At last we reach my number 1 ranking in the Eurovision 2019 previews countdown. Now if you’ve been paying attention to my rankings, you may have well guessed who this is, especially when I said Spain at #5 was my penultimate big 5 country. As I said in my runner up post/video , I could easily have had a shared number 1 ranking this year and I had Netherlands as my number one for a good period. But I had to make a choice between the two – and I (quite recently) went to the side of Italy and Mahmood with “Soldi”.
The long running Sanremo Music Festival was the source for the Italian entry once again. Now in its 69th year, it’s a precursor/template of the Eurovision Song Contest. Mahmood actually had taken part in a run up contest just to enter Sanremo: Sanremo Giovani which looks to introduce newcomers to the contest, and he was one of two winners out of 24 entries. At Sanremo itself, while he came 7th in televote, he won the jury vote and came second in the press vote and won the overall contest.
His full name is Alessandro Mahmood and he’s Italian but has an Egyptian father, who left at an early age (to leave his mum to bring him up) and that Egyptian ancestry raised some hackles among some politicians of a certain political hue in Italy that’s for sure (which makes me support him all the more!). He was involved with X Factor several years ago, and was in a newcomers Sanremo show a couple of years ago, and also had a single that reached the Italian top 10 autumn last year but this is by far his biggest break.
Soldi may not have won the public vote but it’s gone on to huge success in Italy and more widely. And for good reason it’s an excellent song, contemporary with strong elements of trap music. People often scoff at Eurovision and of course you may recall Salvador Sobral (winner in 2017) making a comment on “fast food” music, but this can’t accused of that. It’s a deeply autobiographical song, exploring the relationship with his father and how money (“Soldi”) was his father’s priority. There is even a line of Arabic in the song, which recalls memories of his childhood (Mahmood doesn’t actually speak Arabic). It’s quite unconventional in that it doesn’t have a chorus as such – it’s made up of “Soldi”, “Come va”, and the claps – but all comes together.
Italy have been so close to winning since their return to the contest, with several top 10 placings and while it might be a long time since they won in 1990, but in terms of their appearances at the contest, that was only 10 contests ago. I’m being realistic about how this will do – there were high hopes this could win, but I have a feeling it will do very well but not quite make it. Italy will get there again sooner or later though and if they did win this year, I think that would be fantastic as it’s such a modern song, well sung, passionately performed and with a lot of meaning/story in the song.
Official music video:
Live at London Eurovision Party:
My preview video:
Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding this year): 44
Best result: Winner 1964, 1990
Last year’s result: 5th