This year’s edition of Italy’s annual Sanremo Music Festival was the 72nd edition, and the first to take place with an audience after last year’s had to be performed to an empty (bar everyone’s favourite balloons with faces) Ariston Theatre since 2020. The most followed contest since 1997, Sanremo saw an average tv share of 58%, making it a very successful year.
After five nights, Mahmood and Blanco with their song ‘Brividi’ won the voting from all three of the demoscopic jury, press room, and televoting, with 51.77% of the votes overall, beating Elisa (26.33%) and Gianni Morandi (21.90%) in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Almost two months on, ‘Brividi’ is still amassing large streams and viewing numbers, and has been 1st in the Italian singles charts since its release. In this article we take a look at the singers behind Italy’s Eurovision entry this year, and evaluate their chances in May.
WHO IS MAHMOOD?
Milanese Alessandro Mahmoud, born on the 12th September 1992, is a familiar face to the Eurovision community, having placed 2nd in the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv with his song ‘Soldi’, just 26 points away from beating Duncan Laurence with ‘Arcade’. With a Sardinian mother and an Egyptian father, he has grown up influenced by a mix of music ranging from classic Italian influences, to Arabic music as listened to by his father. He has an innovative and sophisticated style which he describes as ‘Morocco-pop’, alongside contemporary R&B and pop. His stage name ‘Mahmood’ plays on his surname and the English phrase ‘my mood’, which represents his aim to showcase his personal history and his mood through his songs.
To begin with, Mahmood took part in X Factor Italia way back in 2012, but was eliminated in the third live show after having been brought back as a wildcard. He then participated in Sanremo Giovani in 2016 (after having won Area Sanremo in 2015) with ‘Dimentica’ and placed 4th. Ultimately though he achieved fame winning Sanremo Giovani in 2018 with ‘Gioventù Bruciata’, then winning Sanremo in 2019 with ‘Soldi’, which has since been certified four times platinum in Italy.
Over his career, Mahmood has accumulated several accolades, including an MTV EMA Award for ‘Best Italian Artist’. His platinum selling album ‘Gioventù Bruciata’ went to number one in Italy, as well as charting in Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. His most recent gold selling album ‘Ghettolimpo’ achieved number 2 in Italy, as well as charting in Spain and Sweden. His success abroad has been aided by his Eurovision participation and subsequent European tour dates. Without resting, he will be taking part in his ‘Ghettolimpo Tour’ around Eurovision time.
Additionally, he has written music for many other artists including Eurovision alums Marco Mengoni and Francesca Michielin. Recently notable, he wrote Noemi’s Sanremo 2022 entry ‘Ti amo non lo so dire’.
WHO IS BLANCO?
Riccardo Fabbriconi, born on the 10th February 2003 in Brescia, is currently one of Italy’s most famous artists. Alongside being one of the youngest contestants in this year’s contest, he was the youngest contestant in this edition of Sanremo, and became the youngest male winner ever. His pop/rapcore music has been influenced by listening to such artists as Lucio Battisti, Lucio Dalla, and Pino Daniele, as well as radio pop as a child, then approaching the world of hip-hop during his adolescence.
He published the EP ‘Quarantine Paranoid’ on Soundcloud in June 2020, which was discovered by Universal Music, who thereupon offered him a record contract. ‘Notti In Bianco’ which was released in July 2020 became a sleeper hit during the summer of 2021, and charted at number 2, as well as being certified five times platinum in Italy.
Succeeding a string of successful hits and collaborations, which included ‘Mi Fai Impazzire’ (alongside Sfera Ebbasta) spending eight weeks charting at number one, his debut album ‘Blu Celeste’ debuted directly atop the Italian albums chart and was certified gold after one week, and platinum after two. It also appeared in 3rd place in Spotify’s worldwide album ranking after 72 hours. After its release, the top 10 songs in the Italian singles chart were all Blanco songs. Being certified four times platinum in Italy, the album also charted at eleven in Switzerland.
He works closely with the producer Michelangelo who is responsible for ‘Blu Celeste’, as well as ‘Brividi’. Blanco is also set to go on tour (the ‘Blu Celeste Tour’) during Eurovision time, further solidifying his success in Italy.
THE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS OF ‘BRIVIDI’
‘Brividi’ set the record for the highest number of streams collected in 24 hours in Italy on Spotify. It has also been charting at number one in Italy consistently since its release, as well as going to number one in Switzerland, and being certified three times platinum. It debuted at number 5 on the global Spotify chart with 3.586 million streams, the biggest debut for an Italian song in history, and is the highest charting Italian song ever. It also debuted at number 9 on the global Youtube music video chart with 14.3 million views. ‘Brividi’ peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Global 200 (excluding the US) singles chart, and placed 15th on the same chart overall. It has charted in dozens of countries’ iTunes charts, including a number 1 in Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Switzerland; and Spotify charts, with a number 1 in Italy and Switzerland. The music video trended in multiple countries on Youtube, and appeared in 15 countries’ weekly Youtube charts after the release, counting a number 1 in Italy and Switzerland.
HOW WELL WILL MAHMOOD AND BLANCO DO AT ESC?
‘Brividi’ is a solid Eurovision entry, having mixed modern contemporary music with a classic Italian sound, and of course garnering huge home support. With a substantial charting ability and live performance, it remains only to be seen how juries and televoters across Europe will react to the track in May. Although having huge support amongst fans however, it is not the only favourite, and is up against some strong entries from other countries that could easily fight hard and potentially do better in the bid for the trophy.
Of course, it’s an accessible track that shouldn’t divide opinions too much, but will it get enough support to gather enough points to win? Being a non-English language entry too is refreshing, but could lose votes among people that like to understand the meaning of the songs. On the other hand, you could argue that with four of last year’s top five being foreign language entries, this shouldn’t hurt its chances. However, one of the biggest muses on everyone’s lips this year is that ‘Brividi’ is the host entry. Having rarely seen host countries send genuinely competitive songs to the contest in recent years, this makes it hard to predict how Italy will fare, despite being received well and being one of the bookmarkers’ favourites to win. Impressively, should Italy win again, they’d become the first country to win on home ground since Ireland’s victory in 1994. We previously discussed Italy’s potential to break the ‘host entry curse’ in more detail, and you can read that article here. Only time will tell what will happen. Above all though, it’s highly likely Italy will break the curse of host entries barely scraping any points, and should earn a place in the top 10.
You can listen to the Italian entry ‘Brividi’ below:
What’s your opinion on Italy’s song for Eurovision 2022? How well do you think it will do? Is a double win on the cards, or will it underperform? Let us know!