Israel: Netta Barzilai wins “The Next Star for Eurovision 2018”

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It’s the Israeli Eurovision selection that was filled with over-the-top auditions, dramatic duels, emotional eliminations and plenty of talent. And on Tuesday we finally reached the grand final of Israel’s The Next Star for Eurovision 2018. Four acts sang, and in the end Netta Barzilai emerged as the winner, earning the right to sing for Israel at Eurovision 2018.

Netta is no doubt a fresh and original choice for Israel, and she was the one of the big favourites right from the start of the show back in October. Tonight she won a nail-biter over the other favourite Jonathan Mergui (that was only 5 points behind her). Netta scored the most points from the judges, and finished a close second among viewers.

Now there’s one big question: Will the Eurovision rules allow to use her signature vocal looper at the contest? Even if not, her charm and talent still shines without it, as you can see in her performance of “Beautiful”.

Who is Netta Barzilai?

Netta is 25 years old, and she performs in clubs and weddings in Tel Aviv. 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.

Links to more of Netta Barzilai’s perfomances:  “Rude Boy” | “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” | “Hey Mama” | Mashup | “What Is Love” | “Barbie Girl” |  “Wannabe” | “Kzat Meshugaat”

The winning moment

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The finalists performance – “Euphoria”/”Can’t Hold Us”

The full results

Producers divided the show’s contestants into two duels. During each duel the first artist sang in front of the judges and the audience. Their combined rating set the bar for their opponent. The voting process went as follows: each judge voted yay or nay, with a yay awarding the contestant a score of 10%. The TV viewers voted in a similar way via a special smartphone application and the scores were added together during each performance.

The opposing artist then sang behind a screen. If the opposing artist managed to beat the score of the first artist, the screen rose up, signalling that the second artist had won the duel. If not, the first artist won.

Each duel’s winner got to advance to the super final round. Then the judges saved one of the losers to advance to the super final, together with the two winners.

Duel 1: Jonathan Mergui VS. Chen Aharoni

Duel 2: Riki Ben Ari VS. Netta Barzilai

Jonathan Mergui and Riki Ben Ari won their duel and advanced to the super final round.

The judges were then asked to pick one of the losers to advance to the final round. Most of the judges picked Netta Barzilai (meaning Chen Aharoni was eliminated).

The super final

In the last round, there was no screen as all the artists performed their song in front of the audience. The performances by their running order were as follows:

Riki Ben Ari – “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

Jonathan Mergui – “When I Was Your Man”

Netta Barzilai- “TiK ToK”/”Gangnam Style”

The voting process

Unlike in previous years, the voting began after all of the acts sang and the results were determined by a 50/50 split between the app televotes by the viewers and the judges.

Each judge on the judging panel in the studio could award points in the Eurovision method: 8 points for the third best act, 10 points for the second best act and 12 points for the best act.

In addition to the judges in the studio, there were also 4 expert juries. Each jury consisted of music experts and they voted in the same way as the judging panel voted (8, 10, 12).

The viewers could vote via a special app, where they had to pick their winner between the three acts and the votes were then converted to points that were equivalent to the total amount of points that were given by the experts juries and the judging panel in the studio, for a total of 270 points.

The judges votes

Keren Peles
8 points: Riki Ben Ari
10 points: Jonathan Mergui
12 points: Netta Barzilai

Static
8 points: Riki Ben Ari
10 points: Netta Barzilai
12 points: Jonathan Mergui

Assaf Amdursky
8 points: Riki Ben Ari
10 points:  Jonathan Mergui
12 points: Netta Barzilai

Harel Skaat
8 points: Riki Ben Ari
10 points: Jonathan Mergui
12 points: Netta Barzilai

Ben-El Tavori
8 points: Riki Ben Ari
10 points: Netta Barzilai
12 points: Jonathan Mergui

Interval act: Nadav Guedj

The expert juries votes

Judges of another singing reality show (Gal Uchovsky, Tzedi Tzarfati , Margalit Tzan’ani)
8 points: Riki Ben Ari
10 points: Jonathan Mergui
12 points: Netta Barzilai

Recent Israeli Eurovision singers (IMRI, Hovi Star, Nadav Guedj)
8 points: Jonathan Mergui
10 points: Riki Ben Ari
12 points: Netta Barzilai

Medataranian music experts (Yaron Ilan, Yossi Gispan, Adi leon)
8 points:  Jonathan Mergui
10 points: Riki Ben Ari
12 points: Netta Barzilai

Eurovision songs composers (Svika Pick, Kobi Oshrat, Doron Medalie)
8 points: Jonathan Mergui
10 points: Riki Ben Ari
12 points: Netta Barzilai

The viewers votes

  1. Jonathan Mergui – 117 points.
  2. Netta Barzilai – 106 points.
  3. Riki Ben Ari – 47 points.

The Final scores

  1. Netta Barzilai – 210 points.
  2. Jonathan Mergui – 205 points.
  3. Riki Ben Ari – 125 points.

The Israeli song for Eurovision 2018

This year’s selection process only picked the singer and not the song. That means that just like last year, a special committee will now pick a song from a field of songs submitted to producers.

The regulations were published a few weeks ago and stated that the deadline for submitting the songs is February 19.

The committee includes three representatives of IPBC (KAN) – Israel’s new broadcaster – and two representatives of Keshet (The broadcaster of The Next Star for Eurovision 2018).

The head of the committee is a representatives of IPBC (KAN) and will have the right to decide in the event of equal votes. We’ll let you know just as soon as we have news regarding the song that will be picked.

Can Israel make it to the grand final of Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon? Maybe even win? Let us know in the comments box below!

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Photo credits: Ronen Akerman / The Next Star for Eurovision