Editorials & Opinion

Xtra’s pick of the 80s

Another Wednesday, another pick from the 80s. This time Matteo goes back to 1984 and looks at one of the least Italian of all the Italian entries!

Italy 1984: Alice & Franco Battiato – I treni di Tozeur (5th place)

At the peak of their career in Italy, Alice and Franco Battiato were the perfect choice for an international audience.
Alice was almost a groundbreaking new comer: in 1980 she published the hit single “Il vento caldo dell’estate” getting her a place in the 1981 Sanremo Festival. The song was written by Franco Battiato and Giusto Pio and it was a massive hit in the.
“Per Elisa” was the song chosen to compete in the Italian festival (a good year for Sanremo, as many songs appeared in the Italian hit parade afterwards), composed again by Battiato and Pio.
It was quite an exciting year for the contest: no orchestra, all the evenings were broadcast again on the national channel, big names and big guests. Alice won with a very particular song: a heavy electronic base mixed with her dark vocals. And the lyrics! For the first time a Sanremo winner song was not strictly about the romantic kind of love: it was about envy, jealousy and cheating – all in very dark tones.
Franco Battiato was (and still is) one of the most european experimental composers in the Italian pop history. Very distant from the usual melodic singer songwriter, he experimented with electronic music, had lyrics written by great philosophers and wrote songs for the greatest Italian divas (namely Milva and Giuni Russo).
RAI decided to get some big guns out for the 1984 contest and paired up the two of them with the lovely “I treni di tozeur”. In usual Battiato style, the song is about a trip, this time towards the Tunisian city of Tozeur. The exhalation from the salt lake in the desert near the city made the passenger see mirages, and that is mainly what the song is about.
The duo came only 5th during the final, probably because of the too much unique and less cheeky performance.
For the record, the duo still performs the song at concerts.

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