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 TWO of our reviews. (Here is the link to PART ONE.)
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.
Bugo e Morgan – “Sincero”
Daniel – 6 – “I like the intro a lot and the song is super retro. I will say that this song does so much retro that it starts to straddle the line of sounding dated. But nevertheless, it has a super fun rhythm. Do I love the duet? Well, it is kind of hard to have an opinion on it because they barely sing together so it feels at time a bit disparate. They also do not contrast each other enough to make it that noticeable. I do however love that moment where they look like they are about to rip each other apart. I think there is spunk but there are certain musical directions they can take to slightly elevate their song in the coming days. ”
James – 6.5 – “Italy does male duets very well (Umberto & Raf’s “Gente di mare” being my favorite Italian entry of all time), and Bugo (Cristian Bugatti) and Morgan (Marco Costaldi) put up a very game effort here with this synth-driven number. Problem is they went a little heavy with that repetitive synth riff. They thankfully toned down their video schtick and clothing for the live version, and speaking of Raf, Bugo kind of sounds like him, giving this song a bit of a throwback feel to a Eurovision highlight for Italy. But yeah, repetition and the hipster Dad rock feel bring “Sincero” down somewhat. It’s a game effort, but one of the problems is you make a lot of references to other acts this reminds you off. It’s kind of too simple to stand on its own despite the high profile of its singers.”
Roy – 5.5 – “I am not going to lie, this song starts off weak, this would have probably even been in my bottom few places if it was only the older guy singing it. Somehow they give each other energy and the overall piece is so much better when they start to sing with each other and it actually becomes quite an enjoyable show. Especially when they start facing each other and start shouting things at each other. That is the highlight of the song after which it is actually a really cool performance and song.”
Total: 18 (Average = 6)
Alberto Urso – “Il Sole Ad Est”
Daniel – 5 – “This is a pretty pop-ballad that really showcases Alberto’s voice. The song is a very reminiscent of those dramatic pop ballads from the 90’s. I would not go as far to say it is dated, but I would not call it the most modern song in the world. It is a fine song that carries itself very professionally, would probably be adored by juries and not super-well received by the televotes.”
James – 6.5 – “Another area Italy plays well in is, no surprise, pop opera. And Alberto Urso looks like the latest in the line of popera heartthrobs who will fill the theaters of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida. But on his way to fame and fortune being featured on PBS and NPR in the United States, he has to conquer Sanremo and Eurovision. Sadly, I don’t see this happening, but the exposure will help him lift his career to another level. Despite his vocal performance, it’s a rather simple orchestral track he’s got to work with. He will probably find himself like Australia’s Mark Vincent somewhere in the middle of the qualifying pack.”
Roy – 5.5 – “The absolute potential this had… The song starts of nice and operatic, it builds well, but then his voice just can’t reach where he should be reaching… Maybe he didn’t have his day though? Maybe the next few performances will blow us out of the water. In the lower registers this song and especially his voice actually sound really good. Based on this performance it is a bit of a fail, but I have hope that he can deliver in later shows!”
Total: 17 (Average = 5.67)
Riki – “Lo Sappiamo Entrambi”
Daniel – 4 – “That piano intro though. This song a pretty pop-Ballad that is reminiscent to those older Eros Ramazzotti and Laura Pausini singles. And then the robotic voice takes center stage. I mean at least there is an interesting mix. I do appreciate that it has the feel of a modern pop song trying to emerge from a more traditionally (maybe outdated) love song. There are unique elements mixed in but I do feel it is too little and a bit too late, and it also slightly feels a bit forced and superfluous. ”
James – 6.5 – “Aiiyyyeeee, Riki, please lose the vocal effects. He has a lovely voice, but the way to differentiate a standard romantic ballad is not to throw in robot vocals. The effects supplement his own vocals, but it’s off-putting. He’s also got to work on his stage presence a bit – “I’m Riki with the good hair” static pose is not going to cut it. There’s not too much going on here, and he is going to get blown away by some of the other acts on display.”
Roy – 3.5 – “This guy obviously has his looks working for him. I can imagine him having a lot of fangirls. You would not expect a guy like him to sing such a song. The robot voice in the middle was a little random and I didn’t get what it added to the song or performance. Overall the song is just too boring for me. He just needs a more interesting song and maybe he could represent Italy one day.”
