The #1 position of a music chart is always a heady place to occupy.
Reaching that coveted spot means lots and lots of people not only love your music but love it enough to stream it, buy it and keep playing it over and over; it makes sense, when selecting artists to highlight in the first of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest Cultural Festival posts, that we focus on five Italian artists who reached the summit of musical popularity in Italy last year.
Two of the people featured are actually representing Italy and San Marino this year, which is happy synergy that wasn’t planned but which adds an extra appealing symmetry to the post.
So, sit back, pump up the volume and immerse yourself in the tunes that made the Italian musical world go around last year …
“Malibù” by Sangiovanni
Occupying the top spot for almost a month from 14 May to 4 June 2021, Sangiovanni, the mononymic stage moniker of Giovanni Pietro Damian, “Malibù” is a gloriously upbeat of idiosyncratic pop, rife with catchy melody, edgily playful vocals and some very cool flourishes.
The artist’s most successful track by some margin, the song was certified seven times platinum in Italy, a successful precursor to Sangiovanni’s participation in the San Remo Music Festival 2022 where he placed fifth with the song “Farfalle”. (The festival is traditionally the way in which Italy selects its Eurovision representative with the winner given the option of entering the contest for the country.)
The 19-year-old artist has been active in talent shows too, placing second overall in the “Singers” section of Amici di Maria De Filippi, which he followed up with the release of debut EP Sangiovanni in May 2021 which managed to match the success of its constituent single, reaching #1.
With a debut album now out in the world, you can expect to hear from this music artist on the rise who has already demonstrated he has what it takes to make his fellow citizens sit up and listen.
Produced by the coming together of Italian rapper-influencer-singer-songwriter Fedez, singer-songwriter-rapper Achille Lauro (aka Lauro De Marinis who’s representing San Marino in this year’s contest), and Italian pop-folk singer-actress-television personality Orietta Berti who is 79 years young, “Mille” vaulted to the #1 spot on 11 June, taking over from Sangiovanni, and held onto it for five weeks.
It’s not hard to see why – co-written by Fedez and Achille Lauro (with Davide “d.whale” Simonetta, Paolo Antonacci and Dargen D’Amico), it’s a bouncy slice of joyously happy fun, that comes complete with the perfect video clip, that brings all three artists together so perfectly that you can help but feel that the decision to collaborate, hatched during the Sanremo Music Festival 2021 was a stroke of genius.
Particularly when you consider that surmounting the Italian charts gave Fedez his tenth number one, Lauro his first ever and Berti her first since the middle of the Swingin’ Sixties.
It’s enormously catchy, a surfeit of good vibes and smiles – although Berti seems to be the only one actually smiling throughout – that feels like summer, sunshine and all the good things in life in one perfectly-executed three-minute slice of superlative pop.
“Blu Celeste” by BLANCO
BLANCO is another 2022 Eurovsion Song Contest participant – he appears with Mahmood for Italy singing “Brividi” which won them this year’s Sanremo Music Festival – BLANCO dials things down to a thoughtfully contemplative level with “Blu Celeste”, a song which is arrestingly beautiful and heartfelt.
Hitting #1 for two weeks in September, “Blu Celeste” (“Sky Blue”) comes from BLANCO’s debut album of the same name, and was written by producer-composer Michelangelo and the artist.
Known to his mum and dad as Riccardo Fabbriconi, BLANCO sings and rap, releasing his EP Quarantine Paranoid in June 2020, which garnered him a record deal with Universal and Island Records, a number one album and multiple charting number one singles including “La canzone nostra” (with Mace and Salmo), “Mi fai impazzire” (with Sfera Ebbasta) and of course,
(with Mahmood), which is set to send his star even higher into the pop firmament in months and years to come.
A long time in the creation, “Musica leggerissima” (“Very Light Music) shot right up past #2 on the Italian charts in early March, refusing to relinquish its holds on the musical consciousness of Italians until late in April.
A mid-fi piece of pleasingly languid, melody and emotion-rich music which soars on the golden vocals of Colapesce and Dimartino – their musical sensibility bears a non-derivative kinship with the work of Empire of the Sun – two successful solo artists who decide to collaborate, the end result being the album I mortali.
The song, selected to compete in the Sanremo Music Festival 2021 where it placed 4th out of 26 entrant tracks, began life as a demo in September 2020 and went through a number of iterations for its debut at Sanremo, its long gestation period due, notes Wikipedia, to the duo struggling to find “finding the words to create a song full of meaning, but still light and simple.”
But they got there in the end, releasing one of the biggest songs to keep Italians humming and singing in 2021, proof that hard fought for things are often the sweetest in the end.
“Allenamento #4” by Capo Plaza
Diving onto the top spot for one gloriously brief week in early January, “Allenamento #4” by Capo Plaza is a song that starts out slowly and beautifully and maintains a gorgeously moody vibe throughout.
Paired with a clip shot largely at night, “Allenamento #4” has a subdued epic quality to it, buoyed in its likeable atmospheric intensity by Plaza’s evocative vocals which feel like they are bleeding emotion through every lyric.
An actor and composer, 24-year-old Plaza is an Instagram star with over 1.6 million followers, gaining the status of one of Italy’s leading social media influencers which he has winningly parlayed into a very catchy, chart-topping piece of pop which reflects the artist’s gift for creating memorable music with edge and presence.