Every year, there is a music festival in Italy that focuses on Italian musicians, and the next big song. It is called the Sanremo Music Festival, but most people refer to it just as Sanremo. It’s in Sanremo, a coastal town on the western shore of Italy. Here’s RAI’s Sanremo website. (RAI is the public/national broadcasting organization).
This year, it started on February 27th and will run for a total of five nights (the 28th, March 2nd, 3rd, 4th). That pause in the middle was for a national soccer game. Of course.
In the past, this contest has launched (or enhanced) the careers of artists such as Laura Pausini, and Alex Britti, and I think in the past had more importance than it does now. They follow a “Survivor”-type ousting as the nights progress which I think is unnecessary and makes professionals feel like it’s a silly game. Many do not return to the show to witness their being booted off (they must have been tipped off).
Slightly, or greatly, ironic is the amount of money spent to draw in international stars, and therefore increase viewership. This year they have hosted international music stars such as Shakira and Hillary Duff, and other non-music stars like John Travolta, who was rumored to have cost 1/2 million for his few minutes airtime. Other stars include John Cena, a wrestling star (maybe World Champion?) that I have been out of the wrestling arena (*snicker*) too long to recognize (or to care).
So, shouldn’t one ask why international stars are so important to a festival that is supposed to be celebrating the Italian song and culture? Boh. I don’t know. Viewing is down, despite the fact that they beat Big Brother (a very popular show). I guess skits with a world wrestling champ aren’t driving numbers as much as they had hoped.
Last year, one of the most interesting and painful parts of the show was not the singing, but the interview with boxer Mike Tyson. He’s not know to be eloquent, at times he was sweating profusely, and many times Paolo Bonolis’ English was better than his, but he also made some interesting statements (including an interesting rendition of “Volare”). He received several enthusiastic rounds of applause, but I had to ask myself why the audience was so interested in a person so ridiculed and undervalued in the United States.
Are we (as the American public) less forgiving than the Italians? This is a man that was convicted of rape, whether or not he was really innocent (he maintains he is). Entertainment is entertainment.
I haven’t been following Sanremo, but I’m sure I’ll hear all the songs on the radio for the next 3 months. You can get more information on the actual contestants by going to one of the above sites or some more entertaining commentary by a fellow expat, An American girl in italy.