MILAN — Eurovision fever is in full swing in Italy.
The European song contest, which traditionally had a limited grip on the country, became a big thing after national musical heroes Måneskin won the competition last year, bringing the event’s annual edition home along with the trophy.
As the championship also catapulted the rock band to international fame — taking them across the globe, from the stages of the American Music Awards and Coachella to Gucci billboards — the Italian audience and local emerging artists started to view the event with new eyes, realizing it offers a great platform for visibility and to reach success.
The perks of being a hosting country — in terms of tourist influx and all the consequent sales and promotion trickling down to different industries — also contributed to fueling attention for the contest, which was launched in 1956 and propelled other major international careers, including the likes of Abba and Céline Dion, who won the competition in 1974 and 1988, respectively.
Now the pressure is on the class of 2022, which gathered this week in Turin ahead of the Eurovision grand final on Saturday. Italian contestants Mahmood and Blanco will be tasked with keeping the event on national soil, and while they may be seen as among the favorites, they will face serious competition across all fields, from music to fashion and social influence.
Fashion-wise, they will have an advantage, as both have a deep relationship with the industry. Mahmood has already appeared in campaigns for Burberry and, most recently, in the front row of several shows, from Vtmnts to Prada, which he chose to wear at the Eurovision semifinal earlier this week.
Blanco, aka Riccardo Fabbriconi, is a longtime Valentino ambassador, with Pierpaolo Piccioli foreseeing his success by picking the artist for the Boiler Room music project last year, before dressing him on many occasions, including the Sanremo music festival that got him and Mahmood the golden ticket to Turin. Most recently, Blanco appeared in Valentino’s “Portrait of a Generation” advertising campaign photographed in London, strategically released in the lead up to the contest. At the same time, Calvin Klein made its move Stateside, sharing on its social channels images of the artist wearing the brand during his first trip to New York.
Fashion houses are leveraging the appeal both Mahmood and Blanco have across different generations, their different approach to masculinity and influence on social networks, starting with Instagram, where they count 1.6 million and 2.1 million followers, respectively.
If the Eurovision trophy was handed based on this number, it would be hard to beat them but still not impossible as the U.K.’s contestant Sam Ryder has 3.7 million followers alone. His popularity on TikTok — where he has 12.4 million fans — further contributed to put him on bookmakers’ list of favorites for the victory on Saturday, promising a strong U-turn for the country — last year, it scored zero points.
With the contest’s key rule being that countries can’t cast votes for their own songs, Italians might have looked to familiar faces to support, including Achille Lauro, another performer with longtime ties with Gucci competing under the San Marino flag, or Emma Muscat, who has taken part in a local talent show and represents Malta at the contest. Yet, they both didn’t make it through the semifinals on Thursday, leaving the local audience to direct its votes elsewhere.
Overall, more than pre-calculations, the instant empathy elicited during the diverse spectrum of performances and their ability to surprise viewers with extravagant costumes, creative sets and lighting are the assets that really set the Eurovision contest apart. Finland’s The Rasmus, making a comeback to the European scene, might trigger nostalgia in Millennials; Poland’s Ochman and his poignant lyrics might send shivers down the spine, while Moldova’s Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brothers are set to leave the audience equally engaged and puzzled with their folk sound and colorful performance.
Here, WWD rounds up the not-to-miss performances:
1) Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra
It would be easy to point to the Ukrainian hip-hop band as a winner just because of the global situation, but solidarity for a country afflicted by an ongoing war is only one reason to cast votes in favor of the Kalush Orchestra.
The band’s entry, “Stefania,” and its performance have all the ingredients to leave a mark on the contest. A mix of musical styles, from ethnic motifs to rap verses and a haunting chorus that sticks to the brain: checked. Folk costumes, one different from the other, from embroidered vests, fuchsia bucket hats and carpet-like assembles to musicians covered in colored fringes: checked. Breakdance interludes: checked. Singing in original language, which is not mandatory but fully respects the contest’s original mission of celebrating diversity and honoring one own’s culture: super-checked.
The band was named after the Ukrainian city of Kalush and one of the group’s members already performed on the Eurovision stage last year with his other band, Go_A, which made for one of the strongest entries in 2021. Talk about keeping traditions alive.
2) Greece: Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord
Don’t be fooled by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord’s young age. The Greek contestant has a strong stage presence and killer vocals even when interpreting the poetic “Die Together” song.
