Regular commenter and Sanremo expert, DurhamBorn, returns with his insight for this year’s Sanremo.
Following another great result at Eurovision, it looks like Italy might be ready to deliver another strong Sanremo lineup, although it’s another year where women are mostly absent.
The early bookies’ prices offered a little value, but that is now gone until we go in play. Let’s look at some of the main players:
Il Volo -Musica che resta
The trio need no introduction to Eurovision fans: Il Volo won in an extremely strong Sanremo year with a massive televote but middling jury score. They put many really strong contenders to the sword back in 2015. Only Malika Ayane, by winning the jury with a superb song, and Nek with a great performance had any hope of getting close to them. If Il Volo are to win its likely they will need a very strong televote score again as the jury are unlikely to reverse past precedent. Another important question is: are they back to win or are they returning to finish on the podium? For those backing Italy on the Eurovision outright expecting an Il Volo win, they might actually refuse Eurovision this time having put so much into it in 2015.
Nek -Mi faro trovare pronto
Nek put up a big fight against Il Volo in 2015 and won the press, TV and radio award and the best arrangement. He’s hugely respected and liked. Without a top drawer song it’s likely he would lose ground on the televote and there are stronger profiles this year.
Arisa – Mi sento bene
Probably one of the finest female Italian vocalist’s of her generation. She won Sanremo with Contravento and was 2nd to Emma with the exquisite La Notte. What’s interesting here is the fact she has moved over to Sugar Music. Sugar have a superb record of winning the jury and getting artists onto the podium. There are rumours the song is more up-tempo than usual and “Disney” has been mentioned. Unfortunately, that could be a big red flag for the jury. One of the writers, Matteo Buzzanca, wrote Malika Ayanes biggest hit, Senza fare sul serio – also up-tempo – and another, Alessandra Flora, wrote the music for the jury winning Adesso e qui. Sugar and Arisa are being courageous in stepping outside their usual jury delighting approach. As always her delivery will be 100% so she might be able to elevate a sub-par song – that could decide if it flies or flops.
Federica Carta e Shade – Senza farlo apposta
A rapper and a talent show 3rd place finisher might not be a typical pairing to bother the Ariston scoreboard; however, Shade is a very popular artist with a big following. When these two collaborated for the song Irraggiungibile, it was one of the biggest hits of 2017 with almost 100-million views on Youtube. One wouldn’t expect they’d have the firepower to get near the podium, yet they might have a radio friendly hit and that is probably the aim.
Ultimo – I tuoi particolari
When I saw the list of entries I wondered if the odds compilers at the likes of SNAI would price the market as an Ultimo/Il Volo head to head (even though it isnt). That came to pass. Ultimo won the newcomers at Sanremo 2018 and his subsequent songs have proved highly popular in Italy. He is capable of scoring with the juries and televote, so is a genuine contender to do well. At the time of writing, the price is just too short given the talent this year.
Enrico Nigiotti – Nonno Hollywood
Nigiotti is someone who has walked his own path over the years. He was signed by Sugar Music back in 2008 and they used Michele Canova and Elisa for his first song. That alone says they saw big potential. He then entered Amici, only to leave the competition and do very little for several years. He was then picked up by Universal, entered the Sanremo Giovani in 2015 and finished 3rd. In 2017 he appeared in X Factor, again finishing 3rd. He’s an interesting and talented artist who could perform better than the initial big odds suggested.
Patty Pravo e Briga – Un po come nella vita
Patty has sold over 110-million records and is the 3rd best selling Italian artist ever. She has taken part at Sanremo nine times and won three critics awards. Briga is a talented artist who fuses rap into mainstream songs. It looks a crazy pairing on paper, but Patty has amazing contacts in the industry and is pretty much Italian music royalty. Her vocals aren’t what they were and thats being kind, though they should get plenty of press.
Mota – Dov e l italia
Mota has gone under the radar, yet he is a exceptionally talented artist. The Targa Tenco is a prestigious Italian music award whose jury consists of a large number of journalists and industry experts (very similar to the Sanremo jury/press makeup). He won the best album award in 2018, beating Ermal Meta, among others. And in 2016 he won the Opera prima award as a performer. What interests me seeing Pacifico in the writing credits. He’s a talented writer and I would expect a quality piece from them both. The outsider of the lot at 100s seemed a bit harsh for me and I would consider a value bet for him to win the critics award.
Irama – La ragazza col cuore di latta
Entered the Giovani at Sanremo and finished 7th in 2016. He was knocked out by Ermal Meta. Warner didn’t give him the promotion he deserved so the following year he entered and won the main Italian talent show, Amici. With that came a recording contract with none other than… Warner. The song translates as The Girl with a heart of Tin and this could be an interesting entry. Irama has the talent to do very well if he has the right song and attitude to get the jury onside. Artists like this have to walk a very fine line in holding the televote together while baiting the jury. Irama has that ability and should do well if his live performance holds up. [Note from Gav – this is my pick]
Daniele Silvestri ft Rancore – Argento vivo
Silvestri is hugely talented artist who has often drifted out of the limelight thoughout his career. However, he has been to Sanremo before and won the critics award twice, along with the the lyrics/text award – and others. It’s hard to know if he is a singer or a poet at times. Rancore is a rapper from Rome and probably the most talented on the scene. It’s hard to make a case for pairings like this, but there is real talent here and they might be capable of providing a surprise in the Ariston and building momentum over the week. The duet with Manuel Agnelli is also interesting and it would imply they have a piece that really ramps things up and goes for the jugular. The early prices available were too big and I took them as an outside punt for the podium. The key might be how the song is staged.
Most years the best approach to Sanremo betting is to open two or three bets based on who you think can aim for the podium and then tweak in running. Land one or two on lively runners and then balance your book if required. This year that is no easy task given what is a wide open festival.
I have early bets on Arisa, Irama and Daniele Silvestri at decent prices. I’ve kept most of my bank for in running. As has been the case over the last few years, the contenders will be the ones that come alive and build momentum over the five nights.
Who do you think the main challengers are?