Since their return to the contest, Italy has remained a strong competitor at the contest, and more often than not, we see Italy somewhere within the Top 10. This year was no exception, with Mahmood finishing in 2nd place with his song, Soldi.
This year Italy remained their authentic self at the contest, which led to the nation one again being highly regarded among fans. Throughout the season, Italy maintained a high position with the bookmakers, and the popularity of Mahmood and his entry led to his win in the pre-Eurovision OGAE poll.
From an unexpected winner to a Eurovision favourite
Mahmood was seemingly a new face in the Italian music scene, however the Italian artist had found success prior to his Sanremo appearance, primarily as a song-writer. He has previously co-written tracks for top Italian stars Marco Mengoni and Fabri Fibra, however this year he was front and centre. First he qualified through the revamped ‘Newcomers’ competition of Sanremo, and then to the surprise of many, won Sanremo with his song Soldi.
His win at the contest wasn’t appreciated by all, especially considering that had it been for public vote alone, Mahmood would have certainly not won the contest. It was clear that both the expert and press juries had an affinity for Mahmood and his entry, and it was these votes that helped him secure the win at Sanremo, and as a result the opportunity to represent Italy at Eurovision.
The aftermath of his win within Italy seemed a bit brutal, with high profile names such as the Deputy Prime Minster of Italy, Matteo Salvini demonstrating his ‘anti-immigrant’ views by criticising his win over fellow contestant Ultimo. This is despite Mahmood considering himself ‘100% Italian.’ Through all this, Mahmood became a cult figure among Eurovision fans which is a status that remained right through to the contest itself. And the criticism? He dealt with it in his own way.
‘Soldi’ well-loved by both Juries and Public
Having won Sanremo with a strong jury pull, it’s unsurprising that Mahmood also managed to score highly in the Eurovision jury vote. Six sets of ‘douze points’ is nothing to sneeze at, and beyond that, Italy received points from no less than 32 of the 40 possible voting nations (with Italy obviously excluded since they can’t vote for themselves).
Where Italy managed to secure their 2nd place finish was with the televote, where even more impressively, they managed to receive points from 38 of the 40 possible voting nations. This wasn’t necessarily surprising, as Italy had won the OGAE fan club pre-Eurovision vote (which can serve as some sort of indication of popularity, although not always very accurate to the Eurovision results) although through the rehearsal period Italy seemed to have lost some of the momentum gained prior to the contest.
It seemed reasonable to assume that Italy would do well at the contest this year due to the popularity of Mahmood as a figure, but also due to how well received Soldi was with a European audience but it just wasn’t clear as to how well Italy would fare in the voting. Another close call for Italy, and again it seems like just a matter of time before the nation secures their next Eurovision win.
A new appreciation for Mahmood in Italy
After the initial backlash from certain members of society after his win at Sanremo, Mahmood has since gone on to have an extremely successful few months within his home nation. The singer is about to hit the road for a lengthy tour across Italy and beyond which has already sold out venues. His debut album peaked at number 1 in the Italian Albums Chart and is certified Gold. Mahmood is now certainly one of the hottest names in the Italian music scene, and this is just the beginning for the talented singer and songwriter.
The Aftermath 2019 series is made in collaboration with our Australian partner website Eurovision Union.