The below review features the opinions and views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision, Sanremo Music Festival, or the EBU.

Italy began its hallowed Sanremo Music Festival on Tuesday evening, with 26 acts competing to take home the Sanremo crown and hold the first option on appearing on Italy’s behalf at Eurovision 2021.

However, what did our team at ESC United think of this year’s batch of Sanremo hopefuls? We assembled ESC United Editor-in-Chief Sean Tarbuck, our Instagram account manager and writer Melanie Otto, our Dutch correspondent and YouTube channel contributor Roy Postema, and USA-based writers James Maude and Daniel Montoya.

We reviewed the first nine Sanremo hopefuls HERE, the second batch earlier this morning, and this evening we continue with the final nine:

La Rappresentante di Lista – “Amare” (“To Love”)

Daniel – 9.5 – “This is definitely one of the most modern sounding songs with a great build and it really takes me where I want to go. The styling is also so specific to them. This song has peaks and valleys and so I really I am able to experience the sweet moments and then feel moved with the chorus. The singing is great and it is strengthened by such a strong composition. I just feel that this song really takes me in a journey, the high energy the fuchsia, the camera angles, it just works for me.”

James – 8 – “They have to lose the Pepto Bismol colored matching outfits. The cut and the color does neither singer nor guitarist any favors. That being said, if you’re getting indigestion from the more traditional ballads on offer, this slice of power pop with a soaring chorus should be a great curative. Assuming you don’t get seasickness following the whirling motions and camera angles of the lead singer first.”

Melanie – 8.5 – “This song just sounds like a heaven that breaks open. Her voice is very mesmerizing and the beat are really complimenting it. From the intriguing verses we’re going to a glorious sounding chorus. It’s a perfect balance and well executed song. The only problem I have with this performance are the pink outfits. Not liking them at all, so hopefully they will wear something else this Saturday. A heavenly attempt and love to see more from them.”

Roy – 7.5 – “I really massively enjoy the backing track of this song. It is so well orchestrated with a lot of eye for detail. Dardust layed his hands on another amazing piece. I think the overall feeling of joy and Euphoria really works as well. I just think there should have also been a bit more differentiation in the Lead singer’s vocals. I love the performance though and I am absolutely vibing to this.”

Sean – 8.5 – “Dramatic orchestral electropop, let’s goooo! This has a really rich and full sound and combined with the soaring vocals of Veronica Lucchesi it is just such an incredibly uplifting track. Would it succeed at Eurovision? It may be a bit too full on and out there for a lot of casual viewers, but there’s no denying this is a slice of real quality electropop.”

Total: 42 points (Average = 8.4)

Malika Ayane – “Ti piaci cosi” (“You like yourself like that”)

Daniel – 8.5 – “I like this pop ballad, it has a very traditional structure with a modern twist. The visuals are among my favorites and her styling is quite phenomenal. I think this stands on its own and reminds me a lot of a P!nk ballad. I think I respond pretty well to this music so I may have a skewed opinion, but this song might have one of my favorite ones.”

James – 9 – “I guess you could loosely categorize this type of pop rock as “adult contemporary.” Chill and effortless, though, can be used to describe Malika’s stage presence. Sanremo 2021 has seen a few nervous acts already, but Malika is perhaps the most efficiently charismatic star on display. By efficiently, I mean most charisma per unit of appearance of effort put in. If you watch Eurovision having assembled your own charcuterie board, this is the song for you.”

Melanie – 5 – “Are we getting a little bit disco in San Remo? It looks like it, but maybe she’s giving me wrong signals. Well, she has a great voice, but I’m kinda annoyed by the long note chorus. I just don’t like it to make word unnessecary longer than they should be. The song is okay, but doesn’t make me feel something. It’s just bland, but she would fit perfectly in a tooth paste ad with that golden smile.”

Roy – 4 – “Her voice is really good and lovely, but this song does absolutely nothing for me. It goes by and her performance of it is really good, but I just struggle to remember it. I guess it is in the backing track. It is a tad underwhelming and doesn’t fully enhance how pretty her voice is.”

Sean – 5 – “This is a pleasant enough ballad and Malika has a great vocal, but the song gently plods along for its duration without really going anywhere too exciting. There’s a lot of repetition with not much pay off for me. I like the slightly retro 90s feel to the song though.”

