A rare thing now, a Big Five country with a decent run of success. Italy of course only have a short run of success, only returning to Eurovision two years ago after a 14-year absence. They came back with a bang though, with their 2011 entry “Madness of love” reaching a surprising 2nd place, and last year’s entry also making the top 10. However the TV ratings for the contest are still poor, and many seem to expect Italy to disappear again as soon as things turn sour.
If that’s the idea then they haven’t shown it, this year sending the winner of their massively popular San Remo music festival. I guess the hope is that interest in the winner of San Remo would transfer to Eurovision, which is sound enough logic.
Italy are a founding member of Eurovision, and despite their hiatus for the 00s and most of the 90s, they’ve had 39 entries in the contest, including two wins. With things as they are, it seems that Italy might get a third win sooner rather than later.
Marco Mengoni won the third season of Italian X-Factor, and went on to be a successful artist at home and in the surrounding region, even picking up some MTV Europe awards. It seems like he’s one of the big guns in this year’s contest, though I’m not entirely convinced by the song.
“L’essenziale” is a heartfelt plea of a ballad, and while the music doesn’t build up too much over the duration, he’s got a big job ahead of him to perform those big vocals. I think the performance will be what sells this one, it comes over as a very sober, dignified song, not far from a big Gary Barlow ballad (but in a good way).
As Italy is one of the big contributors to the EBU, they are spared the indignity of having to qualify for the final, and as far as the battle of the “Big Five” goes, it’ll be Italy or Germany coming out on top I think. While I’m still sceptical of Germany’s chances of winning, Italy I can very easily call a dark horse of this contest… definitely one to keep an eye on.
For more reviews of this year’s Eurovision entries and news, please visit my Malmö 2013 hub.