Behind any impressive victory there’s a backstory filled with ups and downs. And, according to Yoav Tzafir, the producer behind Israel’s The Next Star for Eurovision, Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision win was no different.

Speaking with Israel’s Y Net last week, the entertainment executive revealed that Netta’s journey to her Eurovision win was far from a straight line. Instead it was filled with twists and turns and emotional upheaval. He made it clear that at times he believed in Netta more than she believed in herself.

Netta did not want to sing “Toy”

After Neta won The Next Star, Tzafir presented her with “Toy” and she was not feeling it.

“Neta said, ‘I do not connect to the song, it’s not me, I do not know how I’ll stand on the stage and carry it off,'” he remembers.

Apparently she wanted to sing a song she penned herself, which featured a chorus with the phrase “Sababa Sababa”, which means “cool” in Hebrew. The committee rejected the idea. Inside the studio there were plenty of tears. But Netta broke the song down into parts and eventually added the chicken sounds and the looper, at which point it all clicked.

Controlling like Madonna

He also said that Netta has a creative vision and knows precisely what she wants. “The girl goes into the room and acts like Madonna,” he said. “We sat on the side and she directed the dancers. She wants to control every single detail in the performance and has an opinion.”

“She thinks outside the box. During the season she often asked to change a song, and geniuses are not easy people and you have to take their capriciousness with them, but on the other hand she knows exactly what she wants.”

She wanted to quit The Next Star

Throughout the series Tzafir had to prop her up, most especially after The Next Star judge Ben-El Tavori tore her apart in one critique.

“When Ben-El Tavori killed her, she had a hard time,” he said. “I told her, ‘But all the judges say you’re good, so why are you listening to someone who tells you that you’re not?’ She came and said, ‘I’m quitting,’ so I had a conversation with her and we took everything apart…She creates in the soul, so it’s hard for her to get negative criticism.”

Changing tide at Eurovision

After riding months of hype, Tzafir says both he and Netta were concerned they wouldn’t live up to expectations. He could sense that the tide among the press and delegations was shifting against them in the weeks before the contest.

“Something strange has happened,” he said. “When we landed in Lisbon, we had the feeling that the entire Eurovision universe did not want us to win — not because they were anti-Semites or BDS, but because they were looking for the Cinderella to overtake us. All the delegations envied us and the feeling was that they were looking for the dark horse to beat us.”

That would be Eleni from Cyprus, who became the bookies’ favourite. On their first time in Lisbon, composer Doron Medalie took Tzafir to meet the “Fuego” singer. “I told her, ‘You’re going to be in Top 10,'” he says. “Who knew she was going to threaten us, and then back to the semifinals, she exploded on the Internet and became the first in the betting.”

Read more Israel Eurovision news

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L'oiseau
L'oiseau
2 years ago

Very interesting. I had the feeling all along that Netta was a great artist but “Toy” was beneath her own league. Anyway, now she won, which is great for her. I just hope for her own sake that in the future she will be able to pursue her artistic vision free of constraints.

Aisling
Aisling
2 years ago

I can listen to the song and I like Netta, nothing against her… but chicken sounds don’t make up much of the song… meaning that the rest of the song she doesn’t even like singing? Please people did I read this article wrong

Israeli
Israeli
2 years ago
Reply to  Aisling

No. You should see her work in Hebrew. She’s very stylish. She likes deeps songs or song that aren’t deep and to give them deep meaning. Toy has shallow lyrics and gimmicks, but that’s the name of the game in the Eurovision. She added more stuff rather then the chicken sounds. Besides, she added b-bopping but they only were made into chicken sounds for the gimmick and the “scared” chicken connotation… She also changed other things. Look for Madelie’s original song on Youtube.

JEFFERSON
JEFFERSON
2 years ago

I think that those who do not like Israel have to forget the ‘country’ now and think of Netta, in her person. The win for her was psychologically important. If she has suffered discrimination in the past, as I do, she deserves this victory as a reason for her to live happily. Congratulations Netta, I do not like your music, nor the other results of ESC 2018, but I can not do anything.

Hilariously Brisbane
Hilariously Brisbane
2 years ago

Salvador? Is that you? Still hopping everyone will sing just like you?

Kirby
Kirby
2 years ago

Actually, there’s a sort of blues version of Toy on YouTube, which proves that her talent is amazing. There’s more to Netta than we meet Toy…

Marge
Marge
2 years ago

Your mom sounds like an awful hateful woman.

I hope she can find peace and love within herself cause she clearly lacks it if she needs to criticize other people for the way they look.

