The first episode of the Israeli national selection, Next Star for Eurovision, premiered on Wednesday night. As expected, it’s already given us some major contenders and dished out some pleasant surprises. The first episodes will focus on the initial auditions. As usual, the five jurors each account for 8% of the final result, while the public makes up 60% of the score. On the show, four participants advanced to the bootcamp and three failed to qualify. You can watch the full episode here.

Ella-Lee Lahav (96% – Qualified)


Ella-Lee Lahav is a 16-year-old singer from Shoham. She has the first name of a star, but until recently she went by simply Ella. During the first auditions, Lahav performed “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace. In recent days, Israeli news reported her as a leading contender to win the selection. Lahav has a fun attitude, and the judges praised her unique and humble persona. Unsurprisingly, she won 96% (jury 40/40, public 56/60) and qualified to the bootcamp. Notably, at the time of this performance, this was the highest audition score since The Next Star for Eurovision 2018.

Ilor Bar (67% – Failed to qualify)


Ilor Bar, 28 and from Ramat Gan, said she wants a performance like Eleni Foureira’s at Eurovision. She had already imagined herself performing in Rotterdam even before getting on stage. She chose to audition with “Power” by Little Mix. She hit some impressive high notes, but only amassed 67% (jury 24/40, public 43/60). Keren Peles and Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Bar.

Ohad Shragai (88% – Qualified)


Ohad Shragai, 36 from Kfar Saba, wrote Israel’s last entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. “Home”, the song he penned together with Israeli singer LUKAH, received a lot of criticism in his homeland. However, he’s putting the negativity behind him and moving on as a performer. He lost to Diana Golbi in the final of A Star Is Born 8 a decade ago. He played a down-tempo, soft piano version of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston. The crowd roared during the very first seconds of the performance, and he instantly made his mark on the contest. Shragai eventually collected a total of 88% (jury 40/40, public 48/60).

Noa Maman (60% – Failed to qualify)


Noa Maman, 23 from Qiryat Ata, stood out instantly for her bubbly attitude and love for well-designed eyebrows. She came to the first audition with her eyebrow designer and best friend. She performed “Khayati” by Nasreen Qadri. Her hoarse vocals and Mizrahi touch comprised a cohesive first audition. However, she failed to impress both the judges and the public, receiving a total score of 60% (jury 24/40, public 36/60). Shiri Maimon and Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Maman.

Raviv Kaner (93% – Qualified)


Raviv Kaner, 25 years old from Ness Ziona, immediately shared his status as a Bradley Cooper doppelganger. Aside from that, the first thing one notices is his height and tattooed muscles. Later, he revealed that he fought in Protective Edge Operation in the Gaza Strip in 2014, and shared a personal tragedy. Four of his close friends from the army were casualties in the operation. He went on stage, explaining that his tattoos are to commemorate his fallen friends. He performed a soulful rendition of “Angels” by Robbie Williams. He then received a score of 93% (jury 40/40, public 53/60).

Daniel Ben Efrayim (72% – Qualified)

Daniel Ben Efrayim, aged 20 from Tel Aviv, is an upcoming singer notable for her heterochromia. For her first audition, she chose to perform “Neshima” by Shiri Maimon. While her performance was impressive and poignant, she didn’t qualify that easily. At first, her result was 56% — 14 points below the threshold, but two jurors were yet to vote. The choice was eventually in the hands of ESC 2005 participant Shiri Maimon, the original singer of “Neshima”. So, she qualified with 72% (jury 32/40, public 40/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for her.

Orr Amrami-Brockman (97% – Qualified)


Orr Amrami-Brockman is a Ukrainian-born singer, aged 16. Nowadays he resides in Tel Aviv, with his two adoptive fathers. From the beginning, he seemed like a young, fun character with a lot to offer. But his audition interview was spent on discussions about his family and life story. His unusual last name comes from his two fathers’ different heritages, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi. He performed “Ma Ata Rotse Mimeni” by Hanan Ben-Ari. The audition was powerful and explosive and won a staggering 97% (jury 40/40, public 57/60). Consequently, this score matched the highest result ever achieved in the history of the show.

Who is your favourite so far? What surprises are you looking forward to? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Tee
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Tee

Shragai is in Elai Botner’s band, and has an annoying voice. Orr Amrami Brockman was amazing singing “what do you want from me” (ma ata rotze mimeni”. There’s a clip of the original singer watching him sing it and wowed.

La Signora
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La Signora

I like ginger boy a lot

Dave
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Dave

Just send a song in Mizrahi style and you’ll win Eurovision again.

Erasmus
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Erasmus

Ella is my favourite so far. She has a really “modern” voice, which could be paired with a Alan Walker kind of song.

Gil Dadia
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Gil Dadia

Wow..only first episode and already several potential winners…ella li, or, ohad are very good

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

another thing i gotta say is that from hebrew names, i can never tell whether issa man or a woman. ‘daniel’ is a girl, who would’ve thot? the other day i e-mailed an israeli company n a certain limor replied, i’m still wondering if issa he or a she

Raoul
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Raoul

Limor is a she.
Daniel started as a male name but is unisex nowadays (think Danielle).

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

i didn’t know in israel gays could adopt whew yet another place more progressive than my western european country

Roy Moreno
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Roy Moreno

Well, it’s not easy, probably even impossible here (or nearly impossible, can’t remember)
It’s usually in another country

Tee
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Tee

He was adopted inside Ukraine. So they just had to bring him back to Israel., which would be easier than adopting from in country.

Amor
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Amor

I don’t know about adoption but I know that gay marriage is a little weird there. I think that if you get married in another country where is legal, you can cone back to Israeland your marriage will be recognized. I think that’s right but I can be wrong.

Joe
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Joe

Israel’s not resting on its laurels after a win and a hosting gig – they’re still bringing in some serious talent! Ella-Lee, Ohad, Orr, and Daniel are my favorites so far, but obviously we’ve got a long way to go.

Mr Vanilla Bean
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Mr Vanilla Bean

I only watched Orr’s clip and I think he would make a great Eurovision representative for Israel. I find it really awful that everyone keeps on babbling on while he is singing, though. Such a nuisance.

Evan
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Evan

Yeah- the talking is a great illustration of the problem with these reality singing TV competitions: the judges are the stars of the show, not the contestants. I’d say this is why so few actual stars come out of them.

Mr Vanilla Bean
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Mr Vanilla Bean

Indeed. Do people actually like these intrusive characters? Because the only one I liked in Orr’s performance video was Orr himself.

Sam
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Sam

I think this show reflects some very Israeli qualities: the commercial TV culture is loud, talkative and lacks a sense of accountability, but on the other hand there is warmth, liveliness and a sense of familiarity. Once the public broadcaster delegated the Eurovision selection process to a commercial broadcaster a few years ago, the ethics of the procedure is rather questionable because there is no transparency other than that 70% threshold. Since the show is recorded well in advance, the production can get a sense of the public pulse and manipulate the editing and the outcome of future episodes. No… Read more »

Frisian esc
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Frisian esc

Bruhh, i just watched 4 full minutes of the judges talking to ella-lee and then the video just ended at the start of the singing.

Frisian esc
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Frisian esc

Same thing with orr -_- the two best auditions. Very lame

Mr Vanilla Bean
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Mr Vanilla Bean

I thought the same when I watched Orr’s clip, but after it ended, there came a second clip with his singing sequence.