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