Category Archives: Israel

Israel has selected: Mei Feingold!

After a few years of disappointing results, despite some stellar entrants and unforgettable personalities, Israeli broadcaster IBA has decided to turn to an internal selection for their participation in Copenhagen.  This year, Israel turns to Kokhav Nolad alum Mei Feingold, who came to national fame back in 2009 as she took the bronze in the televised talent show.  (This makes Mei the fourth veteran of the show to take the stage at Eurovision, following Shiri Maimon, Boaz Mauda, and Harel Skaat.) Read the rest of this entry

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Israel has chosen: Moran Mazor’s “Rak Bishvilo”

After a few years of poorer-than-ideal results, Israeli broadcaster IBA decided to revamp their selection process.  The resulting, reformed Kdam was larger than anything we’ve seen from the country, with 30 songs duking it out in a trio of semifinals and a Second Chance round.  Ten songs proceeded to the Final, where their fates were decided by a blend of jury votes and a public televote.

Tying for the win in the jury’s vote, and coming in joint second with the public, was Moran Mazor with “רק בשבילו” or “Rak Bishvilo (Only For Him)”Read the rest of this entry

New Videos unveiled for France, Ireland, Israel, Turkey, Ukraine…

As the National Final season winds to a close, often times the biggest news to come from the delegations between their selection and Eurovision itself is the release of their Promotional Video.  They might be a simple edit of live performance footage, or they might pull out all the stops and put together something that would make people wish that MTV hadn’t replaced music videos with “Jersey Shore”.  (Or maybe that’s just me…)

Over the past few days, a number of countries have presented their preview clips, and you can expect many more to follow in the coming weeks.  Let’s take a quick look around Europe, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Songs confirmed in Italy and Israel

Over the past few weeks, both the Italian and Israeli delegations have dropped major hints regarding what we’ll be hearing from them in Baku this May.  In Italy, a special jury at the San Remo Festival selected chanteuse Nina Zilli to represent them, but no confirmation was given regarding the song that she would present.  Further east, Nina’s counterpart in Israel, indie-rock band Izabo, had their track for Azerbaijan, “Time”, leaked.  Broadcaster IBA had no comments on the supposed leak, neither confirming nor denying that the song was official.  Well, as we approach the EBU’s March 19 deadline, we finally have more clarity from Rome and Tel Aviv. Read the rest of this entry

Israel: Izabo’s “Time” leaked?

Someone, grab some duct tape and a few towels…it looks like Israel’s leaking!  Earlier this month, Israeli broadcaster IBA announced that they would be forgoing its traditional national selection format, “Kdam”, in favor of an internal selection.  The ethno-indie-rock act Izabo was chosen, and their song’s title, “Time”, was released, but no further details were given.  It appears, however, that a demo version of the song has been spotted on YouTube!

Read the rest of this entry

Israel has Decided: It’s Izabo’s “Time”!

One of the nations whose Eurovision plans appeared up in the air was Israel.  The return of 1998 ESC champion Dana International last year resulted in disappointment (and a number of unfortunate jokes about the state of her “Ding Dong“.)  After originally hemming and hawing over their participation in the contest (as the date of the Final coincides with the festival of Shavuot), national broadcaster IBA confirmed that the nation would, in fact, be competing in Baku.  There had been rumors of a public National Final (or Kdam), but due to logistical issues, that plan was scrapped.  What is a network to do? Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 4)

Ireland: Like them or not, you simply can not deny that Jedward were an unstoppable force at Eurovision.  Even if they didn’t take top honors this year with “Lipstick“, they were really the talk of the Press Center.  From their knee-high Converses to their now-iconic hair, you couldn’t resist this year’s Irish entry.  Even I fell victim to their charms:

But despite the Grimes Brothers’ popularity and infectious energy, they only made it to Düsseldorf by the slimmest of margins; only two points separated them from runner-up Nikki Kavanagh’s R&B ballad “Falling”:

Nikki sang backup for last year’s Irish entry, and “Falling” was written by a team that included Jonas Gladnikoff, who was the composer of “Et Cetera” and “It’s For You“, Ireland’s 2009 and 2010 Eurovision submissions.  Sadly, Jonas and Co. were unable to pull off the three-peat, but who knows what 2012 will bring?

Israel: Speaking of return performances, Dana International was one of five lead artists coming back to Eurovision this year (the others being Dino Merlin, Lena, Zdob si Zdub, and Gunnar Ólasson).  Sadly, she was also the only one of those five to not qualify for the Finals.  “Ding Dong” might have not have been the triumphant return Dana might have been hoping for…

For me, there were two other true standouts in this year’s Kdam.  The first was Chen Aharoni’s “Or (Light)”, which may have had everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it:

Pretty face?  Check.  Slow, moving opening?  Check.  Tempo change?  Check.  Panflute?  Check.  Costume change by an unnecessary dancer?  Check.  A highly entertaining three minutes?  Check!

