Italy returned to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 after a lengthy hiatus and has been on a tear ever since. Of its last four entries, three have finished in the top 10. The outlier–last year’s entry by Emma–was the one of the four not selected by way of Italy’s Sanremo festival, a multistage music competition. Italy learned from its mistake and returned to Sanremo to select this year’s entry “Grande Amore” by the trio Il Volo.
This may be the year Italy wins. First of all, this song is fantastic. Operatic performances at Eurovision have been a decidedly mixed, with Romania’s entry in 2013 finishing in the middle of the pack and France’s entry in 2011, a favorite to win that year, finishing in 15th. The guys of Il Volo are not countertenors nor are they dressed like Chocobo jockeys, so they are already ahead of the game. We know they are capable of delivering this song in a live performance, which is one of the major hurdles with a song of this nature. The challenge for them is compressing the song into three minutes, but listening to the official track from the Eurovision album indicates that difficulty of the song has not increased nor has the content suffered due to editing.
The other reason Italy could win: politics. I’m not talking Politics like Armenia’s or Hungary’s entries2, but rather the politics of the game that is the Eurovision Song Contest. Although Italy’s song in 2011 was fantastic, some of the points that helped to get that entry to second place carried the message “welcome back, please stay!” Following that with two more top ten finishes indicates Italy is serious about Eurovision on the same level as Sweden, Russia, and Azerbaijan–three countries that have won the Contest in the last seven years and have kept residence in the top ten a good chunk of that time. The Contest has not spent much time in Southern Europe, with Greece and Serbia3 as the only countries in that region to win since Italy last won in 1990.
Ultimately, it may come down to a battle of charisma between Italy, Australia, and Sweden on the Final stage. Awesome.