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Italy: Sanremo 2018 Preview

Submitted by our regular reader and Sanremo expert, DurhamBorn.

Over the last several years, RAI moved Sanremo back into the premier league of music shows. Carlo Conti delivered contests that were packed with contemporary singers and new talent show acts, yet there was still room for the purists like myself to enjoy.

Fans of the contest were worried that in handing Sanremo to Claudio Baglioni, RAI would be taking the contest backwards. This lineup confirms those worries; it has very little to appeal to younger viewers. What’s more, it contains only four women, which is disastrous; not because of some crazy left-wing ideology, but because aside from the music, Sanremo is a huge fashion event. What will the press write about? Given the depth of Italian female music stars, surely the show could have added more balance to the lineup?

Having said that, there could be some real gems in this lineup with  a few acts capable of doing extremely well in Lisbon. A different style of Sanremo might yet provide a very strong top three podium finish and a great Eurovision entry. The contemporary acts have less competition than usual, which could define the podium. The duets night on the Friday looks like the highlight of the week.

The Lineup:

  • Roby Facchinetti & Riccardo Fogli – Il segreto del tempo
  • Nina Zilli – Senza appartenere
  • The Kolors – Frida
  • Diodato & Roy Paci – Adesso
  • Mario Biondi – Rivederti
  • Luca Barbarossa – Passame er sale
  • Lo Stato Sociale – Una vita in vacanza
  • Annalisa – Il mondo prima di te
  • Giovanni Caccamo – Eterno
  • Enzo Avitabile feat. Peppe Servillo – Il coraggio di ogni giorno
  • Ornella Vanoni feat. Bungaro & Pacifico – Imparare ad amarsi
  • Renzo Rubino – Custodire
  • Noemi – Non smettere mai di cercarmi
  • Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non mi avete fatto niente
  • Le Vibrazioni – Così sbagliato
  • Ron – Almeno Pensami
  • Max Gazzè – La leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno
  • Decibel – Lettera dal duca
  • Red Canzian – Ognuno ha il suo racconto
  • Elio e le Storie Tese – Arrivedorci

It’s hard to form an opinion on most of the enrties until they are performed live. Many are from older artists who havent been at this level for years. However, several artists should be the main interest and are capable of challenging the podium.

Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro – Non mi avete fatto niente
This is the standout entry on paper with one of the best song writers in Italy in Ermal Meta. Both artists are very popular. They had top drawer songs last year, finishing third and seventh. For both artists to return the year after success suggests a lot of work has gone into this entry and it likely to be strong.
It focusses on the terrorist attacks in Manchester and Europe and is rumoured to have a folk-based melody. Given Ermal’s skill at writing, the subject matter will be wrapped into song well. Everyone seems to think they will win, but it’s not a certainty.  The song, while strong, might come across as virtue signalling to a frustrated, right-leaning Italian public. If it does, the televote might not be as strong as people expect. There are also a lot of jury acts this year that might split that side of the scoreboard. My personal betting is to keep them slightly green as the ones to beat, but take them on with better value acts in the hope they get turned over.
Annalisa – Il mondo prima di te
Annalisa finished fourth in the most recent strongest year (the one with Il Volo) and returned with what promised to be a very strong song in 2016. That didn’t go to plan. Given almost all talent show artists failed to secure a place this year, that points towards her having a better song that possibly focusses on her vocal power while ticking the important jury and televote boxes. Her song is rumoured to be an electronic piano ballad. Can she fuse the contemporary with the traditional? As always, her delivery will be 100%, and given the lack of contemporary acts, the root to the podium could be less crowded. Her duet on the Friday night with Michele Bravi will be a highlight and should help given Michele’s televote power.
Max Gazzè – La leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno
Max has the ability to really stand out and could be a dark horse for the podium. He has previously finished 8th, 4th, 12th and 7th. It’s highly likely he will try to combine his contemporary synth sound with that of the live orchestra. That might sound very risky, but it should be one of this year’s highlights.
Ornella Vanoni feat. Bungaro & Pacifico – Imparare ad amarsi
Ornella at 83-years old is one of the great Italian artists. Bungaro has three Sanremo critics awards and Pacifico is one of Italy’s finest song writers, which includes Malika Ayane’s jury winning Adesso E qui. This is a top-drawer trio and they are sure to bring a competitive entry. It might not be a winning song, but it is likely to do very well indeed. Pacifico will probably play the piano while Ornella and Bungaro deliver the duet.
Lo Stato Sociale – Una vita in vacanza
An electro pop band formed by three former DJs back in 2009. Not your usual Sanremo act, but a very talented bunch of guys, nonetheless. The key to this group is that the make up of this years festival might gift them a great chance to shine and do well. It’s expected they will have an uplifting, melodic song that the crowd and televoters can get behind. Not many can boast that this year. The bookies have them as outsiders, but I think they have that wrong. If the group can deliver live they will have a chance to grow throughout the contest.
Ron – Almeno Pensami
Ron won Sanremo back in ’96 and at 64-years old is still a much loved and respected artist. He has always been his own person and been willing to take risks. Some songs flop badly, but others do extremely well. The key to this song is the fact Lucio Dalla kept it unpublished, which suggests it could fly. Being friends with Baglioni might help as well. The press/critics have votes this year, and i could see them going Ron’s way, which could put him in contention.
Le Vibrazioni – Così sbagliato
The Vibrations hit the big time in 2003 and had a very good time of it in Italy for a couple of years. They then fell off the radar by 2010 only to reappear in the Campioni at this year’s Sanremo. There are huge question marks over whether they can deliver live in the Ariston. If they can, the song should go down well. One to watch.
Enzo Avitabile feat. Peppe Servillo – Il coraggio di ogni giorno
Enzo’s work is rooted in the Neapolitan traditions. Peppe won Sanremo in 2000 and has written songs for the likes of Fiorella Mannoia and Patty Pravo. As a duo, I don’t expect them to reach the podium, but they might challenge Ron for the critics prize.
Diodato & Roy Paci – Adesso
Diodato won the MTV award for Best New Generation. He also spent his early years working and learning his trade in Sweden, then won the newcomers section at Sanremo in 2014. Roy Paci is an Italian trumpeter whose sound is probably best said to be Sicilian Jazz. Again the bookies have these rank outsiders, but if the crowd get behind them, they might do better than the odds suggest.
The Kolors – Frida

