The best of Italian music in the world: the legacy of “vintage Italian sound”
That Italian music is famous all over the world and recognizable at first listening is a fact that can hardly be contested. But who really are the most admired and listened Italian artists? What are the names that have exported the made in Italy and have given us the privilege of sitting on the throne of international music?
The music that we have exported the most abroad belongs largely to the era of the vintage Italian sound. The magical formula of success is that almost miraculous product that emerges from the union of international pop structures with a national touch, only Italian. This all-Italian specificity is immediately recognizable by the texts, which have made our language, once more after Dante, renowned throughout the world, and by a way of interpreting, renewing it, the repertoire of the canzone, between lyric, melodrama and comedy.
So, in the balance between the local touch and the global pop, the best artists have managed to maintain their Italian identity and have had, at the same time, the ability to go beyond time (the last century) and space (the Italy) assigned to them by destiny, thus consecrating themselves to the history of music.
To get a clear idea of who the Italians aat the top of the world’s rankings are, let’s rely on some numbers, troubling the data of estimated disc sales.
Let’s start with the most distinctly Italian genre, a creation all of our own: the operatic pop. Two names stand out: Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. Discs sold? Together they make one hundred ninety million.
In the matter of soundtracks – if you have not already understood – the master Ennio Morricone reigns supreme: the numbers say 70 million copies sold.
Concerning musica leggera (light music) the names to remember are those of Adriano Celentano and Mina who, with 150 million copies sold each, are king and queen of the charts. Among the bands we have the Pooh, scoring 75 million.
An honorable mention goes to the Neapolitan song that, despite its hefty regional roots, we have successfully exported to all continents. Domenico Modugno (60 million copies sold) is the name that is also the symbol of Neapolitanism all over the world.
Today it is much more difficult to recognize a song as a product of a uniquely Italian style. Rap, trap, electronic music and all the other genres born under the sign of new technologies and today at the top of the charts, belong to a chapter in the history of music linked to the hybridization of genres and languages. It is increasingly difficult for music to be linked to specific places, times and traditions. Time passes, music changes and music consumption changes too. But some names remain: true contemporary classics, destined to be sculpted forever in time. Some of them, like Bocelli and Morricone, are still active, but always mindful of an era in which Italian music had a touch of its own.