Song Title: “No Degree of Separation”
Artist: Francesca Michielin
Last year’s entry: “Grande Amore” – Il Volo (3rd Place)
On the Viennese stage, the three young tenors of Il Volo brought Italy their fourth top-ten finish since returning to the competition five years ago. Many felt they should have won. In fact, Italy did win the televoting by quite a large margin, but ended up with the bronze medal thanks to a poor showing with the national juries. This year’s representative, Francesca Michielin, did not reign supreme at Sanremo. As the runner-up, she was offered the opportunity to represent her country when Stadio backed out due to a previously-scheduled tour. Can she gain the degree of support she needs to win over both the juries and the televoters in Stockholm?
Thanks to their financial support of the contest, Italy automatically qualifies into the Grand Final each year, bypassing the preliminary rounds. So, this isn’t an issue of whether we’ll see them on the Grand Final stage, but how well they’ll do once they get there. Automatically qualifying countries had a hard time last year; five of the six ended up in 21st place or worse, with two countries ended up with the dreaded nul points. Italy was the only AQ country to escape voters’ wrath, but that was due to a strong entry sung by three handsome and charming young men.
Michielin has the latter going for her, but her song wasn’t even the best in Italy, so I have a hard time understanding how they hope she’ll be the best on the continent. Bookmakers have “No Degree of Separation” at solid 33:1 odds to win, the same odds as the Czech Republic, a song I feel is much stronger and will benefit from the repeated exposure to voters the semifinals bring. Thanks to new voting rules awarding points from the jury and televoters separately, Italy likely won’t go home with nul points, but I don’t see them breaking into the top half of the Grand Final, either. The competition, especially among female soloists, is fierce this year, and I’m skeptical Michielin will be able to separate herself from the crowd.