Mahmood Discusses His Eurovision Comeback: 'If You Don’t Take A Risk, You Are Already Dead'

Three years after Soldi finished in second place, the Italian star is hoping to land the one thing he missed out on in 2019 – a Eurovision win.
Illustration: HuffPost; Photo: Getty Images

Since finishing in second place at Eurovision in 2019, it’s safe to say that Italian singer Mahmood’s star has only continued to rise.

Not only has his track Soldi swiftly become a modern-day classic of the competition, held up by the BBC and Eurovision icon Måns Zelmermöw as one of the best entries of all time, Mahmood also achieved huge highs in his career.

He has broken streaming records in his home country of Italy, and just last week performed a sold out show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire where he was given a welcome usually reserved for the likes of Harry Styles or Shawn Mendes.

This year, he’s returning to the competition alongside fellow Italian singer Blanco with their theatrical ballad Brividi. Since the pair’s duet won the Italian selection show (the Sanremo Music Festival) in February, the track has reached number one in multiple countries, racked up 50 million views on YouTube and even landed among the top five most listened-to songs on Spotify worldwide.

Not bad, considering Mahmood wasn’t even sure whether to enter the song at Sanremo at all.

“It took me seven days to decide,” he admits to HuffPost UK, recalling Blanco’s initial text message suggesting they take Brividi to the national competition.

“I’d already done Sanremo, and already won. So, I thought, ‘is it better to be left with a good memory, or do we want to take a risk and try it again?’. Finally, I said that in life, if you don’t take a risk, you are already dead. So I said, ‘OK, let’s go again to Sanremo’.”

Blanco and Mahmood performing together in February
Blanco and Mahmood performing together in February
Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Now gearing up to return to the Eurovision stage, this time on his home soil, Mahmood’s song with Blanco has been among the bookies’ favourites for the win since its debut. Here’s what he had to tell us ahead of this year’s competition….

Were you always a fan of Eurovision, and how has your opinion of it changed over time?

In reality, Italy hasn’t always been a part of Eurovision. So, in Italy, the Sanremo Music Festival is much more visible, and Italian people are really attached to that. But Eurovision has become more famous in our country since around four or five years ago. And now Eurovision in Italy is really big.

Mahmood's first time at Eurovision saw him finishing in second place behind Duncan Laurence
Mahmood's first time at Eurovision saw him finishing in second place behind Duncan Laurence

Do you have a favourite memory of being part of Eurovision?

After the final in 2019, there were great parties. And I remember someone gave me a cocktail with my face on it – so that was really, really incredible, like a movie.

No, that’s the funny [answer]. The emotional [answer] is being in Tel Aviv for the first time, seeing a new country for the first time. I remember the people working for Eurovision were so professional, so precise. I’d never seen anything like that before in Italy.

Mahmood performing in Tel Aviv back in 2019
Mahmood performing in Tel Aviv back in 2019
JACK GUEZ via Getty Images

What are your all-time three favourite Eurovision songs?

In 2011, Raphael Gualazzi went to Eurovision with Follia D’Amore. I loved that song, and he actually came in second place too! It was a little bit jazzy, and I love jazz. In Italy, it’s not so popular, so when Rapahel Gualazzi represented with a pop-jazzy song, for me, he felt like a kind of innovator.

And I remember in Tel Aviv, I was in a disco club, and everybody was dancing,. At one point they played Fuego by Eleni Foureira, and it was massive! People went crazy, and so I remember dancing like crazy to that. And maybe Waterloo by ABBA is another favourite, too. I really like that one.

Eleni Foureira during her Eurovision performance in 2018
Eleni Foureira during her Eurovision performance in 2018
Pedro Gomes via Getty Images

Why is Eurovision still so important?

It’s so important because it represents music from all over Europe. It’s one of the biggest shows outside of America, you know? And also for people like French singers, Spanish singers or Italian singers, it’s a huge platform to show a different type of music.

For example, a lot of the songs this year are all in different styles. In Italy, music is so different to other countries, so it’s important for Eurovision to show the different styles of other countries to all of Europe.

Mahmood is returning to Eurovision in 2022 after three years
Mahmood is returning to Eurovision in 2022 after three years
Bogdan Chilldays Plakov

Are you feeling any pressure ahead of competing at Eurovision, particularly as you did so well the first time around?

No, we don’t think about it. The only pressure that I have in this moment is that all the things that will go into the performance have to be perfect. Because it’s not going to be a simple stage, you know? It’s a huge stage. And to make sure it’s a great performance, we have to check everything. We want to do the song justice.

I’m zero competitive. I’m really competitive [when it comes to my own] music, you know, I want to do good music and do a great performance. But for me, competition [with others] in music is not a good thing. Because in a competition, where is art? Really, my biggest goal will be to do a great performance on stage. The rest is not important for me.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

We’ll be publishing an interview with a new Eurovision legend every day leading up to this year’s live final on Saturday 14 May. Come back tomorrow when we’ll be speaking to this year’s UK hopeful Sam Ryder.

Watch the music video for Mahmood and Blanco’s Brividi below:


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