Is “Senza Una Donna” one of the worst songs of all time?
As even the most cursory of read-throughs from any piece-of-shit debut novel by a Granta-feted second generation Jamaican or Indian author will make you realise, “coming to terms” with your “heritage” when you’re in your non-native land can be a complicated, and quite frankly tedious to anyone outside of your lineage, thing.
I resent “Senza Una Donna”‘s role in my upbringing, I really do. You have to realise, in 1991, Italy meant nothing to an English audience: we were two years away from Delia Smith using sundried tomatoes, one year away from James Richardson pretending to sip cappucino while saying “Gazzetta Dello Sport go with ‘BOBAN E IL UOMO DEL SUPER MAGIC'” in a slightly sarcastic voice, and even to my family, if we wanted to roll out and eat Italian food, me and my cousin (now a lesbian) would still end up eating a five inch “Miss Piggy” pizza at Deep Pan Pizza. If it wasn’t for Toto Schillaci’s bug-eyed ecstasy-munching goalhanging the year previously, I’d have been unaware that I was Italian.
So then Paul Young grabs some hobo-looking motherfucker and does a partially English language version of a four-year-old song, and it’s a hit. Paul fucking Young. It wasn’t even a thing at school, it’s not like I was being ragged on with some “Ha ha you come from the same country as physically repulsive balladeer Zucchero”, but my mother absolutely adored this dreck, presumably thinking “Finally, some proper music from a singer with a good bloodline,” as opposed to, idk, Del Amitri or whatever.
But, regardless, the first cultural artefact that resonated with the history of my peoples in me is an awful, awful song. Firstly, how tall is Paul Young? He looks about 5’4, and not even adopting the always dope “jacket ‘n’ jeans” look can save this.
Zucchero clearly doesn’t know any English, and mumbles his lines through phoenetically like a foreigner on a TV prank show being made to read out “Aisle of fur kindon keys”. Smooth jazz is never a good look. I think there may been panpipes involved in this track as well, and it all clings together like the kind of dinner party your parents made you roll up to as a child and you had to sit at the adult table until at least 8pm so you couldn’t even go off and watch Noel’s House Party to pass the evening down. It’s just horrendous, and I really want to apologise on behalf of the Italian people.
Zucchero now of course records as Seasick Steve. I have no idea what Paul Young is doing in 2009. Why not find out yourself?