Whew… where do I start?
When Mahmood and Blanco ascended the stage for the first time to perform that Monday night in Sanremo, I felt like their three minutes passed over my head. The song arrived in a way that caused me to feel that I wasn’t accessing its body properly – the highly contested entry was significantly more casual and understated than I anticipated, and of all things, exceedingly light. The first couple seconds were frail and wistful while the staging was casual and surprisingly organic. It’s too soft to win, I thought. Little did I know at the time that the fragility I perceived as the achilles heel that evening I’d call the greatest strength of Brividi today. I needed time with it. The opening lines were intentionally plated with poetic candor.
I dreamed of flying with you
On a diamond bike
You told me: “You’ve changed
I no longer see the light in your eyes”
Among the Sanremo competitors, this song was one to clearly stand out not just by its experimental and nontraditional production styles, but also because of the performers’ natural chemistry with each other. Let me emphasize: THIS IS CUTE! Within the first 20 or so seconds of the song, the Ariston arena lifted to the clouds. For me, what allowed this entry to lead the rest of this stiff competition was in large part due to the faded intimacy of their stage show that was stirred in after those unusual chords – white lights, gentle strolling, and blushy smiles allowed us to see a side of the song that could only be observed through its most candid of angles. This was a balancing act. Regarding its execution, there was a whisper of Salvador Sobral’s Amar Pelos Dois in the way that the song meant to drift along the Italian skyline, bringing its listeners into the halcyon sensation – chills.
The competition of Sanremo itself exhibited a myriad of fresh styles and expressions that not only makes this music festival unique, but holy cow, this year was the right one to follow closely on Måneskin’s tail — O Forse Sei Tu by Elisa showed us a wondrous, expertly detailed Italian classic ballad whose execution serves often as a centrepiece of the orchestral accompaniment, and having received 2nd place on Saturday night, was absolutely deserving of her result. Rounding out 3rd place was Eurovision 1970 alumnus Gianni Morandi and his song Aprei Tutte Le Porte which brought crowds across Italy and the world to their feet in a delightful, brassy, dance number that had a summery cadence and a performance which caught many of us by surprise.
Ciao Ciao by La Rappresentante di Lista was a hallmark favourite song of mine this contest because of its catchiness, choreography, and radiant magnetism — this was a song I would’ve been just as happy winning Sanremo as Brividi, (even possibly more in a sense) because it was a delightful bubblegum earworm about the end of the world that bid a humorous ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ simultaneously to the listener. Add some crowd-drawing dance steps and there we have it. Ciao Ciao just as well would’ve been a solid home entry for Torino. A few others I’d like to mention for the sake of the show are Chimica by Ditonellapiaga e Rettore, Farfalle by Sangiovanni, Ti Amo Non So Lo Dire by Noemi, and Perfetta Cosi by Aka 7even. For brevity, those are just the few of the other jams off the top of my head, but I assure you that no amount of excitement would be undeserved for any of these artists — the week-long battle was quite ambiguous toward its end with no clear winners, and that’s the kind of show I call simply great.
In the draw for the host entry, Italy was deemed the 9th performer. Being set to take the stage so early on in the show with a drastically improved Big 5 lineup can mean this song will struggle to keep some viewers’ attention in the Grand Final. This is also taking into account the wide array of soft songs and ballads we have this year, contrasting with the modestly few (but increasingly popular) dance songs also gunning for the trophy. What can keep Italian defences up as long as they want to win the contest would have to be the popularity of Brividi compared to other countries’ entries. At the moment, Italy leads the amount of Spotify streams to Spain, in second place, by almost 10 fold.
The catch is: how many of these streams are from Italy? (If you don’t remember, a country cannot vote for itself.) If it’s only the Italians playing this song, these boys are in trouble. It’s also crucial to note that the amount of streams on one app cannot equate to nearly the amount of listens the song gets across all platforms.
Can it still win? It might! The song is addicting and wonderfully weird. If it doesn’t win? Being song number 9 in a 25 song lineup could be part of the reason why.
In any event, we can now look forward to Mahmood and Blanco doing Italy proud in the first half of the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 in Torino, and with many folks in the country tightly glued to the delicate flight of this abnormally powerful song, I anticipate the feeling of chills once again. If Eurovision this year is anywhere near as contentious as its Sanremo was, we’ll have excellent show without a doubt.