Netta Barzi­lai to rep­re­sent Is­rael at Euro­vi­sion

The young singer won over the judges – and the coun­try – with her unique style

Jerusalem Post - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - • By AMY SPIRO (Keshet)

Ground­break­ing singer and mu­si­cian Netta Barzila, a 24-year-old from Hod Hasharon, will be Is­rael’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the Euro­vi­sion singing com­pe­ti­tion this year in Por­tu­gal.

Barzi­lai beat out three other fi­nal­ists – Jonathan Mer­gui, who came in se­cond, Riki BenAri who placed third, and Chen Aha­roni in the live fi­nale of Kochav Haba (The Next Star), on Tues­day night. She will be the first woman to rep­re­sent Is­rael at the con­test since 2014.

Barzi­lai will com­pete in the first semi-fi­nal in Lis­bon on May 8, and, if she ad­vances, will take the stage in the fi­nal on May 12.

From her very first au­di­tion Barzi­lai made a big im­pres­sion, par­tic­u­larly in her use of a looper, a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment that recorded and played back her voice in real time. Barzi­lai of­ten per­formed her songs with a twist – a mashup, remix or tempo change – for a to­tally new ex­pe­ri­ence.

A com­bi­na­tion of the show’s judges As­saf Am­dursky, Keren Pe­les, Harel Skaat and Static and Ben-El Ta­vori, spe­cial guests and votes from home se­lected Barzi­lai as the grand win­ner.

There are high hopes for Barzi­lai this year – 40 years since Is­rael’s first Euro­vi­sion win in 1978 and 20 years since its third in 1998.

For the past three years Is­rael has sent a young man to the con­test to sing in English, with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess. Last year’s en­trant, Imri Ziv, came in 23rd over­all, while in 2016 Is­rael’s Hovi Star ranked 14th and in 2015 Na­dav Guedj fin­ished ninth. All three were on hand Tues­day night to help crown Barzi­lai as the win­ner.

Over the com­ing months, a team will se­lect a song for Barzi­lai to per­form on the enor­mous Euro­vi­sion stage in May.

All three of Is­rael’s wins – how­ever long ago they may be – were with He­brew-lan­guage songs. The win­ners in 2016 and 2017 both con­tained por­tions in for­eign lan­guages, but there is no doubt that English has been the lan­guage of choice of most win­ners over the years – in fact He­brew is tied for third place as the lan­guage with the most Euro­vi­sion wins.

Through­out the sea­son, the judges praised Barzi­lai’s mu­si­cal stylings and her stage pres­ence as be­ing well suited to the kitschy and glitzy Euro­vi­sion con­test. So will this be Is­rael’s year? We’ll find out in May.

EURO­VI­SION BOUND: Netta Barzi­lai.

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