I Just Wanna Pass Mahmood’s Vibe Check

By Madeline Redding
Subject to Change

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Image via Rolling Stone Italy

I got hit with a curveball in my Italian test last week, we had to fill in the lyrics to “Soldi” by Mahmood. We listened to the song 3 times in a row, and it’s quite the earworm. Since I couldn’t get this beautiful man out of my head, here are my initial reactions to Mahmood.

Alessandro Mahmoud is an Italian-Egyptian artist reaching heights of international success. His single “Soldi” was a hit throughout Europe and gaining popularity in the US. He represented Italy in the 2019 Eurovision competition and released his debut album Gioventù bruciata in February this year. “Gioventù bruciata” translates to “wasted youth”.

The album contains some tracks with high energy that are so infectious but can tone it back and drop a gorgeous ballad with intensely sensual moments. The back and forth builds a balanced album that I can’t help but adore.

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Image via Time Italy

Many of his songs revolve around his experiences with his home life and his complicated relationship with his father. He calls his work semi-autobiographical since his work is inspired by his own life and experiences but embellished and polished to create the story that Mahmood tells through songs such as “Soldi” and “Barrio.”

The true standout of his discography is “Il Nilo Nel Naviglio.” This is another one of his songs telling the story of a scarred father/son relationship. This song made me stop in my tracks, and forget everything else running through my head. The sound reminds me of swimming by yourself when everything in life feels as though it's going wrong. Despite this, the song is not melancholic in any way. Mahmood retains the potent energy that is consistent throughout the album but is subdued more in this track. Absolutely beautiful.

Mahmood’s style is urban pop with the influence of Frank Ocean and other American R&B artists. On top of the American sound, he has mentioned influences from Italian artists from the 80s and 90s. His father has contributed to his musical influence significantly. He classifies his music as Moroccan pop and it features lots of Middle Eastern sounds. This gives him a unique blend of influence and sculpts a sound that is fresh and addictive.

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Image via @mahmood_music on Twitter

I shall take this opportunity to beg you to listen to international artists. Mahmood conveys emotion so clearly in his music that you don’t have to understand Italian to hear what he is telling you. Reaching beyond music written in English will expose you to new combinations of influence and sound, and dig deeper than just understanding the lyrics.

It is very cool to hear an artist like Mahmood who has American influence in his work, but does an artist have to have the sound we are used to in order to be good? I don’t think so. I challenge you to listen to something out of your comfort zone this week. You might find something that gives you a new perspective.

My show “I wanna talk about Frank,” airs on WMUC FM Mondays at 1 pm. Come vibe to some old 60s classics with me.

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