Roberto Meloni could very well be the one Italian artist with the largest, recent Eurovision Song Contest experience as he has taken part twice in the last four editions of the contest. A man who takes the contest very seriously, he has been selected to represent his country of residence, Latvia, in 2007 and 2008 managing to get through to the final. We caught up with Roberto in Sardenia and the artist was happy to discuss with us the return of his homeland to the Eurovision Song Contest after 13 years.
Roberto Meloni is very happy to see Italy return to the Eurovision Song Contes for various reasons. As a professional he is very well aware of the benefits this kind of pan-European exposure can bring to the artist and he feels it will be a great opportunity for Italian talent to be showcased abroad: "I often perform in Ukraine, last I was in some very big events on Christmas day and New Year's in Kiev. And people knew I was in Eurovision so …..red carpets everywhere! It is absolutely great for an artist!" says Roberto.
What is currently the situation in Italyregarding the Eurovision Song Contest?
"A little messy at the moment because the Italian public does not understand the importance of Eurovision. When, during my interviews, I say that it is followed by 110 million people in over 40 countries many listeners cannot believe it! Media interest is low, very low, but I hope it will grow after the San Remo festival in February.
Why do you think RAI decided to return after so many years?
First thing that comes to mind ismainly becauseLena won. The song sold well around Europe and it is not a real Eurovision project, even the performance was not the typical Eurovision performance! Satellite has managed to get airplay in Italy and so has Fairytale, the 2009 winner.
And you think that madethem reconsider?
It is also, I think, because it was Germany who won! It was not the victory of, say, a Balkan bloc voting or ex USSR bloc voting. It was a western performance and people from every country more or less voted for her.
And of course, the San Remo festival is not doing very well any more, even when it comes to the quality of the songs. The last edition got quite high ratings but the winning songs belong to Amici (the Italian TV talent show)* and both 2009 and 2010 have ignited polemics around the singers chosen to take part. I also believe that it is possible that Italian record companies do not consider San Remo to be the best place to send their artists and consequently boost sales.
Many singers from Italy want to show themselves abroad and Eurovision offers the perfect means for an artist to do that. The singers requested in eastern countries even today are still Ricchi e Poveri and Albano e Romina!"
Who would you like to see representing Italy?
Do you know Giorgia? She is an amazing singer!! Like the Italian Whitney Houston. During a recent interview I gave for Radio 1, the biggest in Italy, I said that Giorgia should participate as people around Europe should know her. I also explained that most participating countries send their best artists, like Ukraine or France with Patricia Kaas or Greece with Sakis or Latvia with Roberto 😀
And I would also like to see Paola e Chiara to represent San Marino. I think they are Italy's best product for Eurovision together with Marco Mengoni. When I took part both times many people asked me about them (Paola e Chiara). They have been turned down at San Remo this year and again you see the same old names rumoured, like Albano!
I actually like Nathalie, the winner of X Factor, who was announced at the show as Italy's comeback entrant. I like her song In punta di piedi but I am not sure what is going to happen now that she has been selected to take part in San Remo. I also read somewhere that she wants to TRANSLATE the song in English! Worst mistake she could do! Everybody is waiting to hear Italian (REAL Italian) on stage and they are arguing about translating it!
Having experienced the Eurovision Song Contest twice as a participant what do you think Italy should or shouldn't do?
I really hope they choose someone who knows Eurovision in depth for the project, I could even say who I think would be ideal as a consultant, Eddy Anselmi, the Italian journalist. The man is a real guru of the Eurovision Song Contest.
I saw BIG mistakes with the San Marino organization in 2008 and I really hope it doesn't happen with Italy. I still remember when they went to Perrelli's press conference and how she reacted! They could not tell Latvia from Lithuania.
Eurovision is a project that needs to be prepared step by step. With the Pirates I had the chance to correct many of the mistakes we made with Bonaparti.lv like cameras, stage clothes and press conferences.
Italy is coming back and needs to be great, absolutely great not mediocre. If not, both Europe AND Italy will be disappointed. I am also concerned about the singer as a bad result could damage his or her career. And if the result is not good then in Italy they will say "Europe doesn't understand us!!"
How did your name get included among the rumoured potential candidates?
I took part in a Sunday afternoon TV program on RAI 3 which is actually very popular with more than 2.5 million viewers. Although it was shot earlier, before Italy announced their return, it was aired at the beginning of the year. It was a 20 minute special on me and they showed videos of both my Eurovision performances. After that I started receiving communications from various media asking about my potential participation.
Would you like to represent Italy?
Yes! But on condition! I would gladly represent my country singing a song I really like and believe in with a stage performance I like and in Italian of course!!! I represented Latvia singing in English, it would be crazy to sing in English for Italy.
But, you know, I am really serious about the conditions and I can give you the example of the Pirates. This was basically a Swedish idea. I listened to the song, I found it catchy, sticky refrain. Then I found the other pirates: one ball room dancer, Aleksandra Kurusova, and one traveller, Janis Vaisla, so.. no singers and strong singing pirates. We won in Latvian final and..it was a surprise, this was a really crazy project but I believed in it, we all believed in it. Ok, many people don't like it but … still many people write to me to say that it was amazing. So I do on the stage whatever ..more or less but I MUST BELIEVE in what I do!
There can be of course middle ways but nothing fake neither pretending to perform as an artist that I am not.
So it's YOUR way or NO way?
Well….my way collaborating with people that can make it better because of course my way needs others opinions around but I listen and try to listen to the good ones. And I would listen and collaborate with the right people to find the best way to present my country back to the Eurovision Song Contest. Because I know how people, Eurovision people especially, are longing to see Italy on stage.
If you did receive a proposal what kind of song would you consider performing?
Actually, I am working on an international project for my new song. Well..I can say… I have a song to submit! I got a call in October from Israel by Yaron Malachi who is a composer and music teacher. He sent me some melodies telling me he wanted me to record them. I spent an entire weekend listening to them and I have been "captured" by a tango, a tango pop melody in fact. We discussed it and we spent a lot of time working on the lyrics together. We are working with a studio in Malta so I recorded it in Riga and sent it to wonderful Malta to Philip Vela. The song has started growing step by step and I am going next week to a studio in Rome to finish it.
How would RAI react to a foreign composer?
And a "foreign" performer since I represented Latvia, I am not thinking about that! (laughs)
How Italian do you feel?
I am VERY Italian! Even when I speak English when interviewed many journalists find my Italian accent very funny 😀
Roberto Meloni on RAI 3