Photo credit @etro/ Instagram –
To someone who isn’t deep into Italian music (and I’m guessing the majority of the people reading this aren’t) the name Måneskin is probably new, or at least a very recent discovery. I doubt many people outside of Italy had ever heard of the band before 2021.
Yet Damiano David (voice), Victoria De Angelis (bass), Thomas Raggi (guitar) and Ethan Torchio (drums), have been a band since 2016. The four of them started performing together in small gigs and eventually decided to participate in the Italian X Factor in 2017, taking their first step towards stardom.
I remember when I first heard of Måneskin. It was a casual Thursday of 2017 in my home and, as usual, my family and I were watching the X Factor. When the group first came on, we all fell in love immediately. It was very unusual (and in many ways it still is) to see such a group on an Italian show: the members were all teenagers and they already had a very distinct style and sound, which set them apart from everybody else on the show and in the Italian music market as a whole. That was the only year I remember being engaged with the show, watching it every single week and voting as much as I could. And it wasn’t just me; most of Italy felt the same way, cheering and voting for the group and establishing Måneskin as a television phenomenon. Måneskin didn’t miss a step during the show, outperforming everyone with their incredible energy and musical talent, so when they lost it was a real surprise (my best friend still insists the votes were manipulated). The winner ended up being Lorenzo Licitra, a classical singer who no one has really heard from since his victory.
Måneskin, though, were able to keep their popularity even after the show. They released their first EP Chosen which was certified platinum by the FIMI (the Italian Music Industry Federation, which keeps track of every record or track released in Italy, like the RIAA does in the United States). They won multiple awards, went on to guest in several local talk shows and released their first Italian single, Morirò da Re (I’ll Die as a King), which was certified triple platinum.
The following year, in 2018, they released their first studio album Il Ballo della Vita (The Dance of Life), receiving immediate success with their standout single Torna a Casa (Come Back Home), which dominated Italian charts. To this day, Torna a Casa remains one of my favorite songs ever.
After their incredible growth from 2017 and the successful release of their single Vent’anni (Twenty Years Old), Måneskin came back in 2021 to compete in Sanremo, the biggest music festival in Italy. Nobody expected the band to win, not even the members themselves. Sanremo is indeed usually dominated by more traditional Italian singers and ballads (though the tides had already begun to change with Mahmood’s victory in 2019, when he became the first Egyptian-Italian act to ever win the festival with his song Soldi (Money), a mix of R&B and Middle Eastern elements, which Mahmood himself described as “Morocco-Pop”). Against all odds though, competing with their rock single Zitti e Buoni (Be Quiet and Behave), Måneskin won the festival and with it the opportunity to perform at this year’s Eurovision, which was to take place in Rotterdam. The group dominated Eurovision, blowing every sign of competition out of the water and finishing first with their all-Italian song. After their historic win, the band exploded in popularity all over the world, with their songs I Wanna Be Your Slave and, more surprisingly, their 2017 cover of Beggin’ gaining hundreds of millions of streams in just a few months.
It’s not an overstatement to say that Måneskin has been dominating the music industry. From playing in the streets of Rome, they have now arrived on the global stage thanks to their Eurovision win and the viral sensation of TikTok.
But why does this matter? Why should we care about a band being successful? We have seen it before after all, it’s nothing new. Well, the thing is, Måneskin is something new. First of all they are an Italian group and, more importantly, they are the first Italian artists to ever reach such a success outside their home country. They have won Eurovision with their Italian song, from their mostly Italian album, being the first Italian artists to win the festival since 1990. This might not seem such a big accomplishment to people from English speaking countries, whose musical artists reach global success more often, but Italy has never seen such an international interest in one of their musicians. Italians have known about Måneskin for years and the band has always been very successful, but their popularity and international success is something unprecedented for an Italian act and has taken everyone by surprise. Seeing people singing in their language and thrive in the global music market has been incredibly inspiring to Italian artists all over the country, but it’s been upsetting for many to see the band being recognised for their English songs instead of their Italian ones, which indubitably have much better lyrics.
However what I reckon matters even more is who Måneskin is and what they represent to young people all over the world and especially in their own country. Måneskin is made up of four members, the oldest being 22 and the youngest being 20. Some of the members are openly queer (Victoria is bisexual, while Ethan identifies as “sexually free”) and all of them are known to be big supporters of LGBTQ+ rights. Just recently, Damiano and Thomas kissed on Polish national TV, to protest against the country’s homophobic beliefs. Damiano ended the performance saying: “We think that everyone should be allowed to do this without any fear, we think that everyone should be completely free to be whoever the f*ck they want. Thank you Poland. Love is never wrong!”.
The band is also known to defy gender stereotypes and roles, wearing whatever they want, be it the suits they wore at the American Music Awards last week, or the sheer black top and fishnet stockings Damiano wore at the European Music Awards, where the group won the award for Best Rock. God knows they will look good in whatever they choose to wear anyways.
All this is extremely important when you realise that Måneskin’s success is coming at a particularly difficult moment for young people in Italy. Despite Italy’s success in different fields this year (with its EURO2020 win and its triumphs at the Olympics), the far right politicians’ influence is becoming greater everyday and the DDL Zan (a law that would protect members of the LGBTQ+ community and would punish people who discriminate against them) was blocked, and Italy has once again found itself being far behind its neighbours in terms of civil rights. The band talked about this exact topic at the 2021 EMAs, saying: “This year, in particular, we must be proud of our country for the results achieved […] Too bad for civil rights, where we continue to lag behind: and instead it would have been the most important victory.”
Their success and their transparency on topics which are sadly controversial to many, did not come without a fair share of criticism. The group has been harshly criticised by many Italian public figures, mostly for the way they dress and their way of acting. Måneskin doesn’t seem too bothered by it though, as they continue to perform in their own unique way, reaching better even results and representing a new generation of Italian artists which hopefully will not have to hide their true selves.
Måneskin has thus become, in a relatively short time, a voice for young people all over Italy and the world. They are, for many, a beacon of hope in a world that seems bleaker and darker everyday, offering themselves as representatives for their generation.
It will be interesting to see where Måneskin goes from here. They definitely have the general public’s interest and support and, if they play it right, they might just become the next big rock band.
Written by Elisa Paci