All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

Some days you feel like Bart Simpson and you’re writing “Sanremo Music Festival is not technically a Eurovision national selection for Italy” over and over again on a chalkboard.

And then you’re like, “Eat my shorts!,” because for the most part it is, even though it predates Eurovision and the winner of Sanremo doesn’t necessarily go to Eurovision. Well we at ESC United are in “Eat my shorts!” mode, and we’re treating Sanremo as a national selection and one of its entrants as Italy’s representative for Eurovision 2022. Which Italy is hosting in Turin.

We’ve given you our thoughts on the first eight Sanremo hopefuls, and also the second batch of Sanremo hopefuls, and now we give you the third batch of nine in alphabetical order by first name (because that is how Wikipedia does it).

Giving our thoughts on Italy’s selection of Eurovision hopefuls is our “expert” panel from across the globe. “Across the globe” is as good as it gets for this motley bunch, and here is our panel:

  • William Carter: Our ESC United Texas correspondent who often brings us bluebonnets from the bowels of the Abyss.
  • Tyler Griffiths: Our ESC United Alaska correspondent and the world’s foremost hakarl enthusiast.
  • James Maude: A British expat living in California after jaunts in South Africa and Pittsburgh.
  • David Popescu: ESC United’s resident Denmark correspondent of Romanian extract and random score generator.
  • Roy Postema: ESC United’s resident Dutch correspondent and YouTube Reactioneer.

Please note that studio versions are linked here as RAI infamously takes down its live performance videos after Sanremo has concluded.

Mahmood & Blanco – “Brividi”

David – 2 – “Well… not what I expected… I’m VERY bored!”

James – 6 – “I do not get the hype for this song, for either of Mahmood or Blanco’s performances either individually or together. Is it a duet or a duel? If it is about expressing yourself in love, but if Mahmood and Blanco are not portraying the lovers in a duet, then what is this? Two dudes shouting about their insecurities with other people at each other? There are elements for two compelling songs, but this sounds like a forced mashing of two styles and themes that don’t work together. Blanco is apparently a big deal and really should have had his own entry rather than being paired with Mahmood, who’s Eurovision royalty with his own unique point of view and style.”

Roy – 8.5 – “Let’s keep it short: this is a god damn rock solid ballad”

Tyler – 7 – “Getting the pun out of the way with, no I did not feel shivers listening to this! I thought it was fine, Mahmood and Blanco sing fine, even if I think the high notes don’t work for me. Like, I get what they’re going for but it doesn’t work for me at all. Um, yes so in conclusion I liked Mahmood’s outfit and yeah I hope the performances are better!”

William – 9.5 – “What can one even say? With a song this popular, the desire to poke holes is natural. And yet … reader, I cannot. This really is that good. It’s hugely impactful. Mahmood and Blanco’s vocal tones are so disparate but blend so well.  And, frankly, I think it’s inappropriate for Mahmood NOT to win any contest he enters. If he buys a raffle ticket, y’all better pull his number. No excuses … It’s possible I’ve lost the ability to be subjective about Mahmood, but not about this song. This song is a gem.”

Total: 33 points (Average = 6.6)

Massimo Ranieri – “Lettera di là del mare”

David – 2 – “This is probably what I’d call the definition of a classic Italian ballad… Sweet, yea, but for me… No! Let’s just skip this one.”

James – 9.5 – “Yes, I’m that guy who’s giving his top scores to the old classics who’ve delivered top drawer songs this year. Ranieri has gone the balladic route and dug deep into his troubled personal past. He tells the story of his fathering a child and instead of taking responsibility with his girlfriend and daughter, he denies them and flies off to America for fame and fortune. You can feel every tinge of regret, the pain and the storms of the distance he created both realistically and metaphorically. Massimo’s a legend, and he delivered the best ballad this year.”

Roy – 5 – “The deliver in the live-performance was really good and even though this is one of your standard veteran acts, I quite enjoyed it in contrast to usually. The issue just is, the overall level is quite high, so this kind of gets lost in the shuffle a little bit. But this ballad is actually quite good and lively. Good job! The veteran acts are usually not my cup of tea at all.”

