Sanremo: the colossal spectacle in which the Benidorm Fest is viewed (with envy)

  • This year the Italian festival that chooses its representative in Eurovision seems to have stuck out its chest to show that no one can live up to it

Last year, after the triumph of the Italian group Måneskin in Eurovision and the crushing defeat of Blas Cantó (it was penultimate), we asked ourselves: how is it possible that not even the native Eurofans go with Spain? Why the Spanish delegation is not able to reinvent itself and lead a candidate who connects with the public? Eyes were on the Sanremo Festival, since the winners of the gala had emerged from there. Why not copy the formula? After all, we had already done so when the Benidorm Spanish Song Festival appeared in 1959. In addition, since its return to Eurovision in 2011, via Sanremo, Italy has won two second places (2011 and 2019) and a third position (2015), in addition to the aforementioned victory.

The Benidorm Fest arrived with a renewed, more modern aura, leaving behind the dandruff that had characterized it in its last period and with the intention of integrating the audience in the selection processes of the representative song, given the opacity that the process had had in recent years. The ‘invention’ was received with enthusiasm and with the controversies that such an occasion deserved, but that is another story that everyone already knows after the first edition practically became a matter of state.

As a starting point, the initiative is correct, although the Benidorm Fest has a good way to go to achieve its identity and outline and correct all those fringes that have been so criticized, especially if it ever intends to approach the greatness of its source of inspiration. . Maybe aware of the Spanish plagiarism, this year Sanremo seems to have put out its chest (and all its heavy artillery) to show that no imitation can measure up. This is demonstrated by the perfect balance between ‘brilli brilli’ and speech, between spectacle and reflection of their own history to elevate pride and love for the music of their country to the altars. It’s something that we in Spain are not used to, or it doesn’t work out very well for us.


In that sense, it is significant that none of the artists who performed at the Benidorm Fest (perhaps with the exception of Azúcar Moreno) were veterans. Would someone of the stature of Raphael dare to present himself as Gianni Morandi has done this year with 77 years? One of the peculiarities of Sanremo is that all the great singers want to participate, regardless of whether they have a consolidated career. For them it is not only the opportunity to go to Eurovision, which is the reason why the Spanish version has been created, but the contest itself acquires its own meaning that has to do with the respect that is professed at a national level. Something like the SuperBowld in the United States.

For a whole week, Italy pays tribute to its music. she does it in a format of five nights, ‘seratas’, in which the artists in competition are presented. In the first and second the participants are divided, 12 one day and 12 the next. In the third, the 25 applicants take the stage, while, in the fourth, they normally sing their theme along with a guest star, something that has been modified this year to interpret the ‘cover’ of a hit, if it is Italian and appeals to the collective memory, the better. The last day, this Saturday night, was the decisive one and ended with a three-way duel between those who had achieved the highest score throughout the week. A mammoth format (each ‘serata’ lasts about five hours) which is also enlivened by guest artists, comedy numbers, dedicated presenters and the omnipresent presence of a large orchestra that accompanies each of the numbers live, something that gives the songs a different dimension, whether they are melodic music or rap.

cultural legacy

Tradition is always present, the cultural legacy is always revealed through the explicit mention of it. And there is also an attempt to interweave all this with the country’s own history, even if this is uncomfortable, as has happened this year when Roberto Saviano took the stage to talk about the crimes of Cosa Nostra and honor the victims through the attack on Judge Falcone.

Indeed, Sanremo is much more than a festival made to go to Eurovision. In fact, the winners of the contest can give up doing so. Y above all, it is a festival of artists. Pre-made products are not supported. Most of the participants are authors of their own songs and, only in some cases, are they composed by prestigious musicians who have written them specifically for that singer.

One of the few things that has been tried to faithfully transfer to the Benidorm Fest has been the Sanremo voting system. And it has gone wrong for them. There is also televoting, a press jury and a demographic jury, except that these different voting systems have a different weight on each night, for example, on the third, 100% of the score comes from televoting.

The favorites

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One only needs to take a look at the three artists who occupied the first three positions after the final on Sunday morning to feel that there is still an abyss between our childish struggles between Tanxugueiras, Rigoberta Bandini and Chanel and the Sanremo proposal, in the that you are not trying to sell the motorcycle to anyone. They won mahmood (who came second in Eurovision two years ago) along with White, with an epic ballad in which the two men dynamite the frontiers of masculinity through their sensitivity; she was second Elise (winner of the 2001 edition) with his characteristic vocal expressive power that leaves him speechless, and the aforementioned Gianni Morandi was third with a theme of lorenzo jovanotti of the most lively that could be an immediate anthem.

But, in addition, there they were defending their other mythical songs like Iva Zanicchiwho has already won the contest three times, the first in 1967, together with new divas such as Naomi The Emma and groups as suggestive as The representative of the list with in ‘Hello Hello’.

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