The first three episodes of The Next Star for Eurovision has already gotten many fans hyped up, and for good reason. After the opening audition episodes, Israeli media already spotted a few potential winning contenders. While we won’t have an answer to the question of who will represent Israel until January, we have much to anticipate. Because the fourth episode held many surprises for us fans.
Gaya Shaki (87% – Qualified)
17 from Moshav Hadid, Gaya Shaki (referred to as simply “Shaki” during the audition) was instantly noticed for her magnificent hair. She has the word “mother” tattooed because of her love for her mum. She sings around the house all the time and has played the piano from a young age. At her audition, she performed “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. Her performance was soulful and simply blew the jury away. Shaki played the piano and gave a mind-blowing vocal performance. The judges all praised her cool and were immensely impressed with her maturity at the tender age of 17. Shaki achieved a score of 87% (jury 40/40, public 47/60).
Gafna Rahel Pinto (69% – Failed to qualify)
Gafna Rahel Pinto is 24 years old, from Ma’alot Tarshiha — the hometown of Eurovision sponsor Moroccanoil. Gafna’s unusual first name (meaning “her vine”) immediately caught everybody’s attention. She quickly went on to talk about being bullied in school for her weight. Gafna performed an audition song that we’ve heard so many times in recent seasons that it’s become cliché — “Listen” by Beyoncé. However, Gafna’s performance was surprisingly fresh. Her unusual sound was polarising, but even Assaf Amdursky wanted her to pass. It wasn’t enough though, as she only received 69% (jury 24/40, public 45/60). Keren Peles and Shiri Maimon didn’t vote for Pinto. This marks the first time this season a participant got a “blue” vote from Amdursky but a “red” vote from another judge.
Yohai Tsarfati (71% – Qualified)
Yohai Tsarfati, 21 from Netanya, is a singer at the beginning of his career. He thanked judge Itay Levy for sharing a cover he made on Itay’s Instagram story, which Yohai says helped his self-esteem. He performed “Mitga’aga’at” by Nathan Goshen, channelling some of his favourite Israeli singers. Shiri Maimon described his confident stage performance as similar to that of Israeli singer Gal Toren, which is certainly a compliment. He earned a quick “red” vote from Amdursky, but didn’t know whether or not he would make it until the very final seconds of the performance. Yohai scored 71% (jury 32/40, public 39/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Tsarfati, stating poor diction and lack of accuracy as the reason.
Nathan Quatorze (88% – Qualified)
Nathan Quatorze, 18, is a French-Israeli singer and polyglot from Jerusalem. During the pre-audition interview, the hosts thought his mother was the one auditioning, owing to his shy demeanour. When he started talking, we learnt that he’s actually a pretty interesting character. He can play the guitar and the piano, and speaks eight languages (including Mandarin!). He sang “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars. His charismatic, mature performance left no doubt to the judges, who voted him through unanimously. Keren Peles even predicted that Quatorze will make it to the grand final of the show. It took a long time until Quatorze lifted the screen, but as soon as he passed the 70% threshold, the way to 88% (jury 40/40, public 48/60) was quick.
Yuval Beider-Peretz (67% – Qualified as wildcard)
Yuval Beider-Peretz, 27 from Jaffa, is multi-talented. She models for a living, but also got into acting and singing. During the interview, Assi Azar googled her name and found out that she used to be in a relationship with Israeli actor Maor Schwitzer. But that’s not all — nowadays she dates actor Assaf Hertz, who came with her to the audition. She sang “Hakol Ad LeKan” by Amir Benayoun. The judges recognised that it’s a very difficult song to sing, but the performance radiated true emotion. Three of five judges wanted her through, which left it up to the public. Judge Keren Peles described her as being like the herb coriander: many people heavily dislike it, but the ones that don’t dislike it, love it. Her final score was 3 per cent short of the threshold, at 67% (jury 24/40, public 43/60). Itay Levy and Shiri Maimon didn’t vote for Beider-Peretz.
Hosts Assi Azar and Rotem Sela were given the chance to push her through to the bootcamp as a wildcard, but Assi said she’s not experienced enough nor ready for Eurovision. However, he then said it was only a prank, and Beider-Peretz made it to the bootcamp. Notably, she is the first wildcard of this season.
Omer Eliyahu (83% – Qualified)
Omer Eliyahu, 22, hails from the town of Rehovot. It’s a city packed with many popular singers, so the hosts made it clear they’re expecting a lot from him. He looks a lot like 2015 winner Nadav Guedj, so host Assi Azar referred to him as “Guedj” during the interview. Eliyahu, in response, said he gets told that all the time, and later added that they served together in the army. He was released from the army last year, and nowadays works as a singing waiter. He performed “Rak Shelakh” by ESC 2003 entrant Li’or Narkis. He showed his Guedj-y Mizrahi vocals, and the crowd was quick to vote him through. Amdursky thought he is copying other Mizrahi artists, but the other judges praised his ability to replicate the classic beloved Middle-Eastern music voice.
Excerpts from two performances of singers who failed to qualify were shown on the broadcast. Both bits are currently unavailable online.
David Sodi – 28% (jury 8/40, public 20/60)
Galit Fahima – 49% (jury 16/40, public 33/60)
Dor’el Sa’adon (95% – Qualified)
Dor’el Sa’adon, 20, Beer Sheva, is a singer battling with rheumatoid arthritis. He isn’t taking medications anymore and copes well with his situation. He’s been singing since he was four, when he first sang and played guitar with his father. His father passed away when he was nine, leaving him to work on his music by himself. 11 years later, Sa’adon wanted to prove Israel what he’s capable of. He performed “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi and showed his ability to hit difficult high notes. The love for him was unanimous, with all five judges voting him through. All judges praised him and found it hard to criticise any point in his performance. Judges Shiri and Static, as well as host Assi, shed tears during the performance, and Israeli news marked Sa’adon as an early winning contender. His final score was a staggering 95% (jury 40/40, public 55/60).
Who is your favourite of the fourth episode? Who has the most potential? Let us know what you think in the comments below!