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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 10 - Top Five Italian Pop Culture Things and Icons You Need to Know about!
Marco: Hi, and welcome back to ItalianPod101.com's All About Italian lessons! I'm Marco!
Laura: "Ciao," I'm Laura. "Bentornati."
Marco: Today we are talking about pop culture! We'll give you the top five things to know about pop culture in Italy.
Laura: Now, pop culture is a hard topic to pinpoint because it's constantly changing and developing…
Marco: But Italian popular culture is not only the one between the walls of museums and churches or the one appearing in textbooks and documentaries.
Laura: Italian pop culture today is still on the cutting edge, from music to sports, and from movies to fashion. The creativity of Italian people is still giving many gifts to mankind.
Marco: By the way, it is important to consider that the entertainment industry in Italy is strongly influenced by both European and American cultures.
Laura: Oh yes, that's true!
Marco: Let's start with the first topic, popular music!
Popular Music
Laura: Thinking about Italian popular music, the first songs that probably come to mind are those Old Italian songs like "Funiculì Funiculà," "O Sole Mio", and "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu)".
Marco: Ah, ah, those are very famous!
Laura: However, Italian music now provides many talented singers and bands in many different genres, from melodic music and opera to rock.
Marco: Those singers who are also songwriters, the so-called "cantautori," like Eros Ramazzoti, Laura Pausini, and Sugar Fornaciari (Zucchero), are very popular in Italy but have also had considerable success abroad during recent years.
Laura: Today, Andrea Bocelli is probably the most beloved artist among opera singers.
Marco: Let's talk about singers. Which ones do you like, Laura?
Laura: Mmm, first of all I like Eros Ramazzoti. He sold more than thirty-six million records worldwide; he is loved especially in Europe and Central and South America.
Marco: Wow!
Laura: The secret of his success stands probably in the melody of his songs and his unique nasal tone of voice.
Marco: And he sings in English and Spanish and in duets with some big names such as Cher, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Andrea Bocelli, and more recently with Anastacia and Ricky Martin.
Laura: The female music world is undoubtedly dominated by the awesome voice of Laura Pausini.
Marco: Oh, Laura, I like her a lot! Laura is famous throughout the world as well!
Laura: Yes, if you consider that she has sold over twenty-six million albums since 2004, including one Diamond album and 160 Platinum albums, and her concerts are always sold out everywhere!
Marco: Her romantic songs went straight to the hearts of thousands of fans throughout Italy, Europe, and North and South America; she released her albums in Italian, English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Laura: Her great success is due to the high quality of her music, the energy and sweetness of her voice, and her lyrics. She probably cannot be called "cantautrice" (feminine for "cantautore") because she has her own songwriter, but she often collaborates with him to write her own songs.
Marco: Now let's talk about one of my favorite Italian singers. He is a very "sweet" person.
Laura: Oh, you like Zucchero then…?
Marco: Yes. He is better known as Sugar Fornaciari abroad!
Laura: Oh, you're right! He gives Italian music the soul of blues.
Marco: He is one of Italy's greatest musicians and one reason is because he brought blues into Italian houses.
Laura: At the age of thirteen, Zucchero met an American student who introduced him to soul, blues, and Rhythm and Blues music, which he quickly fell in love with.
Marco: He started his career in 1983, and from that moment he has always been on the cutting edge. His music has an emotional side that perfectly matches his airy voice.
Laura: I think we've finished with Italian popular music.
Marco: Okay, let's move on to the second thing you have to know about Italian pop culture.
Laura: We're talking about movies!
Popular Movies
Marco: Hollywood movies are very popular in Italy. However, Italian film culture is populated by great names such as Federico Fellini with his "la Dolce Vita," Visconti, and Sergio Leone.
Laura: Exactly. In addition, we have everything from comedies to horror movies, such as those of Dario Argento. The contemporary movie landscape also looks at some other notable Italian directors; for example, the Sicilian Giuseppe Tornatore with his "Io non ho paura" and "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso."
Marco: This last movie gave him an Academy Award for best foreign language film, right?
Laura: Yes.
Marco: Another famous person is Roberto Benigni, the Italian comedian who in his masterpiece "La Vita è Bella," meaning "Life Is Beautiful," expressed his great talent also as a dramatic actor.
Laura: "Life Is Beautiful" is the story of a Jewish man who, with the power of his humor, protects his son in a Nazi death camp.
Marco: And as a result of this unforgettable fable, Benigni won three Oscars.
Laura: I like Benigni!
Marco: Who doesn't?
