Alrighty then, ’twas the night before Sanremo, and plenty of national selections are a-stirring. However, which one of those is as iconic as the Sanremo Music Festival, the very contest that Eurovision was modeled after?
All 24 Big Acts were released on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 and Wednesday, February 5, 2020, and Daniel, James, and Roy have reviewed them.
By this time tomorrow, Saturday, February 8, 2020, we shall know who has won the 70th edition of this hallowed festival and who (most likely) will be going on to represent Italy at Eurovision 2020 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
And on that note, in order of reveal at the Sanremo, here is PART ONE of our reviews.
A couple disclaimers first:
- At the time of review, the list of the 16 acts out of 24 who have announced they will definitely go on to Eurovision should they win Sanremo was not revealed.
- None of the reviewers are Italian, and as such may not be aware of any controversies surrounding any of the acts.
- The reviews are of those of the quoted reviewer and not of ESC United, the EBU, Eurovision.
Irene Grandi – “Finalmente Io”
Daniel – 7 – “Oh… this is a fun rock song that really acts as a banger for San Remo. The song is pretty epic throughout and she delivers with such addicting energy. The lyrics are empowering and really promote the self and they go super well with the instrumentation. If I had a small critique, apart from the very standard composition of the song, it would be that the string instruments in the last minute and a half sound super shrill. Overall a great song and a great start to San Remo.”
James – 7.5 – “A strong, powerful pop rock song that we were used to seeing from Bonnie Tyler. Great driving bass and drums here, and if in English, this would probably do the business on the Canadian charts. There’s several opportunities for crowd interaction, particularly with clapping and fist pumping. A reworked version could also feature the guitar solo more prominently, not to mention reducing the time by a minute.”
Roy – 4 – “Melodically this is doing a few things, but I am not a massive fan of her voice or the variety that she implements with it in this song. The idea was quite okay, but I don’t think the execution was the best. This just feels a little dated and would not really do well in Eurovision.”
Total: 18.5 (Average = 6.17)
Marco Masini – “Il Confronto”
Daniel – 8 – “This song is one of those great examples of Italian pop that combines some interesting rhyme schemes with a very streamlined pop composition. What he does, he does super well. I am not exactly jumping for joy for his pitch change in the chorus, but I cannot deny it makes the song come out more. You also cannot deny how passionately he delivers this song. This is all-around a well-written and performed song.”
James – 8 – “The almost talking – singing part in the verses is interesting, and unique to Italy. I suspect his live singing at the chorus may lose a few people, but it’s an intriguing ballad. His shouting suggests the titular confrontation, and though my understanding of Italian is quite limited, you feel the anger and indignation he’s expressing, but the track and the way it ends suggests the person he’s fighting with is dead or left long ago in the past? Correct me if I am wrong on that. This is an excellent example of a song whose track and the color and passion in a singer’s voice communicating a story so well you get the gist of it even if you don’t understand the words.”
Roy – 3.5 – “Major plus for him is that he looks absolutely epic. His perfect beard with the glasses and his lovely face. The song starts off well and I enjoy it and his voice. Then the chorus kicks in and his voice turns into something that is tough to describe and maybe even more difficult to get a liking to. It totally got me out of the song and is the reason why this has such a low rating.”
Total: 19.5 (Average = 6.5)
Rita Pavone – “Niente (Resilienza 74)”
Daniel – 8 – “A historically inspired power song… I am about that. The song’s composition matches beautifully with the lyrical content and the allusions made by the song. She has a powerful voice, particularly during the chorus. It is a strong rock song that really is teeming with emotion and energy. Despite its reference, it still sounds so modern and her voice kind of blows me away. I actually really like this song.”
James – 7 – “Dang, 74-year-old Italian legend Rita Pavone, best remembered in the United States for her Billboard Hot 100 charting “Remember Me,” has come back to Sanremo 48 years after her last attempt with a self-belief rock banger. There is anger and defiance at a world that tried to break her but she refused to let it. The song will most likely not make it to Rotterdam, but it is always great to see the legends give one last shot.”
Roy – 4 – “This to me screamed like she was a well known figure that was just happy to perform in San Remo and just wanted to do her thing. To be fair the song isn’t even half bad, it has an interesting instrumentation and could have been interesting. I feel like Rita is not the right person to elevate this to the next level. This song definitely has the chance to go to that next level, but it desperately needed a different artist. I feel like Rita doesn’t really care though and just wants to do her thing. Kudos to that!”
