The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — continue our journey through the decade, and we come to the winner of 2018. We have our chicken hats and Pikachu onesies ready, as we come to review Israel‘s fierce diva Netta, with her upbeat feminist smash “Toy”.

Netta Barzelai won Israel’s pre-selection The Next Star for Eurovision by using a vocal looper to create unique and captivating sounds, bringing something entirely modern to the Eurovision Song Contest. Bookies on the downlow had her as an underdog winner before her big track was released but as soon as it was out, the odds were slashed, and the fandom basically knew who our winner was way back in preseason.

Whilst using the looper was against contest rules, she used a fake to mime along with before bursting into a high-energy show with lively back-up dancers, bright scenery and some of the most powerful lungs this side of Tel Aviv. When she won, she thanked those who chose different. By the time we’d landed in Israel for Eurovision 2019, Netta was a megastar in her home country who had no problems owning a catwalk or two. Do the Jury still get those same party vibes in 2019? Let’s find out!

Netta – “Toy”

“Toy” reviews

Pablo: “Toy” was sold on stage as it should have been sold: a perfect way to introduce to the casual viewers what captured the attention of the avid fans on the first place. While the semi-final performance had its gaffes, the final was pretty flawless, and it is no wonder how and why “Toy” won. Netta’s vision was transmitted perfectly with the song’s atmosphere, and her loudness worked flawlessly on the big moments of the song.

Score: 9.5/10

Angus: In hindsight you can attribute Israel’s win in 2018 to two things: the song and the singer. The performance on, the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. While Netta is captivating, she spends too long stuck behind the fake looper, and then marches around the stage without any clear direction. The backing dancers are off-putting, the styling uninspiring and the whole piece feels like an afterthought. Reading between the lines, it looks like reliance on vocal firepower and novelty of song to get the pitch across the line. Which worked then, but with some time means this has faded a lot for me, and doesn’t really do justice to the studio cut.

Score: 4/10

Sebastian: My musical journey with “Toy” has taken a complete 180 degrees since its reveal in early 2018. Hearing it for the first time, “Toy” was a complete aural and visual experience, stimulating and titillating to every sense. But when you add a fake looper, a cheap dance, an outfit which clearly appropriates a culture for no evident reason, and a somewhat dollar-store staged performance, you end up with a package which turns uniqueness to cheapness. Netta is an absolute talent, but her performance in “Toy” was, by far, not her best and did not deserve a top-five finish.

Score: 6.5/10

Jonathan: Never have I fallen in love with a song as quickly as with “Toy”. Admittedly, the live performance could have been thought through a bit more. The predominantly dark-pink styling of everything didn’t completely capture the colourful and bright nature of the song (and music video). Nevertheless, although some Eurovision songs need enhancing with their stage shows to stand out, “Toy” is such a novel and infectious song to begin with that the overall package remains a strong one (particularly when you add in Netta’s energy and soaring vocals). And, to be honest, any song that includes a Pokémon reference is going to get bonus points from me.

Score: 9/10

Bernardo: There are two things I’ll always respect about this entry: the message of female empowerment it brings and Netta. But that is about it. I was never a fan of the song and not even its victory made me change my mind. I thought the staging was underwhelming and to be fair what sold the performance to me ultimately was Netta’s charisma. While I agree “Toy” needed an impactful staging to meet the already “crazy” music video, it was a bit too much.

Score: 6.5/10

Lukas: Who would have thought that a chicken dance could win Eurovision? Surely no one except Netta — who not only gave us an amazing song, but won the whole competition too. This song is so much fun and has a great female empowerment message as well. Netta’s personality shone in her performance and this one going to be hard for Israel to top once again with their new entries.

Score: 8.5/10

In the Wiwi Jury we have 24 jurors but only have room for six reviews. The remaining scores are below:

William: 8/10

Antranig: 9.5/10

Robyn: 8/10

Lucy: 4/10

Deban: 6.5/10

Calvin: 8.5/10

Luis: 8/10

Oliver: 9/10

Kristin: 6.5/10

Edd: 10/10

Barnabas: 3/10

Florian: 6/10

Steinunn: 6/10

Natalie: 9/10

Julian: 8.5/10

Katie: 8.5/10

Tom: 8.5/10

Charlotte: 7/10

We have removed the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. This is to remove outliers and potential bias. We have removed a low of 3 and a high of 10.

Wiwi Jury verdict: 7.52/10

What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!

See all of our Wiwi Jury of the 2010s rankings here

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btw
Guest
btw

Worst song ever,

Bart
Guest
Bart

Toy was the worst winner of the decade and one of the worst of Eurovision history. This was a disgrace and Tou only won because that year was musically very week do the circus got the upper hand plus lots of bots in the youtube account and in the bets

GURT
Guest
GURT

Haters gonna hate, but Israel delivered one of the best, most iconic and influence winning song in the history of ESC (Exactly like they did in 1998 with “Diva” – first trans women to win ESC). You can like it or not, but CANT ignore it (or stop singing it…)

Bart
Guest
Bart

That’s so funny eh eh eh…

Ana
Guest
Ana

It’s funny cause it’s true eh eh

Duncan Netta Laurence
Guest
Duncan Netta Laurence

This is one of the best winners ever, along with ‘Arcade’. After three years of horrible winners, these two came along and restored the greatness of Eurovision. 10/10 for both.

Charles
Guest
Charles

The fact that people still believe that female empowerment is the theme of this song or that such theme was the inspiration for the songwriter to come up with this … makes me go facepalm. I guess some people don’t recharge their brain batteries anymore … Then … The way this review was done clearly screams “justice and win for Fuego and Bey… ops sorry Eleni Foureira”. Finally, Bernando’s comments echoed Salvador Sobral to a significant degree … Toy is the type of trashy garbage that the Portuguese musical culture known for its integrity and anti-mainstream/commercialism (I guess all those… Read more »

Salvador Sobral
Guest
Salvador Sobral

We went from one of the best Eurovision winners ever in 2017 to one of the worst in the space of just one year. Goodness me, what an atrocious song that was.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Can I create a fake profile and I pretend I am either Kurt Cubain, John Lennon or Mozart and troll around here like this fake Salvador Sobral? Can I ruin the Eurovision bubble? Lol

Bart
Guest
Bart

Absolutely agree on that! Toy was the worst winner of the decade and one of the worst of Eurovision history

Preuss
Guest
Preuss

2018 was the best year song-wise imo but personally not a big fan of the editions with no LEDs! I think they’re much needed in the contest

Ana
Guest
Ana

Well, google the original design that Florian Weider suggested for this stage, it would look EPIC. But they just took the overall shape and completely removed almost all LEDs

Charles
Guest
Charles

Do you score good in your listening tests at school I wonder? Or does your teacher need to place LEDs in the classroom to help you out?

allex
Guest
allex

I’m sorry who is Antranig dude, because his taste is kinda appalling….

Alaska
Guest
Alaska

Was thinking the same.

Trash KAN
Guest
Trash KAN

Do you have or will you make an article about Netta’s Bassa Sababa being featured in Just Dance 2020?

Bart
Guest
Bart

No because this is totally irrelevant

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

it still bops hard + it has personality, rightful winner

Charles
Guest
Charles

Anything that does not say “slow ballad sung by a guy trying to burst my Eurovision bubble with reality” would have personality for you … But this is not Project Runway or America’s Next Top Model.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

I thought 2018 was a pretty weak year but still, I was surprised when this ended up winning. I think the weak competition was definitely a factor but when rewatching (or even, relistening), this doesn’t hold weight as a Eurovision winner. To me, it’s one of those songs that as an ESC fan, I’m a bit embarrassed to have to explain to my non-ESC-watching friends.

Loin dici
Guest

Weirdly enough, most would see 63 as a very, very competitive season. Probably because of the amount of bops you could find there.

Wouter
Guest
Wouter

I agree. 2018 for me is the second weakest year of this decade (2011 being the weakest in my opinion). I’m positive that had ‘Amar pelos dois”, “Arcade” or pretty much any recent winner participated in 2018 they would have won instead of “Toy”.

Trash KAN
Guest
Trash KAN

Weak? It’s stronger than 2013, 2017 and 2019

Gil Dadia
Guest
Gil Dadia

Actually the performance of toy during the first semi final in eurovision 2019(the opening act) was so much better than toy 2018…million times better

Ana
Guest
Ana

Maybe because she was allowed to bring 20 dancers on stage and use full playback? (like most of the interval acts this year)

Charles
Guest
Charles

Playback ….the ultimate desire for any hardcore Eurovision fan who wishes the whole show to be just that a visual show with all musical elements pre-recorded to perfection so nobody had to be worried about vocals … The emphasis would be only on LEDs props and choreography … Just like what happened with the interval acts this year.
Playback … also the name of a former pre-2000 Eurovision entry from Portugal mocking lip sync performances … Oops … Portugal and their anti-Eurovision-bubble vibes have always been around us …

Fionn
Guest
Fionn

If you forget about the message and stuff I don’t think it was actually a very good song in my opinion

Charles
Guest
Charles

It’s easy to forget the message cause there has never been one. Can I write a song about monkeys and bananas but claim to be about global warming or domestic violence when in fact as a songwriter my hatred towards Salvador Sobral and Duncan Laurance who have the audacity to ruin my ESC kindergarten playground, is my real immature motivation??