Laura: You should hear him in his native language! He is phenomenal in Italian!
Marco: Oh, I know! I hope our listeners want to learn Italian well so they can watch these movies in the original language. I think they can be better appreciated.
Laura: That's definitely true! I totally agree with you!
Marco: Okay, but now we have topic number three, popular television.
Popular Television
Laura: Italian television is populated by talk shows, sports shows, comical programs, and quiz shows with half-naked girls…
Marco: Hey, Laura, did you say half-naked girls?
Laura: Yes, that's true, especially in sports programs, but let's go on. We also have music programs and TV news, but channels mainly broadcast American TV shows or Italian shows adapted from American or English formats.
Marco: Recently, Italians started to be very addicted to reality shows as well. Why is that though?
Laura: Probably because Italian people have some attitudes and reactions that are very interesting and amusing to watch on a TV screen.
Marco: Among Italian TV shows, we chose to discuss the most popular one for this year, 2010…"The X Factor."
Laura: This is the Italian version of the program first aired in the United Kingdom.
Marco: It consists of a contest between aspiring pop singers selected by public auditions. The prize is always a recording contract.
Laura: The most popular Italian singer who participated in "The X Factor" is Giusy Ferreri. Do you know her, Marco?
Marco: Sure, the girl who sings "non ti scordar mai di meeeee…".
Laura: She's very popular in Italy though. The fourth thing to know about Italian pop culture is about popular foreigners in Italy.
Popular Foreigners
Marco: Among actors, Hollywood stars such as Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and Charlize Theron are very popular in Italy.
Laura: In sports, we have many foreign soccer players, such as Pato, Etò, Vucinic, and Mutu, who have many fans in Italy at the moment.
Marco: However, it is the field of music where there is the largest number of foreign artists. Recently, some European rock bands, like Muse from England and Tokyo Hotel from Germany, became very popular.
Laura: And for sure we have some everlasting phenomena like Madonna and Michael Jackson; on the other hand, new stars of pop music such as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are widely appreciated in Italy.
Marco: On the Italian TV screen, there are many foreign soubrettes…for example, I remember the Swiss Michelle Hunzicker, and the Spanish Vanessa Incontrada…
Laura: Then we have the American Justine Mattera, the Croatian Nina Moric, and the most recent Argentinean showgirl Belen Rodriguez.
Marco: We slowly arrived to the last topic.
Laura: Yep, number five of our list is…Italians famous abroad.
Popular Italian Men/Women Abroad and Sports Figures
Marco: Besides all those Italian famous names taken from the past, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Marco Polo, Michelangelo, Alessandro Volta, Rodolfo Valentino, and so on, today Italy has some new famous figures who are loved all around the world.
Laura: Thanks to the Italian fashion industry, names like Armani, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, and many others are familiar to a large number of people.
Marco: If you like shopping, it's impossible not to know even just one of them!
Laura: Even if you don't like shopping, I'm pretty sure you've seen one of their boutiques at least once in your life. You can find a shop by Armani or Dolce and Gabbana in every part of the world and also on little islands!
Marco: Eh, eh, that's true! Especially in tourist sightseeing places!
Laura: Concerning sports, Italian football players such as Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, and Fabio Cannavaro are probably the best known…
Marco: Ah, you mean because they took part in the Italian national team that won the World Cup Championship in 2006.
Laura: We had such a big party that day in Italy! I can still remember people shouting on the streets, kissing each other, and jumping into fountains…all surrounded by hundreds of Italian flags!
Marco: Wow, that's amazing!
Laura: You know, Marco, Italians love soccer. It’s the national sport…
Marco: But it is not the only one… Recently, in skiing Giorgio Rocca appeared in many foreign magazines, and ice skating is represented by Carolina Kostner.
Laura: Italy has also one of the most successful motorcycle racers in the world, Valentino Rossi, with eight Grand Prix World Championships to his name.
Marco: Oh, Valentino Rossi is a very cool guy!
Laura: And finally, Marco, let me talk about the symbol of Italian female beauty of the last forty years…
Marco: I think I know her…are you talking about Sophia Loren?
Laura: Yep, the no-longer young Sophia Loren, who is now living in the United States participating in many famous TV shows.
Marco: Hey, Laura, we learned a lot of interesting things about Italian pop culture!
Laura: And we really wanted to add more and more!
Marco: We'll be waiting for you in our next All About Italy lesson!
Laura: "Ciao a tutti" and stay tuned at ItalianPod101.com!
Marco: "Ciao!"