Total: 14 (Average – 4.67)
Raphael Gualazzi – “Carioca”
Daniel – 9 – “In typical Raphael style, the song starts with a cool piano intro. I am not going to lie, I feel like I like this song better than his 2011 entry. Maybe it is the Latin (Brazilian) inspiration that really speaks to me. It is super festive and I like the build up from the chill ambiance to become a full on samba moment. This is a merger of samba, salsa, jazz, and pop in a very cool and modern way. I will say I hate his raspy spoken portions but love that piano solo portion. Other than that I think this is a swell song and is ready for its moment.”
James – 7 – “The man who brought Italy back to Eurovision in 2011 with a bang is back, though this time jazzing up his piano man act with some Latin American flair. His piano solo is a lovely flourish, though the transition to the Latin section at the first chorus is a little clunky, complete with the trilling “rrrraaaaaa!” and Gualazzi dropping his voice sounds less Latin American and more Serhat en Espanol. He should also beef up the percussion at the bridge. In all, this sounds like an accomplished artist listening to Miami Sound Machine once and trying to incorporate the style into his own, but he needs a few edits to make it a more harmonious entry.”
Roy – 6.5 – “This is a song that just puts a massive smile on my face. It started off disappointingly and slow, but when the chorus started kicking in for the first time it definitely turned to something great. Raphael is also such a massively charismatic man that just carries the song like a champion. He reminds me a little bit of Raymond Reddington from the series “The Blacklist”. Just a cool and charismatic guy that performs this really fun song quite well.”
Total: 22.5 (Average = 7.5)
Piero Pelù – “Gigante”
Daniel – 6 – “This is a fun rock song that is very reminiscent of those late 80’s, early 90’s pop-rock hits. I think it is a fine song that has some interesting elements. I am not particularly blown away by it, but it definitely has a unique charm to it. If I had to pinpoint where it loses me, it is the transition from the pre-chorus to the chorus, it seems like they are similar but separate songs. Still a pretty ok song.”
James – 5.5 – “The first verse and its build-up suggests an explosive chorus, but it comes like a wet fart. The percussion at the bridge is great, and then… the energy is sucked right out of the song, and the song dithers around trying to find an ending. They need to tighten it up anyway to get it down to three minutes, but the lack of an impactful chorus and the fizzling out of any build-up remain big structural problems. And what’s with the keyboard effects in the beginning? They sound like sonar effects from a submarine movie? Piero is a pop rock pro and has good stage presence, but he does not have too much to work with.”
Roy – 4.5 – “The song kicked in and it somehow reminded me of the start of Say Na Na Na. Luckily it went more rocky from the get-go. The overall song is a bit mehh, but the main-lines in the chorus are very memorable and make the song a lot better for me. Also the beat and melody is quite cool in this. Vocally it doesn’t do much besides the chorus. He does have a lot of stage presence which helps a lot and I do enjoy the part just before 3 minutes.”
Total: 16 (Average = 5.33)
Elettra Lamborghini – “Musica (E Il Resto Scompare)”
Daniel – 7 – “This is an upbeat melody that incorporates some ethnic influences into a feel-good anthem. It surely is very contemporary given its interweaving of modern production with a more tribal sound and environment. That dance moment will also be a huge moment as all eyes are on her. I mean this song is extremely addictive, I feel like I want to dance. Some of the singing could use a little work, but overall still a fine song. ”
James – 1 – “Elettra’s first night vocal performance was weak. The song is called “Music (and the rest disappears),” and I assume the “rest” includes her voice as she is anonymous throughout. She has the stage presence of a dead fish, as if she was asked to come up on stage and perform for the very first time in her life. This has all the hallmarks of a Real Housewives song, from a stiff performance to cheap production tricks to cover up her lack of ability to dodgy attempts at twerking. And the song title being repeating over and over again is really grating. How did an entry so amateurish end up on Europe’s biggest national selection being performed by someone who looked like she’d rather be anywhere but Sanremo?”
