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An Introduction to Italian Songwriters: Part II (1980-2013)

italian 2

By Stef Fiorendi

This article was originally published by Lonely Table.

What follows is a personal selection of some of the most influential and revolutionary Italian songwriters: a mix of politics, poetry, sentiment and history. This is Part II of a two part series. Read “Part I: 1958-1978” here.

DISCLAIMER: This is just an introduction. It is nearly impossible to sum up a vast and prolific repertoire like the Italian songwriting tradition in one playlist.

Franco Battiato — “Up Patriots to Arms (Patriots)” — 1980

The most avant-garde of Italian songwriters, able to combine pop with experimentalism, featuring a mix of classical and world music, electronic, prog rock, and folk.

Paolo Conte — “Sparring Partner” — 1984

Paolo Conte is one of the most erudite and passionate songwriters, with a strong passion for Duke Ellington, Leonard Cohen, Bix Beiderbecke, and Jaques Brel.

Gianna Nannini — “Fotoromanza (Puzzle)” — 1984

Italy’s foremost female rock singer who was able to bring her music abroad.  She is known also for her fierce sense of independence and her strong statements about feminist issues.

CCCP Fedeli Alla Linea — “Io sto bene” — 1985

CCCP was formed in Berlin by Italians from Emilia-Romagna, a highly politicized and left-wing area. They have been able to blend new wave/post-punk sounds with heavily political content. Roughness, rage, and experimentalism express a lack of political engagement and the diseases (capitalism and corruption) affecting contemporary society.

Marlene Kuntz — “Sonica (Catartica)” — 1994

Marlene Kuntz are considered one of the first Italian noise rock bands, strongly influenced by Sonic Youth and their predecessors, CCCP. They opened up alternative music to a wider audience, bringing disturbing melodies, generational disappointment, and social anxiety.

Afterhours — “Non è per sempre” — 1999

Influenced by the delicate sound of the Velvet Underground, the introspective and surrealistic compositions of Afterhours shattered the barriers of Italian contemporary songwriting abroad.

 Anna Oxa — “Senza pietà” — 1999

An innovative and fascinating ever-changing character gifted with a sharp and powerful voice.

CSI — “Depressione caspica (noi non ci seremo vol. 1)” — 2001

Linked to Soviet ideology, CCCP reformed as CSI in 1992, after a few years apart. They now discussed national identity, the historical chaos of the modern days, and the war in Yugoslavia, with a new intense and slow paced rhythm, yet always incisive and effective.

Morgan — “Altrove (canzoni dell’ appartamento)” — 2003

Also frontman of Bluvertigo, Morgan has the reputation of being not only the guru of alternative music but also as one of the finest and intellectual contemporary songwriters able to mix new wave, funk, and electronic with an eccentric and bohemian outlook.

Ivano Fossati — “Cara democrazia (l’arcangelo)” — 2005

Known as the prog-rock poet. A sharp, realistic and careful observer of the social and political reality.

Le luci della centrale elettrica — “Quando tornerai dal’estero (per ora noi la chiameremo felicità” — 2010

A detailed portrait of contemporary disillusions and a nostalgic look back to the innocence of the past.

Vinicio Capossela — “Si è spento il sole (Hand in Hand)” — 2013

Capossela draws on Tom Waits, the French chanson, jazz music, and Balkan guitars. The main subjects of his songs are bizarre circus characters and surrealistic Brecht-inspired atmospheres.

Elio e Le Storie Tese — “Televisione Russa” — 2013

Elio e Le Storie Tese is among the most emblematic of contemporary screwball rock bands of the Italian scene. Idiotic, sarcastic, and nonsensical, but always filled with tinge of truth.

Click here for Part I: 1958-1978

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