But, wait! What is the Eurovision you ask? Well, that is a very good question! The Eurovision Song Contest began as the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon of the EBU (European Broadcasting Union). The Contest was based on Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.
The first Contest was held on 24 May 1956, when seven nations participated. With a live orchestra, the norm in the early years, and simple sing-along songs on every radio station, the Contest grew into a true pan-European tradition. In the beginning, it was obvious for the participants that they should sing in their country’s national language. However, as the Swedish entry in 1965, Absent Friend, was sung in English, the EBU set very strict rules on the language in which the songs could be performed. National languages had to be used in all lyrics. Songwriters across Europe soon tagged onto the notion that success would only come if the judges could understand the content, resulting in such entries as Boom- Bang-A-Bang and La La La. In 1973, the rules on language use were relaxed, and in the following year, ABBA would win with Waterloo. That freedom of language rules would be soon reversed in 1977, to return to the apparent permanent status in the 1999 contest.
In 2015, the Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 60th anniversary. The BBC hosted a grand anniversary show in London, featuring over a dozen former participants. And to honour the country’s Eurovision Song Contest commitment for over 30 years, the organisers admitted Australia to participate for the first time ever.
Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 40 times since making its debut in 1973 and it was very successful, with Ilanit finishing fourth. Israel then achieved back to back victories in 1978 and 1979, with wins for Izhar Cohen and the “Alphabeta”, with the song “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” and Gali Atari and Milk and Honey, with “Hallelujah”. The country’s best results in the 1980s were the second-place finishes for Avi Toledano in 1982 and Ofra Haza in 1983. Former winner Izhar Cohen returned to place fifth in 1985. Duo Datz finished third in 1991, before Israel achieved its third victory in 1998, with Dana International and “Diva”. Eden then finished fifth in 1999. Israel has hosted the contest twice, in 1979 and 1999, both times in Jerusalem. In 1980, the IBA declined to host the contest for a second successive year for financial reasons. Instead, the contest was held in The Hague.
This year Israel is sending Netta Brazilai (that won Israel reality Hacochav Haba to Eurovision) with the song “Toy”. The song was co-written by Doron Medalie that spent much of the last decade, he’s directed Israel’s Eurovision entry, and also wrote three of the songs performed by Israeli contestants, including “Golden Boy” performed by Nadav Guedj for Eurovision 2015 and “Made of Stars” with Hovi Star in 2016. He also wrote “Tel Aviv Ya Habibi Tel Aviv,” and songs for Shlomi Shabat, Eyal Golan, Omer Adam and others. But his intention with “Toy” was to create something different, lighthearted, joyous and catchy. Once Medalie and his writing partner, Stav Beger, found their beat for “Toy,” they began working with the toy theme, a motif that Medalie couldn’t find in any past Eurovision song, much less any pop song in recent history. “That’s a bingo for me,” he said. “And when Netta looks and behaves the way she does, so it turns toys into ‘I’m not your toy, don’t play with me.’ Let’s use toys to say something different about the #MeToo movement.”
Well, I know I have sparked some curiosity in you about Israel’s song for the competition. so here it is for you to enjoy: Toy.
Until Next time…