Wiwibloggs has introduced a new feature in which we are taking a look at all of the countries currently participating in the Eurovision Song Contest and the reasons why we love them. Our featured country today is Israel, the intended hosts of the upcoming 2019 edition.
Israel debuted in the 1973 edition of the contest. Prior to their debut, Yugoslavia was the easternmost country to participate in the contest. It took only five years for Israel to record its first victory and only six for them to get their second, pulling off back-to-back wins in 1978 and 1979.
More recently, Israel endured a run of poor results at the start of the current decade. After four straight failures to qualify from 2011-2014, they reinvented the wheel by using the Rising Star program to select its entrants and switched to English-language songs. This has led to much better results since 2015, culminating in Netta’s victory in 2018 with “Toy”. With a rich history to draw from, here are 10 reasons why we love Israel at Eurovision.
1. A “Diva” like no other
Twenty years on from Israel’s third win, we have witnessed performers like Conchita Wurst and moments like Krista Siegfrids’ same-sex kiss. But we must go back to what set it all in motion. Back in 1999, Dana International became the first openly transgender winner of the contest. Her victory was a huge moment for the LGBT community and has paved the way for many changes around Europe since. Many divas have come to the contest since 1998 but we can never forget the original “Diva”.
2. Their entries are amazing, even when they don’t do well
Some countries are on and off at Eurovision, alternating between huge success and disappointing failure. Israel’s results may follow that trend but some of their worst results have been among their best entries. There is no better example than fan favourite Mei Finegold, who placed second last in her semi-final at Eurovision 2014. Despite the result, “Same Heart” remains a big favourite with Eurovision fans.
3. They have artists with some amazing names
Israel have no shortage of creativity when it comes to artist names. In 2000, they were represented by a group called PingPong. In 1987, Lazy Bums flew the Israeli flag in Brussels. And let’s not forget that Gali Atari won the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 with Milk and Honey by her side. If you’re still feeling hungry after that, wash down have some Chocolate, Menta, Mastik (Chocolate, Mint, Gum) — the 1976 act — or perhaps a cuppa Teapacks (2007).
4. They are the only winners who did not attempt to defend their title
After securing a second straight victory in 1979, Israel opted against keeping the contest in Jerusalem due to financial reasons. But not only that, Israel didn’t even compete in Eurovision 1980 as that year’s contest clashed with an important memorial day. To date, Israel is the only winning country to not defend their crown the next year. Fortunately, their bid to host Eurovision 2019 is going much more smoothly…
5. They know how to start the party
One thing has always been clear throughout the years — Israel can bring the party to Eurovision. Whether it’s Ofra Haza with the catchy “Hi” in 1983 or Imri Ziv in 2017, Israel can get you on your feet. While they’re capable of slowing things down when they need to, there’s nothing more exciting than an Israeli party anthem at Eurovision. Just check out that epic dance break in “I Feel Alive”!
6. There are plenty of hot guys in Israel
Speaking of Imri Ziv, he was voted Eurovision’s Next Top Male Model 2017 by our readers. And let’s not forget that Harel Skaat was runner-up in Eurovision’s Next Top Model 2010. Bo’az Ma’uda might’ve had a crack at the award if it was around in 2008. There must be something in the water in Israel. We don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, keep drinking!
7. They sent a unique peace anthem in 2009
We all know the usual love, love, peace, peace song that is featured so often at Eurovision. They’re everywhere and it’s easy to get sick of them. However, Israel put a unique spin on the Eurovision peace anthem in 2009, when they sent the duo Noa & Mira Awad. Noa is a Jewish-Israeli while Awad is an Arab-Israeli and they performed “There Must Be Another Way” in English, Hebrew and Arabic. That’s one way to come together, y’all!
8. The beautiful Hebrew language
One of the most beautiful aspects of Eurovision is the plethora of different languages on display to the entire world. As an Afroasiatic language, Hebrew is certainly different to any other language frequently heard at Eurovision. When Israel opts to sing in Hebrew, they certainly stand out. There are no shortage of beautiful Hebrew entries at Eurovision but most recently, Moran Mazor performed the beautiful “Rak Bishvilo” in 2013.
9. Amazing Middle Eastern ethnopop
We’ve already highlighted Imri Ziv and his banger “I Feel Alive”. That is certainly not the only time Israel sent amazing ethnopop to Eurovision. Nadav Guedj showed us Tel Aviv in 2015 with “Golden Boy” and even Netta had elements of traditional Middle Eastern ethnopop in “Toy”. It’s an area in which Israel certainly excels and we can’t wait to see more of it.
10. The mother-bucking beat
It seems only fitting to conclude this list with the reigning queen of Eurovision. Israel’s victory in 2018 with Netta was a victory for being different and “Toy” is just that. Throwing out all of the rules of conventional pop songwriting, “Toy” was a work of art, amplified by Netta’s personality. I’m going to be controversial and go as far as saying that “Toy” is the best winner of modern times. Whether or not you agree, get your chicken suit on (like we did) and take that Pikachu home. There’s no way you’ll sit still through that mother-bucking beat!
What do you think of Israel at Eurovision? What are your favourite Israeli entries? Let us know in the comments below.