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, and this morning we continue with the next eight:

Coma_Cose – “Fiamme negli occhi” (“Flames in the Eyes”)

Daniel – 7 – “I was not expecting to be listening to folk pop on the San Remo stage, but I somewhat dig it. This couple definitely has a certain chemistry, not of madly of love but of cute comfort like life partners. This song is such a pleasant sound to the ears, it is nice, relaxing, charming. It also helps that their harmonies are pretty on point. I do not think it is the most exciting song in the line-up but it is definitely memorable for being so sweet.”

James – 7 – “”I shake like a leaf, actually, like California” has to rank as the goofiest lyric of Sanremo 2021. 2nd goofiest has to be, “I float in a tub of regret, and you’re the toaster that falls in it.” And by goofy, I mean kind of great. The track (and the appearance of Coma_Cose themselves) is a throwback to American college rock of the mid-1990s, with gentle acoustics masking dark content or snide lyrics. Whether Sanremo is in the mood for this sort of thing remains to be seen, but kudos to RAI for bringing us something a little different, even if the lyrics make you burst out laughing (and I suspect Coma_Cose intends the black humor to stick).”

Melanie – 6 – “This has an indie sauce over it. Very interesting performers with voices that blend nicely together. The performance is really cute and I have the feeling that I’m like the third weel watching a love couple. It just looks like they showcase their relationship in some way. The song is a little bit repetitive, but I don’t mind if I just can watch those two being all cute together.”

Roy – 4 – “This is a massive oddball to me. She has a very interesting and unique voice. I also think like his voice fits it quite well. For some reason the performances have been a bit awkward for me and I don’t really know why. The song itself is also a bit mediocre to me. It just kind of trots along and it is decent, just not memorable. They definitely need better in such a strong line-up”

Sean – 8.5 – “Another genre I wasn’t expecting in Sanremo this year, loving the 90s-styled shoegaze in this track. Feels very nostalgic to me and reminds of a lot of the female-fronted pop rock bands of the time. I’m fully aware this would absolutely tank at Eurovision and isn’t really a stand out but the vibes are immaculate and sparkling, and this has me dreaming of blue Italian skies. Isn’t that what music is meant to do for the soul sometimes?”

Total: 32.5 points (Average = 6.5)

Annalisa – “Dieci” (“Ten”)

Daniel – 8 – “There is a lot of power in her voice. She has great styling. The lyrics are intriguing. I can see why this song is one of the top favorites. She delivers the song so seamlessly and I appreciate every minute. I mean did you hear that note by then, how can you not see the potency in that voice with the classiness of the staging. We can expect good things coming from this neck of the woods.”

James – 8 – “Another emotional and frantic ballad, this time by a woman wanting her doomed relationship to last one more night. At least that’s what I get from the lyrics, though the meaning of “ten” here remains cryptic to me. Annalisa absolutely sells the panic that her romantic relationship is over and that she doesn’t want it to. Even if you don’t know the lyrics, you get the sense from her emotive performance alone. The Italians are great at this sort of ballad, and though I could make an argument for one or two others above “Dieci” from a performance and songwriting perspective, “Dieci” has the potential to do well at Eurovision should she win Sanremo first.”

Melanie – 8.5 – “Can someone tell me if this is a ballad or not? I just decide that I will classify it as a ballad with a lot of character. No! we don’t want to winey sad songs with that huge chorus and that one big note. We want songs with personality, that sounds sincere and full emotions. Annalisa is delivering this in Dieci. She really nailed her performance and brings us an amazing song. This sounds like a breath of fresh air and wouldn’t mind to see this winning.”

Roy – 7 – “Annalisa shows once again that she is a phenomenal singer and that she has a lot of stage presence. The song is very nice and she performs it well, but it is still not THE song for me. I am still waiting for her to deliver us a song that makes her voice mash even better with the backing track and that will leave us all in awe. It is a good song, I just want her to be Italy’s representative with an even better effort!”

Sean – 7 – “The piano track that runs throughout this one is sublime, the song has a really strong vibe and the bridge is effective, but the choruses lack a little power and underwhelm me. Overall, this is a solid pop ballad with the right amount of feeling and a decent, compelling structure but not top tier for me.”

Total: 38.5 points (Average = 7.7)

Francesco Renga – “Quando trovo te” (“When I find you”)

Daniel – 6.5 – “This song has arguably the most interesting intro and then it transitions into a more traditional pop ballad and then as soon as I am feeling like is this it, he adds a more rock-like element. There is a lot happening, I can admit that, but there is something mesmerizing. I might be in the unfortunate place where I think I prefer the musical competition more than the actual singing, but I think this song still adds a great variety to San Remo.”

James – 6 – “Is it me, or does Francesco look like a Philipp Kirkorov impersonator you might find sleeping on a bus station bench in Huddersfield? There’s a disheveled look to him that really sells this quirky song, which should really be called “Sempre” (“Always”). However, this song raises more questions than answers. Is it meant to be a romantic ballad about how he forgets her but when he sees her the first time amazement comes flooding back? Did he put the plot of “50 First Dates” into song form? Maybe these are metaphors that make sense to Italians, but as a foreigner looking in, this is all a bit strange.”

Melanie – 4.5 – “Francesco has a really intriguing voice. Quando Trovo Te has a really intriguing beat. You should think that those two would blend well together, however it just doesn’t sound great. However, I’m afraid that after listening to this song, the word “SEMPREEEEEEE” is going to be stuck in my head. The Sempreeeeee part is unforgettable and is actually saving the song from really falling flat. So, thank you SEMPREEEEEEEEEEEE!”

Roy – 2.5 – “I just think this song and performance is a bit unfortunate. His voice is quite interesting, but he is just shouting ‘Sempre’ a bunch of times. Then he also decides to speed things up and say it in quick succession where it feels like he can’t even really keep up with his own song. Just kind of unfortunate and I hope his next effort is a bit better.”

Sean – 6 – “Who doesn’t love an intensely hairy Italian version of Jack Black with deep, husky tones giving us a pop-rock-ballad? There are some nice elements to this, like the soaring “sempreeee” refrains and the guttural guitar licks in the bridge, but the overall package is a little lacking for me. There are better stand-outs in Sanremo this year unfortunately.”

Total: 25.5 points (Average = 5.1)

Fasma – “Parlami” (“Talk to Me”)

Daniel – 8.5 – “Is that autotune, or does his voice really do those effects, cause if so that is super cool. Oh I feel the build coming. Wow the Italian rap contrasted the choirs really hyped. Oh it is great, it is so powerful with an equally powerful musical composition behind him. I think there are a lot words thrown at you during the build chorus so that can be a bit overwhelming. But I think this song has such a great world of contrasts and do you see that emotion. I just think that it is so cool that the song had hard parts and soft sweet spots and it makes it flow well.”

James – 7 – “Unusual that an Italian rapper comes at us with a rock ballad. The slow ending with the whispered “Talk to Me” is a great touch, especially after his frantic three minutes describing the passion he feels for his lass. At times, Fasma almost sounds like he is out of breath, and the whispered end reels in the overall feel of his lover from “desperate” to “sincere.” As with a couple other artists at Sanremo 2021, Fasma needs to lay off the autotune.”

Melanie – 6 – “The autotune realy scared me. Why Fasma? You sound already great without it. Now it sounds so more artificial, while the song isn’t bad at all. There’s a lot of potential here, but also a lot of work. Please throw the autotune out this song, please Fasma watch in the camera and please sell me this song a little bit more. Now it almost sounds like your mad at the mic and you start spitting out random words. So Fasma, please work on this and come back next year with a killer song.”

Roy – 7 – “Yes, Autotune and a lot of it. But for some reason I feel like it kind of works for Fasma. It does take away a few points for me though, but the instrumentals in the chorus are very epic and his dedication and stage presence is amazing. I am really liking the energy and it is quite memorable too in my opinion. Parlami is a word that sticks in your mind quite well.”

Sean – 7.5 – “This sounds so much like the brilliantly inventive Italian collective Sxrrxwland so I’m immediately into this! Italian rap is such a powerful genre for me and one I’d love to get even more invested in, and this is another solid entry into the group. I do wish it was a little more “out there” in style, but the production is on point and the angst and emotion is laid bare for all.”

Total: 36 points (Average = 7.2)

Orietta Berti – “Quando ti sei innamorato” (“When you fell in love”)

Daniel – 6 – “I am all about these Venus de Milo conch shells and the styling. There is something unique about this song and it is the background track that seems like it might have contemporary elements, and then it really does not. I think this is a perfectly nice, traditional pop ballad. That said, it really is very outdated, for both San Remo and Eurovision. I think she sings it well, but this really is a song from like the mid or early 90’s.”

James – 7 – “We’re going back to the 1970s with this passionate classic Italian ballad. One thing to appreciate about Sanremo is how they showcase classical singers from the 1960s onward, even if they have no shot of winning. And this is a prime example, with Orietta Berti still proving she’s got it at 77 years old. In what is supposed to be a modern showcase of Italian music, you have to appreciate the classics and those who paved the way for the newer singers duking it out for the title today.”

