IL VOLO and THE UNBEARABLE HEAVINESS OF CRITICISM

(translation from the Italian version – thanks to Susan J. Ambrosini)

Il Volo is the only Italian group to have reached a global success that involves every continent and people of all ages and walks of life; their CDs come out simultaneously in more than 50 countries, and their concerts are sold out all over the world.

Undoubtedly, the huge public following achieved in Italy has puzzled those who had predicted – and hoped for– their downfall after the victory at the Sanremo Festival in 2015. The attitude of arrogant contempt by journalists at the press conference towards the three young winners was appalling, and probably partly ruined their joy at fulfilling their dream to be appreciated also at home. Watching the video, one can see that they were so tense and uncomfortable that they were unable to express their usual spontaneity and sparkle, and appeared even unsociable in trying to defend themselves against the sarcastic comments of the reporters, who, taking advantage of their young age and innocence, used a rudeness that they would have never used with others.

Anyhow, it’s fun to read today the ferocious criticisms that poured on the trio on that occasion or the comment made by Nek, who unable to hide his disappointment at classifying second, said: “I’m curious to see how far you’ll go, now it’s fuckin’ up to you” . Well, we can say that his curiosity has been satisfied but maybe not his ego.

However, the journalists who criticized them, acting as judges and experts, seemed to know very little about them, showing that their opinion was based on bias and shallowness.
Some of them believed they were a folk group singing old songs from operettas, like those waiters who improvise themselves as tenors and entertain customers in New York pizzerias, and others believed their success abroad was only attributable to a public of old, nostalgic, Italian immigrants.

If they had just taken the trouble to find out, they would have realized that these three young men had already achieved an unparalleled worldwide success and were the most famous Italian group in the world. While nobody in Italy knew them yet, in a few years, they had climbed the charts in various continents, from New Zealand to Malaysia, from the USA to South America, in 2014 they won the prestigious Billboard Latin Music Award in Miami surpassing artists such as Shakira and Ricky Martin, uncountable platinum discs, they had sung duets with the greatest artists and in top rating places such as Madison Square Garden in New York and at the presentation of the Nobel Prize in Oslo, where the King of Norway himself gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation along with hundreds of spectators. The only country which had not welcomed and acclaimed them was their own.

At home they were presented by the media as “outdated”, representatives of “an Italian archaic identity” . Aldo Cazullo, from the “Corriere”, described them as an exported product of “low” culture, “Theirs is a bit of stereotyped Italy with warbling melody echoes of opera arias and Neapolitan songs but basically the world is not asking us for our “high culture” Paolo Giordano, from the “Giornale”, wrote: “These three guys are the cliché of the” bel canto “which we would like to break away from and we risk being debased, at least as a common perception.”
Those articles were clearly based on the usual Italian obsession with everything foreign and tendency to promote trends that don’t belong to us instead of enhancing our uniqueness, as well as the deep-rooted inferiority complex of those who think that they will be mocked and laughed at if they express their “Italianness”

The three singers were portrayed as unsmiling, old-fashioned “elderly youths”, proving that these journalists had never met them or ever seen them in a concert. What is amazing, in fact, in their live performances is their ability to transform in an wink from friendly pranksters, able to amuse and entertain the public, to talented artists who pour their soul into the song they sing with a skill worthy of the greatest vocalists.

Their musical style is very particular and difficult to define, they call it pop-opera or operatic-pop but it is very different from that of Andrea Bocelli, for example, which is more classical and aimed at a more mature audience. It is also misleading to speak only of Italian “bel canto”, unless you want to include in this category the interpretations of Tom Jones, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Charles Aznavour or Michael Buble, since the three young artists also perform melodic songs in perfect English, Spanish and French, already performed by these icons of international modern music. Their repertoire includes some of the most beautiful songs ever written in Italy and abroad, masterfully rearranged to suit their unique voices, which enchant and are liked more than the original versions, as confirmed by the numerous comments of Internet users. An English woman said: “I thought that no version of Delilah could equal that of Tom Jones, but after listening to Il Volo, I changed my mind.

Even today, despite having had to accept – willingly or not – their immense popularity, many journalists still do not understand why. “The surprise is that this exportable Italy, once re-imported, works“, states Cazullo. In particular, they cannot explain the enthusiasm of adolescents and young people accustomed to Anglo-Saxon music. Improvising themselves psychologists or sociologists they give the most absurd explanations, when the answer is very simple. What everyone likes about Il Volo is them: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero. No matter the type of music or song they sing, it is the way they perform that makes the difference. “They would thrill even if they sang “Il ballo del qua qua (a sort of nursery rhyme)”” someone said in a comment. And it’s true. With their interpretations, they can turn any song into a masterpiece. The perfect chemistry created by the combination of their wonderful voices, so powerful, special and versatile, combined with the passion and emotions that they convey, fascinates and ensnares anyone who hears them.

Usually, those who have important voices like theirs, base their performance on their vocal skills and concentrate on virtuosity, while these three young artists use their beautiful voices as an instrument to stir feelings and emotions, like a painter uses his brush, a poet uses words and a composer uses notes. Of course, this clearly requires a special sensitivity both by those who perform and by the listeners, a gift that many critics probably do not possess. They are trying to rationally explain what is not rational. Harmony and beauty, in its many different forms, touches deep chords of the human soul and is not always explainable in words.