Total: 31.5 points (Average = 6.3)

Ermal Meta – “Un milione di cose da dirti” (“A million things to tell you”)

Daniel – 8 – “Oh we have one of the returning favorite. It is such an impassioned ballad that pierces the soul. I think this is one of the top tier male ballads, maybe all ballads period. And that falsetto note is something I did not think I needed, and I was taken aback by it. The emotions are so palpable, I cannot even. Wow this was quite the performance and I was a bit apprehensive, but my this was a knockout of the park.”

James – 8 – “A heartfelt piano ballad for the current moment. This is one of those “I’ll help you now as you’re down and out” songs, and Ermal sells both the uplift and the despair, the “I will help you” and the “I emphathize with your plight.” Ermal is a familiar voice to us, but I would argue there’s a few better acts around this time. However, should Sanremo tilt towards sending a familiar face to Eurovision, I suspect this one will get as much televote love as he got in 2018 as this time he has the perfect song for the moment we’re in.”

Melanie – 9 – “Looks who’s back! Our Ermal who already representd Italy earlier in 2018 with Fabrizio Moro. Ermal is really serving quality in his entry for this year San Remo. The song start very small and intimate. He sings the note as the feelings came from the tip of his toes. It feels very honest and personal and when he starts the aaaah part, I’m slowly drifting away on his voice. Can we make that part longer? Really amazing song and I understand why it’s a big favourite to win San Remo.”

Roy – 8 – “Ermal’s voice is sooo incredibly soothing and beautiful. I just want to listen to whatever he has to say. The song builds up from something small and becomes more and more the longer it goes. He also captures me with his being and charisma. When he gets very close to the camera I feel like I am looking inside of his soul. Maybe it could have been a bit more epic all together, but I am quite satisfied with this as is. Solid.”

Sean – 6.5 – “I felt like this was going to keep building and building into something grandiose and… I mean, yeah, it kinda did. But I find myself a little disappointed in this one considering the wonderful track Ermal served us in 2018. A nice piano ballad with some fire in its belly, but not enough to light a spark within me.”

Total: 39.5 points (Average = 7.9)

Extraliscio feat. Davide Toffolo – “Bianca luce nera” (“White black light”)

Daniel – 4 – “Woah wacky, I think there is a lot going on. Um it is a lot and I am a overwhelmed especially because the song is not like so bizarre as to merit the kind of staging. Yeah there is just to much happening on that stage, it is a sensory overload and I am overwhelmed, and this is not about me, but this is about me.  And I feel a little dizzy after this experience.”

James – 8.5 – “Toffolo’s outfit makes him look like he’s a Juggalo going out for a night at the opera. But to write this band off as a novelty would be a mistake. Extraliscio is an experienced and eccentric folk rock band, and whatever quirks are on display have come naturally to them over the years rather than being forced. Highlights include the unexpected breakdown in the middle – a common trait in modern hard rock, but not folk – and the flute solo.”

Melanie – 7.5 – “This looks like a side event on an indie festival. While I thought that I won’t going to like it because of the weird choice for clothing, I actually really dig it. It sounds traditional, in some kind of experimental way. The instrumentals are really wonderfull in this song and the live orchestra really elevates this. Wonderful surprise from Extraliscio and hopefully I’m going to see them once live on a festival.”

Roy – 4.5 – “This performance is very fun and the stage is very filled with interesting people. That is kind of where it ends for me though. It is kind of repetitive and after 1 minute you kind of know the entirety of the performance. It isn’t vocally outstanding either, but it is a good bunch of fun to have in the show. It’s not going to go anywhere either, just nice I guess”

Sean – 9 – “Now, normally when I am writing Eurovision reviews, I try to write as I am listening to the song, so I can really share what I feel in the moment. Not with this one, because I was so captivated by the journey. What a wonderful track this is! The instrumentation is lush and bombastic, it has a very authentic feel and it’s so different to what we normally get in the selection shows across Europe that I had to sit up and take notice. It wanes a little towards the end, admittedly, but this is a real highlight of this year’s Sanremo for sure and would be a breath of fresh air in Rotterdam!”

Total: 33.5 points (Average = 6.7)

Random – “Torno a te” (“I come back to you”)

Daniel – 5.5 – “I have mixed feelings about this song, I think there are some cool parts like the beat and that guitar in the background. The actual song sounds a bit dated and slow and I feel like it really is missing out on the oomph factor, you feel? Some of the notes were not as pristine as the other singers but he still delivered a passionate performance. Hmm, after the three and a half minutes I am still a bit ambivalent.”

