Although Italy happily imports the usual cocktail of American and British pop songs, Italians also have their own, thriving, home-grown music industry about which they are passionate and justifiably proud. There are two national radio stations dedicated to playing Italian music: Radio Italia and RTL
Laura Pausini is one of Italy's most popular and successful solo pop artists. She sings mainly in Italian and Spanish and has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide. She leapt to fame after winning the 'New Artist' section of the Sanremo Festival in 1993 with her song 'La Solitudine' which became a number one hit in the Italian singles chart. She has since won four World Music Awards, three Latin Grammys and a Grammy Award, the first female Italian artist to do so.
Giorgia Todrani, best known as Giorgia, was born in Rome and influenced by Jazz and Soul music during her early years. She is now one of the most iconic and famous Italian singers, with a powerful, soulful voice that has led her to be dubbed: "the fourth best voice in the world". She has released ten studio albums that have been very successful in Italy and have enjoyed some success internationally.
Tizziano Ferro is known as the modern face of Italian pop music. His latest album, 'L'amore è una cosa semplice' was the best-selling album of 2012 in Italy with the supporting tour culminating in his first full stadium concert at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Jovanotti, whose real name is Lorenzo Cherubini, is an Italian singer-songwriter who performs in a more modern, international style. His music includes a wide range of influences including hip hop and rap as well as wider world music with some classical arrangements. At the same time his lyrics concern philosophical, religious and political issues, which are more typical of the Italian cantautore tradition. His name is an anglicised version of 'Giovanotti', meaning 'Young Men' in Italian.
The heart and soul of Italian music can be found at the 'Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo'. The Sanremo Music Festival is a popular Italian song contest that was the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest. It is held annually in the city of Sanremo, in Liguria, Italy, and consists of a competition between a variety of Italian artists performing previously unreleased songs. It is immensely popular in Italy and in 2013 it was watched by a record 17 million television viewers.
The origins of Italian popular music can be traced back to a mixture of classical music and folk music, both of which have strong traditions in Italy. Like many other things, the folk tradition varies dramatically from region to region, each fiercely proud of its own identity. The strongest and most influential styles come from Naples, Sardinia and Sicily.
The 'Canzone Napoletana' or 'Neapolitan song' is a traditional form of music sung in the dialect of Naples, usually about love, and usually by a male singer although there are many famous female singers from Naples as well. Some of the best known examples of this type of song are 'O Sole Mio', 'Funiculì, Funiculà' and 'Santa Lucia' which are famous around the world. The musical tradition of the 'Cantautore' or singer/songwriter has been extremely popular in Naples for many years and there are a number of contempory artists, such as Pino Daniele, who continue in that tradition.
Sardinia, one of the autonomous regions of Italy, is very protective of its cultural heritage which is probably the most distinct of all the regions in Italy. The tradional folk music of Sardinia has two main styles: The first is traditional singing accompanied by guitar, called: 'Cantu a chiterra'. One of the most loved exponents of this style was Maria Carta. The second style is a type of rural polyphonic chanting, known as 'cantu a tenore' which is sung 'a capella' with four voices. The best known example of the 'pure' traditional style is the group 'Tenores di Bitti'. Other, more modern exponents of 'La Musica Sarda' or Sardinian music are Andrea Parodi and Elena Ledda.
The folk music of Sicily was heavily influenced by its position at the heart of the Mediterranean. Influenced by the Italian, Greeks Arabs and Spanish, its culture developed into a fascinating mix which is evident in its musical traditions. Two of Sicily's most popular folk singers are Rita Botto and Carlo Muratori.