Conti tried to get The Kolors every year yet failed. How ironic that they choose to take part this year. They became very popular in Italy for a few years, but they seem to be losing their allure of late. The question is are they here just to give their career a boost? If they are to do well they will need a song that can unite the younger viewers’ votes, so expect them to go for a full frontal radio friendly song with a signature hook laden refrain. I doubt they will be going after the jury, though. Frida is the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo – a bit of culture there for us hardened gamblers.


This is a very different Sanremo to the ones we have seen over the last five-years. The lack of contemporary acts, women, record company influence is concerning. It’s also a very tricky place for punters outside of Italy to be getting involved due to bookmakers books closing before we hear the songs. However, for people wanting to take a punt BET365 have odds available and there is an exchange market on Betfair.

Will the pre-show favourites, Ermal and Fabrizio take this? Is there a dark horse lurking to take them down? Will one of the few contemporary acts unite the televote to win and upset the purists? As ever, your thoughts and ideas are very welcome below.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this, Durham! Interesting read, but as you say: concerning with the lack of contemporary acts.

  2. I was shocked by the line up squall to be honest.I thought the contest was superb the last few years,and had gone the right way from around five years ago.I understand some people thought there were too many people from talent shows and too much record company influence.I sort of agree with that,but that simply needed some slight changes.To only have four women seems crazy,its not like there is a lack of female talent in Italy.Also why would young people tune in?,very little here for them.
    However as gamblers it does open the question about who wins and the top 3 could still end up very strong.Lo Stato Sociale and Annalisa having songs to challenge and causing a shock would do me.The duets night on the friday also looks very strong.I guess that says it all when your more excited about the guests than the line up.Annalisa has pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Michele Bravi,im really looking forward to that one.Im not sure about Decibel and Midge Ure though.The last time i saw him on stage was in 1986 in the crowd of the TV show Razzamatazz,also on the stage were Bonnie Tyler and Bucks Fizz,far too long ago.

  3. https://d3vv6lp55qjaqc.cloudfront.net/items/1h3A0H0z1a0y2D0k1e0L/Schermata%202018-02-07%20alle%2001.12.03.png

    The above link is the first night jury scores,i think it makes up about 7% of the final score.The blue squares are the jury winners (in no order)

    As expected Ermal and Moro the ones to beat,but the fact Social State got into the top of the jury shows how crazy the 50s available from the bookies was, as i mentioned in the article.They were rank outsider in all books,when they should of been around 9s.
    Pleased to see Annalisa make the jury top as well.My advice to her is leave Warner and sign to Sugar Music.
    Key now is can Social State build momentum through the week to take on Ermal/Moro?.

    Terrible SR though this.Massive step back from the last 7 years.

    • Hey, much appreciated info until now, very hard to judge this Sanremo.

      Wanted to ask you if you see somebody other than M&M, Annalisa and Social State who can contend for the win? The “grandma” gimmick is a great pick from the Gabbani playbook 🙂

      • Not really no.It should be a case of can Social State build enough through the week to challenge Meta and Moro or not.Annalisa will probably be very pleased if she could grab 3rd and get on the podium,if only she ever got a song to match her talent,Max and a few other might challenge for the podium.
        Bookies being so way out on price on Social State was a huge bonus though and hopefully highlighting that in the article helped a few people get on and who can now square a book easily with the rest and relax.
        Friday is duets night and could be very important as well.Very weak year though,Baglioni invited his friends and a few token women.Rai want shooting for giving him the gig.