James – 3 – “I don’t know if he was having an off night, but this song just doesn’t work for Random. He took a bow a few seconds before the song ended, as if he couldn’t wait to run off stage. I heard that Random is a rapper, which might explain the strange hand gestures he had during his singing on top of a piano track, so why would he not play to his strengths? Is he trying to play off a Valley Girl interpretation of his name, i.e. I’m a rapper and I will perform a romantic ballad, how random!”

Melanie – 3 – “He sounds nervous! Like there’s a trembling in his voice that doesn’t make It pleasant to listen. Or he has a very nasty cold and has problems with breathing. He’s trying so hard, but his song doesn’t come to life. It’s just him trying the sing the song and he’s struggling I see. Or I interpret it completely wrong and this is just his way of singing? I don’t know, but this is just not my kind of song.”

Roy – 4.5 – “A decent ballad, decently sung. I just don’t think there is much more to it than that. His voice is decent, he is still very young it seems, he has a lot of room to grow and become better and then return. The instrumentals are just not strong enough to enhance his voice and his voice isn’t outstanding enough either to make it a super memorable piece.”

Sean – 5 – “Sigh, was kinda hoping for more from the choruses in “Torno a te”. The intro felt like this was going to be a real quality ballad, a rare one for me to sink my teeth into but… it kinda tapers out into nothingness when the choruses hit. There are elements to this I like, mostly the instrumentation in the bridge, but this feels like quite a missed opportunity to do something different with the genre.”

Total: 21 points (Average = 4.2)

Fulminacci – “Santa Marinella”

Daniel – 7.5 – “You know, I usually do not get captivated by guy with a guitar, but I think this song hits a little differently. It sounds so personal and so compelling. It has some strong 60’s vibes contrasting with 90’s grunge and it gives us a very mainstream yet modern beat. I also loved the pared back staging that still is full of personality. I think this song is almost a dark horse to be looking out for.”

James – 6 – “His vocal style is all over the place, which is probably the best part of this rather basic acoustic guitar driven song. He sings, and in the pre-chorus he does an almost spoken word delivery. Fulminacci does seem well-suited to this sunny power pop, but the song is more of a feeling than a memorable one with a hook. Its three fleeting minutes of sunlight. I’d like to see him return with something a bit more cohesive, and I suspect once he’s figured himself out as an artist we’ll get a powerful, memorable song that he didn’t quite land with here.”

Melanie – 6 – “This immedIately gives me throwback to Belgium’s Tom Dice and his guitar. He has a nice voice tone. It feels so cosy to listen to him. It’s a sweet and genuine song and I see him sing this song to her girlfriend down the balcony (hopefully it’s a love song, because I have no clue what he’s singing about) The na-na-na-na part wasn’t necessarily at all and just take the song down. It’s sweet, but don’t see this win San Remo.”

Roy – 8 – “This is soo endearing and cute. Yes it is simple, but there is something about the way he stands on the stage so effortlessly and differentiates a lot within his voice throughout the entire song. He lays a lot of emphasis on some of the words that make the song overall stand out a bit more too for me. It even builds to become even better. I also love how he is the one leading in the backing vocalists singing ‘na na na na na’. It is just a very lovely pleasant listen for me!”

Sean – 5 – “I loved his track “Canguro” when it was recently entered to one of our forum contests so I’m surprised to see him show up in Sanremo. His entry here doesn’t nearly have the charm or inventiveness of “Canguro” however. He falls a little for the ‘boy with guitar’ syndrome here, and despite his best “Hey Jude” impression towards the end, this track is doing little to stick in my mind or tug at my heartstrings.”

Total: 32.5 (Average = 6.5)

Willie Peyote – “Mai dire mai (La Locura)” (“Never Say Never (The Madness)”)

Daniel – 6.5 – “This really is a locura. It gives me a lot of Montenegro 2012 vibes but with a catchier and funner chorus. I think there is a lot happening but not totally in a bad way. I have found the song really grew on me from the beginning to the end. It is very dynamic so it does have that going for it. I think that this is a wall of sound so it is a bit hard to grasp initially, but I think, overall it was fun.”

James – 2 – “Here’s this year’s “old man shouts at clouds” entry. Apparently TikTok and Spotify and the music the kids make don’t tickle Willie’s fancy, and he’s going to gripe about it for three minutes. Wonderful. The weirdest line is one where he asks how twerking is a fight against the patriarchy, as if he wrote this after listening to Ben Shapiro’s infamously clueless take on Cardi B’s “WAP.” I am older than Willie Peyote, and sure, I don’t have my finger on the pulse of kids’ music either, but these sort of screeds don’t make Willie look witty and insightful. They make him look angry and even more irrelevant than he already feels.”

