The Sanremo Music Festival, or simply Sanremo, is an annual Italian song competition that has been held in the city of Sanremo, Liguria, since 1951. It is one of the most popular and highly anticipated cultural events in Italy and has played a significant role in launching the careers of many Italian and international artists.
The 2023 edition of the Sanremo Music Festival is set to take place from February 7 to 11, and promises to be an exciting event for music lovers. The current edition of Sanremo Festival is marked by the return of several iconic figures and reunions of famous bands. Anna Oxa, who has a rich history in the festival, having participated 14 times, makes her comeback after 12 years. J-Ax and DJ Jad of Articolo 31, a legendary hip hop duo, will also be returning to the festival stage together. The Pooh band will also be reuniting in the first night of the festival to pay tribute to their late drummer Stefano D’Orazio. Discover the Sanremo 2023 lineup here.
Sanremo: how it impacts the Italian music industry
Throughout the years the festival has played an important role in the evolution of Italian music and has helped to establish Italy as a major player in the international music scene.
Let’s see the evolution of Italian music since the Festival foundation:
- In the early years of the festival, the focus was primarily on traditional Italian music such as the classic “Canzone Napoletana” and “Canzone Italiana” which were popular at the time. As the festival progressed, it began to embrace new genres and styles, such as rock and pop music, which helped to broaden its appeal to a wider audience.
- During the 1960s and 1970s, the festival was a major showcase for the “Italian pop” movement. This era saw the rise of Italian-language versions of American and British rock, pop, and folk songs. This movement helped to establish Italy as a major player in the international music scene and many Italian artists started to have success abroad.
- In recent years, the festival has continued to evolve and adapt to changing musical trends. The organizers have introduced new rules and regulations to keep the competition fresh and exciting for both the performers and the audience. The festival has become a melting pot of genres, styles, and languages.
Sanremo Festival: some anecdotes
The festival is not only about music, it’s also about anecdotes, controversies and memorable moments that make Sanremo a must-see event for Italian music lovers. From unexpected stage mishaps, to heated exchanges between performers and presenters, Sanremo has had its fair share of cringe-worthy and trash moments, but also some of the most iconic and memorable moments in Italian music history. Let’s see together some of that.
1.Sanremo 1986: Loredana Bertè’s fake pregnancy.
In her first participation in the Festival, Bertè appeared on stage with a fake pregnancy. Her performance scandalized all the Christian Democrats sitting in the audience. The fake roundness, hidden under the tight black leather dress, was seen as a true act of rebellion and is still actual today.
The controversies sparked by this gesture were so heavy that her then record label, CBS, revoked her contract. The song – Re – ranked ninth.
2. Ode al Babà
Sanremo 1989, Marisa Laurito took the stage at the Ariston Theater to perform “Il babà è una cosa seria” (The baba is a serious thing). With its catchy refrain:
“Fortune is fleeting, as we all know,
Love, love, love comes and goes
But macaroni stays,
there’s nothing to be done,”
This song is still very current and particularly comic.
3. “Rigged Festival”
What lengths would people go for some attention? In 1992, Mario Appignani, known as “Cavallo Pazzo”, decided to stage a disruption during the Sanremo Music Festival by announcing his intentions in advance. He managed to shout “This Festival is rigged and Fausto Leali wins”, before being removed from the stage. Subsequently, Appignani claimed that the whole incident had been orchestrated with the direction of Pippo Baudo. However, there is no evidence to support this claim and it was widely considered as a publicity stunt for attention.
4. Pino Pagano and “the jump”
During the final night of the 1995 Sanremo Music Festival, there was a moment of intense drama when a man was spotted sitting on the edge of the gallery, threatening to jump. The host, Pippo Baudo, quickly approached the man and calmly asked him the reason for his distress. The man responded that he was desperate. Pippo Baudo, with his quick thinking and professional demeanor, reassured the man and promised him that he would not have him arrested. He was able to defuse the situation and bring the show to a successful conclusion. Pino Pagano, the man who threatened to jump, admitted later that he had done it all just to attract attention. The incident serves as a testament to Pippo Baudo’s humanity and professionalism as a host and presenter, who was able to handle a difficult situation with tact and poise.
