Israel: “The Next Star for Eurovision 2018” kicks off with first round of auditions


Dim the lights, crank up the music and get ready to gaze at the stars! The Next Star for Eurovision 2018the singing reality show that will choose Israel’s representative for Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon, is officially on. This season features an exciting mix of rising stars and some familiar contestants from singing shows of yesteryear — and it all kicked off last night.

This year around 5,000 hopefuls tried their luck in the audition process, but only 120 of them made it to the filmed auditions, where they faced the judges and an enthusiastic audience.

As in last year’s show, the auditions phase works like this: The contestants sing behind a screen and if they achieve a score of at least 70% the screen rises and they advance to the next round. Each judge votes yay or nay, with a yay awarding the contestant a score of 10%. The audience in the TV studio votes in a similar way via a special smartphone application and the scores are then totted up.

The only change to this year’s series is that the hosts Assi Azar and Rotem Sela have the right to veto up to five rejections. So if a contestant that they like doesn’t pass his or her audition, they can press their special “save button” to pull the fallen contestant through.

At the beginning of the show, the judging panel laid out what they’re looking for in a potential winner.

  • Harel Skaat said he feels it’s time to choose a female singer to represent Israel at Eurovision, and he would like her to sing an oriental song.
  • Keren Peles is looking for someone that has strong Israeli roots and that will sing in Hebrew.
  • Static & Ben El Tavori are searching for someone who will be authentic but also international.
  • Assaf Amdursky would love to find someone with a magnetic personality.


Netta Barzilai
Netta, 24, performs in clubs and weddings in Tel Aviv. She has a unique look, which reflects her unique musical style: She’s a one-woman show that you have to watch in order to understand. Standing on stage in a bold floral print, she sang Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” while standing next to a special vocal looper. Oozing charisma, style and beats that she threw down herself while singing, she had the audience in the palm of her hands. JOWST laid down his own DJ flair at Eurovision this year. Maybe Netta is the next big thing to shake things up? We’d have to see if the Eurovision rules would allow this kind of performance though.

Audition score: 82% (votes from four judges) 


Jonathan Mergui
At only 17 years of age, Jonathan has already adopted a stage name: Mergui. He looks and sounds like a combination of Shawn Mendes and Kristian Kostov — two talents that are currently lighting up the charts. He can also dance, though he didn’t share that particular talent in his first audition. He is also the son of a well-known Israeli singer named Meital Trabelsi. He amazed the judges and the audience — who he left swaying — and gave the impression he is going to go far in the show — and in the music scene more generally.

Audition score: 88% (votes from four judges) 


Jaki Gaforov
Nineteen-year-old Jaki was born in Uzbekistan and came to Israel as a baby. He lives with his grandparents in Tel Aviv and definitely beats(boxes) to his own drum. When the screen rose and he danced out, the judges praised his “Space-swag” — their term for his unique look and style that’s at once edgy, fashion-forward and totally unique to him. Singing strong and boxing with those beats, he’s definitely found a space in which to slay.

Audition score: 76% (votes from four judges)


Adva Omer
Adva, 24, is the daughter of a cleaning lady who works at the Palace of Culture in Tiberias — a venue that hosts high-profile concerts for an array of singers. Ever since she was a little girl Adva has climbed on that stage while her mother was cleaning and sung with a mop in her hand, dreaming of the day she could perform there for real. With the exception of the notoriously difficult Assaf Amdursky, the judges were thoroughly impressed with her emotional singing and clear talent.

Audition score: 73% (votes from three judges)


Mor Karbasi
Mor, 31, has already released four albums and has performed abroad for many years. It helps that she can sing in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Ladino, Moroccan Arabic and Berber — the language of the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco (can you do that?). During her audition she sang well but in an old fashioned way (with a lot of vibrations), and that really divided opinion. Only Keren Peles and Static & Ben El Tavori voted in her favor, with a total score of only 59%. But as we mentioned earlier, the hosts can save 5 contestants during the auditions phase this year, and in this case they chose to save Mor.

Audition score: 59% (votes from two judges) – Saved by the hosts

Which artist do you like the most so far? Who do you think would do well for Israel at Eurovision?


Photo credits: The Next Star for Eurovision