My other favorite from that night had to be Michael and Shimrit Greylsummer’s sunny French-Hebrew folk jam “Tu Du Du”:

My knowledge of French is pretty rusty, and my Hebrew is even worse (even though I’m pretty sure I hear the words “bottle of rum” and “Bob Dylan” somewhere in there…), but this song never fails to make me smile.  It’s this perfect blend of Middle Eastern tonal structure, danceable club beats, Rybak violins, and Woodstock joy!

Italy: Ok, so any devoted reader of mine probably knows by now that Raphael Gualazzi’s “Madness of Love” claimed the top spot on my own personal 2011 scoreboard, as well as a soft spot in the cockles of my heart.  If you haven’t read my post-Eurovision interview with Raph yet, by all means, check it out!  It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Raphael was chosen by an internal jury during the San Remo Festival to carry the Tricolore for Italy’s return to Eurovision, so we can’t really say who would have gone in his place had he refused.  That being said, San Remo 2011 was full of fantastic songs that would not have seemed out of place for Eurovision.  For example, there was Emma Marrone’s stirring collaboration with the rock group Modà, “Arriverá (It Will Come)”:

I was also a big fan of Anna Tatangelo’s “Bastardo (Bastard)“, Nathalie Giannitrapani’s “Vivo Sospesa (I Live Suspended)“, and Giusi Ferreri’s “Il Mare Immenso (The Immense Sea)“.  I don’t know what it is about these dramatic, female-led numbers, but Italy seems to have cornered the market on them.  Knowing the quality of the entries at San Remo, and seeing the high benchmark set by Raphael this year, I really can’t wait to see what RAI sends us in 2012 (assuming they don’t wait another thirteen years…).

Latvia: Hmmm.  Compared to the National Finals from Italy and Israel, Latvia doesn’t stick out to me as much.  It’s not that it was a bad preselection by any stretch, it’s just that the songs didn’t grab me by the heartstrings and eardrums in the same way that the Kdam and San Remo did.  That being said, Musiqq’s “Angel in Disguise” was a fun number, and possibly my favorite Latvian song since 2005’s “The War is Not Over“.

Speaking of “The War is not Over”, songwriter Mārtiņš Freimanis submitted an entry for this year’s National Selection, but passed away about a month before “Hop” could be performed.  Unlike Iceland’s Sjónni Brink, Freimanis was not going to be performing the song itself (rather, deferring to the group Blitze), but it was still a sudden and tragic loss to the Latvian music community.

“Angel in Disguise” was not the odds-on favorite to go to Düsseldorf; most people were betting on Lauris Reiniks’s “Banjo Laura”:

“Banjo Laura” is definitely enjoyable, but I do have to say that the line “La-la-la-la-Laura the banjo girl/ Who was she? What did she play?” bothers me to no end.  Lauris, you just answered your own question.  She’s Laura, and she plays the banjo.  ‘Nuff said, end of story.

In our next installment, I’ll pick out the best from Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, and Moldova…stay tuned!

A New Version from Israel (plus, Couture!)

As anticipated, Israel has released a new version of Dana International’s self-penned entry for Eurovision, “Ding Dong”.

I was never fully sold on “Ding Dong” to begin with.  It paled in comparison to “Diva” and the rest of Dana’s solid catalog of work.  Unfortunately, this new version doesn’t inspire me to change my mind.  It will most likely be a hit at the Euroclub, but I’m underwhelmed as I listen to it at home.  It feels like the producer decided to throw every audio trick in the book at it, and it makes it feel somewhat dated.

On the bright side, though, Dana and the rest of the Israeli delegation has decided to put one major decision in the hands of her fans: her onstage ensemble.  She has picked a series of off-the-runway designs from renowned couturier Jean Paul Gaultier, and the public is invited to choose their favorite.  (The site is in Hebrew, but it’s still pretty intuitive.  Just scroll down to see the eight options, and vote for the one that flips your switch!  I was a fan of the green woven number, personally…)  Fans might remember that Dana has worn Gaultier designs earlier in her Eurovison career; she famously delayed her victory reprise in 1998 as she changed into a fabulous feathered number:

No matter how the song turns out, Dana will definitely bring a great show to the ESC this year, and letting the audience determine a major factor in the performance just goes to show how much the fans matter to the artists that perform at Eurovision.  Todah, Dana!

Dana International returns for Israel!

Hold on to your hats, people…the Diva is coming back!  The Kdam, Israel’s national selection, was held this Tuesday, and the competition was pretty fierce.  However, it might be physically impossible to “out-fierce” Dana International, who won Eurovision back in 1998.  As I mentioned in my post about Israel last year, Dana is possibly the world’s most famous male-to-female transsexual, and her career has extended far beyond her Eurovision experience.  She has released 8 albums, a few “best-of” collections, and was even one of the judges on Kokhav Nolad, the Israeli version of the “Idol” franchise, for two seasons.