Tyler – 7 – “There’s a sort of magic in “Lettera al di là del mare” that makes me enjoy it a lot! I don’t think there has to be more staging involved in it or Massimo needs to do a full choreography routine, but I think this song works very well with the orchestra. Which wouldn’t be at Eurovision. Maybe Turin will make the exception? I do like this though, but I don’t think this works that well for the contest, so this score feels appropriate.”

William – 3.5 – “Massimo has a really evocative vocal tone, lots of experience and character. The song itself gets shout-y as it goes, though, which I don’t think serves Massimo or the orchestra very well. I respect this, but I’m not drawn to it.”

Total: 27 points (Average = 5.4)

Matteo Romano – “Virale”

David – 5 – “One of the Giovanni winners who qualified for the big festival. There is something special about the song, despite it’s slow start, it does gain some sound and life. However, since he is one of the young winners, he still needs to train his control over his voice, which is probably what took some of the charm for me.”

James – 8 – “How old is this kid? Are they doing a Junior Sanremo right now as well? I do love the stones on this kid for being a TikToker and trying to go toe to toe with the old geezers with a ballad with some modern flair. And wholesomeness! He’s another who thanked the orchestra and the conductor. My grandmother always said add points to the polite ones at the national selection stage as his backers will go the extra yard to push him to excellence in the Eurovision final. He’s probably a little green for 2022, but I reckon Matteo’s one to watch out for come 2025.”

Roy – 7 – “I really like the words that are being used at the start of the chorus. The unfortunate thing is that the chorus just leaves you wanting for more. The payoff isn’t fully there in the form of a drop or a climax in the end of the chorus. I think that was a missed opportunity. I do think Matteo’s voice lends itself well for this song and I actually do find myself enjoying this.”

Tyler – 5.5 – ““Virale” doesn’t seem to strike me as a chance at going viral with how good or memorable it is. Matteo seems to be doing a good job, but this seems to be a rare case where I barely remember the orchestration AND the song itself! Doesn’t really differentiate itself from the field in a positive way and I’m just left with no real opinions about it. Is “Virale” good? I don’t think so!”

William – 6 – “I really like the percussive attitude in this song and performance. It’s a vibe. Matteo projects a lot of confidence and competence when he sings, especially for someone who I can only assume is, like, 12 years old? This isn’t spectacular, but it’s a solid calling card for an artist we’ll definitely be seeing again in the future.”

Total: 31.5 points (Average = 6.3)

Michele Bravi – “Inverno dei fiori”

David – 4 – “This one really plays with the strings, and I mean in multiple ways. I actually enjoy the composition and how Michele delivers the song, but this just becomes a bit too much and a bit too sad for me to actually enjoy. Credit where credit is due, but for me be properly impressed, I need more feeling.”

James – 7 – “It’s a sweet, if slight, ballad about two lovers connecting at the wrong time of their lives but trying to make love bloom anyway (hence the flowers blooming in winter metaphor). Other artists in this selection have sung about their insecurities, but Michele is the only one who can actually show you that insecurity as he sings. He does it subtly, but he does it well, not needing fireworks and bombast to make his point.”

Roy – 4 – “I think Michele has definitely got the potential to do well, but this song just doesn’t fully bring out the potential that he has. It is a type of ballad that we have heard numerous of times in San Remo and the vocals aren’t insanely exciting either. It is just a bit too middle of the road right now, so I hope to see him back in the future with a better song!”

Tyler – 7 – “Okay, I like Michele’s outfit! It’s quite dynamic and makes it stand out to me! The actual song itself though? It’s fine lol. The orchestra does a lot of work of making me like this entry, and Michele does a good job with the song overall. But again the song itself is just fine and elevated by things outside of the song itself to me. I like “Inverno dei fiori” but not by much!”

William – 6.5 – “So delicate I’d be afraid to touch the sheet music, lest it crumble into Adriatic dust. His vocal tone is quiet, but somehow full of gravity. Don’t see this as the winner, ultimately, but there’s still some magic to it.”

