We’re only two days away from the grand final of Israel’s The Next Star for Eurovision 2018, which unfolds on Tuesday February 13. Following the semi-final, four acts remain standing and will sing it out for a shot at Eurovision glory. They are: Netta Barzilai, Chen Aharoni, Riki Ben Ari and Jonathan Mergui. Scroll down to form an impression — then vote in our flash poll that will close just hours before the final on Tuesday night. Europe (and Australia): Start voting now!
MEET THE FINALISTS
Netta, 25, performs in clubs and weddings in Tel Aviv, and she was one of this season’s favourites right from her first audition. 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.
In her first audition, and during most of her performances on the show, she had a special vocal looper on stage. But even with just a one-string guitar during her second audition, she still oozed charisma, style and uniqueness in her special version of the Eurovision 1978 winning song, “A-Ba-Ni-Bi”.
Izhar Cohen, the original performer of the tune, watched her cover and said she’d be fab for Eurovision — and the music scene more generally.
Jonathan Mergui (aka Mergui)
At only 18 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 charmed everyone right from his first auditions — so young and yet so talented! He is also the son of a well-known Israeli singer named Meital Trabelsi. He can sing, he can dance, he captures your attention. And whether or not he wins, he’s most def a star.
The judges Static & Ben El Tavori took a selfie with him after his first audition and said they will take another selfie with him at the final of the show, as they think he will win it.
Links to more of Jonathan Mergui‘s perfomances: “How Far I’ll Go” | “Mercy” | “Locked Out of Heaven” | “Love Yourself” | “Basof Hakol Holef” (At The End It all Passes) | “Roar” | “Versace On The Floor” | “Wake Me Up” | “Against All Odds”
Hardcore Eurovision fans will recognize Chen, as he took part in the Israeli national selection Kdam Eurovision 2011, where he reached a very respectable fourth place with his song “Or” (Light).
But Chen was known to Israelis much earlier: In 2007 he took part in Kokhav Nolad (A Star Is Born), where he also reached fourth place and almost made it to the grand final.
It was not a big surprise to find out that he made it to the live shows after his great auditions: Chen is a veteran singer. But will he be able to beat the other contestants and go to Eurovision this year?
Riki Ben Ari
Age ain’t nothing but a number and Riki is the perfect example of that. Now in her 50s, she claims she was born a singer, but only sings in the office and while making her children lunch.
The judges and the audience were shocked by her powerful voice and self-confidence during her auditions and during the entire season, as she sounded like a professional singer who had been on stage for many years, though some found her singing style a bit old-fashioned. Will she be Israel’s next Diva in Eurovision?
Links to more of Riki Ben Ari’s perfomances: “Natural Woman” | “Son of a Preacher Man” | “Greatest Love Of All” | “Mehayom Shehalacht” (From The Day That You Left) | “If I Ain’t Got You” | “Ani Chaya Li Miyom Leyom” (I’m Just Living From Day To Day) | “Hei Shketa” (Be Peaceful) | “Set Fire To The Rain” | “Vision of Love”
VOTE IN OUR POLL
You can vote for as many contestants as you would like, but you can only vote ONE time, so make it count. This poll closes Tuesday at 16:00 CET — just ahead of the final.
THE SEMI-FINAL EPISODE
In case you’re wondering how we arrived at these four acts, here’s the rundown.
Netta Barzilai got a direct ticket to the final from the quarterfinal, leaving five other acts battling for the final three spots.
The five contestants that made it to the semi-final first sang one song each and the one that got the highest score got the second ticket to the final.
The voting process went as usual: each judge voted yay or nay, with a yay awarding the contestant a score of 10%. The audience in the TV studio voted in a similar way via a special smartphone application and the scores were added together during the performance.
- Chen Aharoni – “Bang Bang” – Score: 86% (votes from four judges)
- Eden Meiri – “Yareach” (Moon) – Score: 71% (votes from three judges)
- Riki Ben Ari – “Set Fire To The Rain”– Score: 75% (votes from three judges)
- Howie Danao – “I’m Not The Only One” – Score: 52% (votes from one judge)
- Jonathan Mergui – “Wake Me Up” – Score: 63% (votes from two judges)
Chen Aharoni got the highest score and therefore won the second ticket to the final.
In order to decide which artists would get the last couple of tickets to the final the producers divided the remaining four contestants into duels. In each duel the first artist sang in front of the judges and the audience. Their combined rating set the bar for their opponent.
The opposing artist then sang behind a screen. If the opposing artist managed to beat the score of the first artist, then the screen rose up, signalling that the second artist had won the duel and got a ticket to the final. If not, the first artist won and got the ticket to the final.
Duel 1: Riki Ben Ari VS. Eden Meiri
Riki Ben Ari – “Vision of Love” – Score: 82% (votes from four judges)
Eden Meiri – “Kvar Avru Hashanim” (The Years Have Already Passed) – Score: 76% (votes from four judges)
Duel 2: Howie Danao VS. Jonathan Mergui
Howie Danao – “Lately” – Score: 52% (votes from two judges)
Jonathan Mergui – “Against All Odds” – Score: 88% (votes from four judges)
Riki Ben Ari
Which artist do you like the most? Who do you think would do well for Israel at Eurovision?
Photo credits: Ronen Akerman / The Next Star for Eurovision