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Pop music in Italy is a man's thing (not for long)

Elodie and the others are trying to change the narrative

Pop music in Italy is a man's thing (not for long) Elodie and the others are trying to change the narrative
Francesco Pradoni
Francesco Prandoni

When we talk about pop music, especially when it comes to female artists, iconic figures like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Beyoncé, and more recently Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and Olivia Rodrigo are always brought up. What they have in common, besides challenging norms and common sense, is their origin: they all come from the United States, each with their own unique references, journeys, ages, and influences. In Italy, we seem to fall short, stuck in melodramatic, romantic, and Sanremo-esque ideals of female music – always composed and dignified, screaming out of pain rather than anger or to challenge someone or something.

The Rebels of the Past

In the past, even through traditional channels, there were unique and irreplaceable figures like Anna Oxa, Loredana Berté, or Patty Pravo who were a thorn in the side. They defied conventions and were labeled as strange, rebellious, a little crazy, unique, and therefore isolated. Even in their world – the entertainment industry – in interviews and public discourse surrounding them, they were often put in their place, mocked, and never truly understood, treated as circus acts. Questions about their private lives, marriage, and motherhood were always used as weapons, wielded like a baseball bat, threatening and normalizing, pushing them inside the lines.

Now it's Elodie's Turn

Now, a new generation of female artists is taking on American-style pop in Italy (with concept albums and visual albums, glamour looks, very high production values in both music videos and live performances, and elaborate choreography). They are trying to network against conventions, misogynistic questions, and prejudices. Leading the pack is certainly Elodie, who with her clubtape "Red Light," goes beyond, presenting to her beloved audience – made up of the LGBT+ community and women, because, in her own words, she's not interested in heterosexual men – a provocative experiment, a manifesto of freedom and sexuality that lashes out against those who attack her, defining her target with millimetric precision.

The "Red Light" Project

We are talking about a single track composed of 7 uninterrupted pieces accompanied by different visuals, rich in references to the pop of the 80s and 90s, to Madonna and the fashion of that time, designed to dance in a club with friends. Her freedom and desire for change seep through the lyrics and videos, as well as the recognition of her status as an icon of the Italian LGBT+ community, which, if it hasn't arrived yet, will come very soon, and alongside which she stands without fear, but rather with courage. The same courage (in Italy, at least) that she needs to proudly declare herself a feminist, without a shadow of a doubt, in a period when the word seems to be bent negatively and used derogatorily.

And Annalisa, Speaking for Those to Come

No promotion, no race to the charts (the work will not be submitted to FIMI), just the personal need to speak, or rather scream, herself against everything and everyone. The timing couldn't be better, for her and also for her colleagues. Just think of Annalisa, who after years has finally blossomed into a true pop phenomenon, complete with chart positions and platinum records, and yet is still asked how she feels about being married and when she plans to get pregnant, and fake news about a supposed pregnancy periodically surfaces. Not only that, the two (Elodie and Annalisa, both of whom came out of the talent show Amici) are often compared, one against the other, as if women could only exist like this, in an imaginary ring, clawing at eachother.

Building for the Future

Elodie is no stranger to controversies either. She has always been against the current government, and in the past, she exchanged fiery words with Matteo Salvini. When asked about whether it was necessary to strip down to present the clubtape, she responded, a bit irritated, with a resounding yes, because she feels free and unafraid, because her body is hers, and because this is the right moment. Now, the idea is to gradually dismantle the gaze on the female body and sensuality in Italian music, which is male-dominated and therefore misogynistic, to allow younger performers to express themselves freely and without being constantly compared to other performers.