Now that the National Finals season is finished and all songs for Eurovision 2016 have been selected we now have a period of around 3 weeks where we wait for the rehearsals to begin in Stockholm. What better way to fill the time than to look back over the 60 years of Eurovision at some of the best and worst entries that countries have sent to the Eurovision stage. There are 43 countries going to Stockholm to take part in the 2016 edition of our favourite musical extravaganza and we continue our journey with Israel who have won the contest three times, finished second twice and third once. They have also finished in the top 10 another thirteen times. They have never finished last but have failed to qualify from the Semi Final on six occasions with their lowest place being 24th. This has all been achieved in 38 participations. You can check out the previous articles in the best and worst series for Ireland HERE ,Spain HERE, Austria HERE, Bosnia & Herzegovina HERE, Iceland HERE, Belarus HERE, Denmark HERE, Georgia HERE, Germany HERE, Cyprus HERE, Finland HERE, Belgium HERE, Hungary HERE, Switzerland HERE, Ukraine HERE,Moldova HERE, Estonia HERE, Norway HERE, Italy HERE, Slovenia HERE,The Netherlands HERE, Armenia HERE, Azerbaijan HERE and San Marino HERE.
So this year Israel are represented by Hovi Star with the song ‘Made of Stars’. We will have to wait and see if it turns out to be more of a best or worst song for Israel but the overall reaction is fairly mixed so far. You can catch up on our recent article revealing Hovi getting to Eurovision HERE.
So my selections for best and worst entries are based on a combination of actual results and personal taste. Now Israel have only thirty eight entries to choose from making the task a lot harder. There are many great songs from Israel over the years especially some of the earlier ones and this may be reflected in my selections here. I will be able to choose three songs I deem to be the worst but am at a loss to choose three best ones. So I will highlight three in particular and many of the others I will mention as a tribute to the many great songs we have seen from Israel.
We do have to go back in time near twenty years to find our first song that is one of the best for Israel. The year was 1998 and we were in Birmingham to see Dana International singing the song ‘Diva’.
Now Dana International is the stage name of Sharon Cohen. Born a male she came out as transgender at an early age and became a trans woman from the age of 13 and underwent reassignment surgery in 1993. After an early pop career in Israel she was chosen to represent her country with Diva. The song was sung entirely in Hebrew and was the last song to be performed with a live orchestra during the winning reprise at Eurovision. It also had the unusual distinction of winning the contest the year after Israel did not compete. It won with 172 points.
So moving along we look at one of the worst entries for Israel. We were in Stockholm in 2000 to see PingPong perform the song ‘Sameach’.
Now the song was sung with a mixture of Hebrew and English by the pop quartet. The song lyrics mentioned a friend from Damascus who dates an Israeli girl. During the performance, despite being sanctioned by the IBA, they pulled out a Syrian flag live on stage as a protest. However the voters in Europe clearly were not impressed and it ended in 22nd place with 7 points.
So now we move back to look at another best of entry for Israel. We were in Munich in 1983 and the performer was Ofra Haza with the song ‘Hi’.
Now the song is a moderately up tempo number. It had reference to the survival of the Jewish people no matter what and was rather controversially apt given it was performed on German soil and also in the city where the Olympic massacre took place. Ofra was a very popular artist in Israel and went on to greater success Internationally too after appearing at Eurovision. The song came 2nd with 136 points. Haza died at the age of 42 cutting short a promising career.
Our next song that has to be considered one of the worst was in the year 2001 and we were in Copenhagen to witness Tal Sondak singing ‘En Davar’.
This was a typical Israeli song really with a singer backed by five singers and all group strutting around the huge stage. But for me it fell a bit flat. The song is a ballad, with Sondak singing to his lover and telling her that whatever is troubling her should not be dwelled upon. Rather, he tells her, she should let the words of his song wash away her troubles. It managed to finish in 16th with 25 points.
So onto our last song that was one of Israel’s best. It was in 2005 and Kiev was witness to seeing Shiri Maimon perform with the song ‘HaSheket SheNish’ar’.
Now starting with the song it was sung in English and Hebrew. It was a classy power ballad that deals with Maimon’s realisation that her lover has been unfaithful and her decision to leave him as a result. She seems unsure about what to do next and muses on “the silence that remains”. It finished in 7th place in the Semi Final and went on to finish 4th in the Final with 154 points.
We now arrive at the last song for Israel and it’s another of the worst ones. In 2006 we saw Eddie Butler in Athens with the song ‘Together We Are One’.
It was a song that for the first time contained no Hebrew in the title but was sung in English and Hebrew. The song also had a heavy gospel influence and was compounded by having backing singers and a pianist to accompany him. Now Eddie originated from Chicago but moved to Israel with his family when young. He already had represented Israel in the group Eden in 1999. But this time he wasn’t as successful finishing in 23rd place with only 4 points.
So I have mentioned 3 best of songs above but also have to mention the following entries for Israel as all being great entries too.
2010 Harel Skaat with ‘Milim’.
1978 Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta with ‘A-Ba-Ni-Bi’ which gave Israel their first win.
2015 Nadav Guedj with ‘Golden Boy’.
1985 Izhar Cohen with ‘Ole Ole’.
1992 Dafna Dekel with ‘Ze Rak Sport’.
1979 Gali Atari & Milk and Honey with ‘Hallelujah’ which gave Israel their second win in a row.
1982 Avi Toledano with ‘Hora’.
1990 Rita with ‘Shara Barkhovot’.
So there we have it folks, my little delve into Israeli Eurovision history and some of the best and worst moments over the years. Do you agree with all or even any of my choices? Feel free to comment below.
This series will continue with another look at songs over the years for each and every country competing in Eurovision 2016 so keep coming back for more reflections of the best and worst that Eurovision has had to offer us.
Author: Andrew Main
Source: Eurovision Ireland