Eurovision 2016 – Italy: ‘No Degree of Separation’ (Francesca Michielin)

Italy are one of the few countries at Eurovision who come with a guarantee. The ‘home’ of Eurovision (Eurovision originator and producer Marcel Bezancon was inspired by Italy’s San Remo Song Competition) is rightly proud of its songwriting heritage and that’s seen in stylish stage presentations of distinctive, infectious and often sophisticated numbers.

Italy marked their return to the Contest after a thirteen-year absence with Raphael Gualazzi’s stylish jazz-infused ‘Madness Of Love‘ securing Italy second place to Germany’s winning song Satellite that year. In 2012 Nina Zilli maintained an equally sophisticated look on stage with her Amy Winehouse styled ‘Out of Love‘ getting the country to 9th place. Marco Mengoni continued the run of top ten entries for Italy in 2013 with his worthy power ballad ‘

Marco Mengoni continued the run of top ten entries for Italy in 2013 with his worthy power ballad L’Essenziale. And while Emma didn’t impress juries and voters that much with her song ‘La Mia Città‘, there is still musical polish in the song which holds my original assertion: when Italy do things (now) at Eurovision, they put a bit of effort in.

Italy’s finest entry to date is undoubtedly the classical crossover number ‘Grande Amore‘ (3rd, 2015) from last year sung by Il Volo. It was a number written for a big stadium in mind, set the listener on a trajectory right from the first chord and delivered a big cheesy finish which still, one year on, brings me out in goosebumps. Technically, I shouldn’t like it. Musically I know it’s probably bad for me. But I can’t help myself.

This year’s entry – ‘No Degree of Separation‘ is a slow burner. You’re going to have wait until the extended bridge before you’re pulled in – that’s the point you’re committed to what Francesca Michielin’s number. The chorus deftly mixes melancholy and the lightest flicker of hope across a harmonic progression that drives with an air of defiant grace. For all the bass-filled melodrama, this is subtle number which may still lack the impact to cut-through on stage. My inclination is that it needs to reflect the song’s inherent simplicity and avoid introducing visuals which interrupt its integrity.

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