This past weekend, Roman rock bank Måneskin, won this year’s Eurovision competition, becoming only the 3rd Italian entry to win the contest. The win gives Italy hosting duties for the 2022 event.
Måneskin had won this year’s Sanremo song festival, which Eurovision was based on, and had been a favorite for the, at times, eccentric contest held this year in Rotterdam after being canceled in 2020. They join as winners from Italy the 16 year-old Gigliola Cinquettii, who took Europe and the world by storm in 1964 with “Non ho l’età,” and fan favorite Toto Cutugno in 1990 with the pro-EU and catchy “Insieme: 1992“, won in Yugoslavia. While Cinquetti’s song had won Sanremo that same year, Toto finished 2nd in that year’s Sanremo contest to I Pooh‘s Uomini Soli with a different song, Gli Amori (song in English at the Festival by Ray Charles). Cutugno was already a loved figure throughout Europe not only for his hit Italian songs but even as a songwriter for French artists like Joe Dassin and Johnny Hallyday, and Latin superstars like Miguel Bosé and Luis Miguel.
Top Italian pop artists have always dabbled in some Spanish, going all the way back to Domenico Modugno and then in the 70s Nicola di Bari, who became a major star in Latin America after his Sanremo wins and appearance at Eurovision. By singing in Spanish, the potential audience jumps 10x given the number of Spanish speakers in the world compared to Italian so it makes a lot of commercial sense, especially with a large Spanish audience even in the United States; Laura Pausini, Eros, and Nek have all performed to majority Spanish-speaking audiences in the US. Some singers have become even bigger stars with Latin audiences than in their homeland such as Franco Simone.
In the 80s, the list of artists that decided to give Spanish a try is a who’s who of 80s Italian pop including Toto Cutugno, Pupo, and I Ricchi e Poveri – and even Nino D’Angelo got into the act.