FYROM
Guest
FYROM

One of the most memorable and iconic winners from the 2010s. Everybody remember netta, no one except Dutch people and esc fans remember the boring man with the piano

pepe
Guest
pepe

Toy has (almost) 40 million streams on Spotify. Arcade has 70 million.

FYROM
Guest
FYROM

Arcade has 19 million views on youtube. Toy has 120 million

pepe
Guest
pepe

But apparently nobody wants to listen to Toy. As is reflected in the chart success it had.

Skiwalko
Guest

Can we just say both song have lots of fans and were big hits?

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Absolutely not. This is a Eurovision fan page, remember? 😛 😛

ESC2019TLV
Guest
ESC2019TLV

You are talking about this ‘boring’ man now so you still remember him. Youtube views doesn’t say that much. I’m one of them to and did not like toy that much even.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Kindergarden kids will agree with you …
But there will come a day when they graduate high school and become adults …

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

The most accurate review of this song I can give is that it is a kids song. Children in my family loved this from first listen. It was catchy, memorable and fun. It was never intended to be deep and meaningful, it fulfilled its purpose to brilliant effect. It was a worthy winner because of how it executed its stand out points but I doubt many will look back on it as a classic (other than as a joke classic)

Skiwalko
Guest

Interesting, I’ve never seen it as such! Well, we had a few of “kids-friendly” winners in the past already – France 1960, Netherlands 1975, UK 1976 & 1981, Sweden 1984, Estonia 2001, Latvia 2002, Ukraine 2004 or Finland 2006, but “Toy” is definitely one of the best in this group!

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

The colorful presenter, the zany dancing, the profligate name-dropping of famous kids characters, for me, this was clearly aimed at children. And in my admittedly small control sample, it worked. There was an obvious adult message included, but the whole aesthetic was definitely targeted at the children’s vote. A bit like Aqua’s Barbie Girl from a few years ago – a kids song with kids references but adult undertones. And this last point made me a little uncomfortable about this song – one of the children in my family is a 5 year old boy. He absolutely loved the song,… Read more »

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Past indiscretions? Patriarchy is still a thing.

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

Not to 5 year olds it isn’t.

Skiwalko
Guest

Well, the songs message isn’t that all men are “stupid boys”, so I don’t see what’s the problem really…
On a side note – Aqua performed “Barbie Girl” on Eurovision stage – coincidence? 🙂

Thunder and lightning it's getting exciting
Guest
Thunder and lightning it's getting exciting

Btw Mélovin has new song Oh, no!…it’s amazing.

Mali
Guest
Mali

i like Eurovision songs, that make me move, or feel something deep inside. Toy does both. Banger dance song with fun chicken sounds and powerful message behind the lyrics, and charismatic performer. TP!

Ana
Guest
Ana

While people complain how ”waky” Toy is, they forget that Israel is a country that has no neighbours to get points from and tends to be ignored even with decent entries. There was no choice but to send something so crazy that no one could ignore it.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Depends. Israel really is the kind of country that needs to bring it in order to break through the blocs. No country can win on bloc voting alone, but even then, you need something next-level to get to winner territory. Last few years have definitely been evidence to that (how else do you explain Austria winning one year and getting zero points the next?)

Ana
Guest
Ana

I’m pretty sure that if Israel would send ”Arcade”, ”Heroes” or other sort of radio friendly song that doesn’t have the ”crazy” factor, it wouldn’t even get into the top 5. Block voting alone doesn’t make a winner, but it helps A LOT

Joe
Guest
Joe

…you sure about that? How much of a bloc do the Netherlands really have? Belgium, Germany, maybe Switzerland? And even they can play hardball (Belgium’s televote gave it 12, but the jury only gave it 6). Their biggest marks mostly came from countries that weren’t even close, like Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Portugal, and Israel themselves. Only France is relatively close. And in the televote, a lot of the highest marks came from Eastern Europe! (Armenia and Belarus giving it ten is pretty much entirely down to the song’s quality). Israel can do well with quieter songs sometimes. The Fire in… Read more »

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Huge. In our faces. Both superb and distasteful at the same time. A really excellent divisive concept, with music that is often underrated. I wonder how it will be seen in 50 years’ time?