Melanie – 5.5 – “Orietta is bringing us some old-school drama. A very nice vintage song sung by an amazing vocalist. It has a standard ballad structure with that very big chorus. Is it groundbreaking? Nope. Is it well executed? Yes. She just looks like a legend singing her anthem and I’m proud of her. However, we know this won’t go to Eurovision, it’s just too dated for it.”

Roy – 3.5 – “She is a lovely woman with a very good voice, but her stage presence leaves a bit to be desired. I do think the orchestration fits her quite well and builds very nicely. It is a bit on the dated side even though they experimented a bit with Trap in the beginning of the song. I also kind of miss a vocally outstanding moment and some memorability. It is a lovely performance and I don’t think it is a bad effort, Sanremo is just really strong this year.”

Sean – 6 – “Sanremo veteran Orietta Berti is back for another shot at the competition in 2021, and you can really feel the experience in this song. This won’t stand a chance in such a high-quality and modern selection I feel, but then Italians are also known for springing surprises. It’s certainly a classy, timeless canzone with a veteran at the helm, so who knows? Not really for me, but for sure a song many will get behind.”

Total: 28 points (Average = 5.6)

Bugo – “E invece sì” (“Instead Yes”)

Daniel – 5.5 – “I am not particularly a big fan of his voice in this rendition, particularly at the beginning not in the chorus. For such a seasoned singer, he has a slight deer-in-the-headlight look to his face. The instrumentation is pretty good though, it has built-in drama and a great build. I do think that the package as a whole is a bit underwhelming as a whole.”

James – 5.5 – “After last year’s shenanigans with Morgan walking off stage mid-performance during Bugo and Morgan’s performance, Bugo is back. I only mention this as Bugo’s song this year, while a pleasant enough listen, has not much going for it (or against it, to be fair) for a pop rock song. The lyrics appear to be about bucking expectations that society or family may place on you, though I imagine Bugo is the only one who cares if a dictator falls in love, vomits and is moved by something. A strange line, but I dwell on it as there is not much else going on here.”

Melanie – 4 – “Great intro! And that’s about it. The song gets boring and while It tries to get me back on the train in the chorus, it’s just doesn’t work. Bugo himself looks so sweet and he really pours his heart in this song. It almost makes me feel sad about the fact that I don’t like the song. I’m sorry Bugo, but this just doesn’t work for me.”

Roy – 3 – “Bugo has an intriguing voice, but also something is missing. The direction he took is very interesting and the brass instruments so make it a lot better. There is just something about the pre-chorus that I don’t like. It is just him kind of saying words with a break in between and it doesn’t make his voice shine necessarily. The same kind of carries over to the chorus where he sometimes struggles to keep up with his own song. Just overall kind of a mediocre piece when I add all things up.”

Sean – 5.5 – “This feels very old fashioned. YES, I know, it’s Sanremo and all of its history that comes with it, but this song feels quite dated by comparison to some other tracks. I can’t work out whether his rasping, rocky voice is soothing, intriguing or just plain irritating to me either. This works well with an orchestra, but would be very much out of place in Eurovision 2021.”

Total: 23.5 points (Average = 4.7)

Gaia – “Cuore amaro” (“Bitter heart”)

Daniel – 8 – “Oh an upbeat dance track, what a nice change of pace. This song has attitude and spunk and great styling. It has that very contemporaneous Latin beat with middle eastern instrumentation. It definitely sounds like a song from this decade and like it will be a radio hit. The staging and delivery needed something a bit more dynamic to match her energy, but its COVID. I think overall this is a great package overall and will be likely supporting it.”

James – 7.5 – “If it wasn’t for the Italian lyrics, I’d swear we’d stepped into Festival de Cancao with the acoustic guitars and the style. Which is deliberate, seeing as Gaia is herself part-Portuguese. It takes stones to bring something very Portuguese to a festival that prides itself as a being a showcase of modern Italian music, though she does honor her Italian half quite well with the lyrics and a few modern production touches.”

Melanie – 5.5 – “Will this be the Italian bop we all were waiting for (I don’t know about you, but I am). Gaia has personality and sings this song with a lot of sassiness. I just don’t like the way how here voice flows on the beat. It still feels kind of empty, while there is a whole orchestra surround here. The song needs some more power and body to be unforgettable. Now it’s just an okay song that feels a little bit flat.”

Roy – 4 – “This is one of those cases where it is more the style and the genre of the song that aren’t really my thing. I think Gaia performs it quite well and her voice is very pleasant to listen to. The song just goes so far though. It just kind of repeats the same thing very much. And she sings to it. I just can’t really get into it I guess.”

