After winning the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2021, Måneskin was swept into a whirlwind of fame. While they had humble beginnings busking on the streets of Rome, the band now boasts over 27 million monthly listeners on Spotify and has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. They are only one of two rock artists who have ever won Eurovision in its sixty-seven-year history. When they were awarded the shiny glass trophy, they raised it above their heads in triumph as lead singer Damiano David exclaimed, “We just want to say, to the whole Europe, to the whole world, rock ’n’ roll never dies!” Now, with their first studio album since their victory, Måneskin is making a bid for global recognition. Rush! (2023) brims with attitude, lively basslines, and raw energy, and it may be the band’s key to securing their legacy.
Despite being a television event akin to the Superbowl in many European households, most Americans are unfamiliar with Eurovision. The song contest is like a hybrid between the Olympics and American Idol, with the live performance grandeur of a halftime show doused in glittery camp. Representatives from different countries perform an original song, and the winner is determined both by judges from country delegations and the public vote. Two years ago, the glam-rock band from Rome clinched a victory for Italy when they stomped onto the stage with their platform boots and performed the fiery rock anthem “ZITTI E BUONI,” accompanied by flashy pyrotechnics and electrifying stage presence.
Most Eurovision winners fade from the limelight once the cameras turn off—with rare exceptions like ABBA and Celine Dione—but Måneskin’s success has defied this trend. The viral success of “Beggin’,” their cover of Four Seasons’ song, and their original “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” catapulted them to the top of Spotify charts and into the global consciousness in the summer after their win.
As expected, many of the tracks on Rush! are rife with rebellion and promiscuity, underscored by dynamic basslines and guitar riffs that will make you want to stomp around in platform boots and smash a guitar. The album also features three tracks sung in Italian, showing that the band hasn’t fully departed from their roots in pursuit of the American mainstream. The tracks “MAMMAMIA,” “SUPERMODEL,” “THE LONELIEST,” and “GOSSIP” were pre-released as singles, alongside music videos with eye-catching visuals (from a gothic funeral procession in “THE LONELIEST” to a cheeky murder plot in “MAMMAMIA”).
The band celebrated the release of Rush! by getting “married” in a four-way wedding ceremony in Rome, officiated by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, that consecrated both their close friendship and their affinity for fashion. Måneskin has a longstanding relationship with the brand, as they were personally chosen by Michele to appear in a September 2021 Gucci Aria campaign, and the brand dressed them in the delightfully provocative music video for “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” that same year. The band’s bold, gender-bending fashion sense inspired by rock icons of the past, abound in sequins, bright patterns, and copious eyeliner, not only attracts the world of high fashion, but also reflects the rebellious exuberance of their music.
Although the soundscape of the album showcases the three instrumentalists—Thomas Raggi on guitar, Victoria De Angelis on bass, and Ethan Torchio on drums—each track feels distinctive, with a variety of catchy melodies, energetic guitar solos, and basslines that grab you from the beginning of the song and never let go. The album also showcases David’s impressive vocal range, to the playful half-spoken staccato in “BLA BLA BLA” to the deep snarls in “GASOLINE” to the melancholy pining in “THE LONELIEST.”
While the album’s tone is undeniably punk, many of the songs dive into deeper, more personal themes. One of the major throughlines of the album is capturing the “rush” of the band’s new found fame, and the emotional challenges that come along with it.“TIMEZONE” recounts the pain of being thousands of miles away from the love of your life while touring: “The only thing that keeps us apart is a different timezone / So fuck what I’m dreaming, this fame has no meaning.” In the same vein, “LA FINE,” one of the album’s Italian tracks, conveys the isolating fatigue of a busy schedule, leaving home behind, and constantly being in the limelight: “I wake up and a year has gone by / And I’m still tired … Not even all the gold in the world / Will be able to buy you what you’re leaving behind.” Lyrics like these remind listeners that behind the electric stage presence and layers of glittery charisma, the members of Måneskin are human beings who can experience exhaustion and heartache.
The band spent a few months in Los Angeles while they worked on the album, and some tracks on Rush! reflect their experiences in the city. “We were in L.A. for a couple of months, and something that really shocked us was the amount of people faking to be celebrities trying to get to the coolest party with the coolest connection,” David told ABC Audio. “But at the end, they’re empty shells, and you have nothing to share with them.” The single “GOSSIP” depicts Los Angeles as a “city of lies” and place of toxic superficiality: “This place is a circus / you just see the surface / they cover shit under the rug.” The band’s experience in L.A. is also reflected in the single “SUPERMODEL,” which cheekily paints a caricature of a ’90s supermodel, likely reminiscent of characters they encountered in the city of angels: “Alone at parties, she’s working around the clock / When you’re not looking, she’s stealing your Basquiat / Low-waisted pants on OnlyFans, I’ll pay for that.”
Måneskin also shows a softer side with heart-rending ballads such as “IF NOT FOR YOU,” which describes how empty and desolate the world would feel without true love: “There’ll be no summer / There’ll be no spring / If not for this love of mine.” David’s melancholy vocals, combined with the warm, flowing instrumentals interspersed with bellowing orchestral basslines, make it a track worthy of listening to during moody walks in the rain.
Rush! also dives into the realm of global politics with one of the most striking tracks on the album, “GASOLINE,” which is a fiery rebuke of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The band first posted a 15-second snippet of the song in April 2022 on their Instagram, encouraging their fans to donate to humanitarian aid with the hashtag #StandUpForUkraine. The song is sonically bone-chilling, with an ominous thrumming bass that resonates like thunder, and the sporadic notes in the guitar solo that resemble flashes of lightning. Lyrics that ask “How are you sleeping at night? … Living with all of those lives on your hands?” and rebuke those “playing God with a heart of stone” feel eerily urgent in a world shadowed by the rise of authoritarian dictators.
With Rush!,” Måneskin created an album that captures their chaotic rock ’n roll attitude while still exploring nuanced themes and honing an addictive dance-punk sound that will appeal to their ever-widening audience. Only time will tell if Rush! will be the album that secures their mainstream fame; but no matter the outcome, Måneskin has proven that “rock ‘n’ roll never dies.”
VOICE’S CHOICES: IF NOT FOR YOU, GASOLINE, SUPERMODEL