It’s only been a matter of days since Israel topped the score board and pulled their fourth Eurovision win, but we have been inspired to look back to Israel’s lengthy history at the contest and choose some of our favourite Israeli entries. The nation first participated at Eurovision in 1973 and has since participated all but four contests, and for the most part, they’ve been quite a successful competitor. Although there have been some iconic entries over their history, including their wins with Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta, Gali Atari & Milk and Honey as well as Dana International, I’d like to focus on more recent years. Since it’s been 20 years since Dana International won the contest, we’ll start our Top 5 journey here.
5. Teapacks – Push the Button
Perhaps not the first choice of many to feature in a Top 5 of Israel’s best entries, but this performance of Push the Button by the group Teapacks is certainly one of the most memorable, for me at least. Ok, perhaps it’s a bit political, but ironically this song is incredibly relevant in the current global situation. As we have seen at Eurovision, sometimes the most serious messages come from the songs that seem the most humorous and this is definitely proof of that. If we put the message of the song aside, we’re getting an incredibly catchy melody with different styles of music within the 3 minute package. The song also has a strong cultural feel, perhaps not the same Israeli sound we often hear in their entries, but it’s actually more aligned with certain French style, especially with the accordion. The song also features the French language as well as both English and Hebrew. It failed to qualify to the final, but it still remains as one of my personal favourites not only of 2007, but also as one of my favourite Israeli entries in recent history.
4. Moran Mazor – Rak Bishvilo
From the jovial Teapacks to Moran Mazor. It’s a bit of a jump in musical style, but this entry still manages to give me chills, even after all these years. It might be a controversial choice to not pick Shiri Maimon in this Top 5 (spoiler alert) since that was a true fan favourite, but I feel a stronger connection to their 2013 than I do for Hasheket Shenish’ar. They’re both really strong ballads performed in Hebrew, and both beautiful in their own way, but there’s something about the melancholic sound of Rak Bishvilo which gets me every time. The way the song builds over three minutes is textbook Eurovision ballad, and by the second minute, we know we are in for a big ending. It’s unfortunately another entry which failed to make it the final and it still surprises me. Her vocal performance was strong and the song was strong, but clearly it didn’t connect with enough viewers.
3. Harel Skaat – Milim
It was picked to win before the contest, but never quite got there in the end. I’m of course talking about Harel Skaat’s 2010 Eurovision entry Milim. This was one of those songs that has a place in my heart and judging by the YouTube comments, I’m not the only one. Like Rak Bishvilo, it’s yet another Israeli ballad which grows really well over the 3 minutes, and accompanied by a simple stage performance it really makes you focus on the song. Unfortunately towards the end of the song there were a few dud notes which did take away from the overall strength of the performance, but despite that, they still managed to finish in 14th place.
2. Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy
This is such an iconic entry from Israel, and many would agree that this is certainly one of their best entries in recent history. For such a young performer, Nadav comes across as so confident as he performs this absolute banger of a track. It’s the perfect mix of traditional sounds with a contemporary beat. I can imagine being in the arena as that chorus hit, it would be impossible to not get up and dance! I love the energy this brought to the contest, and there were only a handful of others during the 2015 final which brought this same upbeat energy to the stage, making it stand out amongst the others. In the end, it finished in 9th place which is commendable, especially as it broke a four year non-qualification streak!
1. Boaz Mauda – The Fire in Your Eyes
For me, nothing will beat the beauty of this 2008 Israeli entry. Being the first full contest I had watched, I remember hearing Boaz’s incredible voice before seeing him walk out on stage and it was at that moment I fell in love with this song. It has such a wonderful melody, and it of course helps that his voice is very moving. This all combined with the beautiful Hebrew language made for a complete package. Eurovision 2008 had some of the biggest upbeat pop numbers, but Boaz stood out with his strong entry, which was written by Dana International mind you, but also the simplicity of the performance. I enjoy that it still feels very culturally specific to Israel, especially through the bridge of the song which helps break up the song. In the end, the song finished in 9th place!