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!

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Shuester
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Shuester

@Ari Agam, thank you so much for the summaries and video clips! Will they be posted for every episode?

Branko
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Branko

Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for… like copy & paste Phrase in this article, that Judge seems to be very critical though.

Idan Cohen
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Idan Cohen

He is the most accountable out of the 6 judges.
we actually appreciate his words better than the rest.

He is the only one who realizes this is the Israeli national selection and singing well is just not enough. he only votes for wow performances that can go to Eurovision.
the rest still think this is like The Voice, hence the blue every time.

He voted for Netta and Shefita while giving a lot of reds to Imri and Kobi. guess what worked/works better in Eurovision?

sam
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sam

You’re right, but at the end of the day it was the public vote that overwhelmingly went in favor of Kobi. The public sentiment towards him was consistent right from the start. A lot of it had to do with how the production framed Kobi’s background, what it wanted to showcase against what it wanted to conceal (his shyness, insecurity, introversion and the Freddie Mercury look-alike reminder against his already established theater and opera career). Even in Imri’s case, the winning card was the fact that he was a backing singer for the two previous ESC entries, so why not… Read more »

gilpgilpgilp
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gilpgilpgilp

@Sam this was a bubble in Israel that got attached to him as a person. But it had nothing to do with how he would perform at Eurovision, where nobody else shared in his “journey” and he was purely being judged on a 3 minute performance. It was a total fail by the judges to bring him back after he got eliminated and his embarrassing placement at Eurovision is their fault. They should have known better.

sam
Guest
sam

I agree with you 100%, but the production company is more to blame for breaking its own rules and inventing a custom made one for Kobi’s return. Osher Biton (the other singer who was also ‘saved’ by the production) probably knew what his role was in this orchestrated turn of events. As far as the judges go, I do hold Keren Peles responsible for getting completely carried away by Kobi refusing to admit his shortcomings. I certainly didn’t like her disproportional cheer leading crusade especially when she openly admitted (and not for the first time) that she doesn’t care much… Read more »

Idan Cohen
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Idan Cohen

I was defending my favorite judge.
What the public votes and why is beyond me.
at least Netta won in 18′ and not Mergui (insert puking emoji here), that was a close one.

sam
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sam

He’s also my favorite and I appreciate his bold remarks. We need more judges like him because the way things stand now, the line up is far from optimal. We’ll just have to wait and see. BTW, in 2018 the production made sure that there would be at least 15 panels of judges (unprecedented in the show’s history) so that the jury would ultimately give Netta the edge to overcome the public sentiment in favor of Mergui. They were spot on then, they were off the mark this year. 2020? time to reassess things for the better.

Branko
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Branko

Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for… Like a copy & paste phrase, that Judge seems to be critical as **** what’s wrong with him? Is he famous for being a nasty judge only?

dragvision
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dragvision

Justice for Shefita!

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

Justice Shefita, Kitria, Avraham de Karvalio, Daniel Barzilai.
May you all rest in peace in your “Israel in Eurovision” history.
Every single one of you could’ve do better than our winner.
sigh. a new year, a new chance .

NoGeoblocks
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NoGeoblocks

Kobi was by far the best choice. The song and staging we’re not up to par.

Shefita was too politically risky, and the rest were as good or not as good as kobi.

You don’t have to win Eurovision every year..

idan Cohen
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idan Cohen

Eden Alene.

gilpgilp
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gilpgilp

Agree. Dana is good too.

Alon
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Alon

The club Rythem is not a joke act! They were the best .. And eden wasn’t good enough.. Not sure she will win.

gilpgilpgilp
Guest
gilpgilpgilp

Maybe the judges will make the right choice this year after last year’s Kobi debacle. They really screwed it up.

gilpgilpgilp
Guest
gilpgilpgilp

Thank you Ari for the summaries! Eden is going to be hard to beat.

Gil Dadia
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Gil Dadia

There are good contenders this year but i cant see anyone winning eden elena. Eden will win the season, im totally sure about it, and with good song she really can win eurovision for israel once again. She is made of stars

sam
Guest
sam

So is Keteryah, but she came in second like that other singing reality show she was on prior to ‘Rising Star’. I have a feeling we’ll end up with a male singer once again because ever since the show’s been on, only men won the public vote. Netta won the ticket thanks to the jury vote. It’s not just a coincidence because the female vote is likely more dominant than the male one among teenagers and people in their twenties. They make up the largest segment of the population that bothers to download the vote app for the live final.

gili
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gili

IMO eden is a much better singer compared to Keteryah

Joe
Guest
Joe

“Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Alene, and explained that he hasn’t heard of her before.”
…since when did name recognition matter for how you score a vocal performance?

Joe
Guest
Joe

And we ALMOST had a New Yorker in Eurovision, dammit! Ah well. I’ll write that song for San Marino someday and then we’ll be in business.

Maya G
Guest
Maya G

After Eden left the stage Itai (the judge on the right) asked Assaf if he really thought this was worthy of a “Red vote”, and Assaf replied “In Eurovision viewers should fall in love (with an artist) the first time they watch (them)”.
Then Ben-El says “Stop Yapping” and presses the blue arrow on Assaf’s screen, Assaf says ironically “How did you do that? I have this color here?”