Total: 28.5 points (Average = 5.7)

Noemi – “Ti amo, non lo so dire”

David – 5 – “Some voice Noemi has, very fascinating and intriguing. I love the energy she gives the song and power and her vocal range. There is something that makes me enjoy the song, but there is also something that just doesn’t bring entirely in, I feel like eventually I fall off with the song and lose my interest, because it becomes the same very fast.”

James – 7.5 – “Another Italian song about someone who doesn’t know how to express their love, but this one seems to be borne out of frustration rather than insecurity. She knows what she wants, but her expressions of it come out all wrong. And you can feel that in her performance, and the violent metaphors she uses can be quite jarring. As power ballads go it works, and the attitude makes it distinctive.”

Roy – 6.5 – “The first verse is a bit unfortunate and lacks the power to make you hyped about the song. Then the first chorus hits and you are like: ‘Oooh, actually..’ It really has a good catchiness to it and Noemi delivers it really well. But like with every Noemi song, I still wish it was better.. I feel like she has so much more potential, but perhaps after feeling the same again and again, I might have to start realizing that that idea might be wrong.”

Tyler – 6.5 – “Pretty good example of what I think is Noemi singing well, but the overall song for “Ti amo, non lo so dire” doesn’t work for me. Doesn’t quite stick out in my mind, other than the orchestration that I quite like. That’s going to be a common sentiment I feel with these Sanremo songs, which sorry about it!”

William – 5 – “Her smoky vocal tone is fabulous, and she’s got a lot of swag on stage. She’s GOING for it, but her delivery seems almost casual. The song has an anthemic build that I get caught up in. This isn’t a song that’s stuck with me, but I enjoy it on every listen.”

Total: 30.5 points (Average = 6.1)

Rkomi – “Insuperabile”

David – 7 – “Damn, something raw and harsh, I like it and really enjoy the use of the electric guitar. There is some life and energy in this song, enough to lift my spirit up and follow along with the song. Rkomi could put more effort into performing this song, his chill way of singing drags the song a bit down.”

James – 9 – “Rap on top of blues rock, and both the rap and the blues rock parts are done well. In Italy! This is about raw passionate love in the moment, and despite Rkomi looking like Mika who stole Cardinal Copia from Ghost’s leather get up, it’s convincing. The guitars need to be brought more forward into the mix, and the drums need to be tightened to sell the visceral nature of the protagonist’s lovemaking some more. A few tweaks, and Italy could have another hypersexual rocker on their hands.”

Roy – 8 – “A really cool song and performance! It has a wonderful stomping beat to it and some swagger that is undeniably lovely. The live performance could use a bit of work, but the song might also not be fully suited for that. It is mainly because the word Superabile at the end of the chorus goes down quite a notch in energy and excitement compared to the rest of the chorus. I still really enjoy this though!”

Tyler – 8 – ““Insuperabile” is pretty good! Rkomi gives an energetic performance and it’s a pretty decent soft rock song to me. Rkomi also sounds almost voice modulated at times, which I’m not sure of he is or not, but I don’t mind as it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the performance. A lot of fun and an example where the song is good and doesn’t necessarily need the orchestra to help elevate it so yay!”

William – 9 – “If Italy is looking to crown some rock ‘n roll again, THIS. This is the one. Rkomi has gallons of swag, and this orchestration is super cool and dynamic. It’s hard to compose a song that moves through moods and styles as much as this one does, but, here, it works at every turn. I appreciate some of the instrumental choices, as well. They make for an interesting, often unexpected soundscape for this type of song.”

Total: 41 points (Average = 8.2)

Sangiovanni – “Farfalle”

David – 8 – “There is something about this song, the composition is very interesting. It’s one of those songs that you have to listen to multiple times and for every time you do, you’ll notice something new in the song, something I love. Brilliant use of instruments, vocally it can be a bit shaky, but lyrically I don’t mind and everything is just quite well done here.”

