Occidentali's Karma by Francesco Gabbani
It’s the one with the monkey! Yay! And the one with all the hype. Does it live up to it? From the moment Francesco Gabbani was about two thirds of the way though his opening performance in San Remo, all bets for Eurovision were off. This was charm personified: Francesco’s cheeky looks, a killer tune, the orchestra joining in with the ‘alés!’ and the gorilla joining in to dance, monkey, dance, casting Francesco as a modern day trans-cultural organ grinder with his simian sidekick. There was an instant buzz about the song, and momentum grew during the Festival with Francesco going all the way to the top and beating the pre-contest favourites. Now qualified he’s not left the top of the betting, with all bookies ranking him first by some margin. It’s rare to get a buzz like this about a song at Eurovision, but will it live up to its billing?
I love the presentation, though they’re going to have to be creative about the alés at Eurovision without the orchestra to draw from. I love the themes of the song, the desire to adopt the rituals of the east to combat the stresses of the west, but how our animal/human nature also plays a part, and we can’t just override some of our instincts. For me, yes, the hype is entirely justified. But, but… I’m no longer as sure Francesco has as easy a passage as we’ve bestowed upon him. The Eurovision edit is clunky, clipping the entire second verse which stilts its flow. Will this matter to the audience seeing his and his monkey’s charms for the first time? I’m also a little worried about the language: I wouldn’t have switched to English but Italian will be off putting, if not baffling, to many puzzling to grasp the gorilla’s significance. And the ape itself is a risk. It’s one which worked perfectly in San Remo, but that came as a full-length song with the boost of live music and lyrical comprehension.
I still think it leads the field and is head and shoulders above its competition, and I still want it to win as it’s in a class of its own, but I can’t say I’m not a little worried in case it doesn’t. Maybe I should just give into my naked ape instinct and stick with my gut reaction. After all, I’ll happily play the dancing monkey whilst Francesco grinds his organ behind me. Namaste. Alé!
My marks – douze points!