Eurovision 2018 Previews: Israel

Our next preview takes us to the Holy Land of startups, figs and extremely sensitive politics. It’s Israel!!!

History

Israel made their début in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973 and have competed 40 times since. They have won the contest 3 times. Firstly in 1978 with Izhar Cohen and The Alphabeta with the song “A-Ba-Ni-Bi.” The next time was the following year (1979), with Gali Atari and Milk and Honey with their song “Hallelujah”. Israel’s third victory came in 1998, when Dana International won with “Diva”, being the first trans performer to enter the contest. After failing to qualify for the final between 2011 and 2014, Israel have qualified for the final every year since 2015. Last year, Imri Ziv came 23rd with “I’m Alive”.

Selection

The Israeli broadcaster, Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation used the singing competition “HaKokhav HaBa L’Eurovizion” (הכוכב הבא לאירוויזיון – The Next Star for Eurovision) for the fourth year to select the Israeli representative for Eurovision. The studio audience and a panel of judges voted on an app in real-time to see if the act will go through to the next round. 14 singers then move on to a section where the judges and the audience at home vote. In the final, the final four were paired off in two duels. The winners of the duels, along one of the losers of the duels, advanced to the second round. In the second round, the regular judging panel, four additional judging panels and public voting decided the winner. After receiving the highest points, Netta Barzilai was awarded the Israeli ticket to Lisbon. Her song was then chosen at a later date.

Artist

Netta Barzilai (נטע ברזילי) was born on January 22 1993 in Hod HaSharon in central Israel. She is of Georgian descent.

In 2012 Netta was an instructor and manager of guide counsels in a professional Camp for Young Musicians. She served as a singer in the Israeli Navy band and continued her musical training in that framework. Later on, Netta went on to be the house singer of the Bar Giora club for three years, also artistically directing its weekly blues nights.
In 2016 Netta co-founded an improvisation singing ensemble called The Experiment, touring all over Israel and collaborating with the famous Bat Sheva ensemble. She then received the leading role in the theatre production Running on the Sea.
In 2017 Netta got another lead role, in Noam Inbar’s piece called The Book of Challenges, an acapella music work that was part of the Tel Aviv Museum’s Singing in the Squares project. Netta has been an active soloist for two years in the successful show group Gaberband, performing both in Israel and abroad and has been giving looping workshops for young musicians in middle- and high schools.

Netta took part in this year’s edition of The Next Star, which is used to select Israel’s Eurovision entry, and was one of the season favourites from beginning to end. In her performances, she stood out due to her use of a vocal looper, and her performance of “A Ba Ni Bi”, the winning song of Eurovision 1978, earned her praise from the original performer of the song, Izhar Cohen. She has received clearance from the EBU to use her vocal looper on stage.

The song that Netta will sing in Lisbon, “Toy”, was written and composed by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger. Doron wrote the Israeli entries in 2015 and 2016.

Song Review

Who knew clucking could be so addictive? It’s easy to see why this is the favourite to win this year. The Middle Eastern beats coupled with an unapologetic attitude and Netta’s zany personality make this a real contender for the title. We’ve never had anything quite like this in the contest before. This song was a risk but it has most definitely paid off. Don’t be surprised if this takes the top spot in May!

What Could Have Been

Among the competitors in the national selection was Chen Acharoni. Like judge and Israeli representative in 2010, Harel Skaat, Chen was first discovered through the talent show Kokhav Nolad (A Star is Born). He also attempted to represent Israel in 2011. He impressed the judges in his initial audition with a powerful rendition of “Wrecking Ball”. Although he finished fourth this time around, maybe we will see him represent Israel another year.

                            !בהצלחה לישראל

Are you clucking along or not? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for more Eurovision previews!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, KAN, Wikipedia, Youtube)

 

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Eurovision 2017 Previews: Israel

Yesterday, I mentioned that I had a surprise for today. Well today, I’m handing over preview duty to my good friend and fellow Eurovision fan, Luke Nolan, for one day only. For his sake, and everyone else’s, I’ve limited the amount of times he can say “Dip me”. (You can thank me later.) I want to thank Luke for writing this and I hope all of you enjoy it as well. Take it away hun!

