Are Londoners in step with the Italian music?


Londra – (C. de Martino, M. Federico, V. Maria Iorio) – Talking about Italian music, what would you say? People from all over the world have at least heard about some Italian musicians and songs. Names of the importance of Giuseppe Verdi, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti made the Italian music history and allowed its songs to spread all over the world. Both Bocelli and Pavarotti rightfully deserved a place on the Walk of Fame. These artists and their music, like Verdi’s ‘Traviata’ have been able to reach France, Spain and even US.

People coming from all these countries have really different opinions about Italian music: from London Hannah (40) says: «It’s nice! I like it because it’s so relaxing». Genevieve’s thoughts (24), instead, are not so favourable: «In my opinion – she says – it has a lack of originality».

But focusing on London, how much is the Italian music known by its citizens?

From May 11 to 21 London ONE Academy team conducted a survey to discover how many Londoners listen to, or at least, have heard something about Italian music. There are about 4 million British people in London: for this inquiry it was chosen a sample of over 1800 people to interview, with an age range running from 16 to 89 years old. The questions asked are focused on their thoughts and knowledge about the Bel Paese’s music. The areas covered throughout those 10 days were some of the most well-known places in London: Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Green Park, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, South Bank and about 400 people were also reached into the Tate Modern Museum.

In these places, people highlighted their different personalities and opinions answering to three essential questions:

  1. What do you think about Italian music? Do you know any artist or song?
  2. Have you ever heard about the Sanremo Music Festival?
  3. What about the Eurovision Song contest? Do you know the Italian artists that have performed over the years?

Consequently, the attention was focused on a few essential points: what Londoners think about Italian music, the Italian artists known by them and the awareness of Sanremo Music Festival.

At the end of the inquiry, it has been emerged that currently 33% of them listen habitually to Italian music.

It has been discovered that most of these people are over 40 years old: London’s youth is not really into non-English songs. This is why just a few people are informed about Italian contemporary music: elder people are more interested in Opera rather than the latest pop artists. The majority of Londoners, in fact, is more familiar with Opera singers and classical musicians such as Pavarotti (16%), Puccini (13%), Verdi (7%), Bocelli (9%) or Vivaldi (11%). However, well-known are also pop singers that have shaped our musical culture in the last decades, like Eros Ramazzotti (15%) and Laura Pausini (5%). Instead only the 2% out of it also mentioned other artists, such as Jovanotti, Gianna Nannini, Al Bano and Romina, Tiziano Ferro and the Italian band, Lacuna Coil.

Nowadays the phenomenon of talent shows is spreading across the world, but Italian musical culture is renowned for more traditional shows, such as music festivals and contests. London One Academy team tried to discover if British people are informed about this reality.

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most important music festivals in the world. This year was celebrated its 63rd edition, and it is watched globally. Italy is one of the ‘Big Five’, the founder countries of this contest, allowed to participate directly to the final. The survey has found out that 83% of the interviewed people enjoy watching Eurovision and keeping up to date about the new talents presented. Some of them even like the Italian songs proposed both this year and last year (Non mi avete fatto niente by Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro and Occidentali’s Karma by Francesco Gabbani).

However, the most important Italian festival is undoubtedly Sanremo, the ‘Festival della canzone italiana’ (literally ‘Festival of the Italian song’) held annually in Sanremo, Liguria. The researchers wondered if it could have been so well-known also in London, but the answer shows that only 20% have heard about it, usually from an Italian friend or on the web, and almost no one of them knew that Sanremo’s winners are selected to participate to the Eurovision, not even people who usually watch it.

Why is Italian music not well-known abroad? Only 31% out of the interviewed people is aware of the current Italian music. 

Why is Italian contemporary music not reaching an English audience? Is it a problem of language or quality? 

«English people are not familiar with the main Italian contemporary artists because, in general, they’re not interested in foreign languages’ songs» this is the opinion of Sophie, 52.

Others support that Italian music is often easily influenced by foreign artists. The most accredited opinion focuses on the idea that today Italian music lost that genuine originality that has characterised its romantic lyrics for ages. According to them,  Italian music has abandoned its traditional sounds, going towards more popular genres and therefore losing its unique folkloristic features. Not everyone appreciates this metamorphosis, not even Italians. Nevertheless, this new Italian music trend is slowly overcoming the Italian borders reaching a worldwide audience.