of Saturday’s final)…