Why we are so surprised by Mahmood’s victory at Sanremo

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12 February 2019

After so many editions, we finally heard the verdict we wanted to hear.

It happened: born in Milan to an Italian mother and an Egyptian father, 27-year-old Mahmood won the 69th edition of Sanremo song festival over the weekend.

Honestly, I still can’t even believe it!
All these years, we always bet on the wrong horse. So, before the artistic director and host Claudio Baglioni announced our favorite’s triumph, we’ve already prepared ourselves for this to be another defeat.

But, thankfully, things turned out differently.

Alessandro Mahmoud, who performs under the name Mahmood, beat singer Ultimo to the top spot at the most important Italian song contest with his song Soldi.

After so many editions, we finally heard the verdict we wanted to hear.

For the first time ever since I can remember, the Italy’s historic song festival was won by a song that represents our current listening. Mahmood is not one of those sideshow attractions we used to see at Sanremo and  his “Soldi” is not a classic song. It’s a cool and well-produced track which is about the difficult relationship between father and son, and also features a line in Arabic. For the first time in my life I voted for someone in this annual competition so as the winner was announced I rejoiced as if to win had been a friend of mine. And most of my friends on Facebook enjoyed the triumph because it also means a political choice to the singer’s Italian-Egyptian origins. It is no coincidence that Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is known for his anti-immigration stance, tweeted: “The most beautiful Italian song?!? I would have chosen Ultimo”.

I actually believe that Mahmood’s victory is a sign of change. I mean, more in Italian music than in Italian political situation.

The 69th edition of Sanremo song festival featured a lot of Italian indie / trap singers: from Ghemon to Motta, Achille Lauro, Ex-Otago and The Zen Circus, there were times when Sanremo festival seemed to be the Miami festival.
Probably the artistic director Claudio Baglioni really wanted to modernize the image of festival by choosing young and alternative artists. Well, for a while, he did.
Watching those kind of artists performing not in their comfort zone was weird and satisfying at the same time. So the show was much more enjoyable for the new generation.

However, we thought that none of them would have won the competition because the Italian traditional singers usually did it.

Instead, a Morocco-pop singer surprisingly won at Sanremo song festival and that finally represents the new generation.

Mahmood’s winning song, “Soldi” is a track that mixes pop, trap, soul, R&B, and exotic beats. The catchy song was produced by Dardust and Charlie Charles (Ghali’s producer), including hand-clapping and Arabic lines: it’s a monster hit and we’re so happy that this was clear to Italian jury too.

Now, the question is: What to expect from the next Sanremo editions?
Can we dream about an invasion of rap? Can we finally say goodbye to Albano, Loredana Bertè, Patty Pravo once and for all? Will Alessandro Cattelan be the next host?

I think it’s better not to dream about it. Just enjoy the victory.
We already know how it’s going to end.


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