It’s always an interesting dynamic when a song very early gets labelled a favourite. You get the hard-core fandom rooting for the song, adamantly claiming it’s a definite winner. Then you get the sceptics who claim it’s all just a phase. Italy this year has fallen into that trap, being labelled as a winner quite early in the national final season, as soon as Francesco Gabbani was selected as their participant through the long running song festival Sanremo. The song he will be singing is Occidentali’s Karma, but will it win convincingly like many expect it to?
This year, it’s Italy’s to lose. I’m not a sceptic, and I’ve seen this as a winner since it was selected. Since then, not one song was selected which made me think that Italy has lost the race. This isn’t to say that there aren’t other songs that I don’t love, because of course that isn’t true, but for me personally, there is no one on the same level as Italy this year. HOWEVER, I can’t be 100% sure – well, not as sure as I was back in 2012 knowing Loreen would win. There are some things about the song which could cost Italy the win, however alternatively may not be problems at all, it’s hard to know. The main issue about this song for me is how it was edited to fit the three minute time limit. The cut is very clunky, and I do think they cut the wrong parts out. I would have liked to have seen two verses, whether that was to cut verse 1 and 2 cut in half, or to remove some part of the choruses. I find the lead up to the second chorus to be way too brief, and unfinished for that matter. There’s just too much chorus time, and knowing how the original sounds, it just annoys me not to hear more of the verses. The part they REALLY needed to keep in was the bridge, and they did that. That’s the ‘wow’ moment of the song, so at least they didn’t remove that!
I’m suspecting that they will keep the staging fairly similar to Sanremo, at least in the sense of the choreography. One of the greatest parts of the song is the unique dance moves, and I can see people in the stadium and across households over Europe and beyond getting up and dancing to this, especially if they have heard it before. It’s become like a cult, the occidentali’s karma dance, of course accompanied by la scimmia, the gorilla. I’d hope at least they’d develop something different for the backing screens, but we don’t have long to find out!
Like I said before, this year is Italy’s to lose. They’ve sent some incredible songs over the years, and some of them came close to the win, but this year, they’re really up there. There are a couple of other acts I could see sneak up on them, but realistically, I think this will fly with the juries and the televoters, perhaps more with the televoters. It’s a well thought out song, it’s a catchy song, and it has the point of difference with the unique staging elements such as the gorilla. Some have argued that international audiences won’t understand, but the language of music is understood universally, and the staging is something that provides that point of difference. Added to that is the fact that it’s the first Eurovision song to get over 100 million views on YouTube – that’s a huge sign that this has a huge wave of support behind it, and those 100 million have all come before the contest has even begun! As someone of Italian background myself, I would be so proud to see them win, and would happily plan the next holiday over to be there in 2018.
Overall, I have my issues with the editing, and it really did make me question the song, but at its core is a fun, energetic and enjoyable song that I just can’t help but love. It’s still a 10/10 for me.