Italian entertainment: The Maneskin phenomenon
- WTI Magazine #142 Aug 18, 2021
Sixteen years old, a passion for music, a bad school record. Professors who tell you you're not going anywhere, a failure in high school, the first evenings in some small clubs in the Italian capital and performances in the streets of the center of Rome. This is how begins the story of Damiano, the frontman of Maneskin (it means “moonlight” in Danish), the Italian group that is at the top of the Spotify playlists with its cover "Beggin'" and is currently stable in the top20 of the most listened artists worldwide.
Victoria on bass, Damiano on vocals, Thomas on guitar, Ethan on drums. Four kids, the oldest is 23 years old, and the natural ability to communicate music unveiled. From the point of view of marketing and communication, Maneskin are a war machine: sensitive to the issues of a forgotten generation but without the obsession of having to make the female part of the group appear "different" or "special". She's just like everyone else, in fact she's a phenomenal bass player, but nothing constructed.
Form, but also substance. Maneskin are a wonderful rock band, but modern: the sound is elaborate and rock, the lyrics deal with deep issues, a statement and a breakup altogether. The attitude is that of true rock stars, as well as their outfit. The modernity lies in being attentive and sensitive to social issues, they keep more attention to the culture of work than to sex, drugs and rock and roll. They don’t give a shit, but carefully.
The term Maneskin Phenomenon is not accidental: this is not a group that, as often happens, rides a genre in vogue better than others. Young kids used to listen mainly pop, trap, indie, experimental, electronic. Those who listened to rock, used to recall the best bands of the last 30 years: from Metallica to U2, from AC/DC to Oasis, from Green Day to, especially for the younger ones, Linkin Park. And it's not that Colplay or Imagine Dragons are not up to being mentioned here, but they are more the result of a discographic mediation tending to pop, symbol of these musical times.
In Italy as in Europe, Maneskin have been a beacon. It is no coincidence that even the most "grown up" admirers have appreciated their artistic abilities. The Maneskin tornado struck without reserve at Sanremo, at the uptight Italian musical festival with a piece which was musically formidable and completely different from the genre played at Sanremo. They were good at shocking and winning again at Eurovision, dismantling the cliché of Italian music as a sad complaining song after the end of a love story.
But if it is true that they had a huge success in Italy because of their ability not to change who they are and because of the absence of real competition, in Europe it was different: they needed a dramatic gesture that would inflame the audience. It actually happened in a show like Eurovision, broadcasted in the whole continent, and above all in those eastern European nations that have recently been at the center of a controversy, following restrictions on abortion and homosexuality. What better moment to show all the evocative power of free love and liberty?
The kiss between the guitarist Thomas (2001) and Damiano (1999), preceded by the bold statement "love is never wrong" was an iconic gesture that perhaps in a western and free country may seem almost obvious, ostentatious, facade. But for the kids of the LGBT+ community in those countries, estranged from their families because of their sexual orientation that was never really understood, it was a light.
And now the United States. The dream of any European artist is to be able to see their face posted in Times Square, in the home of most of the best rock stars ever. The American rock tradition can crush you, but I'm sure that this won't be the case. The video that is literally driving the stars and stripes crazy is undoubtedly "I wanna be your slave", which together with "Beggin'" and the songs in Italian has allowed them to reach number five in the US charts without even a concert date scheduled. These dates will probably be scheduled for 2022, but will they be able to conquer the rock soul of the Americans? The premises are very good, but they need to analyze which factors could help or hinder what to all intents and purposes is the American dream par excellence, born in the Roman neighborhood of Monteverde.
What not to do:
Maneskin's communication has been a major strength so far, especially for the naturalness with which they approached it. But the world of global stars is steeped in political correctness, sometimes ostentatiously forced. The risk is to make their biting music take a back seat to the media aspect, which is much more full of pitfalls and divisions, and in this they will have to be good at keeping themselves "hard and pure". This is also true for the language of their lyrics: the alternation of Italian and English is a must, because in our society people no longer learn Italian just to study Dante or Leopardi, but also to know by heart the lyrics of their favorite artists. The power of the culture of the Italian language is anything but secondary.
What to do:
Capitalize. The follow on Instagram of a planetary star like Miley Cyrus is one of those signals that mark the entrance to a news more adult dimension, but it can be ephemeral, if not exploited. Featuring with her, with Machine Gun Kelly, with the Weeknd, could sanction the total affirmation at planetary level, not only from the point of view of numbers, but also of artistic experimentation. After being awarded the "Lupa Capitolina", an honor given to those who know how to export the Roman spirit in the world, the 4 wonder kids announced they will play in 2022 at Circus Maximus, the historical place with the largest capacity in the whole city.
Rock and roll never dies. Rome Caput Mundi. But above all, carpe diem.