Sanremo (Italy) 2022 Reviews: Second Night

Just a reminder that this will be my final post for Sanremo: I won’t be covering the third or fourth night, and I’ll deal with the outcome of the contest in my results round-up post on Sunday.

Highsnob & Hu — “Abbi cura di te”
Unusual duet which must rest heavily on the story of the lyrics because there’s not a lot music-wise that makes the song interesting aside from an orchestral flourish at the end. Or maybe that’s par for course and I expect too much. In any case, this is another one of those very Italian songs with many, many words in the lyrics. Highsnob and Hu are well-matched vocally and have good chemistry on stage, but I’m guessing even without the language barrier I wouldn’t find much to keep me interested.

Aka 7even — “Perfetta così”
Given that this is another lyrics-heavy song, I’m afraid I’m not too keen on the singer’s voice, which is a problem. He sounds constantly strained, as if he just needs to drop half an octave to find his comfort zone. There’s a disconnect between the pop-rock music and the vocals, with the former always seeming to be a bit behind the frenetic pace of the lyrics. I never feel like I can settle in when I’m listening to this, and not in a good way.

Irama — “Ovunque sarai”
Irama made waves in last year’s contest with his electro-pop curiosity “La genesi del tuo colore”. Regrettably, his ability to perform was hamstrung when he was named a close contact to a COVID-19 case. This time he’s back with a piano ballad, which is a disappointment for those of use who were hoping for something similar to last year’s effort. However, his focus is clearly on his impressive voice, which is fair enough except that this song feels like a clear step down from the creativity of last year, opting instead for a safer option which probably won’t have the same level of success.

Tananai — “Sesso occasionale”
While I like the background synths in this song, and the strings are lush and soothing, they can’t quite compensate for the fact that Tananai’s voice is so deadpan it sounds out of tune. He only seems comfortable in the short sections where he does a bit of rapping. Or is it all just me who keeps hearing all those missed notes? Either way, even with a better vocal performance there’s something about the song that feels outdated, cheerful as it is.

Fabrizio Moro — “Sei tu”
Sanremo regular and 2018 Eurovision alumni is back with a ballad that builds gently throughout the song — I probably would have preferred a bigger crescendo, but at each stage of the song the instrumentation and vocals are in sync, so you can’t expect any more than that. Moro delivers a highly professional vocal performance, it almost seems too easy for him at this stage. I don’t think this will be a serious contender in the end but it’s a strong entry nonetheless.

Elisa — “O forse sei tu”
Theoretically, this ticks many boxes: Elisa’s vocals are somehow clear and ethereal at the same time; musically, this is one of the more varied songs, with exciting transitions from verse to chorus. I can see why this power ballad is currently one of the favourites to win, and perhaps I’ll warm to it after a while, but I think the overly complicated lyrical constructions drag the song down a couple of notches. Songs in a language most people watching on the night won’t be able to understand need a hook of sorts — I don’t hear one here at the moment, and it feels like a significant omission.

Ditonellapiaga e Donatella Rettore — “Chimica”
I liked the way this was going, with a catchy melody and seemingly sassy vocals, but then the chorus kicked in. I know I’ve been advocating for a recognisable hook, but this is the other extreme: when the chorus is little more than just one word being repeated over again, it might be catchy but it wears off quickly as well. The pairing of two women of different generations works well, especially with the different timbres of their voices, but I can’t get over the weaknesses in the chorus.

Iva Zanicchi — “Voglio amarti”
This feels like a classic ballad from yesterday, and it has nothing to do with the age of the singer. The pace is slowed down, the lyrics less cluttered than similar songs in this line-up; Zanicchi is happy to go for some big notes (with mixed success), and there’s even a guitar solo halfway through that gives me 1970s vibes. This song has a homely, comforting feel to it — perhaps its not suited for the modern Eurovision, but something like this would be a great interval act to another side of Italian music.

Matteo Romano — “Virale”
I’m guessing Romano is one of the youngest, if not the youngest contestant this year at 19, and while he clearly has talent it still needs to mature — especially his voice, which sounds a bit too naive at times (I recognise this can be a positive as well). This is a relatively low-key pop song where the vocals need to provide most of the action — while Romano succeeds in this way, it sounds a bit on the edge at times, as though it could also fall apart.

Emma — “Ogni volta è così”
The synthpop elements of this song are a welcome change of pace, but I’m uncertain about Emma’s husky voice. Sometimes it works, like in the verses, but sometimes it doesn’t (when she has to hit the bigger notes), and then it occasionally sounds like she’s falling over herself. I’ve been a bit disappointed at the fairly high prevalence of ballads in this line-up, but this is one where I think they could have reined in things a bit and given Emma’s voice more space to shine without appearing to stretch her vocal chords. Given the way she performed the song she looked fairly comfortable about it all though, so maybe it’s just that I’m not used to her voice.

Le Vibrazioni — “Tantissimo”
The out-and-out rock song of this year’s contest, complete with some nice “punch the air” chords. It rocks along at a decent pace, but I’m less impressed by the vocals: the singer clearly isn’t up to the standards of others we’ve heard so far. While that’s not necessarily a make-or-break aspect of the performance, he seems a bit breathless at times, and not entirely confident when the time comes to raise his voice. I’m not sure they got the mix between his vocals and the rest of the band right, either.

Giovanni Truppi — “Tuo padre, mia madre, Lucia”
Curiously quirky song wherein Truppi switches back and forth between spoken word and singing several times. The orchestra is kept at arms length for large parts of the song, with the focus on Truppi’s guitar. It works, somehow, but it’s a not a song that is competitive and should be seen more in the category of showing On a non-musical note, Truppi’s outfit of a black singlet and cargo pants was the most casual of the entire contest — he looked even more underdressed than he would at a different national selection.

Sangiovanni — “Farfalle”
And so we finish off with another singer with a lot to tell us in a short space of time — he seems to be gasping for breath at times. The pink suit is back, although this one’s shiny. This is probably one of my favourites from the selection though: I like the instrumentation, especially those big blasts of synths, and despite his breathing problems Sangiovanni does a good job of the louder and softer vocal parts. The chorus sounds like it would be one of the easier ones to sing along to, as well.