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Throwback Thursday: Italy did everything to me

This week’s Throwback Thursday sees us going ALL the way back to…well, 2018. Maybe not that far back. Here, we saw Italy’s Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro perform “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” (“You Didn’t Do Anything to Me”) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Decisions, decisions

Picking my favourite Italian song to cover for this feature was certainly a hard task. I’ve loved every entry since their return to the contest in 2011. Reading that, you’re probably thinking that I’m one of those annoying Italy stans, and you would be absolutely right. From dancing with a gorilla to staging an entire garden somewhere in Stockholm, I eventually went for the entry that is very close to my heart. That, of course, would be “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente”.

The song won Sanremo last year after beating Lo Stato Sociale and Annalisa in the Superfinal. However, it could’ve been a far different story, as Ermal and Fabrizio were in danger of being disqualified due to allegations of plagiarism. It was certainly a stressful moment for the duo, but thankfully, the case was cleared and they continued competing before winning the festival.

The backstory

“Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” tells the ongoing story of dealing with wars from across the globe and the impact it has on the public. The lyrics mention various cities where terrorist attacks have happened in the past. With the likes of London, Paris and Cairo mentioned. The song was written consequently to the Manchester Arena bombing, where 22 people lost their lives at an Ariana Grande concert.

On the other hand, the song also resembles the artist’s personal lives. Ermal had a rather troubled childhood while living in Albania. It wasn’t until he was 13 when he moved to Italy in a bid to escape from his abusive father. As the eldest of 3 siblings, it was his mother who moved to Italy first, and he accepted the responsibility to look after his brother and sister before they could move themselves.

During Dopofestival, shortly after Ermal and Fabrizio won Sanremo, they were asked “How much of your personal life is what you’ve sang on stage?”. To this, Ermal replied:

“When I first sang the refrain (of Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente), my childhood flashed before my eyes. I wanted to sing “you bastard, you did nothing to me””

The impact

Some could argue that “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” is too dark for an event as glitzy as Eurovision. But what everyone should surely agree on is that the topic is extremely important and worth singing about. Italy was very clever with their staging in Lisbon. By displaying the lyrics in various languages, it appealed to audiences from all around the world.

Looking at reaction videos to this song via YouTube, you can clearly see the impact it had on Eurovision fans alike. Even from watching the music video, you don’t need to be fluent in Italian to understand what message Ermal and Fabrizio are trying to portray. Yes, it’s a song that leaves you feeling emotional and with a heavy heart. But when all is said and done, “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” tells you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, whether that refers to current affairs or more personal matters to you.

Ermal and Fabrizio’s participation last year certainly left an impact on me to say the least. Since the end of the Eurovision 2018, I have continued to follow and support them as individual artists. Something that I haven’t done with any other Eurovision artist in my 10 years of following the contest. I would highly recommend listening to their albums, as I did so last year, and realised just how talented they both are. Although a lot of their songs get me right in the feels. Seriously. Why must you do that to me?

What did everyone else have to say?

Rigmo

Angry men yelling things in Italian is the very essence of Sanremo, so it’s no wonder they won it last year. Sure, Fabrizio may look ready to punch the camera man at times…BUT he has a good reason to be mad. And really, there is no better way to get your message across than screaming at people (side note: that is false). Something that can come across as cheesy or manipulative in the wrong hands is actually powerful and emotional thanks to Ermal and Fabrizio. From the dark and ominous, yet hauntingly catchy melody (remember kids: recycling is good) to their choice of font, the song (and the performance) just work for me. From the first note, to the very last, I’m captivated each time I listen to it.

Wiv

Just like Natalie, I have loved most of the Italian entries after the country’s return to the contest. And this song was no exception. Though it wasn’t my fave entry in Lisbon, it is one of the very few songs I still listen to from the 2018 edition. Fabrizio’s voice it a work of perfection, and mixed with Ermal’s rich, smooth vocals; this sailed up among my “Eurovision finds”. Perhaps even more than “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” I loved Fabrizio’s 2017 SanRemo entry, “Portami via”, which was one of my most played songs last year. I normally prefer new artists rather than returning ones at Eurovision, but these two I would most definitely welcome back. Of course with a song as good as their 2018 attempt. Good pick, Natalie!!

Lisa

I struggle with Italy in Eurovision. Pretty much the only two entries of theirs I like are ‘La Mia Città’ and now ‘Soldi’. The Italian job for entry selection and producing verse-less wordy ballads slowly kills a piece of my soul each year when I know how good Italian pop is. However ‘Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente’ did at least have its light-hearted melody going for it. Which picks up traction to become a mild toe-tapper as the song builds. It’s an extremely wordy song even by Italy’s usual standards, so it’s good then that they stuck some translation into the backdrop to get the political message across. I’m just not the market for these dreary male songs when they start shout singing at me. Give me fun and pop energy to solve the worlds issues through dance.

Costa

In many ways, “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente” is the prime example of an entry that I like AND respect immensely, and yet would never actively seek out. Prior to writing this paragraph, the last time I listened to or watched this was the night of the final in Lisbon last year. That night, they surprised everyone by reaching top 3 in the televote, and 5th place overall. The success of this entry should acts as a reminder to never discredit ‘heavy’ or ‘polarising’ entries. Though a little jarring at points (thanks to Fabrizio’s vocals), this entry is undeniably competitive; it’s show-stopping (literally – it closed the show), the message is topical, the performances deliver the song with power and conviction, and it’s congruent with both what people love about Italian entries and what they expect from Italian entries.

That concludes another Throwback Thursday! Let us know what you think of NMAFN on our social media pages @ESCXTRA

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