Born in 1997, after spending her early life in Greece, Georgiadi Tenfjord moved to Norway with her family, where she studies medicine along with focusing on her songwriting.
With its dim lighting and low-key set made of empty chairs scattered across the stage, her performance will offer a reprieve from the flashy extravaganza the contest is known for. Yet the singer’s style will shine bright, as she’s supported by Greek fashion designer Celia Kritharioti in her Turin mission. The ethereal opalescent dress worn during the semifinals added to the magic of her performance, while off the stage the artist and designer opted to make a bolder statement, with Georgiadi Tenfjord sporting a fuchsia strapless gown as she walked the Eurovision’s signature turquoise carpet on the event’s opening night.
3) The Netherlands: S10
S10 is the moniker of Dutch singer Stien den Hollander, who has made a name for herself in the local alternative pop scene. She will represent her country with the ballad “De Diepte,” which makes for another touching song with its personal lyrics.
With her natural image and signature long blonde mane, S10 is set to make a point also fashion-wise as she is collaborating with Viktor & Rolf for the contest. Dutch designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren dressed her in a long tulle dress for press commitments; a statement pink floral number from their “Surreal Shoulder” spring 2022 haute couture show for the event’s opening ceremony, and a black tailcoat with elongated tail and pants hailing from the same collection for her performance.
4) Spain: Chanel
Being in the so-called “Big Five” with France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., Spain is automatically in the grand final, where Chanel Terrero will turn up the heat under the nation’s flag.
The singer, dancer and actress was born in Havana but was raised in the European country, which is set to get some points thanks to her fierce performance of “SloMo” rich in choreography — and hairography, too.
With more than a decade of musical theater experience, having starred in productions of “The Lion King,” “Flashdance,” “The Bodyguard” and “Mamma Mia,” as well as dancing on stage with Shakira at the 2010 MTV Europe Music Awards, Terrero will spotlight her dancing skills along with her vocals in her debut single that is dance floor-ready for the summer.
In addition to the hit — which was composed by a team of songwriters who have collaborated with the likes of Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears and Ricky Martin — Terrero will stand out for her style. While on the turquoise carpet, she drew attention thanks to a fire red, ruffled tulle number by It-Spain, on stage she will wear a matador-inspired costume bejeweled with crystal motifs by Palomo Spain.
5) Serbia: Konstrakta
“What could be the secret of Meghan Markle‘s healthy hair?”
This is how the incipit of the “In Corpore Sano” song by Serbian artist Konstrakta — the moniker of Ana Đurić — translates in English.
Staged with a concept in-between an artistic performance and a beauty routine, Konstrakta’s song might sound too quiet for those who are not familiar with the Serbian language, but it’s actually imbued with irony and social commentary. Singing while washing her hands, surrounded by five people forming her choir, Konstrakta tries to answer the initial question by analyzing different elements, starting from hydration, with a fun undertone while her piercing blue eyes look right into the camera. Yet as the song progresses the lyrics evolve into a critique of the Serbian health care system and a satire about the importance given to the body rather than mental and emotional status.
The artist kept things light and engaging by introducing an insistent beat and clapping in the chorus and a simple hand dance, that could easily infiltrate TikTok for one of its fleeting trends.
6) France: Alvan and Ahez
Last year, France’s Barbara Pravi ranked second with a sophisticated performance that was the epitome of a certain French-ness, from the song’s title, “Voilà,” to her Christian Dior outfit. This year, it’s a whole different beat.
The country sent Alvan and Ahez in representation to show there’s more to France than just Parisian allure. Both hailing from the region of Brittany, Alvan is a multi-instrumentalist electro artist while Ahez is a vocal group committed to celebrate its regional heritage by writing and singing in Breton.
They joined forces to mix these different music genres in the Breton song “Fulenn,” which they will interpret in a performance with an impactful staging rich in laser lights and pyrotechnic effects. Coordinated black looks with intricate golden embroideries and sequins will play their part in the show, too.
7) Norway: Subwoolfer
Norway’s entry might not win the contest but is sure to triumph in the meme arena. The band Subwoolfer comprises two artists in suit-and-tie and yellow masks in the shape of a cartooned wolf, in addition to DJ Astronaut, who plays the deck behind them on stage. Not puzzled yet? Their song is titled “Give That Wolf a Banana,” and comes with a catchy tune that might easily get lots of votes from the audience for the sake of fun but will likely find some resistance from technical juries. Still, the band is likely to be what everybody remembers of this year’s edition.
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