Already present in the embryonic stage of the Italian song (second half of the nineteenth century), the “political” subgenre was eagerly revived in the post-war period after a forced inertia during the Fascist regime, and experienced its golden season in the late 1960s and 1970s, the so-called “years of lead” marked by riots, terrorist attacks and assassinations aimed at undermining the established order. A new style of political songs emerged within the folk-revival movement whose approach to peasant culture and other extinct traditions privileged a register that fiercely opposed mainstream culture. If until then the repertoire available to parties and associations was mostly the legacy of a nineteenth-century style social songbook – only minimally updated during the twentieth century – a new collection of songs began forming simultaneously with the outbreak of the first students and workers’ protests, assimilating the poetic and musical influences of the moment. Notable among these is the authorial song, which pointed to a compositional and performative model destined to endure well beyond its historical context. Another mainstay is the folk song, understood as a “functional” product forged in the melting pot of pre-industrial traditions. Many examples of political songs refer to dialectal repertoires and make use of pre-existing melodies by reviving oral culture traditions. Finally, cabaret and, more generally, theatre exercised a strong appeal due to the primary role played by gesture and dialogue, which enhanced the significance of the lyrics and, in their most spectacular moments, gave rise to other musical experiences of the time such as rock, first in its progressive and then punk and post-punk variety. Since the1990s, a strong political inflection has infused imported genres such as rap, reggae and derivatives, whose global sounds and rhythms are grafted onto local issues.
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