Italy nearly won the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv. Only 27 points were missing. But who is the talented artist who performed Soldi, a song about the hypocrisy of people who are only interested in money? 27 facts about Italian artist Mahmood, Italy’s 2019 Eurovision entry.
27 facts about Italian artist Mahmood
Mahmood’s real name is Alessandro Mahmoud.
He was born in Milan on 12 September 1992. He grew up in Gratosoglio, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Milan.
His mother Anna is Italian (Sardinian), his father Ahmed Egyptian. They divorced when Mahmood was eight years old.
Mahmood doesn’t speak Arabic, even though his father is Egyptian, but he included a few Arabic words in some of his songs, for instance Soldi.
His father Ahmed abandoned his Italian family when Mahmood was a child. Ahmed had another family in Egypt. Today, Mahmood has litttle contact with his father.
According to Mahmood, his mother Anna raised him alone. She was his mother and his father.
Mahmood took singing lessons when he was a child. His mother supported him.
Milan and Sardinia are a source of inspiration for Mahmood, even for his songs. He speaks Sardinian fluently, because his mother comes from Sardinia.
The name Mahmood is a mix of Mahmoud, Alessandro’s family name, and my mood.
In 2012, he took part in the Italian TV show X Factor, but he wasn’t very successful.
In 2013, he started to write his own songs.
In July 2013, he released Fallin’ Rain, his first single.
In 2016, he competed for the young section of the Sanremo festival, Italy’s most important song festival. He finished fourth.
In 2017, he won the Summer Festival (young category) in Rome with his song Peso.
The same year, he began to co-write songs for various Italian artists, including superstar Marco Mengoni (Hola, I Say).
In 2018, Mahmood released Gioventù bruciata, his first EP (extended play).
In February 2019, Mahmood won the Sanremo Festival, Italy’s most important song festival, with his song Soldi.
In May 2019, Mahmood represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. The ESC is the biggest live music event in the world. Soldi was one of the most clicked videos of the festival. Mahmood nearly won the Eurovision Song Contest, but unfortunately The Netherlands received 27 points more than Italy.
On Spotify, Soldi was the most-streamed Italian song of all times before Maneskin won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021. 80 percent of the streams were from outside Italy.
In a video interview with Noisey, Mahmood said: “My song Soldi is not about the material value of money, but about the distance money can create in a family. Part of it is the story of my family.”
The song Soldi is mainly about Mahmood who talks to his father Ahmed who abandoned his son and his wife in 2000. Mahmood sings for instance: Beve champagne sotto Ramadan, fuma narghilè, mi chiede come va (he drinks champagne during Ramadan, he smokes narghile and asks me how I’m doing). È difficile stare al mondo quando perdi l’orgoglio, lasci casa in un giorno (it’s difficult to be in this world if you lose your pride, you leave your home in one day only).
Mahmood went to Egypt twice. The first time he was eight years old, the second time twelve. “It was great,” he says. “I remember very colourful places and the smell. During a week, we rode horses in the desert. One day, I fell from the horse because it freaked out. I never sat on a horse’s back again.”
During his first trip to Egypt at the age of eight he met Hassan, one of his brothers, for the first time. Mahmood’s father, who got married four times, has several families and children.
Mahmood loves rap, but he doesn’t define himself as a rapper. “I’m neither a rapper nor a trapper or an indie or pop singer. “I don’t like being defined by a classic standard. I want to create new things. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Mahmood has a few tattoos: a bathing Nefertiti on the inner arm, a scarab and a triangle that symbolizes his family (the triangle is similar to the letter A which stands for Anna, Ahmed and Alessandro).
During his stay in Israel, Mahmood visited Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. On one Instagram picture you can see the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in the background (see picture below).
La pazza gioia is one of Mahmood’s favourite films. In this Italian film with Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Micaela Ramazzotti in the leading roles, two female patients escape from a psychiatric hospital to seek freedom and enjoy life.
Mahmood was inspired by hip-hop, rap as well as ryhtm and blues. The Fugees, Lauryn Hill, Frank Ocean, Jazmine Sullivan, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are some of this favourite musical artists.
Mahmood appeared on the cover of Vogue Uomo in February 2020 (Utopia Issue). Take a look at the photos and the video. He also featured in a Burberry ad campaign. Moreover, he attends Paris Fashion Week twice a year, in June and January.
Ghettolimpo, Mahmood’s second album, was released on 11 June 2021. It features 14 songs amongst which Rapide, Dorado, Inuyasha, Zero and Klan. Most lyrics were written by Mahmood.
Unfortunately, Mahmood doesn’t have a press agent or a publicist, which makes it extremely difficult for international magazines to get an interview or a photoshoot with him. The only possibility is to contact his music label Universal Music.
Cover photo: Eupa Images / Shutterstock
Photos: Courtesy of Mahmood Instagram
Brividi by Mahmood and Blanco (2022)
Read our latest article about Mahmood’s performance at the Sanremo Festival in February 2022 (link).
Kobra by Mahmood (June 2021)
In this song he points out the importance of distinguishing people who love him from people who want to exploit him.
Inuyasha by Mahmood (February 2021)
Inuyasha, which was released on 5 February 2021, is Mahmood’s first single from his second album Ghettolimpo. It is inspired by an anime series that the artist used to watch as a child. Inuyasha tries to suppress his demonic side and remains half-demon to protect his travel companions. The video was shot at the frozen Lake Montespluga in Northern Italy, where Mahmood used to go skiing with his mum when he was a child.