Maneskin’s “RUSH!” does not disappoint

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Editor-in-Chief

To be honest, I did not know “Eurovision” was still a thing. I only know of it because of ABBA, but when Italian rock band Maneskin won in 2021, my perception changed.

Maneskin topped charts globally last year with their hit cover “Beggin’”, which made it to number one on the Billboard rock and alternative chart in the United States. The Italian rockers started 2023 off with a bang — or shall I say a “RUSH!”– by releasing their third studio album. 

“RUSH!” is their first album primarily in English, and has surmounted over a billion streams since its release on Jan. 20.

Opening track “OWN MY MIND” hooks listeners within the first 30 seconds of the record’s 52 minute run time with its catchy groove. Maneskin challenges their new-found global fan-base by tauntingly offering up their secrets and desires. New-found fame comes with a price: the whole world knowing your  innermost thoughts. 

“OWN MY MIND” flows seamlessly into the single “GOSSIP” which features Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Morello serves as one of many renowned rockers who have given their blessing to Maneskin as they put rock music back on the Top 40 charts. Keith Richards has also shown support for the up-and-coming group. 

“GOSSIP” is the flip side of its predecessor, acknowledging the underbelly of the superficial Hollywood scene, reflecting, “you’re not iconic. You are just like them all.” This track is easily one of the stand-out moments on the album and one of my favorite songs of 2023 so far. 

By “TIMEZONE” the listener is fully acquainted with the group’s new struggles with fame, or perhaps, this is just the first time this large of an audience has been available for them to share these old feelings with. Maneskin was formed in 2016 in Rome and competed in Italy’s version of The X Factor in 2017 where they placed second. In the years between The X Factor and Eurovision, they resided in London attempting to make a name for themselves. The feeling of desperation from missing loved ones is probably not new for the group, only heightened. 

What is a rock band if they do not reference other bands in their lyrics? In the ridiculous and bold “BLA BLA BLA” vocalist Damiano David references sitting in his car crying, listening to The Smiths…amongst other things. This track is only one of many featuring extensive sexual innuendos and references. Cheekiness is a staple for the group at this point (See next track: “BABY SAID”.)

“GASOLINE” was written in direct protest of Russia’s invasion of The Ukraine and first premiered at Coachella in 2022. It directly addresses those responsible for the lives lost and affected by asking “How are you sleeping at night? How do you close both of your eyes with all of those lives on your hands?” Lines like “playing God with a heart of stone, the whole world is waiting for you to go down,” rally support and assurance for the Ukrainians being affected daily. 

Although I fully believe we should be past the point of romanticizing cocaine as a society, yes, even in rock music, Maneskin claims that “FEEL” was written purely to sound good to the ears and that its lyrics are pointless. Between sex, drugs and rock and roll, feelings are explored in the track that is albeit one of the catchiest on        the record. 

Homage is once again paid to European acts who have found success in America and drugs in “DON’T WANNA SLEEP” with lines like “wearing Lucy’s diamonds to get a little shine.” By the end of track 8, the listener barely realizes they have made it halfway through the track list and are nearly a half hour into listening. That’s how digestible and enjoyable the content is. 

“KOOL KIDS” bites back at naysayers who claim that rock music is dead. It is one of the most fun songs on the album and makes references to different members of the group as well as serving as a biographical declaration. “We’re not pop. We’re not punk. We’re just music freaks,” and “cool kids, they do not like rock. They only listen to trap and pop,” address the misplacement of a rock band on the top 40 charts, but serve as a promise to remain true to their roots. For those who take what they are saying too seriously, they proclaim, “you keep asking me about it, but my lyrics are all made up.”

“IF NOT FOR YOU” is a stripped back love song that serves as one of my personal favorites. The switch from “KOOL KIDS” to “IF NOT FOR YOU” is only one of many sharp turns that occurs between tracks, yet both songs define the band in different accurate ways.

Although “RUSH!” features some stereotypical adages about drugs and partying, its take on concepts that have been written about before is unique. “READ YOUR DIARY” may seem washed out by sexual references, but it provides a fresh take on the idea of missing someone who has left. It paints a vivid picture of being left alone in the rummage of someone’s personal belongings and searching for them in inanimate things. 

Tracks 12-14 are in Italian. Even for those, like myself, who do not know a word of Italian, “MARK CHAPMAN”, “LA FINE” and “IL DONO DELLA VITA” are enjoyable, upbeat listens. Maneskin told Spotify that despite their new-found success, it was important to them to honor their beginnings and put out songs in their first language. 

In case a casual listener missed the fact that they are Italian, “MAMMAMIA” is a percussion-heavy, fast-paced track that pulls the English-speaking listeners back in. “They ask me why I’m so hot, cause I’m Italiano,” David proclaims. 

“SUPERMODEL” provides more commentary on Hollywood culture from a third-party perspective and is a typical analysis of a young woman damaged by her upbringing who moves to California to redefine herself. Produced by Max Martin, this track musically sounds like the idea it is trying to convey.

“RUSH!” closes with “THE LONELIEST”, one final look inside the softest part of the group. David finds himself back in a hotel room missing his loved one, who may have moved on at this point. The record turns back around to the idea that no matter what, fame will always come with the pain of being isolated.

Although “RUSH!” may not present any new, profound thoughts below the surface, it is shamelessly enjoyable and unique. From listening, one thing is evident: Maneskin loves making and performing music. Their dedication shows through the years they continued to persevere despite not finding widespread success after competing on The X Factor. 

With a few welcomed exceptions, I feel confident I could put this record on shuffle and put in successful time on the treadmill. Its upbeat vigor makes its runtime fly by. 

Even if you’re a “KOOL KID” who does not like rock, there is something to say about a band that is unapologetically who they are no matter who is listening. 

Bre Goodwin