We’ve finally arrived at the last of the second semi-final entries, the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’ – Israel. My name is Luke and I was given the offer to guest-write this piece, due to my semi (if not complete) obsession with the absolute Adonis that is Imri Ziv, their entry this year. Unfortunately, I’ve been limited to the exact amount of times I can express this, so here goes nothing…

History

Israel made their début in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973 and have competed 39 times since, every year except 1980, 1984, 1994 and 1997. Of these, they have reached the final 33 times. They have one the contest 3 times. Firstly in 1978 with Izhar Cohen and The Alphabeta with the song “A-Ba-Ni-Bi.” The next time was the following year (1979), with Gali Atari and Milk and Honey with their song “Hallelujah”. It’s important to note at this point that Israel is a country that for many years sang in only Hebrew. Their first song completely in English was “Golden Boy” by Nadav Guedj in 2015!
We can’t go much further into an Israel at Eurovision article without referencing the queen herself, winner of Eurovision 1998, Dana International. Her song “Diva” was commercially successful in many European countries, even reaching the Number One position in the Spanish charts. Her amazing career, as well as her openness about her life, has made her an icon for the LGBTQ+ community in both Israel and further afield. Unfortunately, Israel had a bit of a dodgy run following this win, failing to qualify from 2011 to 2014. Fortunately, recently, they have been having more luck, placing 9th and 14th in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Selection

The Israeli broadcaster this year has been changed to KAN, replacing the IBA. The selection of the entrant is done through the reality TV show “HaKokhav HaBa” (The Next Star), in which people at home vote on an app in real-time to see if he will go through to the next round. 14 singers then move on to a section where the judges and the audience at home vote. This selection method was off to a rocky start in 2013 and 14, with their failure to generate a qualifying act. However, in recent years, it has proven to be a valuable method for choosing a successful entry.

Artist

Oh where to begin…
Imri Ziv was born on September 21st 1991 in Hod HaSharon, Israel. He’s the descendant of both Romanian-Jewish and Ukrainian-Jewish parents. He was in the musical band of the IDF during his compulsory military service. In 2012, he auditioned for The Voice Israel, which launched his career. In 2015 and 2016, he was a backing singer for Nadav Guedj and Hovi Star. I mean, I’m not exactly saying the success is linked to him being there, but…
He also did voice over for the 2016 film Trolls in Hebrew. Proving versatility if I do say so myself… In 2017, he auditioned for HaKokhav HaBa, reaching an approval rating of 73% in the final. This win is the reason he is representing Israel this year. I also highly recommend you have a flick through his Instagram, @imriziv. ‘Tis quite the view. Dip me.

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Song Review

Alright, let’s get technical.

The song as far as it goes is pretty generic. The music itself is typical of Eurovision, the same four chords with some ethnic-sounding instrumentation during the chorus, just so you don’t forget where it’s from. He however has a nice voice and it seems that his performance is improving every time. The progress he has made from Israel Calling to this point is commendable and that is hopefully a good sign of things to come.

Will this qualify? I’d say yes. Israel has won the Eurovision lottery in many ways. To begin, they have been placed in the second semi-final, which does contain some of the weaker songs in the contest. *cough*Lithuania*cough*. Also, they have been placed in the final spot, which generally proves to be a successful position. Their song is also a very upbeat, lively song in a contest with a lot of ballads and slower songs. I’m hoping that they can be like Laura Tesoro from Belgium last year in the semi-final and knock it out of the ball-park in their semi-final. If they can do this, they should qualify.

What Could Have Been

Regarding Israel, it’s very difficult to tell what celebrities would be interested in competing, because well… they all do compete. The Eurovision holds very high status in Israel so many celebrities compete to take part.

One person who definitely could have been the winner was second-place in HaKokhav HaBa, the winner of Kokhav Nolad 8, Diana Golbi. Her rich deep voice would have lended itself wonderfully to the contest. It’s an original voice that I can really only compare to Blanche, at a stretch. However, in a contest filled with slow songs, I don’t think it would have fared as well as it could in other years and therefore, I still feel that Imri was the best choice that they could have made this year.

 

                            !בהצלחה לישראל

Will Imri still feel alive after the second semi? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for more Eurovision previews!

(Sources: eurovision.tv, KAN, Wikipedia, Youtube)