Despite the fact that song contests in general and Eurovision in particular are taken extremely seriously in Italy, the country doesn’t have a great record of winning the competition.
One of the original seven nations who founded Eurovision, Italy has only won it twice, in 1964 and in 1990, although in recent years they have been regular contenders, finishing in the top six in three of the last four editions, and claiming the runners-up spot in 2011.
Their entry this time round comes from Alessandro Mahmood, a singer-songwriter whose career was launched by his participation in the sixth edition of Italy’s X-Factor in 2012, followed by his first single in 2013. He is a regular on the Italian song-contest circuit and well-known performer in the country, though there have been some doubts about his Eurovision prospects.
His song, Soldi, has clear contemporary appeal, and judged purely on its radio appeal, stands out from the generic pop songs and ballads that will be heard in Tel Aviv on May 18. But despite this, the song has not appeared to capture the imagination of audiences. Back in February at the Sanremo Music Festival, Soldi was ranked number one by the press jury on the first night, but according to the televote, Mahmood’s performance ranked only 21st. Mahmood eventually prevailed, but again relied on the press vote, who rated him first again on the third night, with the public televote only rating him 7th out of the 12 remaining singers at that stage.
Mahmood could have been disadvantaged by the fact that the Sanremo contest features a number of well-known Italian singers, but for those contemplating a punt on the Italian Eurovision entry, it is a concern that his performances apparently failed to capture the audience’s imagination.
For the time being, Soldi is hovering around the 10/1 mark, putting it in the same bracket as Sweden and Switzerland, though a little behind the front-runners from the Netherlands and Russia, which means that it has to be considered a serious contender. And if Mahmood can pull out a charismatic and memorable performance, the song itself is good enough to stand out from the crowd.