Israel’s Eurovision followers know how unpredictable the country has been recently in everything Eurovision-related. Israel changed its mind at least a million times about its participation and its selection process for 2015. But our patience paid off and in the end we’ve got one of our favorite combinations ever with a reality singing show meeting Eurovision. The selection process is being carried out through the reality show “The Next Star”, an Israeli format which was sold to many other countries, in which the audition is done behind a screen. In order to pass the audition, the singer has to make the screen rise by the time the song ends. This is achieved by getting at least 70% votes from the audience who vote through a special app.
“The Next Star” (also known as “The Rising Star” internationally) is the more down-to-earth alternative to its rivals Israeli X Factor and The Voice. The judges are often much more straightforward and say whatever comes to their mind, with minimum censure. The season’s first episode aired on December 9, and there were already some catfights among the new team of judges during the first auditions.
“The Next Star” — First Episode
Asif Zilberman, 18, was the first contestant to pass the audition and make the screen rise. He caused a lot of controversy when judge Harel Skaat (Israel’s 2010 representative) and the show presenter Asi Azar (who had an affair with Harel, according to recent rumors) immediately fell in love with the young handsome guy on stage, singing “Ahavat Neuray” (“The Love of My Youth”). Judge Asaf Atedgy, on the other hand, said that “this kind of guy may appeal to people like Harel and Asi” but he personally thinks he would never return any money invested in him. What Atedgy meant was not clear, but the atmosphere instantly erupted into a loud argument in front of the contestant who stood there pretty shocked.
Another promising contestant was Sari Nachmias, 17. She came from a tough background – before her audition she explained how her family went bankrupt and lost their home. “The Next Star” is mostly all about Israeli music sung in Hebrew, but Sari sang an unusual self interpretation of “Toxic” by Britney Spears and impressed everyone. Here’s what Judge Keren Peles said about her: “You only look like a geek, you’re actually a witch. You’re probably the reason I’m here at this show in the first place!”
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How to watch the first auditions
All of the auditions from the first episode — and some more catfights between the judges (yeah, there were plenty) — are available here. After the auditions phase ends, a team of contestants will be assembled. They will compete against each other and try to raise the screen. The last man standing will be Israel’s representative at Eurovision 2015 in Vienna. Oh, that’s in addition to being the official winner of the second season of “The Next Star”. But who cares about that…representing a country in Eurovision is the best prize EVER for a reality show winner, isn’t it?