Roy – 1 – “This is absolutely horrible… It feels like some spoiled brat was asked what she wanted and answered: “Perform at San Remo and win”. The first can be arranged, but she will most certainly not win. Vocally she is probably the worst of the entire artist-roster, she has the stage presence of a brick and the song just doesn’t save her…”
Total: 9 (Average = 3)
Enrico Nigiotti – “Baciami Adesso”
Daniel – 8 – “Oh one of those Italian poetry pop entries that start off with spoken word and transitions into a pretty cool chorus. I think that song is presented well and he gives it the due emotion it deserves. His staging is among my favorite ones for this year. I think overall it has great feel and I could see many people getting behind it.”
James – 6 – “Looks like a man-bunned Emil (a henchman from Robocop) is demanding you kiss him now in this acoustic guitar driven ballad. The electric guitar solo comes out of nowhere and is quite the pleasant surprise. This does sound like the sort of lovey-dovey acoustic ballad that was all the rage in the oughties like The Fray and Jason Mraz, though this has a bit more energy and that Italian romantic machismo (as opposed to the “please let me out of the friend zone” whining of his American counterparts) to recommend it.”
Roy – 4 – “When I saw him and the song started I guess I just expected more. When the chorus starts his voice just kind of fails to hold up. He has got the stage presence and the song isn’t half bad, but vocally it is just a little lacklustre. I absolutely loved the little guitar breakdown in the ending, and it has some sort of catchiness to it.”
Total: 18 (Average = 6)
Levante – “Tikibombom”
Daniel – 7 – “I will admit that I did not expect that this song would sound this way just based on the title. It has a super cool rhythm and beat to it. It crescendos and begins to grow on you. I will admit that her “no, no, no” is sonically a bit disparate. There is a quality of high-sounding pitch in her voice that somewhat stands out to me (and not in the best way) in the chorus. I do think this has a very epic musicality to it.”
James – 7 – “When I hear the name “Tikibombom,” I am not expecting a Sennek or Dani Im type slower ballad with some belting during the verses. We’ve heard this kind of ballad a million times before at Eurovision, so as with other Sanremo entries this year it falls into the exceptional singer on an unexceptional track trap. For any Italians out there, is “Tikibombom” supposed to be a commentary on songs that have titles like that? Or is it an onomatopoeia? Levante puts in an inspired vocal performance, but composition wise, there’s some better songs out there.”
Roy – 5 – “Firstly, what the hell is this title? It sounds so childish, so it already starts on a bad note for me. This song sounds like it had massive potential, but it absolutely falls flat in the live delivery. The song had potential to become around a 7, but it just doesn’t work live. Her vocals aren’t quite there and it just misses the energy that it needed. The orchestration and production sounds great and epic though.”
Total: 19 (Average = 6.33)
Now then, who is ranked where after our second round of reviews?
- Elodie – “Andromeda” – 26.5 (Average = 8.83)
- Diodato – “Fai Rumore” – 24.5 (Average = 8.17)
- Raphael Gualazzi – “Carioca” – 22.5 (Average = 7.5)
- 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)
- Levante – “Tikibombom” – 19 (Average = 6.33)*
- Rita Pavone – “Niente (Resilienza 74)” – 19 (Average = 6.33)*
- Irene Grandi – “Finalmente Io” – 18.5 (Average = 6.17)
- Bugo e Morgan – “Sincero” – 18 (Average = 6)*
- Enrico Nigiotti – “Baciami Adesso” – 18 (Average = 6)*
- Alberto Urso – “Il Sole Ad Est” – 17 (Average = 5.67)
- Piero Pelù – “Gigante” – 16 (Average = 5.33)
- Riki – “Lo Sappiamo Entrambi” – 14 (Average = 4.67)
- Achille Lauro – “Me Ne Frego” – 13.5 (Average = 4.5)
- Elettra Lamborghini – “Musica (E Il Resto Scompare)” – 9 (Average = 3)
*Lower spread is used as a tie-breaker on the reasoning that the closer to the mean, the less divisive the opinion of the song.
In our editor poll, Elodie remains ahead with “Andromeda,” and Diodato coming in second with “Fai Rumore.” Raphael Gualazzi sneaks into the Top 3 with “Carioca.” Will they hold the top spots as Part Three is released?
Do #YOU agree with our editors’ reviews so far? Share your thoughts below, in our forum, or in the comments below.