On this day in music history: August 18, 1958 – “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” by Domenico Modugno hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. Written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, it is the biggest hit for the Italian born singer, songwriter and filmmaker. The idea for “Volare” comes from fellow songwriter Franco Migliacci, who is inspired by a pair of paintings by Russian-French impressionist artist Marc Chagall. The song describes an abstract dream of a man painting himself blue and flying through the air. Migliacci and Modugno write the song originally titled “Sogno in blu” (dream in blue) before changing it to “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” with volare being the Italian word meaning “to fly”, and the latter translating to “in the sky, painted blue. The song is entered in the Sanremo Music Festival in January of 1958, with it receiving its first public performance. "Volare” wins the contest, leading to it being Italy’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Though it only places third in the competition, the attention generated at Eurovision will convince Modugno to record it. Originally released on the Fonit Cetra label, the song is an instant smash, selling over a million copies in Italy alone. “Volare” is licensed to Decca Records in the US, and takes a similar trajectory. Entering the Hot 100 at #54 on August 4, 1958, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later, becoming only the second single to top the newly established chart. The only song in the Italian language to hit the top of the US charts, “Volare” is a sensation with American music fans. At the first Grammy Awards ceremony in May of 1959, “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” wins three Grammy Awards including Best Male Vocal Performance, and the first to win Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. A pop standard, “Volare” is covered many times, and is referenced numerous times in movies and television. Singer Sergio Franchi sings the song in commercials for the Plymouth Volaré in the 70’s. Actor Kevin Kline sings a brief snippet of it in “A Fish Called Wanda”, and Vitamin C recording a cover for the “Lizzie McGuire Movie” soundtrack. “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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