We enter into my top 20 and have now moved from clustering rankings from 5 at a time, to 3 at a time for the next few sets of rankings. I should reiterate that being in the top 20 is a very good sign – I like the majority of the songs that were on offer for Eurovision 2020, so to be in my top 20 means I’m definitely a fan of the song, and indeed, it can be quite challenging to order them!
#20 ITALY: Diodato “Fai Rumore”
Since Italy returned to the contest in 2011, they have consistently brought high quality, classy, authentic songs and this was no different this year. Admittedly, this wasn’t my first choice of winner from Sanremo, but there’s no denying it’s a powerful ballad and he really does have quite some voice to say the least.
Compared to Mahmood last year, which was my number 1 in my countdown, this is far more conventional. It may have been a slight reaction from a more conservative music press (it won because of a huge vote from the press jury part of the complicated Sanremo voting system but was third of the three super finalists with the public vote and demoscopic vote). I am sure the Eurovision juries would have loved this and I am sure this would have been in the mix for the win.
It has gone on to be very popular with public ultimately – hugely played on Spotify and YouTube, and an Italian number 1, but it also has become a song that Italians have sung from their balconies during lockdown. Italy was one of the first countries to go into lockdown, and one of the strictest, so it’s really taken on an extra dimension for Italians.
Diodato will have to reenter Sanremo and win again if he wishes to compete at Eurovision, but I think we can safely say this already has bit of a place in Italy’s cultural bloodstream.
#19 SAN MARINO: Senhit “Freaky”
Going from Italy at #20 to San Marino, the tiny enclave microstate completely surrounded by Italy, at #19. They would have been represented by Senhit, an Italian singer with Eritrean parents, who was born and grew up in Bologna (and still lives there). She represented San Marino in 2011.
“Freaky” won an online vote of two song choices that Senhit put forward and was pleased to see the less “safe” song won. It maintains San Marino’s recent tradition of sending disco tracks to the contest – and I for one love that they do.
Having San Marino in the contest is such a good emblem of Eurovision, competing alongside giants like Russia, Germany or Sweden – and they bring such fun, keeping that part of Eurovision alive. “Freaky” brings that fun for sure – funky, uptempo, great to dance to, and inevitably underrated!
#18 ROMANIA: Roxen “Alcohol You”
Romania internally selected this year, choosing a singer called Roxen, who while only 20, is establishing herself in Romania, getting a number 1 hit last year. While her look is more Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish, her usual music genre has been deep house – but for the Romanian selection, she took a new direction with the 5 songs she sang and the public voted on.
I think it was fairly clear which song Roxen wanted from how she performed the 5 songs on offer – and I think it was a very good choice. “Alcohol You” is really quite a dark and gloomy, moody song – and of course there is the word play in the song title. However, the very last line in the lyrics does suggest some hope.
This is a really sophisticated and confident from Romania – and I am sure it would have done well. Luckily we will get to see Roxen at Eurovision at the next contest – so I’m going to be interested to see what she will bring.
I know some people might feel I have placed Italy too low – but as I said at the start of this piece, all the songs in my top 20 are ones I like and have a lot of respect for…