Quite to my surprise, the final night of the great Italian musical festival, Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo, has arrived. I think its return to its usual slot in the calendar caught me on the hop after being pushed to later in the year in 2021. As ever, it’s far far more than another national final.
There are 25 songs in the festival, so my preview is the very lightest skim across those. Voting has already been taking place through the week, and the three entries I’ve highlighted here are currently in the top 3 placings – though that can all change with the voting on the final night. Two of the top 3 were the favourites before the festival; the third is an unexpected wildcard. The top 3 after the final night’s voting will go forward to a super final with a further public vote deciding the winner.
Place 1: Mahmood & Blanco “Brividi”
The name of Mahmood should be familiar to any Eurovision fan – the winner of Sanremo in 2019 and a runner up at Eurovision that year with the tremendous “Soldi“. He is back, duetting with Blanco in what is quite a haunting yet modern ballad. It’s the favourite to win, and chart/download success suggests it will get a huge public vote. I’m not sure it has quite the impact of Soldi, but it’s true quality.
Place 2: Elisa “O forse sei tu”
Near joint favourite with Mahmood & Blanco is Elisa – a multiple award winning singer-songwriter with a string of platinum selling albums. Hugely popular, her powerful pop ballad is formidable competition for Mahmood & Blanco. It could all well come down whose performance captures the Italian public’s hearts the most (and the viewing audiences for this year’s Sanremo have been truly enormous).
Place 3: Gianni Morandi “Apri tutte le porte”
The unexpected wildcard in this year’s Sanremo comes from 77-year-old Gianni Morandi. He was Italy’s Eurovision entry all the way back in 1970, and was a winner of Sanremo in 1987, as well as having top 3 finishes in 1995 and 2000. He had been doing well on the first three nights of this year’s contest, but surprised everyone by coming first on night 4 (covers night) and finds himself within a shout of winning Sanremo over 30 years after his previous win, and of representing Italy on home soil, over 50 years after his 1970 Eurovision appearance. He could get a strong sentimental vote – though I’m not sure the organisers would have expected him as a possibility of being their host entry!