Fotoromanza

Words & Music by: Gianna Nannini, Raffaella Riva (1984)

Se la sera non esci,
ti prepari un panino mentre guardi la tv
anche tu?

Ti addormenti con qualcuno
che alla luce del giorno non conosci più
anche tu?

Ti telefono o no, ti telefono o no?
ho il morale in cantina
mi telefoni o no, mi telefoni o no?
chissà chi vincerà

Poi se ti diverti,
non la metti da parte un po’ di felicità
anche tu?
io vorrei sognarti,
ma ho perduto il sonno e la fantasia
anche tu?

Ti telefono o no, ti telefono o no?
io non cedo per prima
mi telefoni o no, mi telefoni o no?
chissà chi vincerà

Questo amore è una camera a gas
è un palazzo che brucia in città
questo amore è una lama sottile
è una scena al rallentatore

Questo amore è una bomba all’hotel
questo amore è una finta sul ring
è una fiamma che esplode nel cielo
Questo amore è un gelato al veleno

Io non riesco a dirlo
è che ti vorrei soltanto un po’ di più
anche tu?
Io vorrei toccarti ma più mi avvicino
e più non so chi sei
anche tu?

Ti telefono o no, ti telefono o no
io non cedo per prima
mi telefoni o no, mi telefono o no
chissà chi vincerà

Questo amore è una camera a gas
è un palazzo che brucia in città
Questo amore è una lama sottile
è una scena al rallentatore

Questo amore è una bomba all’hotel
questo amore è una finta sul ring
è una fiamma che esplode nel cielo
questo amore è un gelato al veleno

Photo Novel

Translated by: Ciarra Criscione, Peter Di Giovanni, Raphaelle Hupez, Luke Ross, Natalia Ruiz, Maya Tenzer, Charles Salvest, and Francesca Truitt

If you don’t go out at night
you make yourself a sandwich while watching tv
don’t you too?

You fall asleep with someone
who during the light of day you no longer know
don’t you too?

Should I call you or not? Should I call you or not?
my morals are low
will you call me or not? Will you call me or not?
Who knows who will win?

Then if you have fun,
don’t you put aside some happiness
don’t you too?
I’d like to dream of you
but I lost all sleep and fantasy
and you?

Do I call you or not? Do I call you or not?
I won’t give up first
will you call me or not? Will you call me or not?
Who knows who will win?

This love is like a gas chamber
It’s a building that burns in the city
this love is like a thin blade
it’s a slow motion scene

This love is like a bomb at a hotel
this love is a feign in the ring
it is a flame that explodes in the sky
this love is poisoned ice cream

I cannot say
that I would want you just a little more
and you?
I would like to touch you but the close I get
the more I don’t know who you are
don’t you too?

Should I call you or not? Should I call you or not?
I will not be the first to give up
will you call me or not? Will you call me or not?
who knows who will win?

This love is like a gas chamber
it’s a building that burns in the city
this love is like a thin blade
it’s a slow motion scene

This love is like a bomb at a hotel
this love is a fake in the ring
this love is a flame that explodes in the sky
this love is poisoned ice cream

In “Fotoromanza”, a song co-written with Raffaella Riva and produced by Conny Plank, Nannini ironizes the sentimental clichés of the traditional love song, and of the typical phrasebook photo novels. The lyrics mention several cultural symbols of the Italian youth’s lingo and lifestyle, such as panini (paninari were an emerging subculture in 1980s Italy which placed emphasis on expensive clothing and the American lifestyle), TV (private TV channels grew enormously in the early ‘80s), sport metaphors (“a feign on the ring”), etc.

“Fotoromanza” treats lightheartedly the subject of quarrels and moods between dating teenagers, whose communications took place mainly via telephone (“Should I call you or not?”). The neologism of the title brilliantly merges the Italian word for photo novel (“fotoromanzo”) with the word for aria in the style of Romantic opera (“romanza,” in Italian).

However, the feminized title is even more eloquent than a simple combination of tabloid magazines and Italian opera. If the title hints at the gender discourse so dear to Nannini’s early production, the song as a whole condenses meaning inside each word and note: Italian traditional melody, electronic music, state-of-the-art TV, sandwiches (which paninari would consume in large amounts). The semantic alternation of novel/romance/aria in gender reversion evokes at the same time the fashion of photo-novel stories in costume magazines, Italian opera revisited, and a carefree take on feminism after the tumultuous struggles of the 1970s. “Fotoromanza” thus epitomizes a clever reinterpretation of the Italian spirit in a pop fashion, set in the new and hedonistic social context of the 1980s, but not without a nod to the gender identity and sexual orientation that had already characterized the first songs of Gianna Nannini (“America”, just to name one).

Italian rapper Marracash used Nannini’s hit in his 2011 song “Fotoromanzo