Mei Yau and I recently spotted the above album cover and were so mesmerised by the image that we had to check out the music of Gigliola Cinquetti right away. As it turns out, the picture is slightly misleading, as her music is actually extremely typical of the sort of mainstream pop that persisted in mainland Europe for many years, steadfastly ignoring most major developments in contemporary music. Therefore, not everything she recorded is quite up to the standard set by her stunning looks and album covers, but there are certainly some real gems to be found amongst the saccharine ballads and oompah-ish novelty songs. First up is a beautifully understated track from Gigliola’s self-titled debut album of 1964.
“Sull’acqua” by Gigliola Cinquetti
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the sort of music that she recorded, Gigliola Cinquetti twice represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest. In fact, her first major international exposure came when she won the contest at the age of 16 with what remains her most well-known song, Non ho l’età (Per amarti). Personally, however, I much prefer the song that she performed at the 1974 contest – and which was narrowly beaten into second place by a certain Swedish band’s Napoleonic opus – Sì. Unfortunately, this song was subsequently banned in Italy for fear that it might subliminally influence a referendum on divorce (!), so it has rather unfairly slipped into obscurity.
“Sì” by Gigliola Cinquetti
As well as her Eurovision appearances, Gigliola Cinquetti was a regular performer at Italy’s famous Sanremo Music Festival, winning the competition on two occasions. My personal favourite of the songs that she performed at this event is the wonderfully seductive and (ahem) mysterious Mistero from 1973. I felt I had to include the artwork for that year’s Sanremo compilation LP (with thanks to the excellent pensieri_p”33″ blog), on which Mistero was included, as it’s just so amazingly cool!
“Mistero” by Gigliola Cinquetti
Gigliola Cinquetti is now a television presenter on RAI International, and remains a well-known and much-loved public figure in Italy.