CULTURE

Italian flavor to music hits

When did you last sing along to an Italian song? Don’t be too quick to answer. At the end of 2007, Eleftheria Arvanitaki’s big hit titled «Min orkizesai» (Don’t Promise), is in fact a cover of an Italian song from the 90s («Come Monna Lisa,» by Giuseppe Mango). Athens radio stations did not need much persuasion to give it airtime: «Entechno» («higher-quality» eclectic popular Greek music) hits are rare now and the producers of the more quality-oriented radio stations are trying to hold onto any such numbers. Nonetheless, covers of Italian songs are not that rare, it is just that we do not always learn their origin. Last spring, the voices of Dimitra Galani and rising star Giorgos Karadimos conquered FM radio with the big hit «Se thelo edo» (I Want You Here). Few people actually knew that it was a cover. It is actually one of the first songs that classical crossover Andrea Bocelli interpreted in the late 90s with the title «Vivo per lei.» And a few years earlier Arvanitaki again, along with Vassilis Papaconstantinou, revived «Giardini di Marzo» («Prin to telos,» or Before the End), an amazing song by Lucio Battisti (1943-1998). Italian music has always found a way of becoming Greek music. In the 70s, it was very much in fashion to cover the successes of the golden age of the Italian 1960s. But at the heart of the political changeover, when Greece’s political songs filled the stadiums, Italian covers were doomed to failure, even more so when interpreted by the pop stars of the time, a paradox margin for the Greek 70s. In such a hostile environment, the Italian songs were identified with Rafaella Cara, and Al Bano and Romina Power. Things did not change much until the emergence of Eros Ramazzotti in the early 90s. Italian songs became fashionable again for a little while, but only superficially. This was limited to the well-known Italian pop stars and the opportunity for a more substantial familiarity with the rich Italian musical heritage fell through. Today, with the absence of large names such as Ramazzotti, we listen to Italian music without even realizing it. We listen to the covers which are more than just a few. The composers whose songs are chosen represent different generations of songwriters which hint at the variety and depth of modern Italian songs. That makes us contemplate all the years that have passed since «Felicita,» the big hit by Al Bano and Romina Power, a recording couple who have since gone their separate ways.