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

For the first time in the post-season, the hungry filter got my post. If any moderator can save it, I would appreciate it. A shorter version would be: it wasn’t one of my favorites, rooted for Eleni when it became Cyprus x Israel, but agree with Joe that Israel was a better option. It’ll make more sense if the comment gets published, I promise. 😀

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Second worst winner in this decade, but still better than Fuego.

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

Since my favorites that night had no chance to win, Cyprus’ execution was so infectuous and seductive that I rooted for Eleni during the voting segment. Though I agree with Joe, I think “Toy” sends a better message to future contestants (and I’m not talking about the female empowerment one, which I always thought it was well intentioned, but backed by silly lyrics). It’s disruptive, it breaks the rules, it shows that you don’t have to follow a formula to make a fun pop song. Eleni made it a tough call, but the most creative song won.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

I couldn’t disagree more with Angus! I don’t know how you could even think that. The staging and performance, including the outfits and distinctive movements, was one that stood out and will be remembered for a long time…as evidenced by the Melodifestivalen re-creation this year. It was perfect!

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’m also probably gonna get some backlash for saying this, but I’ve thought it over and I really mean it: Fuego winning would’ve probably been a more regressive move for the contest. Look, I love Fuego, it was spectacular and a cut above most dance songs. But we’ve moved beyond songs winning just due to a good hook and strong choreography. That’s great for the ‘00s and the stretch of wins that started with I Wanna and continued through My Number One. But what’s made Eurovision so great lately is that the wins recently have all had more to sink… Read more »

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

Absolutely. I always liked “Fuego”, but it would have been in many ways the much more conventional choice. No backlash.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I wouldn’t call that regressive. Regressive is when the people don’t get what they voted for. And that would have included Netta, had she not gotten a big enough televote support. “Fuego” certainly made me move out of my musical box. I didn’t even care for “Fuego” when it got released, until I got hooked on the song by watching it being performed so well. I always want songs to have a meaning and reject them if they have no meaning. I saw plenty of meaning in “Fuego”, as opposed to the phony “Replay”. “Fuego” represented a lust for life.… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

I feel that. However, I’d say you’re kind of in the minority there. Fuego was much more in most Eurofans’ wheelhouse than Toy. It certainly was less polarizing – prior to the contest, the worst I heard most people say about it was that it was kind of basic. It was when people got a load of the staging that it got a huge boost.

Skiwalko
Guest

I don’t know. I always had the impression, that while the lyrics were fun and the pop culture references neat, the song treated the Me Too and feminism subject very… superficially. It doesn’t really add anything new to the discussion and is just a standard empowerment song “he’s a stupid boy, you’re Wonder Woman, the end”. Not really a challenging message and certainly nothing subversive to me.

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

I agree about the lyrics, Skiwalko (though they still have more depth than the ones in “Fuego” if we stop to think about it). But I agree with Joe when he says it’s subversive, even if I would use the word disruptive instead. “Fuego” fits every conventional pop music lover taste, while “Toy” can be even confusing in a first listen, since there are unexpected things going on. The videos also made this distinction stronger to me. Which was a big deal, since it was the first contact the fandom had with both entries.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

When I watched the “Fuego” video for the first time, I didn’t like the entry at all. I found the video so tacky, so cold and distant for a song that’s literally called fire. And yet the entry ended up my favorite on the night of the final. The live show was engaging and inviting. Plus, my favorite songs all had performance and staging choices that I was not happy with.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

“Toy” is no lyrical masterpiece – it’s still pop music, after all. Its purpose isn’t to add something new to the discussion, but to translate the discussion into a fun catchphrase.
“Fuego” on the other hand is lyrically strange at best (what was that “pelican” line again?) and visually taps into a very conventional wet dream femme fatale image.

Joe
Guest
Joe

That’s the thing about pop music with a message: it has to convey the message as unsubtly as possible in order to make people understand and support it. Eurovision, in particular, with its many writers who don’t speak English as a first language and might have a harder time being subtle in terms of wordplay and such, goes straight to the point. How else do you get votes? I have a lot of admiration for how Italy can convey the messages of their songs without having to necessarily spell it out for everyone, save for 2018 and a teeny bit… Read more »

Maya G
Guest
Maya G

I completely agree (full disclosure: I’m Israeli). Fuego is a nice tune, the performance was stellar, but if it had won I fear it would have boosted the trend of playing it safe and buying engineered pop songs from Swedish writers. Toy’s performance was quite underwhelming, but it’s a one of kind song that can’t be imitated, written and produced by local talents. Victory of a song like this that manages to appeal to the masses while maintaining its artistic integrity and local flare, could encourage broadcasters to throw caution to the wind and bring something special and different. I… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Every year, it’s the same deal: a conventional but well-performed pop song in second place, and something kind of different in first. Even by those standards, Cyprus elevated a song that was already a bop into a choreographed spectacular and Israel managed to combine a social message, chicken sounds, and vocal loops all into a catchy Mediterranean dance track. It’s a song so wonderfully unique yet so crazy it could be dismissed as just a novelty song, but there’s more going on with it than, say, Dancing Lasha Tumbai or Party for Everybody. It’s powerful, Netta is a fantastic performer,… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

(OK, that’s a lie: 2019 was probably the first time this decade that both winner and runner-up had a lot going on with them, and the original dynamic wouldn’t really start being a thing until 2014 or so.)