James – 8 – “Pointless story: I am still working through a 32 pack of 16 oz. boxes of farfalle pasta that I bought for around 50 cents a box just before the pandemic hit. Any good sauce recipes will be greatly appreciated in the comments! Anyway, Sangiovanni is another whippersnapper with a love song, but his is a more fresh pop ballad (excusing the prominent ’80s synthline that pops in and out). I am not sure unstructured suits will work as a look on the Eurovision stage, and though his staging at Sanremo includes a lot of movement, it sounds like he’s a little rusty with live performances. That being said, this has a lot of potential and should some of the more famous reject the first option on Eurovision, RAI would not be embarrassed giving this lad a shot.”

Roy – 8.5 – ““Wait? Where did this come from? Some wonderful EDM accompanied with wonderful vocals. A very catchy tune with a wonderful driving bassline. A great surprise that I absolutely adore. I also think that a song like this could do really well on the radio. Regardless of the outcome, I will just vibe to this in peace and have a wonderful time!”

Tyler – 7 – “I can kind of appreciate Sangiovanni bouncing about on stage in a bright pink suit jacket being a teenage hooligan as it breaks up the monotony of just standing behind a microphone. But that’s also the part about “Farfalle” that I like, so maybe it isn’t the best? Not sure at this point! It seems like at least in the first performance that maybe Sangiovanni was having earpiece issues, which sucks if that happened, but also stop slouching!”

William – 8 – “This is cool. This is current. This is a grower. I like it more and more every time I listen. Sangiovanni manages to deviate wildly between vocal intensity and an almost blasé casualness. And the orchestra follows his lead. It all just works. He’s not doing much, but his presence still fills the stage. Hope this gets a good result. It’s rad.”

Total: 39.5 points (Average = 7.9)

Tananai – “Sesso occasionale”

David – 3 – “Another Giovani winner who also needs to be in better control of his voice, the song is lifeful and joyful, but the singing did put me off. Other than that, just not really much of an impression really.”

James – 7.5 – “Can’t say I’ve heard a song that starts with a little hip hop vocal progression and ends up with a chorus that sounds like it’s from a revue you might have heard in Acapulco in the 1970s. Tananai himself also sounded very off live, and though it looks like he’s having fun, I’d be concerned if he is ready for the intensity of a top tier Eurovision staging. However, he passes my grandmother’s “lovely lad rule” in that he was one of the young ones who thanked the orchestra and it seemed he felt blessed to there performing, thus add a point for potential and that his niceness will endear him to those who can push an act into the top tier. He’s another to watch for the future.”

Roy – 3.5 – “I didn’t care for this song at all after hearing it live for the first time. Then I heard the studio version and it was okay. I just really dislike the chorus. It doesn’t really work with the EDM build-up that we just witnessed just before that. You would expect it to transition into some sort of a bigroom-house song, but instead it just becomes the mediocre chorus that it is now.”

Tyler – 5.5 – “Tananai’s performance feels like someone who got lost on the way to karaoke and wound up on the Sanremo stage. It should be funny, but I’m just uncomfortable watching this! I do like how upbeat the song is from the orchestra and I think “Sesso occasionale” could be good with a more seasoned performer. Tananai can only go up from here, and I hope the nerves get shaken off for later editions.”

William – 3.5 – “There’s something endearingly …  laissez-faire about this, but I can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Almost comes across like a joke entry?  These vocals are nuts. Not GOOD, I don’t think, but it’s not unamusing either.”

Total: 23 points (Average = 4.6)

Yuman – “Ora e qui”

David – 3 – “That’s one young man with some voice. I wasn’t much for this one as it started, but Yuman’s voice really raises the song and energy. That said, it’s still a very heavy song to listen and something I know would wear me down very fast. From here, I’m struggling to found reasons to keep my interest in this specific song.”

James – 9 – “A beautiful, soulful ballad. I’d add this to my soul collection. Which I do have, because I was one of those death metal fans who stumbled onto Philadelphia soul while in college because he found out the hard way that Gorguts and Fear Factory do not make for romantic ambient music. And like the best romantic soul, this song is about appreciating the here and now, whether about taking stock of your own life and sanity or taking in the presence of a romantic other. Europeans are usually crap at soul and end up sounding like laughable android imitations of Americans, but Yuman does this very well. Eurovision has been lacking a strong balladeer of late, and Yuman bringing soul could be a great fix.”

