The Eurovision Song Contest was inspired by and modelled on the Sanremo festival back in the day. Since then, the two have grown into two very different contests. Nothing underlines this fact quite like the Italian entry.
Marco Mengoni - L'essenziale (Italy 2013)
Since Italy ended their long eurovision hibernation they have picked their ESC entrant among the Sanremo participants each year, with quite good success. This year RAI hit the bull's eye as their chosen entrant also won Sanremo and decided to take his winning song to Malmö as well.
This is a very good song, a soft rock ballad with roots and influences in the Italian ballad tradition as well as 90's indie bands like The Verve. It is melodic, delicate, precious. Marco himself is an exquisite perfomer with a very personable expression. This is a very good ballad indeed.
But will it work at eurovision? There is such a difference between what is possible in Sanremo and what is requires at the ESC.
In Sanremo, the audience will expect the songs to deliver in the end and therefore gives a song time to slowly grow into something bigger and better. You are not in a hurry, you can move slowly and the audience will stay with you.
At the ESC, the audience is impatient. Songs are allowed to grow also here, but you have to catch the voters interest quickly. If they are not hooked within a minute, chances are they leave you to go fetch more coffee or make more popcorn.
Marco and his song are definitely good enough for eurovision. But are they direct enough?
No, I doubt so. Hopefully this performance will push Marco's european career and help him sell a number of copies here and there, but ultimately this will be too demanding to be a winner.
My grade: 4/5
Then again, who knows? Italy have taken their own routes through the ESC in the past and sent in songs that are too slow and too demanding and still achieving good scores. Like this masterpiece, for example.
Gigliola Cinquetti - Si (Italy 1974)