  4. https://d3vv6lp55qjaqc.cloudfront.net/items/2m3R0t1j0Z3S3p1v1237/Schermata%202018-02-08%20alle%2001.07.03.png

    So one public jury score and one pro jury score in and in table (blue high,yellow middle,red low)

    So far Ron is doing very well with the public jury and the main jury.That points to him challenging the win.Vanoni doing very well with the main jury as expected.Tonight Social State need to do decent with the jury if they are to keep up their challenge.It needs to be remembered though that the televote is 40% and has much more power than the jury vote (30%).The public jury also tend to lean towards the televote,so were Social State ahead of Ron in that or not?.Will Vanoni take crucial jury votes from Ron?.If Meta and Moro are out for good its going to be a very interesting run to the podium.
    Bet365 have re-opened their book.

    • I got some on Ron pre having heard some good things so I hope he can take it but it’s all very confusing and unpredictable, which is kind of what happens with a weak selection. I don’t really see how Lo Stato could take much of the the jury vote, but like last year the public could be enough. I don’t think Meta and Moro are out of it, they’ve not lived up to expectation but its still a strong enough package in this field, and the odds are more reasonable now. The market definitely has the correct top three, but very tough to call.

    • The public vote counts as a 40 per cent stake in the final results. How would you describe the number of Youtube videos and iTunes sales in this regard? Because M&M are first in the iTunes chart, while having their video watched 15 times more than Ron on YT.

      • M&M are probably still favourites now they are back in.This year is all about getting the value and re-adjusting books to get all the challengers onside.The televote winner usually wins SR.There might be a big public backing for M&M as the general feeling seems to be they have been badly treated,though the jury might not see it that way.Iv kept M&M a small green,Ron a small green,a couple of others bigger greens.Pretty much the same as before i heard the songs.

        • I think it’s theirs to lose after the duet night. The only acts who maintained the “blue” classifica alta in the press vote were Moro&Meta, Ron and Max Gazze. But when you look at the popularity on Youtube, iTunes and Spotify, well….

          M&M: clear 1st on Youtube, first song to hit 3m views, also 1m views on their official account, fell 2nd on iTunes yesterday, but topped the charts for three days in a row, the only song to break in the top 10 in spotify italy (9th, 183k streams)

          Ron: 302k views on Youtube, 135k on his official account. back and forth from 11th to 19th in the iTunes charts, 127th on Spotify, with 34k streams.

          Max Gazze: 736k views on Youtube, 276k on his official channel, 71st on iTunes, 75th on spotify, with 50k streams

          Ornella: 483k views on Youtube, 141k on her official channel. 14th on iTunes, 105th on Spotify.

          LSS: 2m views on youtube, 728k on their official account, went first on iTunes last night, passing M&M, 20th on Spotify, 2nd from Sanremo, with 119k streams.

          Now, is it enough for M&M to win? I’d reckon that they will be top 3, alongside Ron and LSS.

          • Yes they are looking good.Id be careful people laying Italy on Betfair as well in the outright.Ermal might have a cracking song to change to for ESC if they need to change (or decide) to change the song.
            Social State still have a sniff,Ron more likely for the critics award.Pretty much playing out as i expected before the songs.The big miss price early from the bookies was Social State.
            The song writing and delivery for Vanoni’s song is superb ,might be close to the podium.The Kolors have done a good job as well.

  5. The Sanremo 2019 newcomers songs are out,


    (very easy to register with Facebook to access the songs).

    Given this year the newcomers event will see the top two entered direct into the Bigs section of Sanremo one of the above songs could win Sanremo and be the ESC song.
    Im very happy to see Federica Abbate step out of the shadows and into the light.She’s one of the best contemporary song writers in Italy and has brought a perfect song for the Ariston.The bar is high though and its wide open who takes the top two places.If the bigs can deliver the same standard as the newcomers it could be a classic year.We will have their name’s soon.

  6. Final 24 from the 69 odd that were left.Ones to watch for me Federica Abbate and Nyvinne,both fantastic connections,but need to perform well live.Interesting to see the semi split now as only one to advance from each semi is brutal and will take some doing.Looks very strong and really looking forward to the shows in late December.

    Andrea Biagioni – Alba piena
    Cannella – Nei miei ricordi
    Cordio – La nostra vita
    Deschema – Cristallo
    Diego Conti – 3 gradi
    Einar – Centomila volte
    Federica Abbate – Finalmente
    Fedrix e Flaw – L’impresa
    Fosco17 – Dicembre
    Francesca Miola – Amarsi non serve
    Giulia Mutti – Almeno tre
    La Rua – Alla mia età si vola
    La Zero – Nina è brava
    Le Ore – La mia felpa è come me
    Laura Ciriaco – L’inizio
    Mahmood – Gioventù bruciata
    Marte Marasco – Nella mia testa
    Mescalina – Chiamami amore adesso
    Nyvinne – Io ti penso
    Roberto Saita – Niwrad
    Ros – Incendio
    Sisma – Slow motion
    Symo – Paura di amare
    Wepro – Stop/Replay

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