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.
Raoul Casadei, king of liscio, passed away on @ 83 on March 13 from COVID-19 complications. Raoul had taken over the Orchestra Casadei from his uncle Secondo, who composed the popular Romagna Mia, in the 70s and helped popularize the music of Emilia-Romagna all over Italy. His son Mirko took over the Orchestra in 2000.
While many define ABBA as just a guilty pleasure, there’s no disputing they are one of the most successful groups in music history, second in record sales only to the Beatles. Whether it’s their disco hits or ballads, the songs can be incredibly catchy as well as moving and it’s no wonder why their music produced thousands of covers and numerous tribute bands.
In their heyday, ABBA also recorded some of their singles in Spanish while other language versions were done by home artists. In Italy, there were a number of well-done covers performed, in particular by 60s star Anna Maria Ramenghi and the better known Wilma Goich, successful singer from the 60s and a member of the group Vianella with her husband Edoardo Vianello. Many of the songs seem translated by the same songwriter, Rino Ballista.
A YouTuber put together a playlist of Italian covers of ABBA hits and even pre-ABBA tracks of group members.
One of the popular Italian balcony songs during the pandemic was Umberto Tozzi’s Gloria. This comes after renewed popularity in Laura Branigan’s cover of the Umberto Tozzi-Giancarlo Bigazzi song in the States when the hit became a rally song during the St. Louis Blues championship run last season. On display in the NHL Hall of a Fame is a 45 single of the song since the embrace of the song coincided with the Blues’ season turnaround.
Branigan, who died at age 52 with an undiagnosed brain anueryism, agreed to record the single in 1982 after some push from one of her first album producers, Greg Mathison, who worked keyboards on the original version. Branigan went on to cover 3 other Bigazzi singles. In 1983, “Mama,” also originally by Tozzi, was released with English lyrics by Diane Warren, who had her first songwriting hit with Branigan on “Solitaire” from the same album.
A year later, Branigan’s version of Tozzi’s “Ti Amo,” was released and while it had only minor success in the US, it hit the top 10 in both Australia and Canada, countries with a larger population of newer Italian immigration.
The other Bigazzi single was “Self Control, written with Raf, who also sang the song in English in the original version. In some parts of Europe, the two singles hit the charts simultaneously while Branigan’s version is the only one known outside of Europe.
Italy wasn’t the only European country Branigan plucked new singles from – “Solitaire” was initially a popular French single and “Deep in the Dark” was an English cover of the popular 80s German worldwide hit “Der Kommissar.”
The legendary singer-songwriter has sold 60 million albums worldwide and begins his latest world tour this spring to support his latest album D.O.C. He is entering his 50th year in the music business and during that time, he has collaborated with music greats such as Miles Davis, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bono, Sting, Luciano Pavarotti, Queen, and Andrea Bocelli, who he discovered performing in a piano bar. Here’s an interesting, fun interview with Zucchero from NPR, done during his last tour in the States:
As a special offer, discount codes are available for the Los Angeles and San Diego shows:
Festival di Sanremo winner Alessandro Mahmoud, aka Mahmood, will reportedly move on to the Eurovision song contest to be held in Tel Aviv this year, with the main competition occurring on May 18 – although a recent interview suggests he may be having second thoughts. Below is a helpful lyrics video, with English translation, of the winning Sanremo song, “Soldi,” from Youtuber MYESC.
Mahmood - Soldi | LYRIC VIDEO w/ English Translation | Eurovision 2019 Italy
Italy has won the event twice: Gigliola Cinquetti in 1964 with her most famous single, “Non ho l’età,” and Toto Cutugno won in 1990 with the lesser known “Insieme: 1992“.
In the US for the past few years, Eurovision has been broadcast on LOGO TV which has also streamed the show on their site. No news is available yet if the same will be true this year. In Canada, OMNI Television just announced they will be broadcasting the competition this year. The show was last broadcast in Canada in 2015.
Tiziano Ferro’s current album, Il Mestiere della Vita, continued to show the singer-songwriter’s versatility and why Ferro has become the top selling Italian artist in the world. He’s able to rule the Italian summer radio airwaves with happy pop like “Lento/Veloce,” throw in some rap on “My Steelo,” and get serious with a love song like “Il Conforto.” Of particular note to this poster is “Quasi Quasi,” a track that could be mistaken for a Mina cover; Ferro seems to be able to transport his voice to any era.
A touch of the 60s sound seems to always be part of the Ferro’s album mix. In his previous album, Ferro channels Don Backy in “Paura No Ho:”
Tiziano Ferro - Paura non ho
Ferro’s love of the era also was shown on a track he wrote with Roberto Casalino for Giusy Ferreri, who made her radio debut with this single, “Non ti scordar mai di me.” Her performance here reminded many of Amy Winehouse, herself a great admirer of 60s bands.
Recently in a Roman court, a lawyer who has written books on the death of singer Rino Gaetano formally requested the courts re-open an investigation into the death of the singer-songwriter who died in a car accident on June 2, 1981 at age 30. Gaetano suffered serious head injuries during the crash and hospitals in the area were unwilling to treat him due to lack of space and unavailable specialists.
Although “A mano a mano” never charted, Gaetano’s tender grit quietly made the song a favorite of many in Italy and its popularity has increased immensely in the past few years. It has become a staple in music reality shows, was featured in the soundtrack and trailer for the 2014 film “Allacciate le cinture,” and was part of the deluxe edition of Andrea Bocelli’s 2013 “Passione” album, cementing the single as an Italian pop classic to international audiences.
Below are the original and Bocelli versions of the ballad:
Riccardo Cocciante A mano a mano (con Mia Martini da "Festa d'inverno" 1977)