Total: 19 (Average = 6.33)
Achille Lauro – “Me Ne Frego”
Daniel – 6 – “He really went for the reveal, and my, what a revealing outfit. But the song is a powerful “I do not care” anthem that has the rock orchestra background. I personally feel that the instrumentation is stronger than the vocal quality. I do appreciate the aesthetic and those magnificent strings. This is good song that really makes a splash.”
James – 3 – “Can someone explain the appeal of Achille Lauro? His singing is bang average if not downright terrible at times, his lyrics to this song are bitter and resentful, his outfit at Sanremo was lazy, ill-fitting and ill thought out. Maybe this works in Italy or he saves his worst for Sanremo, but his popularity has always puzzled me. Is it just because Italians are shocked by his eccentric though always crappily put together attire? Anyway, this is somehow even worse than his more punk influenced “Rolls Royce” from last year. He proclaims he doesn’t care with this year’s entry, and seems to have a perma-sneer, and on that attitude, neither should most listeners care. His schtick is all mouth and no trousers, as they say in the north of England.”
Roy – 4.5 – “And the WTF-award for San Remo goes to Achille Lauro yet again! Why did he even wear the first cape-thing? He dropped it after 30 seconds and it didn’t make the performance more epic. I contrary, I would have liked it to happen a little later. Achille is just a massive stage beast and oozes charisma. The song is quite catchy too, but vocally it is a bit ehh and the outfit is a bit too much for me. (I preferred Rolls Royce?)”
Total: 13.5 (Average = 4.5)
Diodato – “Fai Rumore”
Daniel – 7 – “This is a nice pop melody. It is a bit low-key, except in the choruses where you really connect to the power in his voice. It has the making of a mini-epic moment. I say mini because the song is still a bit toned back which is where some of its charm comes from, where the emphasis is the upped tempo and his vocal range. It is a rather standard pop song that delivers on the key elements it sets out to achieve.”
James – 8.5 – “Whoa, his chorus just bursts right into life on the strength of his own vocals. For those who love traditional romantic ballads at Eurovision, this rousing one checks all the boxes and more, especially since this little Italian Greyhound of a man goes from subdued to overdrive at the drop of a hat. And there’s a story you can feel here without knowing all of the lyrics, of a back and forth between him and someone he is estranged from but trying to engage or reengage. You can feel his despondency in the verse and the power of his request to “make noise” to end whatever stalemate his relationship’s in. Great stuff that only the Italians, the Balkans and the Russians seem to know how to do.”
Roy – 9 – “This hit something in me… After this song I was left with one word and one word only, WOW!! His voice is sooo good and the song builds so epically. It has an amazing chorus and the guy is very likable too. This made me low-key emotional after my first listen, that says something! I guess this is “The Safe Option” for Italy this year which I would not mind. My heart wants “Rosso Di Rabbia”, but this would be absolutely lovely too! (woow, I even started to tear up when listening to this while writing my review…) SPEECHLESS!!”
Total: 24.5 (Average = 8.17)
Le Vibrazioni – “Dov’è”
Daniel – 8 – “This song is your archetypical Italian pop-ballad filled with a modern twist and with a competent singer. I love the sign language component of the performance (especially how expressive he is). This song is a wonderfully structured song that really hits all the boxes including voice, composition, and message. For such a favorite, I hoped for a bigger wow moment which never really came, but there is a subtle magic to the song’s more stripped-down nature. Overall a great song.”
James – 8 – “I am getting good vibrations from this song. Sanremo is great as this is a national selection not afraid to put up Italy’s big guns to compete, potentially, at Eurovision. And soft alternative rockers Le Vibrazioni bring a beautiful rock ballad, with a fantastic and charismatic lead vocal performance from Francesco Sarcina. The song builds nicely from a slow, quiet start to when the strings come in at the chorus and keeps going. The organ coming in at the bridge with the percussion ramping up behind is a great touch. Additionally, bring the sign language guy to Rotterdam if you guy. I can’t tell if he’s accurate or not, but he gets into and sells the song.”
Roy – 4 – “The guy has a lovely voice, but how this won on night one is beyond me.. The word dov’é is not a word that I would have liked to repeat so often. It greatly lessens the impact of the song in my opinion. It is a bit like you are building to something epic and when it kicks in you get a dead rabbit. It is a fine song, but in no means should this have won night 1!”
