03 Francesco Gabbani – We are naked ape


I want to wake up to find some kindness, I want to wake up to find myself

A little bit braver than I was when I fell asleep last night . . . in silence

I want to tell all my friends that I love them, I want to speak out for those who can’t

I want to ask you for some forgiveness because I’ve been living in silence

If silence is golden, then I’ll take second place

Because I don’t want to meet my maker with a smile upon my face
And say “Hey, do you remember when I lived so silently”
And you’ll say “Nah man, I don’t remember”

I want to be a part of your story, I want to be on the right side

I don’t want to ask myself “Did I do enough, or was I just living in silence?”

If silence is golden, then I’ll take second place

Because I don’t want to meet my maker with a smile upon my face
And say “Hey, do you remember when I lived so silently”
And you’ll say “Nah man, I don’t remember”

I just want to find what’s true in a world that’s gone quiet

And I want to find more love, doesn’t that sound alright?
Yeah, I know I may be asking for a little much this time
But on my last days I want to see more love

Italian pop artist Francesco Gabbani sings about Buddhanirvana, and mantras in his critically-acclaimed indictment of Western consumerism.

The title of the song translates to “Westerner’s Karma.” Along with karma, the song references the Buddhist concept of Buddhanirvana, and mantras. The music video pushes the reference further, taking place in a Japanese Buddhist shrine room, with Gabbani dressed in ersatz monks’ robes. Prior Saturday’s final, Guardian critic Stuart Jeffries picked “Occidentali’s Karma” as his favorite to win the contest, saying, “Franceco’s message about the perils of decadence and materialism demands to be heard by citizens of a continent that needs to heal itself pronto.

Contest 2017 – “Occidentali’s Karma”, subtitled in English.

Gabbani said that he wanted to bring joy with this song but also an opportunity to think seriously about our contemporary society. It’s a terrific danceable parody of our shallow “advanced” western society.

“It describes the situation of Westerners, their models and their way of seeking refuge in the Oriental rituals for comfort. It’s a pretext to observe how we are as modern humans. Westerners are turning to oriental cultures like tourists who go into a holiday village. Oriental cultures are seen as an escape from the stress, but they were not born for this. It’s the trivialisation of something profound”.
It’s Gabbani himself who describes how hypocritical we can be: “We do yoga to find a balance between body and mind”, he says, “But if we don’t wear fashionable clothes, then we don’t go to yoga classes!” The lines written by Gabbani are also related to the use of social networks — the drug of our days.

Putting a dancing ape on stage next to the singer is not a random idea: “Behind the ape there’s the modern human being, one of the 193 species of apes described by Desmond Morris, the only one without hair. We are clothed men but inside we still have lots of characteristics deriving from cavemen”.


“There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes. One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens. This unusual and highly successful species spends a great deal of time examining his higher motives and an equal amount of time studiously ignoring his fundamental ones.”
~Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape (1967)

Francesco explained the lyrics of his entry: “The first verse of the song describes the scenario that we live in.” Francesco explained that he was inspired by Shakespeare’s famous phrase ‘To be, or not to be,’ which he believes has changed in our time to mean something else. “To be, or have to be,” he said.

Westerners’ Karma

The song title, Occidentali’s Karma, means Westerners’ Karma and is essentially a comment on modern day living, from the superficial to the spiritual, including philosophy and meditation. “Some people really are know-it-alls and selfie obsessed. In the end everything is very superficial,” he said.

“We’re naked apes”

One month after Sanremo, Francesco released his Eurovision version of the song, adjusted to the three minute-rule to fit the contest. He decided to remove one verse and keep the last chorus with the ending crescendo. During Francesco’s performance, he was joined on stage by a gorilla which is specifically related to the meaning of the song. “In the end we become aware that after all we’re naked apes,” Francesco explained, meaning that at the end of the day we are all humans.

The main theme of the song is the superficial lifestyle of westerners, mainly based on materialism and appearance. The lyrics refer to the internet as the opiate of the poor (in reference to Marx), ‘selfie addiction’, internet know-it-alls, and a society based on conformity and uniformity. As a result, our evolution seems to ‘stumble’ instead of moving forward.

According to Gabbani, the chorus of the song is a mockery of westerners who believe they can take Eastern cultures and “westernise” them. The song cites such aspects of Indian religions as the Buddha and Nirvana as well as man’s evolution from the ape, an idea which he got from reading The Naked Ape, written by British ethologist Desmond Morris.[2] In an interview with La Repubblica, Desmond Morris praised the song for the “clear and fanciful reference to the theories” described by him, and for “the precision and sophistication of the lyrics” like Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Morris also added that he wanted Francesco Gabbani to win the Eurovision Song Contest.[3]

The song begins with a reference to William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet. Gabbani wants to highlight how modern society is divided between spirituality and appearances, describing people as “selfie-addicted”.[4]