This is Italy’s third Eurovision back after a long absence, and it continues to show that it is as serious as a heart attack about competing in the Song Contest. After a surprise second place finish in 2011 with Raphael Gualazzi’s “Madness of Love” and a more than respectable ninth place finish in 2012 with Nina Zilli’s “L’Amore è Femmina,” Italy unleashes a hell of a lot of fire power by sending this year’s Sanremo Music Festival winner, “L’Essenziale” by Marco Mengoni.
A winner of Italy’s The X-Factor, Mengoni is a dynamic performer who should have no problem commanding the stage in Malmö. (Although the one-minute clip RAI has up from his Sanremo performance doesn’t quite capture it; I have no idea why they took down the full video.) He also stands out with the distinctive look he’s rocking right now: big ol’ sideburns, retro mustache, and David Morgan-esque hair.
There had been a lot of rumors about whether or not Mengoni was going to bring “L’Essenziale” to Eurovision, but to me, there seemed no doubt, seeing as it already won the music festival Eurovision is based upon. It’s a terrific dramatic ballad that builds nicely and packs an emotional wallop at the end. It was the song I was hoping to win Sanremo, and while I’m not sure I want to wish this on Italy in its current economic and political climate, it’s one of the two songs I’m hoping will win Eurovision. (The other being Anouk’s “Birds” from Netherlands. I know, right?)