Sean – 8 – “Gaia, my dear, Festival da Canção is over there! I kid, but this does sound incredibly Portuguese to the untrained ear. What immaculate vibes though; the driving RnB beat with the latino flavour is a potent combination, Gaia has the right energy to carry it off and I could really see this one taking off with the international audience if the staging is right. This could be a good Eurovision choice for Italy you know!”

Total: 33 points (Average = 6.6)

La Stato Sociale – “Combat Pop”

Daniel – 8 – “What an interesting concept. I feel like I have been thrown back in the 60’s and I am not hating it. This is more than anything a unique approach with funny dances and floating boxes. The actual music is fun, coherent and comes together quite nicely, particularly during the chorus. I think this straddles the line of being a joke but a joke with quality, which I appreciate. It is a celebration of popular culture through pop music. I think this reverence in such an irreverent manner is fun.”

James – 3 – “This post-punk band sounds like one of those British groups that would routinely perform at working mens clubs in support of coal miners but would not actually know any coal miners and would end up looking like out-of-touch rich kids lecturing those they’re “saving.” Those bands would often try “humor” to make a point, and La Stato Sociale is no exception. I am not sure all the jokes land, and given the tediousness of their dropped in clichés like “music to sell advertising,” I am not sure I care if the jokes do or don’t land. I don’t care for fake edge outside Sanremo, so why would I want these Rick from Young Ones wannabes at Sanremo?”

Melanie – 5 – “This one really confuses me. I expect this kind of song from teen boys that are writing songs in the garage of one of the bandmembers parents. Now I’m seeing some grown-up singing this kind of song. It’s a very fun song, but maybe It suits better at Junior Eurovision? I just try to understand it, but the staging makes it just even more confusing. I just don’t know what I should do with this song. So, it’s a meh for me now.”

Roy – 7 – “Sign me up for this kind of sarcastic, all over the place songs that are very catchy at the same time any day. Yes, the dress change gimmick is a bit weird and extra, but I find myself bopping to this song a whole lot. I think the 2 main singers of the song have a lot of charisma and both have very interesting and unique voices too. It is just one big party on the stage. Is it a winner? No. But I absolutely love it for its unapologetic fun!”

Sean – 7 – “These guys were absolutely robbed f**king blind a few years back, so I’m glad they get another crack at Sanremo glory. Unfortunately the song pales in comparison to “Una vita in vacanza”, but this is a storming pop-rock track complete with singalong hooks, a clapalong bridge and a driving drumbeat to get the pulses racing. Decent effort this!”

Total: 30 points (Average = 6.0)

Heading into our third and final part, Måneskin remains in the lead with a very respectable average of 8.3 points. We shall see how the final nine will affect the standings later on today.

  1. Måneskin – “Zitti I buoni” (“Shut up and good”) – 41.5 points (Average = 8.3)
  2. Annalisa – “Dieci” (“Ten”) – 38.5 points (Average = 7.7)
  3. Arisa – “Potevi fare di più” (“You Could Have Done More”) – 38 points (Average = 7.6)
  4. Madame – “Voce” (“Voice”) – 37.5 points (Average = 7.5)
  5. Fasma – “Parlami” (“Talk to Me”) – 36 points (Average = 7.2) #
  6. Francesca Michielin & Fedez – “Chiamame per nome” (“Call me by my name”) – 36 points (Average = 7.2) #
  7. Noemi – “Glicine” (“Wisteria”) – 35 points (Average = 7.0)
  8. Colapesce & Dimartino – “Musica leggerissima” (“Very Light Music”) – 34.5 points (Average = 6.9) #
  9. Max Gazzè & Trifluoperazina Monstery Band – “Il Farmacista” – 34.5 points (Average = 6.9) #
  10. Ghemon – “Momento Perfetto” (“Perfect time”) – 33.5 points (Average = 6.7)
  11. Gaia – “Cuore amaro” (“Bitter heart”) – 33 points (Average = 6.6)
  12. Coma_Cose – “Fiamme negli occhi” (“Flames in the Eyes”) – 32.5 points (Average = 6.5)
  13. La Stato Sociale – “Combat Pop” – 30 points (Average = 6.0)
  14. Aiello – “Ora” (“Now”) – 29.5 points (Average = 5.9)
  15. Orietta Berti – “Quando ti sei innamorato” (“When you fell in love”) – 28 points (Average = 5.6)
  16. Francesco Renga – “Quando trovo te” (“When I find you”) – 25.5 points (Average = 5.1)
  17. Bugo – “E invece sì” (“Instead Yes”) – 23.5 points (Average = 4.7)

# – 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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