Rules changes have been put into place for the 68th edition of the Sanremo Music Festival scheduled to take place in February 2018. Italy’s participation in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is yet to be confirmed by broadcaster RAI, however the annual Sanremo Music Festival where Italy usually selects their artist will go ahead regardless.
Applications for participation in Sanremo’s Big Artist Category are now open and will remain open until 6th October 2017. A change to the format next year is that organisers are now looking for involvement from record labels. Record labels can now suggest their own artists to compete in the festival. Similar to most recent years since Italy’s return to the contest this is the assumed method in which Italy will select their artist for Lisbon should they enter. In previous years, winners of the Sanremo Big Artist category have the right to refuse admission to the Eurovision Song Contest, this is believed to continue, which of course is subject to Italy confirming that will indeed be present in the 2018 Contest.
In addition to rule changes in Sanremo, 2018 will also see singer-songwriter Claudio Baglioni take over the role of host and artistic director of the festival. He will be taking over from presenter Carlo Conti who held the position from 2015 to 2017. Baglioni is a well known figure to Italians as he is considered one of the leaders in Italian pop music with a career that began in 1969. His career also shows no signs of decline as his latest album “Capitani Coraggiosi – Live” with Gianna Morandi released in 2016 reached number 1 and platinum status in the Italian charts.
This year’s Sanremo Music Festival was won by Francesco Gabbani with “Occidentali’s Karma”. Gabbani went on to represent Italy in Kyiv for the Eurovision Song Contest where he finished in sixth place.
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Italy debuted in the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, and has participated a total of 42 times to date. Italy returned to the contest in 2011, having last participated in 1997. Italy has won the contest twice, the first time being in 1964 with Gigliola Cinquetti’s “Non ho l’età”, and the second being in 1990 with Toto Cutugno’s “Insieme: 1990”. Italy’s hosting of the contest in 1991 has been remembered as one of the most chaotic contests to date. Since their return in 2011 Italy has finished in the top 10 on four occasions, finishing in 2nd in 2011 with Raphael Gualazzi’s “The Madness of Love” and 3rd in 2015 with Il Volo’s “Grande amore”. The former was the jury winner of Eurovision 2011, and the latter was the winner of the public vote in 2015.