Friday, 24 August 2007

Lisa: Sempre

This song came second in the Festival of the Italian Popular Song (i.e. Sanremo) in 1999. I have a weakness for Sanremo, a weakness that started out as sociological (or was justified as such). Now, it's simply unashamed. We used to gather friends around us to watch it with a distancing irony. Now we keep friends away to avoid the distraction of their distancing irony. This doesn't mean I like the songs indiscriminately; I still tend to go for those with a minimal cultural cachet. I prefer Nino D'Angelo and Antonella Ruggiero to Toto Cutugno and Anna Oxa (with the unforgettable exception of 'E' tutto un attimo'). I adore Patty Pravo, however unsuitable the song she's presenting may be (and I suspect this has become a matter of pride for her). But I'm watching something with all the power of collective rite. I'm not really there for the music.

Sometimes, though, a song comes from nowhere and stays. I loved this one when I first heard it, and I've been remembering and then half-remembering it ever since. A few days ago a neighbour was playing it and I've fallen again. This video comes from the festival itself (there's a much slicker and less compelling later version of it on Lisa's website). It's great because it has the dreadful moments that precede all Sanremo performances, when you're convinced that something is about to go - or has already gone - irremediably wrong. She's obviously shitting herself. No one had really heard of her; she was among the Giovani, a heterogeneous and often not particularly talented melange of hopefuls and raccommandati. You can watch her gaining power over the song and the situation, until she hits her stride in the obligatory Sanremese crescendo. The lyrics are compulsively awful, a paean to being shat on by a man, worthy of Billie Holiday. I love it.

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