Total: 20 (Average = 6.67)
Anastasio – “Rosso Di Rabbia”
Daniel – 5 – “I mean I am into the level of musical diversity. This is a hard rock single that is mostly done through spoken word format. He really sells it and makes you feel like you are entering his world of flames. The guitar is great, but it does the same chords over and over, like there is no change until the chorus, really. The instrumentation matches the song, but it is not really prominent until the chorus (which is my favorite part by the way). An interesting rock-rap fusion.”
James – 7 – “Spoken word and rap over a blues rock track? It surprisingly works well live with an orchestra as well. The problem is a lack of variation in the track once you get over the “Italian dude rapping on a blues rock track” novelty. The live version works far, far better, as the guitars stand out more in the mix (the studio version is blown out by the bass), and a guitar solo replaces the tinny synth in the studio version. If he rapped with a full-on blues rock band backing him rather than over a repetitive sample, he’d have a much more dynamic entry while retaining the novelty.”
Roy – 8.5 – “I feel like this song is nearly there. In the live performance it gains more energy, but at some point he gets a bit out of breath and the rap becomes a bit cloudy unfortunately. This is the only reason why this isn’t my number 1. If he polishes up that part, this gets a more full point higher and thus becomes my favourite of San Remo 2020. I absolutely love fusion music and this is a perfect mix of rap and rock music. Going by the fact that this got a higher placement than all the other rap songs and that it would have been in the middle group in last year’s system, which makes him more liked than Mahmood by The demoscopic jury, This will be the winner of the contest! And OOOOHHHH BOY am I ready for that!!!”
Total: 20.5 (Average = 6.83)
Elodie – “Andromeda”
Daniel – 10 – “This song has you thinking you are going in one direction, and then it is like “psych we really taking you to outer space”. Oh I really like this song, it is so dynamic and combines so many cool influences to form this fully-thought out idea. She also is so striking in her appearance and her aesthetic is incredible. I also need to commend on its ability to take retro feels and turn into something that is cool and beyond our time. All around a stand-out act and a phenomenal appearance.”
James – 10 – “My personal Sanremo winner. On top of her sterling vocal performance, you have to praise Mahmood and Dardust’s composition. The song harmonizes two classic eras of Italian music (the brass instrument dominated and bossa nova influenced pop of the ‘60s and Italy’s unique take on disco in the ‘70s) with modern hip hop to create something fresh, powerful, and dynamic. This bridging of the eras will also appeal to the Eurovision fanbase at large, both young and old, and I suspect Mahmood and Dardust know that. Should this make it to Rotterdam (which it should), don’t be surprised to see Elodie elevated to the pantheon of Eurovision goddesses alongside Loreen and Eleni.”
Roy – 6.5 – “The production of this song is really well done and of high quality. I don’t fully like what they are doing in the chorus here. The disco sounds a bit too old and isn’t made for my ears. Her live delivery could have been better too in my eyes. I feel like she doesn’t deliver enough in the verses and between high and low register misses some energy for my liking. The overall feeling of the song is: “Huh, that was fun” and then I just move on with my life. I can see why this has a lot of fans, I just think it’s good, but nothing special.”
Total: 26.5 (Average = 8.83)
Now then, who is ranked where after our first round of reviews?
- Elodie – “Andromeda” – 26.5 (Average = 8.83)
- Diodato – “Fai Rumore” – 24.5 (Average = 8.17)
- Anastasio – “Rosso Di Rabbia” – 20.5 (Average = 6.83)
- Le Vibrazioni – “Dov’è” – 20 (Average = 6.67)
- Marco Masini – “Il Confronto” – 19.5 (Average = 6.5)
- Rita Pavone – “Niente (Resilienza 74)” – 19 (Average = 6.33)
- Irene Grandi – “Finalmente Io” – 18.5 (Average = 6.17)
- Achille Lauro – “Me Ne Frego” – 13.5 (Average = 4.5)
In our editor poll, Elodie comes out ahead with “Andromeda,” and Diodato coming in second with “Fai Rumore.” Will they hold the top spots as Parts Two and Three are released?
Do #YOU agree with our editors’ reviews so far? Share your thoughts below, in our forum, or in the comments below.