Going up against nine other songs, Dana’s song “Ding Dong” won the ticket to Germany:

This will actually be Dana’s third trip to Eurovision, as she was the author of Boaz Mauda’s 2008 entry “Ke’ilu Kan“.  I have an immense amount of respect for Dana, not only as a former Eurovision champion, but also for having come through the personal struggles that faced her as she made her physical transition.  That being said, I don’t think that “Ding Dong” makes as much of an impact as “Diva” or “Ke’ilu Kan” did back in 1998 and 2008.  The song is fun, and she will definitely garner votes for simply being the ESC legend that she is , but I don’t think that Dana International will become the next Johnny Logan (the only two-time winning singer in Eurovision history).

(As for the other songs in the Kdam, my personal favorite was the folksy, yet funky “Tu Du Du“, by Michael & Shimrit Greilsummer!)

Major Monday Updates!

You would think that after a massive weekend like the one we just had, Eurovision nations would let a poor blogger have a break, right?  But noooooo…

In the past half-day, we’ve had two official songs revealed (Cyprus and Belarus), one Preselection lineup released (Israel), rumors in Russia, and major shakeups in Georgia and Ukraine.   I’ll get to Cyprus and Belarus in depth as soon as I’ve written my pieces on Slovenia and Macedonia, who picked their entries on Sunday, but I can definitely give you the latest news on the Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian, and Israeli news.

Russia has been one of the major Eurovision players over the past decade, not only because of the quality of its songs, but also due to the fact that they are the absolute fulcrum of the Post-Soviet Voting Bloc.  Votes from all over Eastern Europe often go to Moscow, due to a shared sociolinguistic history and culture (not to mention the omnipresent allegations of political voting).  But despite the massive weight of the Russian Bear on Eurovision, we haven’t heard much in the way of their Eurovision plans for this year…until yesterday.  According to rumors, we’ll hear about Russia’s official plans sometime this week.  It seems that it will either come down to an internal selection or a small-scale National Final, with certain artists having been approached to submit entries for consideration.  One of those artists, much to my delight, are the Buranovskie Babushki!  Some of you might remember these singing and dancing grandmas from last year’s National Selection, where their performance (in Udmurt!) of “Dlinnaja-dlinnaja beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee aishon” made my list of favorite Preselection entries.  If they end up going to Germany, I will definitely be making a beeline for the Russian delegation’s cocktail party…instead of vodka and blinis, will they be serving cookies and milk?  I just want to hug them all!


Anyway, from Russia, we jump over to Ukraine, who, as per usual, has decided to scrap their preselection after allegations of corruption.  Some of you likely remember last year’s fiasco, when an internally-selected singer and publicly-decided song was retracted after a political transition, and the winner of the subsequent preselection was rejected due to an early release. (It all turned out ok, though, as Alyosha’s “Sweet People” ended up in 10th place in the Final.)  Confused yet?  Anyway, after a juror on this year’s panel stated her dissatisfaction with the results, and Eurofans from all over the country have called, written, and petitioned in complaint, a second National Final will be held on March 3, with original winner Mika Newton, runner-up Zlata Ognevich, and fan favorite Jamala to compete against each other.  Furthermore, the decision will be made only by a televote, and only one vote per phone number will be allowed.  Let’s hope that that puts an end to this madness, or else I will personally go to Ukraine, grab the Head of Delegation by the ear, and make him pick a random name out of the Kiev Telephone Directory.  (UPDATE!: Jamala has suddenly withdrawn from the second National Final, citing her unwillingness to be associated with a possibly fraudulent selection.  Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall.) (ANOTHER UPDATE!:  And now Zlata Ognevich has withdrawn, too!  So, by default, Mika Newton will represent Ukraine in Düsseldorf…it’s still unknown if she’ll sing “Angel” or a replacement entry, but I assume the news will come soon.)

Next, we’ve got a shake-up in Georgia!  For reasons still unknown, winning band Eldrine has decided to change their line-up.  Lead singer Tamar “Tako” Vadachkoria has been replaced by Sopho Toroshelidze, who sang backup for last year’s entry, “Shine”.  According to my calculations, three quarters of all Georgian Eurovision participants have been named Sopho…is there some sort of regional law mandating this?  Are little girls named Sopho magically imbued with musical ability?  Do Georgian men even sing?!  Anyway, they’ll be filming the music video for “One More Day” next week in Tblisi.

Finally, we’ve got the official line-up and songs for Israel‘s 2011 preselection, “Kdam”, scheduled for March 8.  Ten artists will duke it out for the ticket to Düsseldorf, including Eurovision legend Dana International.  The songs represent a number of genres, and almost all of them are bilingual (either in Hebrew/English or Hebrew/French).  The candidates are:
Adi Cohen – “Al Ahava
KNOB – “Ohev et ze
Chen Aharoni – “Or
Idit Halevi – “It’s My Time
Hatikva 6 – “Hakol Sababa
Niki Goldstein – “Amri itach
Sivan Bahnem – “Kach Oti
Michael and Shimrit Greylsummer – “Tu Du Du
Dana International – “Ding Dong
Carmel Ekman – “El Gagoai

More about Slovenia, (FYR) Macedonia, Belarus, and Cyprus shortly!