Eurovision 2023: Sanremo Music Festival preview

Patrick Flynn

7 February 2023

Sanremo 2023 kicks off this evening and with it, Italy will select its next Eurovision entry. The contest powerhouse will be hoping for another strong entry after four top-three finishes in the 11 years since the country returned from its long hiatus.

The format

The Sanremo format can be rather opaque, but the key change in recent years is that scores for each evening have been carried over and therefore influenced the overall rankings, rather than being reset for the final night. As such, a strong first impression is important as artists can no longer rely on a slow-burning effort to win the hearts of the public and jurors over the course of the week. 

For example, Mahmood likely wouldn’t have made the superfinal in 2019 under the current system — he was ranked 21st by the public on night one, before climbing to seventh by the final night and being pushed into the top three by strong jury scores.

The contest has also moved towards a heavier weight on the public’s opinion over the last few years, with two-thirds of the total ranking coming from the televote and demoscopic jury combined. Again, that would have been bad news for Mahmood. Name recognition and proven televote success will be an invaluable asset in the current iteration of the Sanremo format.

This year’s contenders

We haven’t heard any of the songs so it’s hard to pass judgement, but the opinions of Italian journalists can give us an idea of each song’s quality and what the press jury (33% of the total score) might go for. In 2022, four entries appeared in the top five of both the press jury’s initial rankings and the journalists’ first impressions, so there’s a strong correlation between the two.

Marco Mengoni (average score 7.66) was the clear winner with journalists, and given his strong name recognition — he won Sanremo in 2013 with a televote victory — and popularity in Italy with four number one albums, he ought to be considered the clear favourite and therefore looks like good value at a best-priced 3.75.

Ultimo is close behind Mengoni in the market but looks too short for my liking. He ended up joint-12th in the journalists’ rankings, firmly in the middle of the pack (though his press scores were a weak point when he finished as runner-up in 2019). It looks like he will need a very strong televote result to win and, while I wouldn’t rule this out, Ultimo feels like a higher risk option than Marco Mengoni from a trading perspective.

A decent outsider might be Colapesce & Dimartino. The duo scored in the journalists’ top three this year, though admittedly this isn’t as strong as their first place with the press jury in 2021. However, as returning artists, they could be rewarded with an extra televote boost thanks to audience familiarity which could push them into the five-strong superfinal. At a best-priced 19, I’m tempted.

Sanremo 2023 Predictions

Back Marco Mengoni @ 3.75
Back Colapesce & Dimartino @ 19

Patrick Flynn

7 February 2023

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