San Marino – Stripper by Achille Lauro

Hey babes!

Babes, can we chat, babes?

I am worried that Eurovision viewers tuning in on the night are not going to GET Achille Lauro.

As this very loving but very accurate tweet notes, this might be what locals hear:

I’ve already heard people who aren’t familiar with his work be taken aback by a seedy looking Italian man singing a sometimes off-key song about a stripper. But’s that’s not what ACHILLE LAURO is about!

In the most basic description of Achille Lauro, he is an Italian singer and rapper.

But that makes it sound like Achille Lauro simply sings and raps, when in truth, Achille Lauro is an entire personality that references and exploits certain cultural cues. Achille Lauro is not so much a singer as he is an education.

Take, for example, his stage name – Achille Lauro. Is it a reference to the populist Italian politician who once served as Mayor of Naples? The cruise ship that was hijacked in the 1980s? Or a nod to the seemingly invincible Greek warrior?

Or consider his 2020 Sanremo Festival performance of Me Ne Frego (I Don’t Care).

This was just one night – in the rest of the week, he showed up in increasingly outrageous costumes that were a nod to St. Francis, Queen Elizabeth, and the Italian art patron Marchesa Luisa Casati – all highly iconoclastic figures in various fields. (You can catch a glimpse of all them in the video below).

Or what about his performance “paintings” during the 2021 Sanremo Festival, in which he referenced ancient statues, St. Sebastian, punk rock, and Pulp Fiction over the course of a week?

Or his entry in this year’s Sanremo Festival, titled Domenica (or Sunday) which very much mixed the sacred and profane:

Achille Lauro is a LOT smarter than his performances may appear, and I’m very worried that some of the nuances of his song will be lost on people just tuning in on Saturday night.

The song “Stripper” is, at its heart, a feminist one, sung at points from the perspective of the titular stripper who is wholly self-aware – aware of her position in society (“no one can judge me”) aware of the way that her clients treat her (“my heart is his sex toy”), but ultimately the winner in the interaction (“what a stupid man”). But it’s also laced through with pop-culture references and nods in English – Barbie, Madonna, Playboy, Britney – and those will probably be what the audience hears and focuses on, rather than the message of the overall song.

The final thing at the time of writing which we don’t know is how Achille Lauro is going to stage this song. His performance at Una Voca San Marino was a fairly straightforward interaction with his band – but this is a man who has picked fights with the Vatican, appeared nearly naked on stage, and generally used his performances as provocation. Who knows what he might get up to on the stage in Turin? Whatever it is, I am very excited to see it! And I hope that you’ll parse anything he does with an eye to his references both in high and pop culture. Whatever happens, it will be a can’t-miss performance.

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