Idksmth
Guest
Idksmth

Honestly, I’m torn between saying that Israel was a deserving winner or Cyprus should’ve won. I feel like Cyprus got a better overall package but their song wasn’t as meaningful as the Israeli one. I was really shocked when Netta won the televote because Eleni was the better performance and in the 2 weeks of rehearsals Netta got lost because of the hype of Eleni. I feel like Netta’s victory proved that you need a song with meaning to win the contest and as much as I hate to admit Eleni’s song didn’t really have a message. Personally I don’t… Read more »

KESC
Guest
KESC

Hmm, I liked and still like Toy. It was a fun and catchy song with Middle Eastern vibes. I remember the day when it came out, I couldn’t take this song serious. When I got to know that she was leading tue odds, I was very surprised, cause for me, personally, it has never been a song that was that good to lead the scoreboard. It was a catchy and different song, that’s why it got that much attention. However, unfortunately, Netta couldn’t catch that vibe in the live version. I expected much more from her, the performance seemed rather… Read more »

Skiwalko
Guest

“Toy” sure got a lot of criticism (I think only “1944” could compete here) and she’s the only winner on Youtube, that got more dislikes than likes. It’s not hard to see why though – fans got a bit tired of this song, Eleni hype was unbelievable and the audience expectedly took it as a joke act (if I got a penny for every KFC comment I saw, I would be a billionaire). But, all the prejudice aside, “Toy” is an awesome song. Netta is a talented and charismatic singer and the performance (in large part thanks to the amazing… Read more »

Sam
Guest
Sam

I’ve never been a fan of this song…

khan
Guest
khan

Didn’t deserve to win. Top 10? Sure. But to win? no way. Cyprus deserved it way more.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I was fine with it winning because the televoters wanted it that way and I can respect that. Ultimately, Cyprus was the one that convinced me with their strong performance that year. I prefer both to my own country. Winning the jury vote is an accomplishment, but never ever should an entry placing 13th with the televoters win the whole thing. I really like parts of “Toy”, especially “Look at me, I’m a beautiful creature…”, but the chorus always fell kind of flat for me. While I was never in its corner of strong supporters, I understand this victory.

yodenman
Guest
yodenman

It was certainly different but not in a good way. I personally hated it. It appitamised everything that Eurovision haters always mention. It was a bad novelty song that wouldn’t do well outside the Eurovision bubble. It certainly didn’t chart well in the UK but to be fair it wasn’t alone. I think this song sets Eurovision back instead of confirming the contest as a credible competition of high quality songs. This is the kind of song that the likes of the new Netflix film will love. It doesn’t represent the actual majority of the songs which happen to be… Read more »

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

This still feels too close to properly assess its impact. I loved it when it came out and couldn’t stop listening to it for a few days. Clever composition, powerful vocalist and (no matter what anyone says) great message. I’m glad it won in an exceptionally strong year.
I don’t listen to it as much as I used to, but that may be because I haven’t yet recovered from my initial overload. For me personally “Toy” is clearly one of the most deserved winners of the last decade.

Abdelkadir
Guest
Abdelkadir

And israhell pinkwashing goes on and on…

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

it’s probably hard for you to see your community rejects you and wants you berried beneath the ground while watching your arch-nemesis doing the opposite of what you want them to do, right?

BTW, Israel is such a “pink washing nation” that our minister of Justice is gay. the length “Isra-hell” would go to pink-wash itself.

No wonder Europeans start hating you guys.

James
Guest
James

Not one of my favorites that year but I can see why it won. This is better listened every once in a while, like in festivals, parades, street parties or during a random stroll in the mall department store (which I happened to hear here in the Philippines by chance. Hehe)

With that said, it would have been a true musical experience had the EBU cleared Netta’s looper for her to perform with live.

Thunder and lightning it's getting exciting
Guest
Thunder and lightning it's getting exciting

I just love it!!!!!!!!!!!

SorryBernardo
Guest
SorryBernardo

Netta, too much? 😀