Do you know the meaning of Occidentali’s Karma?

Francesco Gabbani’s Occidentali’s Karma broke record after record and now competes in Kyiv as the main favourite for the trophy. But did you know the meaning of the Italian lyrics? Time to analyse what that track has to offer.

Even though Francesco Gabbani is the bookmaker’s favourite with the best betting odds in recent years, chances are that a part of the audience might see his song Occidentali’s Karma as a joke act. The reason for that reaction is understandable as the artist competes with an up-tempo pop song and is further accompanied by a dancing gorilla on stage. In this way the serious and deep society criticism which is the main theme of the lyrics can’t be spotted as easily. Time to have a look at the English translation of Francesco’s lyrics:

To be or ought to be

The Hamlet-like doubt

As contemporary as Neolithic man

Intelligence is démodé

Easy answers…

Useless dilemmas…

Wanted: tales with a grand finale

We hope (hope, yes!)

Whatever happens, panta rhei

And “Singing in the Rain”

Nirvana lessons

There’s Buddha in single line

Yard time for everyone, their time of fame! (Allez!)

The crowd chants a mantra

Evolution is stumbling

The naked ape is dancing

Westerners’ karma Westerners’ karma 


Virtual humanity Sex appeal (Sex appeal)

When life loses focus Men fall


The song starts the line ,,to be or ought to be”(Martin Heidegger) which in its message is similar to Shakespeare’s ,,to be or not to be”. This famous sentence from Hamlet has already a very deep meaning. It reflects uncertainty whether yes or not Prince Hamlet wants to live any longer in the situation he finds himself in. Francesco Gabbani in this way addresses modern day society as the following lyrics prove.

The Neolithic Man is a person from the Neolithic Era (10,200-4,500 BC), a period of time which is over for a long period of time already. Francesco wants to point out that in terms of thinking we actually are not as far away from that era as we probably should be, a harsh criticism regarding our society. The next two lines continue there, adding that in our world people stop thinking and start searching for easy answers. A very simple form of processing which might be adressed by the comparison with the Neolithic man before.

In the following phrases the lyrics say that people always look for tales with positive outcomes and then naively hope and believe them to come true. This criticism can be related to many different area and showcast a very general problem: the lack of self-implication in the process of solving the issues in our society.

Another interesting quote is Heraclitus’ ,,Panta rhei” (engl. ,,everything flows”), interpreted by Plato as ,,everything flows and nothing remains”. It again addresses the same fatalist way of thinking which only implies belief and hope instead of own action. Humans are simply accepting the situation and go on singing in the rain (may refer to Gene Kelly’s song Singing in the rain with the following lyrics

,,I’m singin’ in the rain
Just singin’ in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
And I’m happy again.” )

Then, Francesco talks about Nirvana Lessons. Nirvana, according to buddhism, is the state of happiness we achieve, once the cicle of repeated rebirth is over. Life is considered as the pain we all have to get through first before we can reach that Nirvana.

In the following, it is mentioned that the crowd chants a mantra, which can be any religious sentence that is meant to come true if it is repeated often enough. This also showcasts how naively our society thinks – an opinion does not become true only by being shared by many people.

One of the most interesting lines is the reference to evolution. According to the lyrics it is stumbling right now, which alludes to the fact that human beings can survive in our society even if they are not a good or adaptable version of their species. What remains are many dancing apes, instead of high evolved humans.

Of course, some of the lyrics can also be interpreted in different ways, but the main message remains the same.

As a summary can be said that there are many messages packaged into the lyrics of this entry. After a deeper analyse, Occidentali’s Karma can even be seen as one of the most meaningful songs of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

What do you think? Can Francesco Gabbani win in Kyiv? Do you appreciate the song more after getting to know the lyrics? Let us know on social media!

Sources: EBU

Author: Matei Ruta


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