Melanie – 9 – “Banging intro, really contemporary, modern but unique in its own way. This is a gem I this year competition. Really love the bass & the guitar in this song. The verses are so intriguing in the way he raps his lyrics. He just sounds like a professional and this immediately grabs my attention. It just feels so natural how he performs this song, like it’s hard to work this kind of song, but he’s just killing it. Great song and performance from Willie and I hope he will end in the top.”

Roy – 8.5 – “This song has been a massive grower for me this year. It is such a lovely vibe and beat and Willie’s vocals flow sooo nicely over the beat. The chorus is nice and danceable and quite memorable too. What I love the most about it all are the lyrics. I am a massive sucker for lyrics written in sort of an observing, dystopian way. He digs at the rappers that use autotune and he calls us all out for being just slaves to the hype. But overall, it is just very danceable and his delivery is really good too!”

Sean – 7 – “This has a great, relentless energy coursing throughout it’s veins. Willie does a great job of blending rap, rock and song seamlessly and this has a captivating quality to it. This is certainly one of the catchier efforts in this year’s Sanremo and this may stand Willie in good stead as a result.”

Total: 33 points (Average = 6.6)

Gio Evan – “Arnica”

Daniel – 6 – “Wow, look at that suit and that fro’. Well they always say Italy is at the forefront of fashion. I hate saying this but the styling is somewhat distracting from the rest of the performance, it is almost jarring because this is an interesting ballad with unique lyrics with a pared back staging. But then the charades are a bit confusing and make me feel a little off-putted. The song is actually quite interesting and has a lot of merits as a ballad but I am still a little confused afterwards.”

James – 7 – “Gio looks like the love child of Bob Ross and Andy Garcia. I don’t mean that as an insult. I think it gives his manic song about the struggles of adulting an edge that it needs to sell it. He walks a tightrope, as his unhinged take could have devolved into parody. It didn’t. Now, you could make the argument that this song needed a more emotionally engaging performer rather than the frantic, wild one we got, and some may be put off by Gio, but I think it works.”

Melanie – 7 – “I love his hair and technicolour jacket. The song is building nicely and sound very modern. I really have the feeling that this is a song that cames right from his heart. The way he says the lyrics to the song is almost like spoken words. Don’t understand the random dance moves, they’re just distracting. At the end of the song I have the feeling he really gets out of breath. Maybe it’s because he really puts passion in this song and I felt it. A sincere performance from Gio!”

Roy – 4.5 – “I feel like he is trying to tell us a story and does decently at it. As a song though, it is not super interesting. The beat is rather simple and his voice doesn’t become too interesting either. He does capture me with his charisma and stage presence quite a bit. He is definitely a character, I just wish his song was a bit better.”

Sean – 7.5 – “Feels like there’s a really strange structure to this one to me… it seems to lurch from spoken word to chorus to verse then back to chorus. Having said that, “Arnica” is a pleasant listen with a strong sense of drama and pretty orchestration and certainly would stand out in Rotterdam if chosen.”

Total: 32 points (Average – 6.4)

Irama – “La genesi del tuo colore” (“The genesis of your color”)

Daniel – 10 – “Bless his heart, hope he is staying strong. This song is very different, but in a really good way. It also is the most contemporary song, like this years Andromeda. It is a literal explosion of color. It still has  a very traditional foundational rhythm but it is supplemented by interesting robotic voice, engaging guitar bases and energy. This might be one of if not my favorite build. I think this song as so much potency because it is mainstream while also being extremely unique.”

James – 10 – “Throughout my reviews I have asked which of these songs could do well at Eurovision 2021. This is the only one where I thought, “I’d put money on this winning the whole damn thing.” Yeah, I am sure my colleagues and I have griped about vocal effects being used at Sanremo, but when Irama deploys them at the prechorus it gives this song one hell of a hook. And did they grow Irama in a lab – handsome in that Vincent Cassel bad boy way, his vocal range is impressive, his charisma so off the charts. If you want to showcase the best of what modern Italian pop has to offer, Irama will be an excellent ambassador in Rotterdam.”

Melanie – 8.5 – “First verse was a bit confusing with the computer voice, but then the bridge hits in and it all makes sense. Very strong bridge that really sets the tone. Just wished that the chorus was a bit stronger. This song is Eurovision ready and I already see this doing well in the scoreboard if you compare it with the songs that already are released. So hopefully Irama will consider performing at the Eurovision Song Contest if he will win San Remo.”

