Even though Giovanni Zarrella is singing in Italian, his music is definitely aiming to be sold on the German-speaking markets. On 9th April 2021, he is releasing his new album Ciao!, which is again mainly holding covers of popular German schlager and pop songs. I had the opportunity to pre-listen into the album. Here is my review.
Giovanni Zarrella – About The Artist
Giovanni Zarrella is an Italian musician, who was born in Hechingen, Germany, on 4th March 1978. He grew up in the city South of Stuttgart and also finished school there. He initially felt to have a promising future in soccer. First, he played at AS Rome for two seasons and later for VfB Stuttgart in youth teams. Brotherhood was the name of the band Zarrella had in teenage years. He finally became popular as part of the band Bro’Sis, which has been formed based on a talent TV show in 2001.
As a set of six vocalists, the Popstars show winners dominated the German speaking charts with their 2001 debut single I Believe, which received a seven-time golden record in Germany and a platinum one in Austria and Switzerland. Even though none of the following singles could keep up with that, the band was very successful until they finally broke up in 2006. Their most successful album was their 2002 debut Never Forget, which received a double platinum award in Germany. The most well-known Bro’Sis member apart from Zarrella is Ross Anthony.
After that split, Zarrella went solo – but finally, none of the three albums he released between 2006 and 2010 was really successful. The best selling album was his final one of this series, Ancora musica, which was at least Top 50 in the three German-speaking markets. The 2008 single Wundervoll – sei belissima was Top 10 in Germany. He then had average success with a band called Vintage Vegas, which did swing covers of pop songs. Interesting to see that the press information about Ciao! names it Zarrella’s second album. In their counting, his first one is the 2019 La vita e bella. Compared to the rather lousy period right after Bro’Sis, this one was a blast and went second in the German charts with three golden records. The album was also big in Switzerland and Austria.
Giovanni Zarrella – Ciao! – Track by Track
The album contains fifteen songs. The playtime is 54 minutes.
The album starts with Zarrella’s first single of this album. The song Live is Life by the band Opus is a well-known 1980’s party track. Transforming the sound of the Austrian band into Giovanni Zarrella’s Italo-Pop sound with a big touch of schlager. works surprisingly well. By the way: the lyrics of Zarrella’s new versions have typically nothing in common with the original. Unfortunately, the booklet does not give the lyrics – I do speak some Italian, but I am not fluent enough to get new stories.
If an artist is covering a music classics of certain cultural area or country, he/she is always taking a high risk. On the one hand, you need to act your own spirit and character to the songs – on the other hand, you may not mess the original up too much. For example, #Schlager by Stereoact or Carrie Underwood’s recent My Savior was a failure due to that reason. With Belissimo (“very beautiful one”), a cover of Wolfgang Petry’s Verlieben, Verloren, Vergessen, Verzeih’n, Giovanni gives me a good feeling for the following thirteen tracks.
3. Ci sarai (Irgendwie) (feat. Pietro Lombardi)
The second single of the album is a very special collaboration. Zarrella is joined by his friend Pietro Lombardi, who by the way also became big due to a talent show. Together, the interpret Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann, which was a huge hit for Nena in 1984. Despite having Italian roots as well, Lombardi sings in German, while Zarrella is singing Ci sarai ci saro, ci sara – “You will be there, I will be there, we will be there”. A really cool collaboration, in which Zarrella feels to be the stronger part.
4. Sei bella tu
Sei bella tu translates quite well to Wie schön Du bist (“How beautiful you are”), which was the original title by that Sarah Connor song. The song becomes very intimate and emotional by the Zarrella interpretation.
5. Solo musica
One of the most successful German-singing bands, PUR, had a great success with the original of this one, Hör gut zu (“Listen well”). Solo musica (“just music”) is a very different title to this cover. Overall, the song rather feels to be based on a disco fox remix than on the original version of the song.
There are rumors that Hulapalu is in fact a word to describe intercourse – but as has never been confirmed by the original artist of this song (which is having the same title in the original recording), we just take it as it is. And party with Zarrella. The good thing about the album is that you either understand the Italian lyrics. Or you enjoy to listen to them without caring about them. Or you just sing the German lyrics to the rhythm. Any option is fun, I guess (Option 1 is sometimes impossible)
Joana is adding rhythm to the Roland Kaiser original – but is overall a nice version, which is close to the original. I would love to have a collaboration of Kaiser and Zarrella of this one.
8. Hallelujah, Hallelujah
If you struggle identifying the original behind Hallelujah, Hallelujah – give it up! The song is the first out of three originals of the album. It perfectly fits into the album and also feels familiar, so it is a nice tune. Let’s party on with this album. Good song.
9. Basta! Basta!
Despite she is in fact just cashing in a handful of countries, Helene Fischer is one of the most successful female music stars worldwide. One of her biggest songs, Ich will immer wieder… dieses Fieber spür’n turns into Basta! Basta! Thus, a “I want to feel this fever again and again” turns into a “Stop it! Stop it!” (if you compare the translations).
The second original on the album is the close to four minute long ballad Amore (“Love”). The album has a lot of rhythmic songs, so this romantic episode is very welcome. And when Zarrella sings Tu sei primo vero amore (“You are my first true love”), you just need to smile and enjoy.
11. Ruf mich an (feat. Howard Carpendale)
Ruf mich an (“Call me”) is the second duet on the album. The song is special as the original is not a German schlager or pop / rock song, but a global hit. Giovanni Zarrella and South African Howard Carpendale re-interpret Ronan Keating’s Life Is a Rollercoaster. Again, it is a duet using both languages, but there are some German lyrics for Zarrella in this song as well. The lyrics are a bit thin – but maybe all the Italian words are not too deep as well – and I just don’t get it. Italian is made for amore and emozioni 🙂
12. Dietro l’orrizzonte
Undoubtedly, Udo Lindenberg is one of the best rock musicians and rock music writers in Germany. One of Lindenberg’s most famous ballads, is Hinterm Horizont gehts weiter – “Things continue behind the horizon”. This Italian version is not too far away from the original title.One of my favorites.
13. Lei e solo mia
Marianne Rosenberg performed this song in 1975 as Er gehört zu mir – “He belongs to me”. The only difference in title is that Zarrella is obviously singing for a lady. The song comes with very pop-ish electric sounds in the background – which only feel to work due to the Italian language. Ain’t Italian magical somehow?
14. Forza ragazzi
“Come on, boys” – the second last track is the final original in this set of fifteen songs. The song feels a bit like mixing a cheerful soccer anthem with Carribbean reggae-alike tunes. This one could be fun in summer – in Cologne as well as in Rome.
15. Le rose blu
“The blue roses”, how this final track translates, gives a hard time to guess the original, just by the title. Is it a cover of Michael Holm’s Tränen lügen nicht (“Tears don’t lie”), who made this song big in German? Not at all! Zarrella is just taking the original song, which has been released by Ciro Dammicco in 1972. Thus, this song sounds a bit different than the sound we Germans are used to. Ain’t that a perfect way to finish this album?
Giovanni Zarrella – Ciao! – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify:
Giovanni Zarrella – Ciao! – Track by Track
I feel Giovanni Zarrella created a great album. Especially in times which do not allow us to travel and have some Italian pasta and vino at the Italian coast, Zarrella gives us a lovely touch of Italo pop with familiar melodies. Maybe not a deep set of big stories and thoughtful new composition, but a lot of fun. Grazie mille!
Easy, German language pop – here are all postings about German Schlager on Flyctory.com:
Traveling in Italy
Here are all travel-related postings about Italy: