The Israeli national selection started off with a massive bang. The first episode of the show, which aired on Wednesday, produced some very worthy candidates for the throne. But as we saw on the next two episodes of The Next Star for Eurovision, the surprises aren’t over just yet. Saturday’s episode saw well-known Israeli singers Eden Alene and Loai Ali sail into the next round, along with a six-piece joke entry and a moonlighting handyman.
Eden Alene (88% – Qualified)
Eden Alene is a household name in Israel. The 19-year-old singer from Kiryat Gat won X Factor Israel two years ago. Since then the Ethiopian-Israeli has released two uncharted singles, and is now looking to take Europe by storm. When the judges announced her name, the crowd went wild, showing that she has lots of support from the public. Just like The Next Star for Eurovision 2017 runner-up Diana Golbi, she auditioned with “Alive” by Sia. She reached the 70% threshold very early on, after just one refrain. She pulled off not one but two key changes à la Anna Odobescu, and got a final score of 88% (jury 32/40, public 56/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Alene, and explained that he hasn’t heard of her before.
Yanai Ben Hamo (88% – Qualified)
Yanai Ben Hamo, 24 years old from Migdal Ha’Emek, is a semi-professional singer. He works as a handyman and hopes to some day make a living out of his singing abilities. The hosts appreciated his light-hearted attitude and showed them that they believe in him. He went on stage to sing the powerful rock ballad “Yesh Ein Sof” by Amir Dadon. His deep, nasal voice and powerful vibrations won the judges’ hearts. Hence his impressive result of 88% (jury 40/40, public 48/60).
Lee Eller (62% – Failed to qualify)
Lee Eller, 29 years old and from New York City, used to sell vegan hairbrushes for a living. She came to Israel when she was 20, and is trying to make it in Tel Aviv showbiz. She decided to sing in Hebrew in front of a crowd for the first time ever for her audition. Her hybrid English-Hebrew speech made her distinctive from other participants. She performed “Sheva Ba’Erev” by Dikla, and her lack of of Hebrew became very apparent. Her performance of the ballad had fans waving phone flashlights in the crowd, but it didn’t suffice. She scored 62% (jury 24/40, public 38/60). Assaf Amdursky and Keren Peles didn’t vote for Eller.
Lali Kolishkin (95% – Qualified)
Lali Kolishkin, 16 from Nahariya, immediately made sure the presenters see her as a rising star. She also chose to excessively flatter host Assi Azar by naming him the “best host of ESC 2019″ during the interview. The hosts identified similarities between her and Noa Kirel and bestowed the alias Lali Kiler upon her. Before going on stage, she said she grew up listening to juror Shiri Maimon and that she’s a fan of juror Itay Levi. The Northerner consciously chose to butter up the whole pack, but her great voice left no room for doubt that she could do well without all that. She sang “Stay” by Rihanna, and started off tamely but opened up as she went. The 16-year-old showed vocal maturity and slayed the scoreboard with an amazing result of 95% (jury 40/40, public 55/60).
Avihu Pinhasov’s Ryhthm Club (80% – Qualified)
Avihu Pinhasov’s grandmother, Sarchi, introduced Avihu to the hosts, showcasing their group as a joke entry. Sarchi is a Bulgarian former nurse who worked for the Red Cross. Her grandson is a comedy musician who recently gained popularity in his homeland with his sextet, the Avihu Pinhasov’s Rhythm Club. He went on stage with battle horn and bagpipe sounds, on a carriage he fell off of. The sextet performed an eccentric mashup of original songs, somewhat reminiscent of Greece’s 2013 song “Alcohol Is Free”. During the performance, Pinhasov went off stage, let judges sing parts of the song and jumped on the jury’s table. The jurors were in a good mood, fortunately, and the band qualified to the bootcamp with 80% (jury 40/40, public 40/60).
Adam Lahav (67% – Failed to qualify)
Adam Lahav, 30 years old and from Netanya, isn’t new to Eurovision. He sang backing vocals for Kate Miller-Heidke at Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. The hosts jokingly told Lahav that he committed treason against the State of Israel for helping a rival country. But, during the audition he attempted to prove himself able to bring pride to Israel on the main stage. He sang a hard rock version of “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé and, while the jury was impressed, failed to qualify. His final result was 3 percent short of the threshold, at 67% (jury 32/40, public 35/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Lahav.
Loai Ali (79% – Qualified)
Druze singer Loai Ali, 28 years old and from Maghar, performed in an interval in Tel Aviv last May as part of the Idan Raichel project. Israeli Mizrahi singer Eyal Golan discovered him back in 2016 and signed him to his record label. He said his goal in the Israeli national final was to represent the bridging between Israeli and Arab culture. It’s been over a decade since Israel sent a song in Arabic, and if Ali wins, we can expect him to perform in his native language. He performed “Tzlil Meitar” by his mentor Eyal Golan with a strong, resonating voice, and reached 79% (jury 32/40, public 47/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Loai Ali.
Ido Kolton (72% – Qualified)
Ido Kolton, a 25-year-old actor from Holon, got his inspiration to participate in the show from recent winners Netta and Kobi Marimi. During his audition, he sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day. His impressive falsetto left Assi Azar in tears, and the jury almost unanimously voted him through within two minutes. English isn’t his native language, but his vocal capabilities are undeniable. Eventually, despite the public’s lack of enthusiasm, Kolton made it to the bootcamp with a score of 72% (jury 32/40, public 40/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for him.
Ram Naim (40% – Failed to Qualify)
Ram Naim, 23 and from Netanya, is a Mizrahi singer and retired footballer. During the pre-audition interview, Assi Azar praised his tidy and confident look. On stage, Naim showed that confidence, performing “Tafasta Li Makom” by Benia Barabi. His stage presence and soulful voice convinced most of the crowd early on, but the juries were unimpressed. He got a final result of 40% (jury 8/40, public 32/60), missing out on the bootcamp by 30 percent. Only Itay Levi voted for Naim. Notably, this is the lowest score achieved so far this season.
Dana Lapidot (88% – Qualified)
Perhaps the most established artist to perform in the national final so far, Dana Lapidot (36, from Beer Sheva) was a very popular singer in Israel during the late 2000’s. Nowadays, she mostly does songwriting, and the hosts claimed that she ‘disappeared’ in recent years. However, the crowd didn’t forget her name and made quite some noise when the hosts announced her name. Even before her performance, the judges made sure everyone knew that Lapidot is a remarkable talent. She proved herself once again, with a powerful version of “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen, reaching 88% (jury 32/40, public 56/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Lapidot.
Who was your favourite during the second and third episodes? Who has the biggest potential to win? Let us know in the comments below!