Ghali takes a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Dargen D’Amico sings about migrants and Mannoia brings a neo-feminist song
A Sanremo 2024 with a straight case, which is a candidate for very high radio rotation. “Radios are the immediate pulse of the piece that works”, he says at the end of listening to the preview of the Amadeus songs, at his fifth festival as host and artistic director. The uptempo songs prevail over the ballads, for one of the most rhythmic Sanremos in recent years. “It’s not a random choice, I choose the songs without thinking about quotas, neither about genres nor about themes”, he underlines.
Thirty songs in the competition, what are: the themes touched on
The first impression is that many of the songs chosen, despite 15 out of 30 artists making their debut in the competition, are potential radio hits. Several songs stick in your head with their refrains at first listen, from The Kolors to Annalisa, from Mahmood to Emma, which also dusts off 80s sounds, to Angelina Mango, which makes us dance to the rhythm of cumbia. Geolier’s song also arrives immediately, loud and clear, despite being written and sung in very strict Neapolitan slang. And his ‘I p’ me, tu p’ te’ is a candidate to become one of the catchphrases of the festival, as it was last year for “but I work to not be with you” by Colapesce and Dimartino. The same goes for “a boy meets a girl, the night doesn’t pass, the night goes away”, by The Kolors, which the listener will repeat by heart after the first evening of the festival.
‘Pazza’ by Loredana Bertè also immediately leaves an impression (and many middle-aged women will easily identify with it) and will give her some satisfaction, if the veteran of Italian rock does not let herself be betrayed by the emotion on the Ariston stage. A song in which Loredana essentially says: after having searched for the love of others all my life, now I’m fine because “I’m crazy about myself”. We also find female empowerment in Fiorella Mannoia’s neo-feminist song ‘Mariposa’: “I was yours and everyone’s, no one’s, anyone else’s/with shoes and bare feet. In the desert and even in the mud/one hundred thousand”, she sings Fiorella also mentions the title of the concert-event against violence against women of which she is the promoter and protagonist together with many colleagues.
As already mentioned, among the 30 titles, we note a certain prevalence of the straight drum, of the up tempo and even of the surprising Ricchi e Poveri, in ‘Ma non tutto la vita’, propose an electropop that begins with a self-quote: “That confusion”, the same incipit of Sara per ché ti amo’ from 1981. But the quotes from this Sanremo are many: Alessandra Amoroso in her ‘Fino a qui’ quotes Sally by Vasco Rossi while Negramaro pay homage to the Battisti of the blonde braids, only to name two examples.
Happy love but above all tormented love still reign supreme, even in very different musical keys, from Irama’s very poignant song ‘Tu no’ to the desperate ‘Il cielo non ci ci liberi’ by Fred De Palma, from Sangiovanni who dedicates his ‘Finiscimi’ to ex-girlfriend Giulia Stabile, a friend’s dancer, to ‘Pazzo di te’ by Renga and Nek. Even Diodato’s inspired ballad ‘Ti muovi’ seems to address a love in the sunset. ‘Click Boom!’ also talks about love. by Rose Villain. As well as ‘Love in the Mouth’ by the French Saints, which moves in a mix of genres between straight bass, soul and funky. La Sad also speaks of a ‘Self-destructive’ love where you can hear the signature of Riccardo Zanotti of Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, while a Gazzelle in love proposes in ‘Sincerely’, a sort of serenade from Northern Rome.
And if Il Volo seems to veer towards a fresher and slightly less traditional pop with ‘Capolavoro’, Negramaro brings pure Negramaro to the Ariston with ‘Ricominciamo tutto’, a ballad that will drive fans of the Salento band crazy and that will allow Giuliano Sangiorgi to have fun with his vocals in the live version with orchestra on the Ariston stage.
But the songs of Sanremo 2024 also sing a lot of fragility, from Mr Rain with ‘Due swings’ to Il Tre which brings to the festival a song full of hope entitled ‘Fragile’. With Big Mama then the revenge on the bullying of an artist who has faced so much suffering and found the strength to react and who today is no longer afraid to show herself as she is bursts into the Ariston to the rhythm of hip hop.
And this year there is also some political touch, as in the song ‘Casa Mia’ by Ghali, which could spark some controversy because he imagines his world seen by an Alien and has an anti-war passage that refers to borders drawn on paper and to bombed hospitals which seems to take a specific position on the Israeli bombing of Gaza rather than on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. But political commitment also appears in the song by Dargen D’Amico, where the High Wave of the title is the one faced by migrants in the Mediterranean. “We’re more than life preservers on the boat/The big wave is coming,” Dargen sings. And again: “We have changed our ideas/We have changed leaders/But the mother and the other women/They have nothing to laugh about.”
But all in all, in the 30 songs there are very few that talk about political or social themes. A choice? “Absolutely not”, replies Amadeus who explains: “Unfortunately some artists propose the strong theme thinking that it is a shortcut to being chosen but I choose a song if in my opinion it is a good song. The important social theme for me is valid if it is associated to a strong song. Otherwise I would do damage”, he explains.
A Sanremo where, except for Bertè’s song, rock is practically absent, despite the Maneskin effect: “Of the 400 proposals I received, none were Maneskin-style rock”, says Amadeus.
There is no shortage of swear words, as always: in the dialogue with his ex, Sangiovanni apologizes for having “been a bit of an idiot”, Emma lets out a “I don’t understand shit about you”, Dargen D’Amico begins his High wave’ with “there are those who call me a son of a bitch”. “I have never touched the lyrics in five years, never changed a word. For me the song is a work of art. I would never ask a painter to modify a painting: the provocation, the strong word is part of the work Of course, if they proposed me a text with excessively violent content I would point it out to the artist”, concludes Amadeus who weeks ago already ensured a moment of reflection on the scourge of feminicides at the festival.
From Russell Crowe to Gigliola Cinquetti, Amadeus opens to super guests and invites Celentano
In the end there will be at least one super international guest at Sanremo 2024: Russel Crowe. And also a couple of local super guests who join the already announced Giovanni Allevi and Roberto Bolle: Eros Ramazzotti and Gigliola Cinquetti, respectively to celebrate the 40 years of ‘Terra Promessa’, on Friday evening, and the 60 years of ‘Non ho l ‘age’, in Saturday’s final. The celebrations on Wednesday will also include Giorgia, co-host of the evening, and the 30th anniversary of ‘E poi’. And a tribute to Toto Cutugno for whom Amadeus launched “an official invitation” to Adriano Celentano: “It would be a dream to have him”. The artistic director does not exclude that a song by Cutugno, perhaps the iconic ‘L’Italiano’, could be chosen by some competing artist on the cover evening, where it will be mandatory to have a guest and where songs from every era can be brought , “until those released on December 31, 2023”.
As for Russell Crowe, Amadeus underlines that the Oscar winner will come “practically free, at his expense, for the pleasure of being there: he will leave Australia on February 6th, arrive on the 7th and will be a guest of the festival on February 8th”, explains Amadeus at the end of the long listening session for the press preview of the 30 competing songs. International musical guests? “It’s not a priority but I don’t rule out the possibility of some news between now and the start of the festival. I repeat, for me the super guests are in the race”, he reiterates. And the sports guests? “We’ve had footballers but then if they don’t score in the next match it’s the festival’s fault and therefore it’s difficult to have them. However, I don’t rule out some surprises from other sportsmen”, he concludes.