by Nathan Greppi

Although in February, as every year, the spotlight was on the Sanremo Festival, the real musical event of 2022 in Italy will be the Eurovision Song Contest which - thanks to the victory of Måneskin in the last edition - will be held from today until May 14th in Turin's Palasport Olimpico. This is the third time that our country hosts what, with hundreds of millions of listeners, has been recognized as the most watched non-sporting event in the world.

But in recent years Eurovision has become an increasingly politicized event. International tensions have been projected onto the musical competition. Notable has been the (over-)representation of LGBT people in Eurovision: already in 1998 a transsexual won, while in 2014 it was the turn of Austrian transvestite Conchita Wurst. Last year, the presenter Nikkie de Jager was actually a transsexual. Måneskin themselves show off a very "gender fluid" aesthetic.

Eurovision does nothing but reinforce the stereotype that singers (at least successful ones) are always and only progressive. Yet there have been and still are many music artists who are openly right-wing or who have expressed ideas and values that can be traced back to the Right. Here is a selection of them (12 names), starting more than half a century ago and ending with the present day.

Elvis Presley

Considered one of the most successful singers of all time and tragically died in 1977 at only 42 years old, in 1970 he spontaneously offered his support to then Republican U.S. President Richard Nixon to participate in campaigns against drug abuse among young people. Their historic meeting at the White House was recently the subject of a film. On that occasion, Presley also criticized the Beatles who, according to him, were guilty of stirring up anti-American sentiments during the Vietnam War years.

Leo Valeriano

One of the first Italian singer-songwriters after World War II to be identified as a musician politically committed to the right, by virtue of his songs against communism and the USSR during the Cold War. Alongside his political and musical commitment, he has had a career in film and television, for example dubbing various characters in the Looney Tunes cartoons.

Johnny Hallyday

Deceased in 2017, he was one of the greatest exponents of French rock as well as a film actor, with a career spanning more than sixty years. Hallyday, whose real name was Jean-Philippe Léo Smet, never made a secret for his right-wing sympathies; at almost every French election he expressed support for Gaullist candidates. In his autobiography he wrote: "I don't like mediocrity. I think the left encourages it ... Talent cannot be divided equally." Adding, "I am tired of being considered a heartless man just because I have a right-wing sensibility." After the 2015 Islamist attacks he returned to the stage displaying the French tricolor to honor the victims of terrorism.

Pier Francesco Pingitore

Active mainly as a writer for theater, cinema and television, in 1965 he founded the successful theater company "Il Bagaglino", from which many talents came out. In the musical field, Pingitore has written the lyrics of several political songs that can be considered right-wing, among which the most famous is undoubtedly Avanti ragazzi di Buda, written in 1966 to pay homage to the Hungarian revolt against communism in '56.

Kiss

Among the most successful rock and metal bands of the 1970s, its members were noted for taking positions close to the American right. Gene Simmons, the Israeli-born bassist, openly supported both Trump and Bush. When asked if he was a Republican or Democrat, he replied that he was from the "American Party," conservative on economics and foreign policy but a liberal on entitlements. His pro-Trump stance was also shared by former guitarist, Ace Frehley.

Rita Pavone

With millions of records sold worldwide, Pavone is one of the most important names of the Italian pop scene, still active at 76 years old. In recent times she has taken strong positions and against the tide: when in 2019 the American group Pearl Jam attacked the Italian government for its attempts to stop the landings of illegal immigrants, she invited them to mind their own business. For certain positions and for the gratitude received from Matteo Salvini there were those who complained about her invitation to the Sanremo Festival the following year.

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Ramones

Founded in 1974 in New York and disbanded in 1996, they are considered by many to be the fathers of the punk genre. Their guitarist Johnny Ramone, who died in 2004, was a strong supporter of the Republican Party, to the point that he called Ronald Reagan "the best president of my time". He had this to say, "People get into left-wing ideas at a young age, and I always hope they change when they see what the world is really like."

Enrico Ruggeri

For decades a leading name in Italian rock music, the Milanese singer-songwriter over time has taken very unconventional positions. In an era in which celebrities often try to appear as citizen of the globalized world, he on the contrary has emphasized the importance of the concept of fatherland. Interviewed in 2021 by the magazine "Cultura Identità", he explained that while certain nostalgisms of the past make no sense, "the 'Fatherland' for me is a big family composed of people who share values and cultural roots." He also spoke several times about the importance of remembering the victims of the communist massacre known as the Foibe.

Kid Rock

Along more than three decades of his career, he has tried his hand at blending many different genres, from rock to rap, metal to country. Kid Rock, stage name Robert James Ritchie, over the years has also been noted for his political stances outside the box: in 2016, when many African-American athletes knelt during the national anthem to attack the police, he took it out on one of them, football player Colin Kaepernick. He often remarked on his support for the Republican Party, so much so that he was close to running for Senate in 2018 - but in the end he only used the rumor to promote a new album. In the recent track We the People he directly attacks Fauci, Biden, Black Lives Matter.

Five Finger Death Punch

Founded in Las Vegas in 2005, this metal band has made patriotism their trademark. In the lyrics and video clips of songs such as Wrong Side of Heaven and Gone Away, solidarity and empathy are expressed towards U.S. military veterans and their families, to the point that over the years the band has collaborated with several charities that specifically help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Living the Dream video, released in 2020, appeared to be a critique of the American establishment, opposed to the people, and the health restrictions imposed.

Subliminal

Little known in Italy, this Israeli rapper, whose real name is Yaakov "Kobi" Shimoni, has been one of the most important singers in his country for over twenty years. He stands out from most of his Western colleagues for the patriotic messages inherent in many of his songs. The lyrics of Tikva, a 2002 single co-written with rapper Yoav "The Shadow" Eliasi, include several allusions to his fellow soldiers who died in the war and their grief-stricken families, while the singer asks God to give him hope ("tikva" in Hebrew) for the future.

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A freelance journalist, he has written for the newspapers Mosaico , Cultweek and Il Giornale Off . Member of the Council of the UGEI (Union of Young Jews of Italy). He was editor-in-chief of HaTikwa and communications officer of the US-Italy Global Affairs Forum .