Mahmood – Roma – 14 novembre 2020
Alessandro Mahmoud (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro ma(h)ˈmud], Egyptian Arabic: [mæħˈmuːd]; born 12 September 1992), known professionally as Mahmood, is an Italian singer-songwriter from Milan. He first came to prominence after competing in season six of the Italian version of The X Factor. In 2019, he won the Sanremo Music Festival with the song "Soldi", and went on to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, finishing in 2nd place. His debut album, Gioventù bruciata, was released in February 2019 and debuted at number one on the Italian albums chart.
Born in Milan to an Italian mother from Sardinia and an Egyptian father, he was raised around Gratosoglio, a district of Milan. When he was five years old, his parents divorced and he was subsequently raised by his mother.
In 2012, Mahmood auditioned for the sixth season of the Italian version of The X Factor. He became part of the boys category mentored by Simona Ventura. He was originally eliminated at Judges Houses, then returned as a wildcard, before eventually being eliminated in the third episode. After this experience, he worked in a bar and attended a music school, studying piano, solfeggio and music theory, where he also started writing songs. In 2013, he released his debut single "Fallin' Rain".
In 2016, Mahmood participated in the Newcomers Section of Sanremo Music Festival with the song "Dimentica". In 2017, he released the single "Pesos", with which he participates in the fifth edition of the Wind Summer Festival, winning the third episode of the Youth section. In 2017, he was also featured on Fabri Fibra's single "Luna". In September 2018, he released his debut extended play, Gioventù bruciata. In November 2018, Marco Mengoni released his fifth album, Atlantico, which features three tracks co-written by Mahmood, including the single "Hola (I Say)".
In December 2018, Mahmood was one of 24 acts selected to compete in Sanremo Giovani, a televised competition aimed at selecting two newcomers as contestants of the 69th Sanremo Music Festival. Mahmood was placed first in the second episode of the show, with his entry "Gioventù bruciata", also receiving the Critics' Award among acts performing in the second final. "Soldi" was later announced as his entry for the Sanremo Music Festival 2019.
Mahmood performed the song for the first time during the first live show of the 69th Sanremo Music Festival, which was held on 5 February 2019. Dario "Dardust" Faini, co-writer of the song, directed the Sanremo Orchestra during his performance. During the third live show, "Soldi" was the first performance of the night. On 8 February 2019, Mahmood performed the song in a new version, featuring rapper Gué Pequeno. During the first round of the final, "Soldi" placed 7th in the televote, but was the most voted by the experts jury, and the second most voted by the press jury. As a result, Mahmood gained a spot in the top three acts of the competition and after an additional performance, the song was declared the winner of the 69th Sanremo Music Festival.
Mahmood also received the "Enzo Jannacci" Award for Best Performance. and the "Premio Baglioni d'oro" award for best song voted by the participating artists.
On 22 February 2019, Mahmood released his debut studio album, Gioventù bruciata, which topped the Italian albums chart. In April 2019, Mahmood was featured on the single "Calipso" by Charlie Charles and Dardust, which has topped the Italian singles chart. In May 2019, he represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. He performed "Soldi" in the grand final of the contest on 18 May, placing second in the final ranking. Mahmood performed at the closing ceremony of the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples with three of his songs "Soldi", "Gioventù Bruciata" and "Anni 90".
Mahmood is a portmanteau of Alessandro's surname Mahmoud and the English expression "my mood". Despite his father's origins, Mahmood does not speak Arabic but is fluent in Sardinian. He is Catholic and considers himself 100% Italian. Following his Sanremo win, then Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is known for his anti-immigrant views, criticized him for winning over Ultimo who received the highest number of public votes.
Mahmood has an aversion to being categorized by his nationality or sexuality. He has stated that "declaring 'I'm gay' leads nowhere" and "If we continue with these distinctions, homosexuality will never be perceived as a normal thing, which it is". In 2019, he was named to Italian Forbes 30 Under 30, a list showcasing entrepreneurs, entertainers and celebrities who have made a name for themselves before reaching the age of 30.
Mahmood has described his music as Moroccan pop. According to him "what sets me apart are the Middle Eastern sounds that emerge here and there". "Soldi", which is an autobiographic song about his "unconventional family", includes a sentence in Arabic. One of his earliest musical memories is listening to Arabic music with his father, before he left the family. Growing up he also listened to Italian artists like Lucio Battisti, Lucio Dalla and Paolo Conte. He considers himself very linked to Sardinia's culture and folklore, which often acts as a source of inspiration for the composition of his songs.
Mahmood has cited American singer Frank Ocean as his biggest influence: "[His music] is very free and in which everyone can identify themselves, gay or straight, because the essential is the person and the energy that he transmits and not the sexual orientation". His other favorite artists include Travis Scott, Beyoncé, Jazmine Sullivan, Rosalía and SZA.