5. Placebo’s controversial appearance
In 2001, the British band Placebo made a controversial appearance at the Sanremo Music Festival, where they performed their hit song “Special K.” Due to a lack of understanding of the traditional nature of the festival, the band was met with a formal and unresponsive audience. Feeling ignored and out of place, the band grew increasingly agitated and ended up destroying their instruments on stage, with lead singer Brian Molko mockingly bowing to the audience amid a chorus of boos and insults.
6. The butterfly
One of the most iconic and talked-about moments in recent Sanremo Music Festival history was the appearance of Belen Rodriguez in 2012, as a presenter. One evening, she wore a dress with a revealing slit that left a small butterfly-shaped tattoo exposed in a strategic position, causing a stir among the audience and the media. The incident was widely covered and discussed, with many people speculating whether she was wearing anything under the dress. It was considered as one of the cringiest moments in the festival’s history.
7. Bugo and Morgan: a meme
“The bad intentions, the rudeness, your bad performance last night, your ingratitude, your arrogance, you do what you want putting your feet on top. But you only know how to cultivate envy. Thank heaven if you are on this stage, respect those who brought you inside and that’s me.”
During the penultimate evening of the 2020 Sanremo Music Festival, Morgan and Bugo took the stage to perform their song together. However, things took a turn for the unexpected when Morgan deviated from the original lyrics and began singing about the bad intentions, rudeness, bad performance, ingratitude, and arrogance of those in the industry, including Bugo himself. This sudden change in lyrics caused Bugo to leave the stage, leaving Morgan confused and asking “What’s happening?” This moment quickly became a viral meme and was widely discussed in the media. In retrospect, it can be seen as a form of Situationist art, an impromptu and unscripted performance reminiscent of Commedia dell’Arte, with the two artists becoming eternal figures in Italian music history.
8. Sanremo’s black notes: Luigi Tenco
Unfortunately, there have also been tragic events associated with the Sanremo Music Festival. One of the most notable was the suicide of Italian singer-songwriter Luigi Tenco. Tenco took his own life in 1967, shortly after being eliminated from the festival’s competition. The cause of his death remains a mystery, but it was widely believed that he was deeply affected by the negative criticism he received from the festival’s jury and his subsequent elimination from the competition. Tenco’s death was a great loss to the Italian music scene and has left a lasting impact on the Sanremo Music Festival. It is still remembered as one of the most tragic events in the festival’s history.
Sanremo hosts: who shapes the event
The Sanremo Music Festival has had a variety of hosts and presenters over the years, known as “conduttori” in Italian. These hosts are responsible for introducing the performers and keeping the audience entertained between performances. Some of the most notable MCs of the festival include:
One of the most popular and well-known presenters of the Sanremo Music Festival, Pippo Baudo has hosted the festival multiple times throughout his career, starting in the 1970s. He is known for his charismatic and energetic hosting style.
Another popular presenter of the festival, Fazio has hosted the Sanremo Music Festival multiple times since the late 1990s. He is known for his wit and intelligence, and for bringing a fresh and modern approach to the festival.
Hosted the festival for three consecutive years between 2015 and 2017, he is known for his versatility, his ability to entertain, and his rapport with the public.
Hosted the festival for the first time in 2020, he is known for his ability to entertain and his rapport with the public. He will host the 2023 edition and maybe continue to be a regular host in future editions of the festival.
The selection of the MCs often changes year after year, but the festival organizers always try to pick personalities that have a good reputation and that can appeal to a wide audience.
Sanremo 2023: the game
In recent years, to make the singing competition even more interactive and fun, a game called Fanta Sanremo has been created. Fanta Sanremo is a game that allows fans to predict the outcome of the Sanremo Music Festival and compete with each other by creating their own team of participants. It is based on the concept of fantasy sports, where players are able to:
- Create their own team of participants from the festival’s roster
- Compete against other players by scoring points based on the real-life performance of the participants. Find here the regulation.
- The game is organized online and the results are published on the website after the end of each evening of the festival, so the players can follow the performance of their team,
- Fantasanremo is free to play. Here you can login and create your own “schedina”. Enjoy!