Roy – 10 – “This is it! This is the one! Irama’s voice is incredible, the beat is insanely well produced with a stomping beat and a pacey feeling throughout. Irama’s vocals are flawless even though they could only show a rehearsal clip. The voice distortion that is added as a layer over his real vocals is an amazing touch as well that adds some more dimension to the song. This is the song I want Italy to bring to Eurovision, memorable, catchy, danceable, amazing vocals a lovely videoclip to go along, summarized in 1 word: perfection!!”

Sean – 10 – “Good GOD. This just has everything. Italian passion and drama, top-notch production, peaks and troughs. There’s even some of that good old Italian rap thrown in for good measure. The first pre-chorus feels like a real shock to the system but in such a positive way that it really makes you sit up and take notice of this one. It’s going to be difficult to fit this into the three minutes but this could genuinely go all the way. Like, ALL the way. Sensational stuff, Irama!”

Total: 48 points (Average = 9.6)

Yes, we saved the best for last. Four out of five writers gave Irama a perfect score (which may be an ESC United record for a national selection), and the one non-ten gave him an 8.5.

So Irama easily runs away with “La genesi del tuo colore,” and in a few hours we will see if the whole country of Italy agrees and sends this to Eurovision.

  1. Irama – “La genesi del tuo colore” (“The genesis of your color”) – 48 points (Average = 9.6)
  2. La Rappresentante di Lista – “Amare” (“To Love”) – 42 points (Average = 8.4)
  3. Måneskin – “Zitti I buoni” (“Shut up and good”) – 41.5 points (Average = 8.3)
  4. Ermal Meta – “Un milione di cose da dirti” (“A million things to tell you”) – 39.5 points (Average = 7.9)
  5. Annalisa – “Dieci” (“Ten”) – 38.5 points (Average = 7.7)
  6. Arisa – “Potevi fare di più” (“You Could Have Done More”) – 38 points (Average = 7.6)
  7. Madame – “Voce” (“Voice”) – 37.5 points (Average = 7.5)
  8. Fasma – “Parlami” (“Talk to Me”) – 36 points (Average = 7.2) #
  9. Francesca Michielin & Fedez – “Chiamame per nome” (“Call me by my name”) – 36 points (Average = 7.2) #
  10. Noemi – “Glicine” (“Wisteria”) – 35 points (Average = 7.0)
  11. Colapesce & Dimartino – “Musica leggerissima” (“Very Light Music”) – 34.5 points (Average = 6.9) #
  12. Max Gazzè & Trifluoperazina Monstery Band – “Il Farmacista” – 34.5 points (Average = 6.9) #
  13. Ghemon – “Momento Perfetto” (“Perfect time”) – 33.5 points (Average = 6.7) #
  14. Extraliscio feat. Davide Toffolo – “Bianca luce nera” (“White black light”) – 33.5 points (Average = 6.7) #
  15. Gaia – “Cuore amaro” (“Bitter heart”) – 33 points (Average = 6.6) #
  16. Willie Peyote – “Mai dire mai (La Locura)” (“Never Say Never (The Madness)”) – 33 points (Average = 6.6) #
  17. Fulminacci – “Santa Marinella” – 32.5 points (Average = 6.5) #
  18. Coma_Cose – “Fiamme negli occhi” (“Flames in the Eyes”) – 32.5 points (Average = 6.5) #
  19. Gio Evan – “Arnica” – 32 points (Average = 6.4)
  20. Malika Ayane – “Ti piaci cosi” (“You like yourself like that”) – 31.5 points (Average = 6.3)
  21. La Stato Sociale – “Combat Pop” – 30 points (Average = 6.0)
  22. Aiello – “Ora” (“Now”) – 29.5 points (Average = 5.9)
  23. Orietta Berti – “Quando ti sei innamorato” (“When you fell in love”) – 28 points (Average = 5.6)
  24. Francesco Renga – “Quando trovo te” (“When I find you”) – 25.5 points (Average = 5.1)
  25. Bugo – “E invece sì” (“Instead Yes”) – 23.5 points (Average = 4.7)
  26. Random – “Torno a te” (“I come back to you”) – 21 points (Average = 4.2)

# – Tie breaker used. In event of a tie, spread between high and low used. Lowest spread placed higher as it indicates a more consistent opinion of the song amongst the team.

Do #YOU agree with our reviewers’ assessments? Which artist are #YOU rooting for? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forum.

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