Sanremo: Italy’s Own Eurovision

Are you looking for another way to immerse yourself in Italian culture? Find some new tunes? Learn a few new Italian words? Look no further than YouTube, and Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival!

One of Italy’s most-viewed television programs is Sanremo, an ‘Olympic trials’ of music, for a chance to represent the country in the famous Eurovision competition which happens each May.

There is so much Italian culture to witness within this show: There is always particular attention placed on the hostess, who is a gorgeous woman of course, whose costume changes are always jaw-dropping. This year, it was Michelle Hunziker, who received criticisms for some of her wardrobe picks being too ‘Barbie’ and ‘mother of the bride.’

 

Although there are ‘novice’ categories, as well as a ‘young, new singer’ category, the main show is the already-established artists who present their newest and most prized works. Unlike in the US, comical songs, hiding much deeper meanings, hold their own in Italy, and oftentimes are the greatest ‘hits of the summer.’ The song ‘Il Congiuntivo,’ by Lorenzo Baglioni is no exception. It is a nod to the fact that there is a large number of Italians who do not know how to use ‘il congiuntivo,’ or the Italian subjunctive. This problem has gotten to be so widespread that it has been turned into the subject of many memes, which encourage people to test their potential partners on their knowledge of grammar before agreeing to date them.The lyrics are perfect both for a learner of Italian, as well as those Italians who tend to slack off on their grammatical duties in casual conversations. The first lines, which conjugate the verb ‘essere,’ ‘to be,’ ‘Che io Sia, che io fossi, che io fossi stato…’ bring me back to Italian 101.

In fact, last year’s winner was ‘Occidentali’s Karma,’ Francesco Gabbani’s upbeat criticism of Western culture, which he feels attempts to reshape and exploit Eastern culture. Although his line ‘the naked ape dances’ refers to a book on evolution, his video is as ‘divertente’ as can be.

 

One of my favorite songs in this year’s competition so far is by Annalisa, a seasoned competitor who has many hits already, including ‘Direzione la Vita’ and ‘Se avessi un Cuore’ (note the correct usage of the subjunctive). The song is called, ‘Il Mondo Prima di Te,’ or ‘The World Before You.’ It is a gorgeous song, and like many Italian modern songs, it is filled of romantic, dreamy poetry that American songs simply don’t express.

My favorite lines are:

E sembrerà normale
Immaginare che il mondo
Scelga di girare
Attorno a un altro sole
È una casa senza le pareti
Da costruire nel tempo
Costruire dal niente
Come un fiore
Fino alle radici

‘And it will seem normal

To imagine that the world chooses to turn

Around another sun

It’s a house without walls

To build with time

To build from nothing

Like a flower

‘Til its roots

This competition, Italy’s own ‘February Madness,’ concludes the second week of February. I would highly recommend for anyone who has any interest in Italian language or culture to check out some of the songs and artists! I’ve linked a few of my favorites here:

Il Congiuntivo 

Il Mondo Prima di Te

Non mi avete Fatto Niente

Frida (Mai, Mai, Mai) 

Last year’s winner (most-watched Eurovision video of all time): Occidentali’s Karma

These songs, artists, and competition in general are a great topic of conversation for a Lex ‘language experience!’ I’m definitely putting these new tunes on my Spotify playlist!

Buon divertimento! Have fun!

Danielle Hadjin

Editor

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