“What the hell goes on at Eurovision?”
It’s the question I’m pretty sure I wondered aloud after scrolling through YouTube. I’d heard of the song competition in passing, seen it trending on Tumblr — but never watched it. It seemed like something I could afford to miss, after having seen my fair share of song competitions (The Voice, Rising Star, American Idol). Eurovision, with its international competitors and flashy costumes, seemed cool but not enough to pique the interest of my short attention span. After weeks of watching random SNL compilations, my YouTube feed decided to recommend a quick video of meme-able moments: “Eurovision 2021 moments that sent me.” After watching it and being slightly amused by Graham Norton’s commentary and finally intrigued by the costumes and production, I figured it was a one-off thing. Little did I know that my bubble of ignorance was about to dissipate. Why?
Måneskin happened. And with that discovery, I remembered how fun it is to discover new music.
Måneskin, an Italian rock band who were the winners of Eurovision 2021, has only been gaining momentum since the competition. Their song for the contest, “ZITTI EN BUONI,” with its edgy rock sound and impressive vocals from lead singer Damiano David, caught my attention. Compilations of the band’s best moments popped up in my YouTube feed. Before hearing their music, I saw their outfits and was instantly a fan.
Måneskin is likely to make a big splash in the United States in the coming months. The band has been getting tons of social engagement from fan accounts to YouTube compilations of their interviews. Their second album, Teatro D’ira, dropped in March of this year, and another record is rumored to be in the works. Though it’s only a mere eight tracks, Teatro D’ira is a great introduction to the band and their sound, even for those not fluent in Italian. (One of the songs on the album, the hit single “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” is in English.) What distinguishes Måneskin and their rise from American rock bands, and the general rock scene, is that they were already a well-established group prior to winning Eurovision. If anything, Eurovision simply gave them a platform to introduce themselves to the rest of Europe and the world.
Måneskin is what I consider to be part of the slowly simmering revival of rock music that’s been occurring in recent years. Their music is filled with brash guitar solos and lyrics of love and rebellion that recall earlier eras of rock. Until recently, mainstream rock music has been populated mostly by varying interpretations of the genre. There’s the radio-friendly pop rock of bands like Imagine Dragons or Coldplay, angsty pop punk that feels outdated and alternative/indie rock, which has its own unique spectrum that ranges from Royal Blood to The 1975 and Twenty One Pilots. It’s hard to define what exactly rock music is in the 2020s, as previous eras of the 90s, 2000s, 2010s had a number of clear signature sounds — grunge, screamo, emo, and pop-punk.
In listening to Måneskin, it’s clear that they’re a band whose sound is both distinctly modern and incredibly retro, evoking early ’70s punk and rock music. On the opening track, “FOR YOUR LOVE,” Damiano’s vocal styling and delivery is similar to Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, reminding me of early MCR tracks like “Vampires Will Never Hurt You.” But Måneskin’s melodies and instrumentation sounds more like the early ’70s punk bands like The Stooges. It makes sense that the band would release a new version of “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” featuring punk legend Iggy Pop,The Stooges’ lead singer.
What makes this retro yet contemporary sound so important is that Måneskin’s very existence will allow for younger generations to experience this classic sound, much like older generations who grew up with Television, The Stooges or The Velvet Underground. Rock music now is experiencing a renaissance of source with older sounds being given new life through groups like Måneskin, Palaye Royale and Royal Blood. Palaye Royale, a Canadian trio of brothers that’s best known for songs like “Mr. Doctor Man,” “Don’t Feel Quite Right” and most recently “Paranoid,” have a deliberate aesthetic that mixes punk, steampunk, and vaudeville with a gritty rock sound.
The reason why Måneskin matters is that their appeal and impact hits deeper than their well crafted instrumentation, energetic live performances and fashion. They’re a band that’s able to bring an olden sound back to life, but with lyrics and a mission that affirm today’s generation. Måneskin’s music is incredibly sex-positive, conscious of the diversity amongst their fans, and can be rather introspective and poetic at points. “ZITTI E BUONI,” the song that put them on the map, is a song that celebrates individuality. The same can be said for Palaye Royale and Royal Blood, as the latter tends to sing heavily in metaphor. These bands are ushering in a new definition of rock n roll — rejecting the OldWorld way of simply just ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll.’ The sound is there, but for a new generation who is more open, compassionate and creative. This allows for Gen Z to learn more about rock (if they so desire), but also feel connected to a band that celebrates them for who they are and how they express themselves.