Italy has decided: it’s Nina Zilli!
Before Melodifestivalen, before Festivali i Këngës, even before Eurovision itself, there was San Remo. Founded in 1951, international stars such as Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Nek, and Eros Ramazzotti have all been discovered through this festival, which was supposedly the inspiration for the Eurovision that we all know and love today. All throughout this week, fourteen established artists and eight newcomers performed, all in the hopes of grabbing the honor of a victory at the Teatro Ariston on the Italian Riviera.
Since Italy’s return to Eurovision last year, San Remo has also been used as broadcaster RAI’s method of selection for the pan-European festival. The winner of San Remo is not necessarily the nation’s representative, however. Behind closed doors, a special jury is placed in charge of selecting Italy’s Eurovision performer, most likely in consultation with the artists themselves and their management. Near the end of Saturday’s Final, the announcement was finally made that 32-year-old Nina Zilli would be the one waving the Tricolore in Baku this May.
Nina performed “Per Sempre” at San Remo this year, but it is unclear whether she will be singing this same number at the ESC, or whether another track from her newly-released album, “L’amore è femmina”, would be heard. I’m personally a fan of the album’s title track, which you can hear here. With her smoky voice, beehive, and 60’s-throwback style, she seems to embody what Amy Winehouse could have been if she were alive, sober, and Italian. It’ll be hard to predict how well she’ll do without an actual song in our hands, but Nina might have some definite potential in Baku.
In terms of the actual winner of this year’s San Remo Festival, that honor went to Emma Marrone and her song “Non è l’inferno”:
And coming in second place this year was Arisa (who I put on my “ESC Wish List” back in 2010) with “La notte”:
Winning the Newcomer’s Division this year (which is the award that Raphael Gualazzi took in 2011) was Alessandro Casillo, who is actually ineligible to take part in Eurovision, as he is only fifteen years old, and will turn sixteen after the events in Baku this May. In fact, due to Italian child-labor laws, he was not actually able to appear on television to collect his prize, as the clock had struck midnight and he was prohibited from appearing on stage. Here is his song, “È vero (che ci sei)”:
What do you think of Italy’s choice?