The Israeli selection process for Eurovision 2019 continues and today, we will look at the qualifiers from episodes 4 and 5. Who’s still in the race to become “The Next Star” for Eurovision 2019? Let’s find out…
Episode 4 Qualifiers – Monday 4/12/18
It looks as if being a new immigrant to Israel can increase your chances to pass the audition for this season as there are MANY candidates who moved to Israel from abroad. In this episode, it was Berry Brown’s turn to play the card. Berry immigrated to Israel from South Africa a year and a half ago with his wife and three children. He used to be a cantor in a synagogue in his homeland (although he insisted that Israel is his home land – “I want to represent Eretz Israel“). Berry’s audition was very emotional. He performed “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban and devoted it to his sick mother, whom he has not seen in a long time. The crowd awarded him 77% and some of the judges even cried during his audition. In our opinion, it was his story that captivated them rather than his skills as a singer. Compared to the other candidates he’s pretty average. Asaf Amdursky echoed our impression and said that the other jurors aren’t being honest about his actual performance.
The next (and last….) qualifier in this episode was Gal. The 24-year-old performs as a backing singer in a band called “the Ultras”. Just before his audition, he was “encouraged” by the hosts, as this is how Imri Ziv (Israel’s candidate in Kyiv 2017) started his Eurovision career. They hinted that if he’s chosen to represent Israel then he’s expected to rank MUCH higher than Imri’s 23rd position, as Netta had raised the bar in Lisbon.
Gal sang a song in Hebrew called “Hakol Over” originally written and performed by Israeli singer Idan Raichel (it translates as “Everything Passes”). Despite his good looks and solid vocals, his audition wasn’t very memorable — perhaps because there are many other candidates with a similar style, namely, Mizrahi/Oriental. He achieved 70% which is a marginal pass as this is the minimum required to pass to the next stage.
This episode wasn’t very convincing and it’s hard for us to see either of these two candidates continuing to the next stage, but we will have to see how things develop.
Episode 5 Qualifiers – Tuesday 5/12/18
As we mentioned, Israel is really keen to send a Mizrahi singer this year (or at least “The Next Star”‘s editors are). This is quite logical as host countries usually want to emphasise their own identity on home turf. Although there are (too) many Mizrahi candidates, Naor’s audition was quite unique and, despite his young age, he sounds very skilled and professional. He chose a song in Hebrew called “She’mishehu Ya’atzor Oti” (“Someone Please Stop Me”). He has warm oriental vocals with a distinguished Arabic sound which gave us the chills. This was tonight’s most surprising and unexpected audition.
Naama Gali Cohen
Naama is from Tel Aviv and she works as a professional singer mainly in night bars. She defines herself as an R&B, soul and pop singer. First of all – her style was AMAZING and we loved her hair (and nails too as weird as this may sound..!). When she started to sing we loved her even more. She performed “New Rules” by Dua Lipa and brought something fresh to The Next Star. She also has an international “vibe” and could easily represent a European country in the contest. The audience, however, didn’t appreciate her and she only received 74%. That was enough to continue to the next stage and we have the feeling that she’s going to slay. We will follow her closely to see how she does.
Next came Romi, 18, who spoke about being an overweight child. And guess who she was influenced by? Netta, of course! Her victory convinced Romi to apply for this season of The Next Star. Her story added drama to her audition, along with the song that she performed – “Creep” by Radiohead.
She was really nervous during her audition and missed a few notes. One can notice immediately that she lacks any experience and confidence. She’d failed to pass the minimum bar of 70% but was saved by Assi and Rotem with their “veto” right despite Shiri Maimon’s unequivocal and straightforward protest. “You are misleading candidates and using your power unreasonably“, she said. At this point there was a bit of comic relief with Assi and Rotem conspiring to teach Shiri a lesson when the opportunity arrives. It was quite amusing actually (see what happened later on.).
Limor is 43 and she’s a part of an Israeli band called Ha’Yevania (“The Greek Woman”), which performs songs in Greek. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Israeli music, Greek culture is really loved in Israel and has influenced many of its artists (perhaps due to the Jewish-Greek diaspora and the cultural closeness between these two Mediterranean countries). Despite the fact that there were other good auditions in this episode, Limor’s audition caught our attention. She performed a very famous Israeli song called “Ve-im Preda” (originally performed by Israeli singer Dikla and translates as “If we part”). What was interesting about her audition is that she sang both in Greek and Hebrew and somehow it worked! She wowed us and the audience and achieved 91% of the votes – the highest score in this episode. After her audition, the jurors debated as to whether or not a Greek song should represent Israel in Tel Aviv 2019. Keren offered to have a survey.
Although we liked Limor and we admit that it could be interesting to hear an Israeli song performed in Greek, we are not sure if this is something that the Eurovision crowd will relate to. After all, we fans know quite well that songs which are performed in languages other than English, especially by countries whose native language is different, tend to flop (i.e., Austria 2016). Limor is definitely one of the most distinguished candidates so far!!
Julia has also just recently immigrated to Israel from Russia. As we said, this is very trendy this season. As with Romi (see above), she also auditioned with “Creep” and brought her own interpretation to it which was gentle and quiet. She has a certain charisma, but the audience wasn’t fond of her. She received only 59%, so didn’t qualify. Shiri voted “yay” and begged (!) the other judges to join forces. At that point, Rotem and Assi offered to save Julia with their veto right but only if Shiri apologises for underestimating their powers. Shiri had no choice as she’d really wanted to keep Julia for the next stage, following which she was saved. We’re not sure whether this was just another trick to attract the viewers but we think that Julia deserves a second chance.
Overall, episode 5 was good and amusing with some memorable candidates.
Tell us what you think about Israel’s selection so far. Which of the candidates in these episodes are your favourite? Do you think that sending a song in Greek would be a good choice? Share your ideas below!