The Israeli selection process for Eurovision 2019 is quite long with two episodes being aired each week. To make sure you don’t miss any of the action, we’ll cover it on a weekly basis and share the highlights and qualifiers of each show. Today, we will take a look at episodes 2 and 3.
Episode 2 Qualifiers – Tuesday, 27/11/18
The highlight of this episode was Maya Buskila, who is known to many Eurovision fans both in Israel and abroad. Maya was offered the chance to represent Israel at Eurovision 2009 but declined. She was also (reportedly) considered to represent the country in Dusseldorf 2011 and in Baku 2012.
With the renaissance that the contest has had since Netta’s victory, she’s now eager to represent the country on home turf, although during the show it was presented to the viewers as if Assi and Rotem had to “convince” her to audition. We’re not sure if anyone actually believed that. In fact, it looks as if all the participants of this episode were just an “opening” act for her audition which was the last one of this episode.
Maya, 41, started her career in 2004 with her very successful album “Sold Out Story”. Her best-known song is “Ha-Lev” (The Heart), which has become a huge hit in Israel.
In her audition, she performed Beyoncé’s “Listen” and made the judges – all of whom know her very well as colleagues – look thrilled. She’d achieved 83% overall (which is a relatively low result compared to most candidates so far) following which Keren Peles announced that she will probably win the Next Star and become Israel’s representative in Tel Aviv. Her son, Lenny, also loved it and said she was awesome.
We have to admit that although her vocals impressed us, she was slightly out of tune — perhaps because she was very excited to be standing in such a position after a long career. The judges also looked a bit embarrassed to be sitting there and judging her. After all, she was already a huge Diva when some of them were kids or complete unknowns. Curiously, her audition reminded us of Anna Vissi’s performance from Eurovision 2006.
Abraham De Carvalho
Abraham, 27, immigrated to Israel from Brazil. Until recently he’d been an orthodox Jew and he’s now married to an Israeli man who came with him to the audition and looked very excited and emotional. He shared with the audience his conflicts as a gay man and why he left the religion and became secular. His story definitely added drama to his audition.
Abraham performed “Issues” by Julia Michaels, a pop song which he turned into a ballad, whilst playing on the piano. He is very charismatic and has a strong voice. He gained 89% of the votes and Shiri said that his performance reminded her of a typical Eurovision song and that the fact that he plays the piano, made him look like a star despite his “common” look. Is that a compliment?
Lior is Maya Buskila’s sister in-law (who, just before her own audition, accompanied Lior as a mentor). She already participated in The Next Star for Eurovision 2018 but failed to qualify.
She performed a song in Hebrew called Sh’eeriot Me’atzmi (that translates as “pieces of myself”, originally sung by Shir Levy) and looked very confident. Lior has a profound and silky voice. She later said that she’d rather Maya win and not herself. Hmmm… we wonder.
She achieved 89% of the votes which was very justified as we also think she was one of the best candidates in this episode. All the judges voted for her and she even received one of Netta’s cats from Lisbon as a gift (or probably a copy of it.).
Tai (aka Tamar), 20, is a singer in the IDF chorus. She has previously appeared on the Israeli version of The Voice and came second.
She performed “River” by Bishop Briggs and wowed the audience. The judges called her a “wild animal” and they all agreed that she has star quality. She raised the screen very fast having achieved 93% in less than 2 minutes, a very distinguished result so far. By the way, she’s also very pretty, and this definitely contributed to her audition. We are huge fans and think she was the best on this show!
Next came Shefita, the alter ego of Rotem Shefi, 27. Shefita has been known in Israel for quite a few years mainly for her extraordinary covers for pop songs to which she offers very unique and strong Mediterranean flavour.
One of her most famous covers is “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morisette. This was also her choice for the audition. Honestly, we are not sure whether this is a joke or whether she’s a candidate with real potential to perform on the Eurovision stage. This is because she looks and acts more like a comedian than a singer. She also adds a strong Arabic accent when she speaks and sings, which can be perceived as slightly vulgar. That being said, judging by this performance alone, she’s no doubt very talented…although we’re not sure if the European audience will relate to this kind of act. Harel said that when she started singing, he felt that she was mocking Middle Eastern artists.
