He achieved massive local success representing the host nation at Eurovision 2019. And now Israel’s Kobi Marimi has given fans the follow-up they’ve been craving with “Yalla Bye” — his first single as a solo artist. It marks a surprising and drastic change of style — from the traditional power ballad to an upbeat Mizrahi bop. Our hips don’t lie: We love it!
The design of the cover art features different versions of the Middle Eastern “hamsa” amulet. That hint of a strong Middle Eastern flavour becomes evident from the very first note. Oozing mystery and an intoxicating near Eastern sound, Kobi leads us through tantalising verses filled with regional instrumentation. As your head bobs and your toes tap, Kobi’s deep voice takes us higher.It’s a fresh Mizrahi pop track reminiscent of the Israeli entries from 2008 and 2015.
The Hebrew-language lyrics present the notion of being free to do whatever, and simply not giving a damn. In the catchy refrain, Marimi says: “…and I don’t know if there’s anyone listening, if there’s someone watching over me. I’m not going crazy, I’m going out of here. If you’re looking for me, yalla bye, bye, bye”.
Positive reviews have been pouring in. Part of the joy stems from the element of surprise: This is not at all what the average Kobi Marimi fan would expect. This track erases whatever box was built around Marino owing to his earlier focus on powerful operatic rock.
Because the song is around 3 minutes long, we can’t help but ask the good old question: Did Israel consider this for ESC 2019? Kobi’s poignant, heartwarming “Home” did strike a chord with us, but the Israeli public wasn’t as approving. “Home” only finished in 23rd with no jury points. So naturally we’re all wondering whether this upbeat track would’ve been the jurors’ cup of tea. The only thing we know is that we’ll never know.
What do you think of “Yalla Bye”? Is this change of style good for Kobi? Sound off in the comments below!