Nitzili
Nitzili
2 years ago
Reply to  Marge

Wow, I can’t even begin to describe how shallow your comment is. Being fat isn’t always a choice, it’s a body type issue. You know how many overweight people struggle to lose weight but just can’t? Also, you can lead a healthy life and still be overweight, some overweight people are healthier than some thin people. And who the hell are you to criticize anybody?

sal
sal
2 years ago
Reply to  Marge

How can your mum ‘speak’ the truth!? She knows nothing of other people’s tastes so how the hell would she know if people are attracted to Netta or not? And being fat is not a personal choice, you and your mother being ignorant degenerates is a choice however. Don’t pretend you care about the health of other people – you are just using people’s weight as an excuse to criticise and judge, which is pretty damn sad. Target smokers or those who drink alcohol if you want to have a conversation about how choices cause a strain on a country’s… Read more »

DyGh
DyGh
2 years ago
Reply to  Marge

Shut up Jimmy, your comments don’t make sense

fugu
fugu
2 years ago

The song was all about the gimmicks. And if she’d just been honest about that I would have been behind her – but trying to pass it off as a female empowerment anthem while simultaneously re-enforcing so many negative stereotypes about women, is just so completely insulting that here was no way I could get behind it.

Apple
Apple
2 years ago

How is everyone reading this in such a negative light? What I got from this is that:

– Netta has a very specific vision for her art and wants to be part of every aspect
– Netta originally didn’t like Toy until she put herself into the song and made it her own
– This win meant a lot to her since she struggles to believe in herself sometimes

What part of this is “drama” or “shade”? Y’all need to learn some reading comprehension smdh

Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation
2 years ago
Reply to  Apple

Most definitely!

Rasmus
Rasmus
2 years ago

More drama from Israel. Color me surprised.
Going to be a long year…

Roy Moreno
Roy Moreno
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus

It’s not drama this time, it’s actually a positive article about her and about her journey to the victory
Only says how great of an artist she is 🙂

Gili
Gili
2 years ago

Netta was the x factor not the song…she made the song llistenabl cause she is so talented…medalie is far from beg one of the best musicians in israel, i dont find him talented. Any song Netta can make a hit with her crecreativityu suggest to wait for her album, i anyone complain on toy then medalie is the addrress not Netta…she couldnt choose her song, it wasnt up to her. But still i have ni doubt that the most talented artist won

Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation
2 years ago

William, I urge you to correct a translation mistake from Hebrew to English, a mistake that provoked uncalled for comments! He did not say “All the delegations ENVIED us” but “All the delegations ALIENATED us” (a feeling that Sipped through various videos from the press room in Lisbon).

florin
florin
2 years ago

are you freaking kidding me.. if you say you dont like toy israeli call on you antisemite.. always play the victim card.. get a grip your song is crap

florin
florin
2 years ago
Reply to  florin

i dont have nothing with israel i was in vacantion there 4 times.. i just dont like that song and for that you call me antisemite

DyGh
DyGh
2 years ago
Reply to  florin

“I don’t have nothing”
So you do have something cuz that’s a double negative

NoGeoblocks
NoGeoblocks
2 years ago
Reply to  florin

LLila, don’t feed the troll. Ignore him.

Sara
Sara
2 years ago
Reply to  NoGeoblocks

You haven’t been paying attention, Lilla IS the troll.

Nitzili
Nitzili
2 years ago
Reply to  florin

Florin, I don’t know which comments you’re referring to but not liking a song doesn’t make you anti-Semitic. I think that word is being used too easily many times

JEFFERSON
JEFFERSON
2 years ago

At least Sweden did not win, nor did Austria. In this case I preferred Israel itself, I can not stand these first two. For Israel I give a 5/10 and a 24th place.

JEFFERSON
JEFFERSON
2 years ago
Reply to  JEFFERSON

Sweden and Austria in my botton 5.

fugu
fugu
2 years ago
Reply to  JEFFERSON

Actually, my bottom 3 Israel (26), Cyprus (25) and Slovenia (24). Only Slovenia had the good grace to finish where it should have.

Benjamin Ingrosso is a decent performer but that song stunk. Straight out of the 1970s disco era but without the fun.

JEFFERSON
JEFFERSON
2 years ago
Reply to  fugu

SWEDEN AND AUSTRIA IN MY BOTTOM 5. SWEDEN (40), CZECH REPUBLIC (42) AND AUSTRIA (43).

Rafael
Rafael
2 years ago

Ouch! That is some seriously sad reading
“Girl acts like Madonna.” Wow ? throwing shade on one of their own that is just painful to read and shows their true awful nature

Passarinho
Passarinho
2 years ago
Reply to  Rafael

There was no throwing shade, he only said that she wanted control o the staging, not unlike Mikolas or Saara Aalto, that had a vision for the stage and made it happen

esc1234
esc1234
2 years ago

Thats some good management going on, take notes bbc….

