International

Måneskin Talk Winning Eurovision and Those 'Offensive and Baffling' Allegations

Måneskin, Eurovision
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

Italy's Måneskin pose for pictures on stage with the trophy after winning the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, at the Ahoy convention centre in Rotterdam, on May 22, 2021.

They won the Eurovision Song Contest for Italy 31 years after it last happened. And they did it with rock, a genre not usually associated with the event. On May 22, the night of the grand finale, Måneskin lit a fire with their single, "Zitti e Buoni."

The four-piece band from Rome reached No. 9 on Spotify’s Global Top 50 (the first top 10 entry ever for an Italian song) and No. 1 in a number of countries, from Belgium to Estonia, from Bulgaria to Finland. But there is one country where they did not even make it into the top 50: France.

At the end of Eurovision an unreasonable controversy burst. It started with a video that showed Damiano David, frontman of the band, lowering his head toward a table in the green room, with some people insinuating that he'd been snorting cocaine. It started on the website of the French magazine Paris Match and the allegations were then reiterated by a huge part of the French media, asking for the disqualification of the band. That scenario would have handed victory to the French contestant, Barbara Pravi, who ranked second.

"It has been pretty offensive and baffling, a true attack on a personal level," says David. "They ruined a very beautiful moment such as Eurovision, which had a great value especially in this period of crisis due to the pandemic. But our conscience was clear and we stayed calm." "Watching the video more attentively, everyone could understand that," adds bass player Victoria De Angelis.

The controversy put a smile on the face of those who know the band, their manners, how much they love rock music of the '60s and the '70s thanks to their parents’ influence, but also how far they are from the sex, drugs, rock n' roll cliché. "We usually laugh at nonsensical comments, but you don’t feel like joking when they try to depict you worldwide as an addict. This is why I immediately proposed to get myself tested: we wanted to stop all the allegations as quickly as possible."

But then a new fuss followed. A few days after the end of the Eurovision Song Contest, a Belarusian journalist described them as "perverted homosexuals, AIDS-smelling trash." "These are homophobic insults with a foul language that nobody should ever take the liberty to use in 2021," they all reply in unison. They have always fought for the freedom of self-expression: men with nail polish and eyeliner or women showing nipples on Instagram (another controversy that hit them a few months ago after a post on social media featuring an artistic photograph shot by Oliviero Toscani).

Måneskin (David, De Angelis, Ethan Torchio, Thomas Raggi) are young – they are all between 19 and 22 years old – but they already have clear perspectives. They speak their mind when they have to and have worked their way up for a long time. They participated in X Factor Italy back in 2017. They did not win, even though many people think they did: they actually ranked second but left their mark for their knowledge of music, their stage presence, and their remarkable style and personality.

In Italy, like elsewhere in the world, rock music has not dominated streaming platforms lately. Still, they reached excellent positions on the charts with their two albums, Il Ballo della Vita (2018) and Teatro d’Ira Vol. 1 (2021). Also, earlier this year they won the Sanremo Festival, which is the most important song contest in Italy. After their Italian tour sold out, they have an important festival scheduled for the summer of 2022: Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in Nuremberg, Germany. But they dream even bigger: Primavera Sound, Glastonbury, Coachella. "Undoubtedly, the best concerts in history happened at festivals," says David.

Will they make it in America, too? "Are you kidding? That would be our dream! We are more than ready. We love playing live and would go everywhere in the States!" they say in unison once again, with Raggi (guitarist) and Torchio (drummer) getting particularly excited.

In the meantime, in Europe, translated covers of "Zitti e Buoni" are being created by local artists, such as Blind Channel’s version in Finnish. Who could help them remake their song for the American audience and thus spread the word? "Our dear friend Iggy Pop, for example," says De Angelis, joking around. "Or maybe Miley Cyrus or Ozzy Osbourne! Jokes aside, the mere fact that we received messages of support from bands like Royal Blood and Franz Ferdinand is priceless for us."

Måneskin’s goal is to be truly different – which they already are in Europe’s music scene. But in the end, they take a lot of inspiration from 1970s music, from Led Zeppelin to Gentle Giant, from Fleetwood Mac to David Bowie. Could they ever do something never done before? De Angelis says, "We think it's really difficult to invent something new today, but we have such diverse musical influences that our music reflects all of them. We love rock arrangements but also like to match them with Damiano's melodic, pop-oriented lines, or with hip-hop elements. Pink Floyd never did that, you get what I mean? We do think this is our peculiarity."

Translated by Federico Durante from Billboard Italy.