Roy – 4 – “Simply put, the live performance on the first night wasn’t that good. Overall this song just misses a bit of energy or uniqueness. I feel like Yuman didn’t exactly know what direction he exactly wanted to take with the song and kind of took the middle road. Perhaps sticking to one idea or concept and going with it for the full 100% would have worked a bit better for him.”

Tyler – 6 – ““Ora e qui” only really hits its stride at the end when the orchestra sweeps in to make the song grander than it previously was. And it wasn’t grand to begin with! It’s quite a bare song, and Yuman doesn’t bring the oomph for me to really care too much about the song. It’s a fine song, but fine doesn’t cut it for me so bye!”

William – 3 – “There’s a beautiful simplicity to the opening moments of this song. Then, the full orchestra comes in, and it all becomes a little flat. I would have preferred a more subdued approach the whole way through. Right now, the orchestration is a bit fusty and dated.”

Total: 25 points (Average = 5)

All 25 acts have been reviewed, and our winner is…

Rkomi’s “Insuperabile”!

Sangiovanni’s “Farfalle” is a surprise 2nd. Though both Rkomi and Sangiovanni didn’t top anyone’s list, they consistently received high scores across the board.

We shall see in a few hours if Italy agrees.

1.) Rkomi – “Insuperabile” – 41 points (Average = 8.2)

2.) Sangiovanni – “Farfalle” – 39.5 points (Average = 7.9)

3.) Gianni Morandi – “Apri tutte le porte” – 36 points (Average = 7.2)

4.) La Rappresentante di Lista – “Ciao ciao” – 35.5 points (Average = 7.1)

5.) Mahmood & Blanco – “Brividi” – 33 points (Average = 6.6)

6.) Emma – “Ogni volta è così” – 32.5 points (Average = 6.5)

7.) Aka 7even – “Perfetta così” – 32 points (Average = 6.4)* Median = 7 ** (HiLo = 7.5,4)

8.) Elisa – “O forse sei tu” – 32 points (Average = 6.4)* Median = 7 ** (HiLo = 9,2)

9.) Irama – “Ovunque sarai” – 31.5 points (Average = 6.3)* Median = 7

10.) Matteo Romano – “Virale” – 31.5 points (Average = 6.3)* Median = 6

11.) Noemi – “Ti amo, non lo so dire” – 30.5 points (Average = 6.1)* Median = 6.5

12.) Giusy Ferreri – “Miele” – 30.5 points (Average = 6.1)* Median = 6

13.) Ana Mena – “Duecentomila ore” – 32 points (Average = 6.4)* Median = 6

14.) Fabrizio Moro – “Sei tu” – 30 points (Average = 6.0)

15.) Le Vibrazioni – “Tantissimo” – 29 points (Average = 5.8)

16.) Ditonellapiaga & Donatella Rettore – “Chimica” – 28.5 points (Average = 5.7)* Median = 7

17.) Michele Bravi – “Inverno dei fiori” – 28.5 points (Average = 5.7)* Median = 6.5

18.) Highsnob & Hu – “Abbi cura di te” – 28 points (Average = 5.6)

19.) Achille Lauro feat. Harlem Gospel Choir – “Domenica” – 27 points (Average = 5.4)* Median = 6.5

20.) Massimo Ranieri – “Lettera di là del mare” – 27 points (Average = 5.4)* Median = 5

21.) Dargen D’Amico – “Dove si balla” – 26.5 points (Average = 5.3)

22.) Yuman – “Ora e qui” – 25 points (Average = 5)

23.) Giovanni Truppi – “Tuo padre, mia madre, Lucia” – 24.5 points (Average = 4.9)

24.) Iva Zanicchi – “Voglio amarti” – 23.5 points (Average = 4.7)

25.) Tananai – “Sesso occasionale” – 23 points (Average = 4.6)

Which Sanremo artist do #YOU want to win and represent Italy at Eurovision 2022? Do #YOU agree with our writers, or do #YOU think they are inhuman to have not gotten the chills at a festival favorite? Let us know in the comments below, in our forum, or on our social media.

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