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
2 years ago

She’s NOT a label puppet. Bulgarian participants are shook.

Lian
Lian
2 years ago

I’m gonna express an entirely personal opinion so please, don’t get mean :p When Netta arrived in Lisbon, she was sure she was gonna win. Arrogant or not, her team and herself must have felt threatened when the whole “Foureira tide” came out of nowhere. She even got the 1st place in the semi’s televote. So they tried really hard to change that. I feel like they played dirty cause they really wanted to win. And honestly, the way they treated their victory is even worse than the song itself. Mocking the other artists, treating them like peasants, turning the… Read more »

florin
florin
2 years ago
Reply to  Lian

totally agree.. thei knew netta will win.. big pocket money and stuff

Not Your Toy
Not Your Toy
2 years ago
Reply to  florin

“Big pocket money” WOW such a typical antisemite comment… It’s exactly the opposite- Israel doesn’t invest a lot of money in the Eurovision (not like Sweden and other crazy shows on Eurovision that pay a lot of money to maximize their shows-LED/FIREWORKS/GRAPHIC), Israel trusts their singers and the song to win. Israel wins= “plays dirty”? Shame on you!!!!!!!!!! 50 Milion views on YouTube!

Lian
Lian
2 years ago
Reply to  Not Your Toy

Not everyone who has a different opinion is antisemitic or sth. I never mentioned anything about Israel as a country, I only spoke about the delegation and what I feel like without any facts to concrete my opinion, just unimportant thoughts I’d like to share, as you share your own kind of extreme opinion. Cheers!

Rashi
Rashi
2 years ago
Reply to  Lian

It’s funny how hate can make people say such lies…As someone who was constantly backstage they were the nicest delegation and everyone loved them. Eleni is Doron’s friend (The guy that wrote TOY). He is the one that gave her to sing her own version of “Golden Boy” which he also wrote. It’s her biggest hit to date. Stop spreading lies just because you hate Israel/antisemite

Lian
Lian
2 years ago
Reply to  Rashi

As I said earlier, I never mentioned anything about Israel as a country. But I do hate war.

Dony
Dony
2 years ago

“composer Doron Medalie took Tzafir to meet the “Fuego” singer.”

She has 3 or 4 songs on her last album written by him… but he is only discovering her NOW?

Juan Cena
Juan Cena
2 years ago
Reply to  Dony

I think they meant that Netta hadn’t met Eleni until Lisbon.

Micaela
Micaela
2 years ago

Hahaha
Thanks for the laughs guys. I just snorted my coffee reading this lol
“All delegations were envious of us” hahaha so good… are these guys 5 year old?

jon
jon
2 years ago
Reply to  Micaela

That’s the wrong translation though, Read the ‘lost in translation’ comment above. So many translation errors here recently, all of them trying to stir things up and evoke controversy. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, isn’t it now wiwibloggs?

Juan Cena
Juan Cena
2 years ago

I still believe the chicken sounds were Netta’s way of getting away with calling the guy a c*ck.

Anyhow, “Toy” is topping both the Spotify Global and American viral charts (With “Fuego” in the top ten), so Netta seems to be clucking all the way to the bank.

Mark
Mark
2 years ago
Reply to  Juan Cena

Yeah like netta is seeing any money. Hope she milks it good and moves to a country that respects her

Hilariously Brisbane
Hilariously Brisbane
2 years ago
Reply to  Juan Cena

I’m amazed that people don’t get it… the chicken noises are not a random thing! She’s saying that the stupid boy is a chicken – a coward – Buck-Buck-Bucka!

Matt C
Matt C
2 years ago

When I said Israelis are arrogant, people on here downvoted me. Here you have it folks, proof of that.

Nitzili
Nitzili
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt C

The right phrase would be “some Israelis are arrogant” because not all of us are the same you know. And also, I think that they were really confident in the song and with netta’s skills and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Eurofan
Eurofan
2 years ago

Eurofans: Can’t get more arrogant then Salvador
Israel: Hold my beer

Pavel
Pavel
2 years ago
Reply to  Eurofan

Dima Bilan and t.A.T.u. levels of arrogance are still off the charts.

Lilo
Lilo
2 years ago
Reply to  Eurofan

What an obsession! Can you not think of something else? God…

Christopher
Christopher
2 years ago

I’ve always thought that the best part of the package was Netta and the weakest was the song. Together they are still good and a deserving winner but Toy is not going to be a eurovision classic but then neither are alot of the winners from the past 10 years.

