Since their return to the contest in 2011, Italy have proven to be a nation to keep an eye on, with more often than not, Top 10 finishes. Finishing in 5th place last year was more validation that Italy knows what works at the contest, and this year it seems that Italy could be heading in a similar direction, especially if the odds prove to have some accuracy. Representing Italy is Mahmood, who won the national song festival, Sanremo, with the song Soldi.
Song + Vocals
Looking back at this year’s Sanremo, i.e. the contest in which the Eurovision participant is regularly selected, it was interesting to see the reaction to Mahmood and his song Soldi. Previous to the competition, Mahmood was not a household name, however upon his win, he rapidly became a massive success in Italy and beyond, despite the criticism over how he was selected. It’s easy to see that his success has now completely overshadowed the controversy of the national selection, and looking forward, Italy has since been a strong chance of winning this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
I could say this every year, but I feel confident to say that Soldi is one of the best Italian entries since their return to the contest. Italy often get a good reaction to their entries, but this year Soldi had a reaction so overwhelmingly positive that it’s clear to see why they are a favourite. The song is extremely contemporary, and really does fit with what’s on trend in the music scene right now. Mahmood is a fresh artist who has his own unique style which feels very authentic, and this mixed with the message of the song makes this a very genuine entry.
The song has rap elements but is still very accessible for those who don’t regularly enjoy this style as it also incorporates a catchy chorus and a simple but memorable beat. The verses of the song are punchy, with the pre-chorus setting up the chorus incredibly well. The claps in the chorus are iconic, and I would hope that the audience in Tel Aviv knowing the song will clap along which will come across very well on television.
Furthermore, Mahmood’s voice is unique and something unlike anything else this year. Mahmood has no issues performing this live, and has often changed up how he sings this song without lessening the power of the song. I think a lot of emotion comes from his voice, and this should come across well with the voters, both public and jury.
Act + Performance
Mahmood may not be what we could consider a ‘regular’ performer at Eurovision, but his contemporary style mixed with a sensitive but yet powerful song could prove to be a winning combination for Italy, or at least will gain the nation another Top 10 result. His authenticity shines through the performance and this will appeal to voters.
As for staging, I have since seen the staging for Eurovision and for me it was unexpected to see something like this, however previously I was unsure as to how they would approach the staging for this song. I personally expected Italy to keep things quite dark, a lot of quick lighting and dirty camera movements however instead they have kept things colourful and chosen to include dancers. At times it seems the message comes across, but in other points of the song I question their decision. In the scheme of things, I think visually it does stand out based on the colour, and when Mahmood and his backing dancers align to dance together it looks slick.
Are Italy still in with a winning chance? I think perhaps that ship has sailed, especially with the Netherlands proving to be a strong competition. Is it a winning song? Based on its wide appeal, I would say it had the potential to be, and with a good place in the running order, we can’t rule Italy out for another Top 5, or at least Top 10 result. Either way, I think it’s another big success for Italy at the contest.