The Sanremo Music Festival will once again be used to select Italy’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. But, in a new interview on RAI’s flagship news programme, TG1, artistic director Claudio Baglioni has revealed a number of changes for the 2018 edition of the festival which takes place on 6-10 February 2018.
As in previous years, Sanremo 2018 will have two categories: Campioni (Champions) and Nuove Proposte (newcomers) but, in a change from tradition, there will no eliminations throughout the week. Applications to participate in the Champions category closed on 6 October 2017. The organisers of the festival were looking this year for involvement from record labels who could suggest their own artists to compete.
The official rules of the Festival state that:
The winning Artist in the CAMPIONI Section will have the right to participate, representing Italy, at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, at the request of RAI. If such Artist does not intend to use this option, RAI and / or the organizers of the above Eurovision Song Contest will reserve the right to choose the participant according to their own criteria.
This rule was last engaged in 2016 when the winners of the festival, the band Stadio, declined the ticket to Eurovision which allowed the runner up, Francesca Michelin, to represent Italy in Stockholm.
The rules also provide that entries to Sanremo 2018 can be up to 4 minutes long. This could mean that the winner of the Festival might have to edit their song if they are to meet the 3 minute rule for Eurovision 2018.
Sanremo 2018 will also feature the return of the Duets which were dropped in 2011. The champions and the newcomers will perform their entries alongside one or more guests. Crucially, these duets will have an impact on the overall ranking of each entry.
The Grand Final will take place on Saturday 10th February 2018 where the Champions will be ranked on the basis of 50% televote, 30% pres vote and 20% expert jury vote. The top three will then participate in a super final and the winner announced based on an average of the votes from each performance of the song over the course of the Festival.
Sanremo 2018 will be the 68th edition and the seventh time since Italy’s return to the contest in 2011 that the Festival has played a part in selecting the Italian entry. In 2017, Sanremo winner Francesco Gabbani ultimately finished in 6th place in Eurovision in Kyiv.
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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.