She only achieved 58% of the points which is not enough to qualify for the next round (70% is the minimum). However, Assi and Rotem used their “veto” right to save her and she will therefore proceed to the next stage. Rotem explained that she must be saved because she is wired like Netta who didn’t appeal to the audience at first sight.
You can watch Shefita’s audition and judge for yourselves.
Episode 3 Qualifiers – Saturday, 1/12/18
After a long episode, including Ben El Tavori’s brother who came to audition and didn’t qualify, 6 qualifiers proceeded to the next stage:
The first candidate to qualify from this episode is Osher, 20, whose this is his second attempt to win the ticket for Eurovision having tried previously in 2017. Osher mainly spoke about his dream to represent Israel in Tel Aviv with a Mizrahi song. Fortunately, he will not need to travel abroad as he has a fear of flying.
Just before his audition, he announced that he “came to win” this time and we were naturally curious to see whether his self-confidence is justified or not. And it was indeed, because once he started his performance, something happened there and he delivered a very energetic show.
Ofer sang a song in Hebrew called “Tel Aviv at Night”, originally performed by Eden Ben Zaken (one of Israel’s most successful Mizrahi singers) which seems relevant now with Tel Aviv as a host city. He also reminded us a bit of Nadav Guedj. If chosen, he will definitely bring the party to the arena. Let me show you Tel Aviv 2?
Overall he achieved 85% of the votes and we think that he had the best audition on this episode.
Liat is 27, a professional singer with her own YouTube channel where she creates and performs. She came to the audition with her fiancé who’s also her professional manager.
Like most candidates in this episode, she also performed an Israeli song — this one called She’Tisaref Ha’Ahave (translated as: “Let the Love Burn”, originally performed by Itay Levy) and stunned the audience.
She has very strong vocals and stage presence. We also think that she’s very pretty. She gained 88% of the votes and had a convincing audition.
Keren announced (again) that she should represent Israel – but she’d made similar announcements regarding other candidates as well. Shiri added that if she’s chosen, she can be trusted.
Shahaf, 21, from Tel Aviv, a singer and a dancer. He was very frank from the beginning and said that as a gay man, Eurovision is his thing.
The judges loved his outfits and said that he could easily win for this alone. They later had their own fashion display which was time consuming. In general, we must admit that the Next Star format can be exhausting sometimes, especially with the hosts who – how shall we put it – love themselves and love to speak about themselves…
Back to Shahaf – he auditioned with Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and despite some nice moves (and pretty face), was one of the weakest candidates so far. The audience thought the same and he achieved a relatively low score – 76% which is just above the minimum.
Clara is 24, has just finished her service at the IDF. She also served in the IDF choir, alongside with her friend, Netta (or at least this is what she claims).
Before she went on stage, she’d said that being a successful singer in Israel depends only on luck. She later implied that one of the judges in the panel is not a very good singer but didn’t reveal her/his name. Any ideas?
She sang “Mangina” (“A Melody”) by Eden Ben Zaken whose songs are favoured by the contestants. She gained 81% with a decent audition. Her Mizrahi touch was very prominent but compared to other candidates, we think she had an average audition.
Judith, 28, has immigrated to Israel recently from France by herself where she’d worked as a professional and appeared in some TV shows.
Before her audition, she looked really nervous and asked for a glass water which made us think that she is going to fall apart. But in fact she was very good and charismatic and what we liked about her audition – “River” by Ibeyi – is the French lyrics that she added to it. It was quite original and different compared to other auditions. The audience loved her but she only received 80% of the votes because one of the judges – Assaf Amdorsky – wasn’t impressed. We are fans.
Do you think Maya will win? What do you think about the extravagant Shefita? Leave your comments below!