Unfortunately, a certain type of national press who prides itself in snubbing and destroying the excellence of our country, continues to crush them with angry contempt, running down not only them but also those who follow them as if they were all victims of a mass insanity, and even going as far as slandering the internationally renowned artists who support them, such as Placido Domingo accused by the newspaper “Il Fatto” as being “ a go-getter” for having conducted the orchestra that accompanied them in the concert “Tribute to the Three Tenors”.

These articles highlight the lack of professionalism of those who even write on national newspapers without knowing the facts. One of them, thinking he was getting a scoop, revealed that they are not opera singers, and another one, Michele Monina, stubbornly continues to deny the evidence. Commenting in “Il Fatto Quotidiano” on the Florence concert “Tribute to the Three Tenors”, broadcast on Channel 5, the latter maintains that the public gave them a “lukewarm” welcome because “they failed to thrill the audience”. One wonders whether he is consciously lying, or if he thought that the chairs were electrified and that’s why the spectators jumped up at the end of each song in a blaze of applause and passionate standing ovations. Perhaps he did not even bother to watch the concert in streaming but he just blindly obeyed the orders of the director who proudly calls himself an “anti-Italian” using his newspaper as a bulldozer to demolish every accomplishment of our country . With regard to this, it is worth quoting the comment of a reader: “Monina is a clear example of how  conformism induced by global cultural levelling causes serious damage, in this case, trashing a musical product that commendably makes opera popular among the very young. The threat posed by these journalists, who pretend to be intellectuals but are supporting the powerful groups behind global mass control, should not be underestimated. “

If these so-called experts surfed the internet maybe – just maybe granting them honesty- they would understand that they are dealing with a phenomenon that cannot be dismissed as“ a marketed product” through advertising, as they say.
If one reads the hundreds – if not thousands – of comments in various languages (assuming our intellectuals understand at least one)  one realizes the extraordinary effect they have on listeners. The adjectives and phrases that are more often used to describe their performances are “mesmerizing”; “breathtaking”; “they are out of this world”; “they stole their voices from the God/Angels”
It’s not worth mentioning that the only negative comments are written by the usual Italian “haters’, but luckily they are very few compared to the positive ones and these are some examples: “ they don’t belong to this world…. they are perfect”; “ they entertain as well as arousing emotions”; “ This is Divine talent”; I listen to them and I am happy”; “I listen to them every day, they make me feel good”; “ Fantastic and talented boys”; “ they are Italy’s pride!!!”; “you are wonderful, I listen to you every day, you have given me the strength to live, thank you boys”; “ their voices warm your heart and make your soul happy”; “ what is this flow we feel when they sing? It’s pure emotion”.

What is significant, if we want to further the investigation, is that you cannot find as many passionate comments at the bottom of the videos of other internationally renowned artists, even those who sing similar genres or have remarkable voices, like Giorgia and Andrea Bocelli. In addition, watching reruns of their concerts on the most important stages of the world, one will notice that viewers bestow their enthusiastic and spontaneous standing ovations at the end of each song and not at the end of the concert, as usually happens.

They have only one flaw, as demonstrated by some of the comments above mentioned: they can cause addiction.

***

An addendum:
As most people know, after the Sanremo Festival victory, ll Volo participated in the Eurovison Song Contest 2015 winning the televote with a large majority ( 1 Italy – 366, 2. Russia – 286, 3. Sweden – 279) but ranked third with the jury’s vote which counted for 50%, triggering an angry reaction from fans all over the world.
But maybe not everyone knows that there were two other competitions being held at the same time: “Best Male Vocalist 2015” in which the Il Volo singers were awarded the first three places and “Top Male Model 2015” (the most handsome male singer), in which Gianluca Ginoble was awarded first place with Ignazio Boschetto, third place and Piero Barone, fourth place, overtaking colleagues of every nationality, including Swedes, Germans and Norwegians, (23 were eliminated in the first round and 16 remained in the running), with all due respect to Paolo Giordano who when commentating on their success at Sanremo, had written: “None of them can be considered a sex symbol”. Another great satisfaction for our boys. “ Gianluca and Ignazio are the first Italians to enter the Top Model Hall of Fame”.

Editor’s review of Gianluca: “Gianluca knows how to work his angles. Telegenic, photogenic, he is always looking for the spotlight, he stares through the camera and straight into your soul. Look at his look on stage in Vienna. This is the face of sensuality, everyone. This Italian stallion is now ready to gallop from the stage of the Eurovision to the walkways”.
Ignazio: “Having already arrived and made a name for himself worldwide, Ignazio can unwind and kick back with the people. He was one of the most laidback contestants at the Eurovision 2015. In a field of self-important pop stars, his down-to-earth realness was a breath of fresh air

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8 pensieri su “IL VOLO and THE UNBEARABLE HEAVINESS OF CRITICISM

  1. Pingback: Finding Il Volo~ Patrizia Ciava | Il Volo Flight Crew ~Share The Love

  2. i also read another blog somewhere, sometime back – that lady said something like this, ‘they could sing the phone directory and i would find it delightfully charming!’

    Mi piace

  3. You could have never imagined a group of 13-14 year-old Peruvian girls, singing very loudly Oh Sole mio and Non Farme Aspettare in the backyard of a house located in the middle of the Andes. In Italian. I saw them. That’s Il Volo for you!

    Mi piace

  4. I call Il Volo “Beings of Light”. They are old souls in young bodies, and yes, they sing with such beautiful emotion, and that’s what sets them apart. Music is the “international language”, and nobody is a better example of this than Il Volo.

    Mi piace

  5. Pingback: IL VOLO e L’INSOSTENIBILE PESANTEZZA DELLA CRITICA | Italia ri-unita

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