Italy’s Eurovision 2011 Entry

Oh, you have no idea how good it feels to write that headline at last.

After 14 years away, Italy returns to the Eurovision Song Contest this year with Raphael Gualazzi and “Follia d’amore” (with the English language title being “Madness of Love”):

The first time I heard this, I thought, why is Italy sending a be-bopped-up standards jazz number from a guy who sometimes loses control of his voice? But I’ll be honest with you: it’s growing on me, because I like be-bopped-up standards jazz, and this has a lot of style.

Gualazzi is an engaging enough performer, but this doesn’t strike me as a number that really inspires people to pick up the phone to vote. I also don’t know if it’s the type of song that fills up the type of gigantic arena Eurovision is now staged in.  But I wish it well, because I don’t want Italy to go away for another 14 years.

DISSENTING OPINION: This is the rare number where Jen and Chris at EuroLemur disagree. While Chris is ok with this song, as described above, Jen is seriously unimpressed. First of all, jazz has an inauspicious history at ESC. Even skilled singers, like Roger Cicero in 2007, have a tough go of it. But Gualazzi is no Roger Cicero and certainly no Michael Buble.  The songwriting is pat and sing-songy (that violin line, ugh). As a singer, Gualazzi, in what is apparently some attempt to be edgy or intense, has several off-putting moments where he screams at us. So not only is jazz a generally risky choice for ESC, the number fails to succeed on its own terms. It’s lovely that the Italians are willing to give it another go, but with an effort like this they needn’t bother.