ESC 2023 Song Review: “Due Vite” by Marco Mengoni (Italy)

1) The Result

Italy hosted the contest for the first time since 1991, with the Italian entry of Mahmood & Blanco’s “Brividi” finishing a very respectable 6th place in Turin. Despite the mishaps with the host’s overly-ambitious stage design which will serve as a warning for years to come, it was good to finally return to the country which is arguably the spiritual home of the contest.

2) The Process

As always with Italy, the legendary marathon of the Sanremo contest decides the act who will have first refusal of the ticket to Eurovision. It’s been several years since the winner passed on the invitation, but there’s always a quick flurry of ‘will they, won’t they’ until the press conference where participation is confirmed. This time there was far more discussion around whether winner Marco Mengoni was going to continue with his song “Due Vite” or opt for a new one altogether. (Spoiler: he kept the song.)

3) The Artist

This is the second trip to Eurovision for Marco Mengoni, having placed 7uth for Italy in 2013 (Malmo) with “L’essenziale”. In the decade since he has established himself as one of Italy’s premier musicians, with multi-platinum albums and a large collection of awards in recognition of his work. In addition, he has done some voice acting for Italian dubs of a few English-language movies.

4) The Song

As Sanremo is it’s own music festival first and foremost, it does not impose the kinds of limitations of Eurovision, meaning that entries are often longer than 3 minutes. This was the case for “Due Vite”, with Mengoni having to cut around 45 seconds from the track to comply with Eurovision rules. I’ll put his original cut aside. This is a classic Italian ballad, where a gentle electric piano builds up to a crescendo with the addition of guitars and percussion. As it is to be expected with these kinds of songs, the focus is rightly on Mengoni’s vocals, which are enchanting as he details the aftermath of a break-up.

5) The Verdict

Italy usually features in top 10 lists for many fans of the contest, but I sense that this year Mengoni’s offering hasn’t been embraced with the usual alacrity Italian entries have almost come to expect. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a beautiful song, and Mengoni’s performance will win this lots of fans, but I wouldn’t start looking at flights to Italy next May. Staging-wise they won’t have to do much, merely give Mengoni an appropriate backdrop to his persona. A placing just inside or just outside the top 10 seems likely from where I stand.

My ranking: 18th