Nitzili
Nitzili
2 years ago
Reply to  Christopher

Maybe but in my opinion, toy is on it’s way to become iconic. It’s one of those songs that are just so different then others, that when you listen to it it’s like “what just happened?” And I love that. For me it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time, it just works on so many levels and I’m not just saying that because I’m from Israel

crazycs
crazycs
2 years ago
Reply to  Christopher

Only Eurovision classic from the past 10 years would be Fairytale and Euphoria

fugu
fugu
2 years ago
Reply to  crazycs

Possibly Heroes and Amor Pelos Dois.

But Toy will definitely be added to the ‘Wacky Eurovision Songs’ lists.

Christopher
Christopher
2 years ago
Reply to  crazycs

Ew- Fairytale makes my ears bleed- he is just screaming the chorus.

Helene
Helene
2 years ago
Reply to  Christopher

I think Euphoria is a real Classic. I do however not agree with those who say that the quality of songs and performance this year was very high. The were several middle good songs and some good performances. No one was a clear winner. Several had something really good but all missed something. I think Netta was close and hence she won. I do despite this think Netta’s stage performance lacked something that is found in the video. The camera work wasn’t that good and the energy seemed less vibrant on stage. They could have made a much better stage… Read more »

Hilariously Brisbane
Hilariously Brisbane
2 years ago
Reply to  Helene

I couldn’t said it better! You are spot on! I am very happy that Netta won, but I think her win would have been a bigger one if the staging was more “Toy” related and colorfull then the Japanese influences they went with, and I am an individual whom loves so many aspect of the Japanese culture!
I kinda envisioned Netta and her insane (in the most positive way) dancers in a cute and colorfull doll like dress, big eyelashes, a mix of pastels and neon colors… and lots off Bubbles 😉

namel
namel
2 years ago

” All the delegations envied us ” Ya think?

sevzch
sevzch
2 years ago
Reply to  namel

Because you were there to know?

tim
tim
2 years ago

lmao delusional israelis

florin
florin
2 years ago

All the delegations envied us and the feeling was that they were looking for the dark horse to beat us.”.. oh my.. they really think the universe sttart and stop with them.. what arrogant people.. just like previous winner

LLila
LLila
2 years ago
Reply to  florin

They are not arrogant!
Netta shares on her instegram lots of songs from other countries like Finland, Austria, Estonia..Australia..how is that arrogant? Maybe the other delegations did not like Israel..

Escphbelgium
Escphbelgium
2 years ago

That’s my Netta.
She gave her all and goddamn she did, and she won the whole thing! We need more artist like her, someone with a vision and someone who knows how to own it and make it theirs. I’m so proud of Netta.

NoGeoblocks
NoGeoblocks
2 years ago

Love Netta.
When Toy was leaked I heard it and didn’t like it. The intro with Netta’s looper made a world of difference. It sounded way more like her.
Watch any of Netta’s performances from The Next Star to see that she’s mot just a performer, but an amazing musician, a true artist.

please
please
2 years ago

So they just used her for her image. I could feel in the interviews she gave that she wasn’t all that connected to the song. Its so obvious that they just wanted to win.

LLila
LLila
2 years ago
Reply to  please

Whats wrong with wanting to win?
And she did connected to the song after a few changes made by her.

LLila
LLila
2 years ago

Netta is an amazing artist and person.love her 🙂

Sharon
Sharon
2 years ago

Netta is incredible. I’m so happy to hear she’s such a pro that took TOY and made it her own. We love you Netta! Can’t wait for Jerusalem 2019!!

Denmark
Denmark
2 years ago

Netta lacks profesionalism. can’t take one critique and bursts into tears after her song is rejected, not to mention is rude to everyone who works with her. if she really want everyone to accept her she should start respecting everyone else.

Nitzili
Nitzili
2 years ago
Reply to  Denmark

Oh, because you know her so well, don’t you?

Jonas
Jonas
2 years ago
Reply to  Denmark

She was not a professional at that stage, she was an amateur appearing in a TV talents show, so yeah…she lacked “professionalism” because she was not yet a professional. TV reality shows can be brutal & exploitative anyway, so her reaction was perfectly understandable.

James
James
2 years ago

If you believe in the song, then there’s no reason to doubt its chances of success.

NoGeoblocks
NoGeoblocks
2 years ago
Reply to  James

Step 1) Believe in it and sing it all day long!

Darth Thulhu
Darth Thulhu
2 years ago
Reply to  NoGeoblocks

Step 2) Add Loop to it, and now you’ve revamped your song