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How do you follow a dancing ape? Sanremo 2018 kicks off in Italy

06 February 2018 at 16:11 CET
Italy rehearsals Andres Putting
The 2018 edition of the Italian Song Contest, 'Festival della Canzone Italiana di Sanremo', or as it is widely known, 'Sanremo', takes place this week. The final is on Saturday 10th February and the winner will be given the opportunity to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Sanremo has launched the careers of some of Italy's most successful singers including Andrea Bocelli and Eros Ramazzotti and can easily be classed as the oldest national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. The original idea behind the Eurovision Song Contest itself was conceived by Marcel Bezençon, who took inspiration from the success of Sanremo. 

How does 'Sanremo' work?

Festival di Sanremo 2018 is spread over five evenings and two categories: the "Campioni" or established artists and the "Nuove Proposte" or newcomers. There are some changes in the rules for this edition:

  • The votes cast every night will count until the end
  • The press centre jury votes every night
  • There are no eliminations, all performers are qualified for their final (both established and newcomers)

The song with the most votes will be the winner in each of the two sections of Sanremo, but how are the votes counted?

  • On the first three evenings: 30% will come from the Press Centre Jury, 30% will come from the Demoscopic Panel (composed of a sample of music fans) and 40% from the televote
  • On the last two evenings: 30% will come from the Press Centre Jury, 20% will come from expert jurors and 50% from televoting

The first evening of Sanremo 2018 takes place on Tuesday 6th February and the Final on Saturday 10th and you can watch the shows live from 20:35 CET or clips from all the performances.

Who is in the running in 2018?

These are the twenty participants in the "Campioni" section of Sanremo, the established performers from which the Eurovision Song Contest acts have been chosen in the past three years:

  • Annalisa - Il mondo prima di te
  • Ron - Almeno pensami
  • The Kolors - Frida (mai, mai, mai)
  • Max Gazze - La leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno
  • Ornella Vanoni with Bungaro & Pacifico - Imparare ad amarsi
  • Fabrizio Moro & Ermal Meta - Non mi avete fatto niente
  • Mario Biondi - Rivederti
  • Roby Facchinetti & Riccardo Fogli - Il segreto del tempo
  • Lo Stato Sociale - Una vita in vacanza
  • Noemi - Non smettere mai di cercarmi
  • Decibel - Lettera dal Duca
  • Elio e le Storie Tese - Arrivedorci
  • Giovani Caccamo - Eterno
  • Red Canzian - Ognuno ha il suo racconto
  • Luca Barbarossa - Passame er sale
  • Diodato & Roy Paci - Adesso
  • Nina Zilli - Senza appartenere
  • Renzo Rubino - Custodire
  • Enzo Avitabile & Peppe Servillo - Il coraggio di ogni giorno
  • Le Vibrazioni - Così sbagliato

Riccardo Fogli represented Italy in Eurovision in 1983, Luca Barbarossa did so in 1988, Decibel's member Enrico Ruggeri in 1993 and Nina Zilli in 2012.

The participants in the Newcomers section "Nuove proposte":

  • Lorenzo Baglioni - Il congiuntivo
  • Mirkoeilcane - Stiamo tutti bene
  • Eva - Cosa ti salverà
  • Giulia Casieri - Come stai
  • Mudimbi - Il mago
  • Ultimo - Il ballo delle incertezze
  • Leonardo Monteiro - Bianca
  • Alice Caioli - Specchi rotti

In 2011 Italy came back to the Eurovision Song Contest after a thirteen years absence with the winner of the newcomers section, Raphael Gualazzi, who placed second in Eurovision in Düsseldorf. Nina Zilli, who is participating in Sanremo 2018, represented Italy in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. The winner of the established artists section will be offered the chance to represent Italy at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon.

When the naked ape is dancing

All of Italy's entries since 2011 have been either a Sanremo winner or a Sanremo participant, except 2014. Last year Francesco Gabanni won the main section of Sanremo with Occidentali’s Karma, becoming the first artist ever to win in different categories of the Festival in consecutive years. Within hours, the success of the viral, Italian-sung smash had started to snowball. Occidentali’s Karma went Gold within a week and double Platinum in a month, spreading to the online charts all around the world while its colourful, ape-featuring video clocked over 50 million YouTube views.

The 68th edition of the competition will provide Italy with yet another representative in the Eurovision Song Contest but who will it be?