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The Best Italian Eurovision Songs

Paola_Bassanese_itcher_contributorItaly seems to have a love-hate relationship with Eurovision: there have been several gaps in appearances (1981, 1982, 1986, 1994-1996, 1998-2010) citing a general lack of interest from the public. ~ Paola Bassanese

Compared to the much more popular Italian music festival Sanremo, Eurovision does not canvass the same amount of enthusiasm among Italian viewers.

With the arrival of X Factor Italy and The Voice of Italy, people’s taste for reality music shows have prevailed over traditional music festivals.

This makes me wonder: has Italy ever won Eurovision? Yes, but only rarely: two wins in 40 appearances is not a good record!


Best Italian Eurovision Songs: My Personal Favourites

1. ‘Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)’ Domenico Modugno, 1958

The general consensus is that Domenico Modugno‘s Volare< (well, that’s how we all remember the name of this song, whose real title is Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu) is the ultimate, best song ever coming from Italy to compete at the Eurovision song contest.

It’s such a classic, timeless, elegant song that transcends the decades, styles and tastes.

Modugno sang ‘Volare’ in 1958; he didn’t win the competition but he placed at a respectable third spot.

But guess what: in the same year, Dean Martin released ‘Volare’s first cover version and, boom! He made it a worldwide hit.

It makes me sad that Italian music has never been as good since.

Mind you, there has been a bit of a renaissance in Italian music in the last few years and by that I mean that Italian artists have become less provincial and more appealing to an international audience, but nothing compares to the dizzying heights of ‘Volare’.

Douze-points-o-meter: 100%

2. ‘Gente di Mare’ (Umberto Tozzi and Raf, 1987)

My personal favourite is Italy’s 1987 entry Gente di Mare by Umberto Tozzi and Raf. It got to third place at Eurovision and in my opinion this song has a great anthemic quality to it.

The song is dedicated to people from sea towns (just like me!) and in places it reminds me of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s duet Don’t Give Up – have a listen and tell me what you think.

Oh, and doesn’t Umberto Tozzi (the guy on the right with “strawberry blonde” hair) remind you of Keith Lemon?

3. ‘L’Essenziale’ (Marco Mengoni, 2013)

Marco Mengoni has become an extremely popular artist after winning the X Factor in Italy in 2009 – he has been unstoppable ever since.

His 2013 Eurovision entry ‘L’Essenziale’ was a smash hit in Italy (it went straight to number one in the digital downloads chart and remained there for eight weeks) but in the contest it only came seventh.

Douze-points-o-meter: 100%

4. Special Mention: ‘I Treni di Tozeur’ (Alice and Franco Battiato, 1984)

Two music industry heavy-weights duet at Eurovision and place in fifth position.

To note: Battiato is one of Italy’s geniuses.

There’s a nice mix between your typical 80s electro sound reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys, powerful female choir and intelligent lyrics about the charm of Tunisian oasis city Tozeur.


The Worst

1. ‘Magic, Oh Magic’ (Al Bano and Romina Power, 1985)

Where do I start? Romina Power<, aughter of Hollywood star Tyrone Power, tried her luck at singing with her then-husband Al Bano.

Tried she did. And that is all I’m saying. Judge for yourselves, I am rather speechless.

Nul-points-o-meter: 100%

2. ‘I Giorni dell’Arcobaleno’ (Nicola di Bari,  1972)

Poor Nicola di Bari looked out of place and possibly from the wrong era when he competed in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972.

This pathetic excuse for a song about a girl becoming a woman at 16 hints at sexuality while managing to be completely soporific.

The only good thing about di Bari’s performance is the Buddy Holly-like glasses.

Nul-points-o-meter: 100%

Of course, Toto Cutugno’s ‘Insieme 1992’ has already been vilified on several other forums so I will save myself the trouble.

3. ‘La Mia Citta’ (Emma Marrone, 2014)

Unfortunately I need to jump on the “oh no she didn’t” bandwagon and add Italian singer Emma Marrone to the list of Eurovision’s worst.

Don’t get me wrong, the song is okay and I like the music arrangement, but the singer’s attitude was rotten: from being plain rude and arrogant to not even being able to speak pigeon English in interviews, Emma scored “nul points” for Italy. OK, it was actually 33 points.

Coming at a meagre 21st position at Eurovision 2014, ‘La Mia Citta’ was clearly not a popular song in the contest and to date Italy’s worst score in the history of Eurovision.

Nul-points-o-meter: 90%


The Verdict

Italy used to be a nation of unforgettable, classic songs the world over would want to copy.

Now Italy has become a copycat of other countries – but there’s still hope that new artists will emerge from the “fog” of mediocrity and put Italy on the music map again.

Any Suggestions? Please, leave your comments below!


I am Paola Bassanese, and I love twitter – I think in slogans! I am a contributing author at itcher mag covering mainly quirky movies that I like and that I hope you′ll like too. [n-e-x-t] I have written a few books including The Foraging Home Cook, and also write about health and lifestyle for the Huffington Post. I consider myself to be a Londoner even though I was born in Italy. I love 80s music and foreign language films, but I also enjoy going to the opera and ballet.
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