After six audition episodes, the hype is now kicking into high gear. The end of the first audition round is in sight, and lots of pleasant surprises still await. But before we set our sights on the upcoming bootcamp phase, let’s round up the latest two audition episodes.
Daniel Ben Haim (81% – Qualified)
Daniel Ben Haim, A Star Is Born 5 semi-finalist, is a 32-year-old Mizrahi singer from Tel Aviv. He took a long career hiatus following his performance at the 2007 singing show and has re-emerged better than ever. Since it’s been five years since Israel’s last Mizrahi entry, the hosts were speculating whether it’s time to try again. Before Ben Haim went on stage, judge Itay Levy told notoriously harsh juror Amdursky: “This time you’ll give a ‘blue’ vote”. Ben Haim then sang “Ve’im Tavo’i Elay” by ESC interval act singer Idan Raichel. While Amdursky didn’t live up to Levy’s expectations, the singer still slayed his way through with 81% (jury 32/40, public 49/60). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Ben Haim.
Kim Kate Rose (49% – Failed to qualify)
Kim Kate Rose, 22 from Bat Yam, made her name in Israel as one half of Kim & Or. The pop duo recently broke up, and the two halves of the duo went to the audition round separately. Since she has the name of a star, the hosts hyped her up, but judge Static got a different vibe from it: “Kim Kate Rose? Kim Jung Un?”. Rose broke up the duo because she wanted to sing hip-hop and Or preferred to Mizrahi music. Here she went on stage and performed “Addicted to You” by Avicii. Her performance was rather unstable, and the score at the end of the performance was only 41%. After it became clear that Rose would not make it, Maimon voted “blue”. Her final score was 49% (jury 16/40, public 33/60). Assaf Amdursky, Shiri Maimon and Itay Levy didn’t vote for Rose.
Or Eddie (77% – Qualified)
Or Eddie, 26 from Haifa, is the other half of Kim & Or. She came to the audition hoping to stand out more than her former singing partner. Mission accomplished. She sang “Barcelona” by Moshe Peretz, a song penned by Dana Lapidot, who’s also a participant in this year’s Israeli selection. Her Mizrahi singing skills took time to convince both the jury and the public. When it rained, it poured, and all judges but one voted for her within half a minute. Eventually, peer pressure mixed with Eddie’s outstanding talent, got the best of Static & Ben El, who voted for her as well. All jurors voted for Eddie, but the public remained unimpressed. Regardless, she made it to the bootcamp round with 77% (jury 40/40, public 37/60).
Yinon Hajaj (80% – Qualified)
Yinon Hajaj, a 24-year-old student from Tel Aviv, wants to become an estate agent. His mother fell in love with Assi Azar and confessed it during the audition, but this love story wasn’t meant to be. Hajaj has been singing as a hobby for a while, but dreams to make it a profession. With hopes of representing Israel in Rotterdam, he sang “Tagidi Lo” by Uzi Hitman. His composed performance and accurate delivery helped him sail through to the bootcamp round. He passed the threshold quickly and eventually reached 80% (jury 32/40, public 48/60). Itay Levy didn’t vote for Hajaj.
Oneg Israel (80% – Qualified)
Oneg Israel, 23 years old, is a semi-professional singer. She teaches vocal training and sings at weddings. The only thing the hosts managed to focus on at the beginning of the audition, however, was her name. Her first name Oneg, which translates to “delight” or “pleasure” in Hebrew, is very rare and unusual. But what adds to it, for obvious reasons, is that her last name is Israel. But, after Israel started singing, nobody was talking about her name. Israel sang “Turning Tables” by Adele, showed brilliant vocal control and definitely stood out from the pack with a score of 80% (jury 32/40, public 48/60). Itay Levy didn’t vote for Israel.
Barack Biton (48% – Failed to qualify)
Barack Biton, 28 from Tel Aviv, is a singer and dancer, originally from Moshav Tidhar. He has previously released music that unfortunately didn’t fare well in the charts. His birthplace, Moshav Tidhar, is located near the Palestinian border and he shared some haunting memories from times of war. Because judge Shiri Maimon and Biton are associated acts, Maimon did not have a voting right in this audition. He sang “Livkhor Nachon” by Amir Dadon and started off well but accidentally messed it up by changing the key. Even though the public vote was quite supportive, the judges didn’t approve, and Biton only achieved a score of 48% (jury 8/40, public 40/60).
Ofer Naveh (72% – Qualified)
Ofer Naveh, from Ramat Gan, came to the audition with plenty of confidence. He studied music engineering and producing, but never focused on what he really wants to do. During the audition interview, Naveh spoke a bit too much about himself, which led host Assi Azar to say “he’s eating [our] head with a spoon”. He wants to be a singer first and foremost, but he performed “Laisse-moi T’aimer” by Mike Brant. His falsetto notes and nonchalant behaviour convinced the judges, but the public votes took a long time to trickle in. His voice was immediately reminiscent of Mika, and the judges all had positive things to say about it. Ultimately, he made it to the bootcamp with 72% (jury 32/40, public 40/40). Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for Naveh.
Shira Tsafari (58% – Qualified as wildcard)
Shira Tsafari, 18, only started singing two years ago, but is ready to kickstart her career. She’s a rock fan with massive hair who lives in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. She went on stage and performed “Karma Police” by Radiohead, a song last year’s runner-up Shefita previously covered. She hit impressive notes and showed an intriguing vocal tone, but the judges thought it wasn’t for Eurovision. Tsafari received a score of 58% (jury 24/40, public 34/60). Static & Ben El and Assaf Amdursky didn’t vote for her.
However, hosts Assi Azar and Rotem Sela agreed that Shira’s talent is a force to be reckoned with. They both agreed that even though it’s not the type of voice you usually see at ESC, she deserves to go through. And so, she made it to the bootcamp round.
Judah Gavra (33% – Failed to qualify)
Judah Gavra, our favourite New York City babe, is a singer, bartender and personal trainer. He’s not new to Eurovision national finals, having participated in Kdam 2013 and 1in360. He’s currently in Albania, where’s he’s made the final of the prestigious Kenga Magjike contest. He came to the audition wearing an undervest that shows his muscular arms and performed Queen’s “Somebody to Love”. While the public votes came in pretty early on, the jury gave up their chance to let the handsome Israeli-American go through. He hit some impressive high notes, but the hosts decided not to save him, and he only received 33% (0/40 jury, 33/60 public). No judges voted for Gavra. Notably, this is the lowest score achieved this season.
Galit Weitzman (77% – Qualified)
Galit Weitzman, 45 from Nahariya, is a single mother of two. She works as an assistant to the teacher at a local kindergarten. She has a vibe similar to 2018 finalist Riki Ben Ari, and hopes to achieve the same success. On stage, Weitzman gave an explosive version of “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. Her powerful voice took time to convince both the public and the jury, but the votes slowly came in. At the end of the performance, the scoreboard stopped at 69%. But Assaf Amdursky, who wasn’t very fond of the performance, said the average Eurovision fan would want a diva like her through. Finally, he voted for her, and she qualified to the bootcamp with 77% (jury 40/40, public 37/60).
Who was your favourite of the episode? Who was the most winning potential? Let us know in the comments!