The excitement was real after two years without the biggest music contest in Europe. And the audience voted for the “rock live concert” clear contender: Italy’s young band Maneskin. With this victory, Italy is back on track on Eurovision after years of scoring top 10 songs, and brings back the interest on Eurovision in a country with no big fandom or attachment to the festival.
The band formed by Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis, Thomas Raggi and Ethan Torchio was leading the odds after the rehearsals in Rotterdam, the host city this year. Although they came as favourites, it was not clear that a rock song, a genre that is clearly not too popular on the charts right now, would convince the viewers and bring Italy back on the podium. A powerful and energetic performance, an exquisite sense of fashion and style and young spirit were the ingredients for the band to take the famous Eurovision trophy.
Italy and Eurovision: a difficult relationship
It seems a paradox that the country that gave birth to the Eurovision format, has not been among the ones that have been following the contest throughout the years. Actually, Italy has withdrawn from Eurovision during several years, the most recent one, from 1997 until 2010. This big gap created a detachment among the younger generations, having no clear reference to the Festival.
This may also be related to the already existence of a big music contest in Italy, the Festival of San Remo. With the modernization of the format, where classical performances were lately left aside and new artists took the stage, the public Italian broadcaster RAI decided to use that successful platform to choose their representative for Eurovision. And indeed, it was a clever decision, since the performer would already have the support of part of the audience.
That led to great results for Italy; since their comeback, they climbed 8 times to the top 10, scoring the second position twice. It seemed clear that RAI had a commitment to the Festival, sending young talents to the big stage, and with Maneskin they took a risky but right decision. However, when asking our young Italian volunteers about Eurovision, their response is clear: they either did not know about the contest, or did not follow. Will the victory of Italy bring the interest back to the audience?
The evil eye on the Big 5
It has been widely said over and over that the Big 5 (the countries that are straight to the Eurovision final since they support the organization with a bigger budget), traditionally do bad because of their unfair condition of automatic qualifiers. These countries are Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany. However, Italy has proved year after year that this is false, and that audience can support their performers anyway.
And the result of this year’s edition is again a demonstration of that fake argument, since France came second. And it is interesting to analyze that, on the other hand, the UK, Germany and Spain led the Bottom 5, scoring 0 votes from the televote. But, is it a punishment for their status as direct performers, or a result of a bad candidate? We believe the second. Basically, because the other two got on the podium, so that widely spread idea is again proved false.
A top 5 of taste and style
The victory of Italy is again proof that, in Eurovision, there is no formula or cliche to follow. A rock song in Italian captivated the votes from Europe; and most of the people did not catch the lyrics or message. But still, the group has a unique brand, a hallmark that makes it stand out from the rest and makes the audience connect with the performer. Same happens if one looks at the runners up.
France came second with a tasteful (for some old-fashioned) ballad, that Barbara Pravi elevated with a unique performance and careful filming. A formula repeated by Switzerland, with Gjon’s Tears bringing amazing vocals and breathless staging.
These two are an example on how to give a twist to a ballad with both simple or original performances, but with the signature of the artist. Exactly the opposite of Spain: bland ballad with non remarkable staging, that went totally unseen during the recap of the songs and sent Blas Cantó at the bottom of the list.
Going back at the top of the scoreboard, we find Iceland and Ukraine, two performances with, again, the own style of their bands; no pretending, no fake, only realness. And maybe that is what Malta’s singer Destiny was lacking. She arrived in the Netherlands as the favourite to win, but rehearsal after rehearsal, it was going down the polls. The performance turned out mainstream and quite forgettable, and the televote did not support the young artist: they placed her 14th. Same story with Cyprus pop singer Elena Tsagrinou, whose “diva” kind of performance, with crazy choreography and fire in the background, did not convince the viewers. Sometimes, less is more.
Race to host the contest in Italy
Now the clock starts ticking again for the next edition, with different Italian cities showing their interest to host the contest. According to the fans portal Escxtra, Rome, Turin and Milan have already publicly said that they want to be the next hosting city. They will have to send their proposals and a decision will be made in the coming months.
Maybe this is the opportunity for Italy to introduce the interest back among the audience and show their commitment to Eurovision, leaving the past behind.