She performed her new single “Cuckoo” during Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, receiving the widespread praise that she deserved. While we all knew her strength — from big power notes to her personal story of staring down the haters — fans were touched to see her more fragile side come out through song. The tender number has now been added to Spotify’s Global Pop and New Pop playlists, and won plaudits from Twitter followers and Billboard magazine alike.
And on Friday Netta — Eurovision winner, Israeli icon — released the music video for what some consider her best song yet. The video in some ways reflects what we saw in Europe Shine a Light. Netta performs in a bed with music box accompaniment — but this bed is futuristic and high-fashion. Scenes cut between vulnerable Netta singing her heart out and images of couples questioning whether they really love each other. Netta works a variety of looks — from a coat with very fulsome shoulders to a tuxedo with pink embellishments. It’s all kept tightly within the defined aesthetic, one that’s sleek and somehow vintage, yet very 2020. The video retains the same melancholy undertone from her debut performance in May.
Netta: “Cuckoo” music video
Speaking to Yediot Ahronot last week, she explained the meaning behind the song.
“‘Cuckoo’ is personal because it also speaks about doubts in a romantic relationship,” Netta says, adding that for the last year and a half she’s been in a relationship with Ilan Ben Or, a new immigrant from the US. “We’ve had some rough times because my life is not simple. I met Ilan after I became famous and wasn’t sure whether he was sincere. Maybe because of my past, I always have doubts and this is echoed in ‘Cuckoo’ – do I really deserve to be loved?”
Netta also discussed how Eurovision — and her song “Toy” — changed her life for the better but also for the worse. Two years after securing Israel’s fourth win in the song contest, she says she often feels as if she’s in a prison.
“I sometimes ask myself what the hell is happening, why have I even started with this (Eurovision) and whether I want this or not,” she said. “I was a waitress who used to live with flatmates and grew potatoes on my balcony and then one day I win Eurovision and become the most famous woman in Israel and perhaps even in Europe. All my dreams came true but it can be frustrating [“bassa” in slang, echoing her song ‘Bassa Sababa’]”.
“I got used to being surrounded by people, everyone thought they knew what was best for me – how to dress, what to do and how to manage my career. But once the glory faded, they disappeared.”
One might think that Netta’s interview is a PR stunt. But once you hear how she speaks about her songs after “Toy” — “Bassa Sababa”, “Nana Banana” and “Ricki Lake” — it almost sounds like she’s being very harsh on herself.
“Something wasn’t working there. I love ‘Ricki Lake’ but there was silence after it was released. ‘Bassa Sababa’ was expected to be a huge hit, but it only reached 25 million viewers on YouTube compared to ‘Toy’’s 125 million. I put around 1 million NIS on it (c. €400,000) and I really believed in its message. I felt it was authentic – there is a sentence there ‘Stop, call your mama, Run, tell her I’m a rhino’ – and there is a story behind this. When I was 15, I dated someone and we kept it as a secret. After four months, he told me that he was ashamed of me because his mom had told him that being ‘fat is disgusting…’”
In her interview, Netta says that she’s happy that she didn’t write “Toy”. It’s a reference to Doron Medalie’s controversial comments after her victory in which he claimed that she’d only joined the ride: “It’s not even that far-fetched. I didn’t really want to go to the Eurovision because I was afraid that I would be stuck with [its image].”
Netta also addressed the Covid-19 situation and its effect on her career. “I miss concerts and the audience,” she said. “I also feel the economic crisis but fortunately, my standards aren’t that high and without my mom, I would have probably still lived in my rented flat with my flatmates. I do treat myself from time to time – I just bought shoes from Louis Vuitton which cost NIS 4,000 (c. €1,000)…..”
What do you think? Do you like Netta’s new song? Did you like her other songs?