Review Sunday: Francesco Gabbani – “Occidentali’s Karma”

occidentali27s_karma_-_francesco_gabbaniFrancesco Gabbani
“Occidentali’s Karma”

People in Europe always take Eurovision Song Contest seriously. It’s an annual event where they celebrate the continent’s finest musics, finding the hidden gems from each countries. It’s where we all discover Celine Dion, Alexander Rybak, and Conchita Wurst. Eurovision, on the surface, is always filled with this gleaming spotlight, loud music, and superficiality. Hidden beneath this extravagant façade, however, some serious songs succeed to emerge. Jamala, the Ukrainian winner from 2016’s Eurovision Song Contest,  for example, sings a song about the deportation of Crimean Tatars people by Soviet Union in “1944”. Eurovision has become more political these days. It’s not all about confetti falling from above and who can sing dancepop song better anymore. The main theme of their 2017’s contest, their 62nd one, is “Celebrating Diversity”, an endless issue that we always encounter. The Italian representative for the contest, Francesco Gabbani, takes the theme seriously.

“Occidentali’s Karma” or in English is called “Westerners’ Karma” is Gabbani’s critique for westerners who try to adopt the eastern culture, insensitively giving the culture their “westerners” culture. Gabbani combines the iconic Hamlet’s phrase, “To be or not to be” with Erich Fromm’s 1976’s book To Have or to Be, a clashing of the modern and classic. Gabbani keeps gunning this heavy word garrulously on his verse, citing Desmond Morris’ man’s evolution from ape—he fully endorses Gabbani’s song in the contest—until Heraclitos’ everything flows’ philosophy (“Comunque vada panta rei!” Gabbani shouts). “Occidentali’s Karma” is not only a mere of electropop song that’s catchy, but it’s also substantive. Throughout the song, Gabbani emphasizes how modern society tries really hard to balance the spiritual realm with their needs to exist under the spotlight; he’s full of cynicism. The topic of the song is difficult, but with the help of Luca Chiaravalli who produces the song, “Occidentali’s Karma” finds the balance between thumping beat, club banger track, and social criticism. Twelve points to Italy.


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