Are Måneskin The Opportunity Italian Rock Music Needs?

In the history of Italian rock music, perhaps no one has achieved so much so quickly as Måneskin. Their history is still to be written.

Måneskin guitarist Thomas Raggi
Måneskin's guitarist Thomas Raggi. Photo: Valentina Ceccatelli, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

If you’re a magazine writing about Italy right now, there are three things that you can’t not cover: police brutality, Italy’s victory at Euro 2020 and the outstanding success of Måneskin.

The Italian rock band are, in fact, the cultural phenomenon of the moment. They show an attractive face of Italy to the world — together with the boys of Roberto Mancini. This is exactly what Italy needs right now, when the alternative is the dark face of politics— extreme deterioration, radicalization, and confrontation — and the darker shadow of police violence. Against this, Måneskin is a group that represents diversity, telling the story of an Italy that’s finally open and inclusive and that supports the fight against gender stereotypes.

But what’s shifting the focus onto Måneskin is not so much the need to restore wounded national pride. Rather, it’s the objective data and events that tell us this band is rewriting the history of Italian music. In 2021 alone, Måneskin achieved perhaps more than any other Italian band has before. They won Sanremo Festival. They won Eurovision. They topped the Spotify Global Chart with the song Beggin’, and entered the club of the 20 most listened to artists in the world on Spotify. Then they became the first Italian band with two top ten tracks in the UK.

But what are the musical opportunities that their success can bring for the Bel paese? Will Måneskin’s success make Italian rock music better known worldwide?

The inferiority complex

Of course, we don’t have the ability to read the future. The world of music and entertainment moves so fast that we cannot make predictions. Yet, some dynamics are already emerging under our eyes. As of today, Måneskin are pioneers in the history of Italian rock music. No one before them has ever made it this far. As a result, history is still to be written.

What is certain at least, however, is that, in the words of a musical expert such as local singer Morgan, Måneskin have succeeded in the arduous task of removing Italian rock from its ‘inferiority complex’ compared to the American and British masters. In a way, Måneskin’s success speaks loudly: “we exist, Italian rock is more alive than ever and Italian music is not just good singing and the opera.” Manuel Agnelli, one of the Roman group’s biggest supporters and their mentor, agrees — as he has spoken of a new universe opening up for Italy and its music.

This new universe has yet to be created, given that in the last 10 years no particular group or defined sound current has imposed itself on the musical scene in Italy.

The possibility is, then, that many Italians bands could start having idols among their compatriots, models to aspire to — someone to encourage them to raise their heads and start to believe in rock music, for real. At the same time, many young boys and girls may well start thinking that playing an instrument could be a vehicle for success. A lot of girls and young women might think that playing the bass guitar could make them cool — even for women, just like Måneskin’s Victoria. The importance of having idols is something we don’t enjoy at the moment, but it’s fundamental.

Måneskin and the ‘pure’ rock

On the other hand, there is no shortage of Måneskin’s detractors. There are many people ready to suggest that they are simply a passing meteorite, rather than a point of reference for Italian rock music.

Among them are certainly the lovers of ‘pure’ rock who accuse the Roman band of not presenting all those elements typical of 70s rock music, especially in terms of social and cultural revolution. At the base of this criticism, there is the idea that Måneskin do not represent that kind of breakthrough music that can shock as aggressive and cathartic.

Let’s say that many people think that although their sounds are certainly rock, their language is too pop and mainstream. As a result, the argument goes, they can’t impose themselves as trailblazers for the success of real Italian rock.

Recently, Chris Deville openly criticized the band and tried to belittle them by calling them “a darkly glammed-out and transcendently trashy hard rock quartet.” And sure, if this trend aimed at belittling Måneskin’s music and art were to take hold, it could be detrimental to the entire Italian rock movement. The prospect there is that Italian rock would return to the hovel from which it came, with little credibility and its inability to distinguish itself in the international context.h

The successes of Måneskin and the support they’ve received from the many major players in Italian rock make us believe in this opportunity to give Italian music a new global audience. Måneskin are a train of success and visibility, that many in Italy could follow. But such trains never pass twice.

Support our independent project!

Italics Magazine was born from the idea of two friends who believed that Italy was lacking a complete, in-depth, across-the-board source of information in English. While some publications do a great job, writing about the latest news or focusing on specific areas of interest, we do believe that other kinds of quality insights are just as needed to better understand the complexity of a country that, very often, is only known abroad for the headlines that our politicians make, or for the classic touristic cliches. This is why Italics Magazine is quickly becoming a reference for foreign readers, professionals, expats and press interested in covering Italian issues thoroughly, appealing to diverse schools of thought. However, we started from scratch, and we are self-financing the project through (not too intrusive) ads, promotions, and donations, as we have decided not to opt for any paywall. This means that, while the effort is bigger, we can surely boast our independent and free editorial line. This is especially possible thanks to our readers, who we hope to keep inspiring with our articles. That’s why we kindly ask you to consider giving us your important contribution, which will help us make this project grow — and in the right direction. Thank you.