From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Cantare una nuova nazione: un archivio della musica pop-rock italiana

Simona Martini


Singing a new nation: an archive of Italian pop-rock music. This essay welcomes the challenge to re-write archives and renew their contents, by presenting some songs written in recent decades by Italian musicians who defy discrimination towards immigrants in Italy. These songs address xenophobic attitudes and clichés, and subvert them – also by means of a peculiar use of language. Some of the songs tackle the “Southern question” within Italian society, as well. What follows provides an analysis of songs by Neapolitan dub-funk group Almamegretta, Turin electro-rock band Subsonica and Florentine rocker Piero Pelù – both in his solo career and with his rock band Litfiba. Social issues have always played a significant role in pop-rock songwriting. Expressing their views on their lived experience, these musicians give voice to the welcoming part of Italian society who feels open to acknowledging the wealth offered by different cultures and indeed highlight the common features between Italian people and African migrants, creating a Mediterranean frame that envisages wider borders of nationhood. The musicians all share a constant hybridization in their music, characterized by a mix of Mediterranean and electronic sounds. The songs range from the anti-immigrant frenzy to lyrics addressing the immigrants’ travels towards Italian shores. Such achievements show how the importance of sounds does not lie solely in their narrative strength, but also in their ability to raise critical questions, as a cultural resource to unsettle, interrogate and break the assumed unity of present times. Musical archives become a question involving the future and future responsibilities.




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