I can happily report that I have returned from Sanremo 1999 with my musical sensibilities somewhat intact and having survived the assault on my better judgment and good taste. Overall, the festival was better than last year in terms of both the music and the presentation.
Fabio Fazio, the program's host, seems to have understood that the festival is no longer about the music. The festival is now a cultural event and spectacle in which music takes place during its course. The music alone is not enough is today's world when attention spans are limited and the crush of things calling for our attention far exceeds our capacity to take it all in. Everybody who anybody makes their way to Sanremo to share in the spotlight of the event.
This year the festival relied on comedy and unexpected surprises to draw viewers. And, the music, was not all that bad...if you do not venture past the first 7 or so songs in each category. There are some sure hits and a few misses mixed together. This was definitely the year of the women singers as they deservedly captured 5 of the 6 top spots. The festival may not have been the best but at least I remember more of the songs and artists than last year. That alone is quite achievement.
Let's take a look at what the festival offered. Keep in mind that the opinions offered are to be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone has their own favorites and musical experience upon which they make evaluations. The songs are arranged in the order in which they appear on the two compilations: Sanremo '99 and Speciale Sanremo 99.
Alex Britti -Oggi sono io-I enjoyed his song. He has a good voice and a nice, down-to-earth attitude. His background is in the blues and lite-pop.
Marina Rei -Un inverno da baciare-The first time i heard this song performed at the festival, I was disappointed. However, it sounds much better on the cd and is actually worth listening to a few times.
Gianluca Grignani -Il giorno perfetto-I think Grignani was penalized for his attitude, past unmarketable cds and no evolution from his earlier winning formula.
Max Gazze' -Una musica puo' fare-I found the song and the album quite enjoyable. He should have done better in terms of placement. Look for this young cantautore to go far.
Antonella Ruggiero - Non ti dimentico-The song is quite nice although not as good as last year's which it resembles a little too much while lacking the force which distinguished last year's performance.
Allegra -Puoi fidarti di me-She was there? Did I miss anything? Not very memorable except for the metallic blouse that popped during her performance.
Stadio -Lo zaino-Generally expected more from them on this go around. The song looked wonderful on paper but came up short on delivery.
Nada -Guardami negli occhi- Not very impressed. Thought the song was too angry or rough for her.
Soerba - Noi non ci capiamo-They did not disappoint...they basically performed the same style non-song that scored a hit for them last year. I do not see them being around a long time.
Filippa Giordano -Un giorno in piu'-Being touted as a female Bocelli. Her style and song scored big with both public and critics. I think she may be worth a listen. Let's see what the album brings.
Gatto Panceri - Dove dov'e'-I have to admit I was a little letdown by the song. However, that does not reduce in any way his abilities as a writer and performer.
Irene Lamedica - Quando lei non c'e'-Critics and public agreed--non-starter on this song. She already has two decent albums out with her version of Italian soul. However, this song missed the mark and left listeners flat.
Quintorigo - Rospo - Okay, I understand musical innovation and the need to reward it...but this? The Critics' Prize to this group may be a little of the mark (even if did vote for them--it was peer pressure, I swear). As of the first weekend after the festival they had sold just over 500 albums. Hopefully, Rospo is not the full measure of their abilities.
Eugenio Finardi - Amami Lara - A fun, easy melody that does not offend too much. I enjoyed this song (but I am also a Finardi fan even if his last album did not impress me as much as the album Occhi).
Anna Oxa -Senza pieta'- The song and the album are definitely recommended. I thing Anna has a great voice and she knows how to use it to its full potential. Can't say I liked her look at the festival, but her abilities more than make up for it.
Massimo Di Cataldo - Come sei bella-Why? Why did he change his look to that a brit rock/pop idol? Why did he go with a song that is so stylistically remote from the image and style he has cultivated in previous albums? I did not like the version of Di Cataldo at all.
Nino D'Angelo - Senza giacca e cravatta- I am not a fan of his...but he did a wonderful job! The song is great to listen to because of its structure and rhythm. The song recalls the work of La Nuova Compagnia del Canto Popolare and Roberto DeSimone. Excellent job capturing the traditional sound and expressing so masterfully. I may need to listen to more of his pieces now.
Albano Carrisi - Ancora in volo- Albano is Albano and this song sounds like others before it. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Enzo Gragnaniello and Ornella Vanoni - Alberi-Great song. I really thought it could have placed higher especially with the excellent performance on the final night of the festival.
Mariella Nava -Cosi' e' la vita- A surprise at the festival with her third place finish. I enjoyed her song the first time I heard it and have grown to like it even more after listening to the album.
Daniele Silvestri - Aria- He is one of the finest young cantautori in Italy. The song is powerful but is lost in a venue like Sanremo.
Daniele Groff -Adesso- His brit pop/rock sound already has fans in Italy. Not a bad song that keeps in tune with the rest of his album.
Leda Battisti -Un fiume in pieno- I am just not getting it. She did very well, has a nice album and I still am not a fan. It is just a question of personal taste.
Boris -Little darling- Nothing special but he has the look and sound to hit it big with the Ragazzi Italiani crowd.
Arianna - C'e' che ti amo-She almost made it into the top three. Not a bad song in which she displays strong vocal skills and a very good performance. Her album, however, did not have the same appeal for me.
Dr. Livingstone - Al centro del mondo-I was not that impressed overall although I did enjoy the song somewhat.
Francesca Chiara - Ti amo che strano-Sounded a little like Loredana Berte' and the song was actually quite appealing once you give it a chance. Her album is definitely more of a hard rock/metal piece.
Elena Cataneo - Nessuno puo' fermare questo tempo-A blend
of sweet funk and rap that I found quite appealing. Yes others have
done it before (Articolo 31) but there is something about it...
" Senza Pieta' "
This is one album that all Oxa fans should grab and hold of and listen to and enjoy. The album is a blend of rock/pop tunes and ballad-like pieces that display her full range. Among my favorites: Le stagioni dei disinganni, Verrai, Senza pieta', Chissa, Camminando cammminando, Come dirsi ciao and Don't cry, sweet love. The album is both sensual and wickedly delightful. Do not miss out on the cd. It will give a good insight into Oxa for non-fans too.
" Cosi' e' la vita "
This album is a nice introduction to Mariella Nava. It captures her abilities quite well in melodies that range from soft and delicate to rhythms bordering on pop. The duets she does with Mango and Amadeo Minghi are worth the price of the album alone. This another album you should add to your collection. Give it a few listens and you too will learn to appreciate the great talent that Mariella has as a singer and a song writer.