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Netta wins Eurovision Song Contest for Israel

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On Saturday, Israel won its fourth victory, first since 1998, at the Eurovision Song Contest, held at Lisbon's Altice Arena in Portugal. Netta Barzilai's song Toy won 529 points from public and professional judges. Cyprus and Austria finished second and third respectively with 436 and 342 points.

Netta at a Eurovision event on May 6.
Image: Dewayne Barkley for EuroVisionary. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Out of 43 countries participating this time, 26 countries including hosts Portugal and the Big Five — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — competed in the finals. The competition began on May 8. Spain and United Kingdom finished in the bottom five while the hosts and last year's winners, Portugal, ended up at the bottom of the vote ranking; collecting respectively 61, 48, and 39 points.

Israel won the first semi-final round with 283 points. The 25-year-old Netta won the HaKokhav HaBa competition earlier this year to represent the country in this contest. Netta performed Toy, written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger, with a Chicken Dance and chicken noises. With a lot of scat singing involved, the song lyrics included, "I'm not your toy; you stupid boy". Her performance included 112 Maneki-nekos, Japanese beckoning cats used as lucky charms, which were placed in two shelves.

Apart from the Japanese Maneki-neko dolls, Netta wore a kimono; a Japanese dress, styled her hair in two buns as well as referenced Pokémon, a Japanese anime and video game, in her song, which led to some people including Portuguese writer Joana Ramiro to point out cultural appropriations in her performance. "Can I, however, ask if anyone here has already commented on the quite shocking Japanese cultural bastardisation-appropriation going on in Netta's song?", Ramiro tweeted.

Shortly after the contest began, last year's winner Salvador Sobral called Toy "a horrible song". In an interview with Wiwibloggs, Sobral said, "YouTube thought I would like the Israeli song. I opened it and a horrible song came out of it." After winning the contest in Ukraine last year, Sobral had said, "We live in a world of disposable music; fast food music without any content. I think this could be a victory for music with people who make music that actually means something [...] Music is not fireworks; music is feeling. So let’s try to change this and bring music back." Toy's performance used strobe lighting and quirky noises.

After Netta was declared the winner, she said, "Thank you so much for choosing different. Thank you so much for accepting differences between us. Thank you for celebrating diversity. Thank you. I love my country. Next year in Jerusalem." Previously, Israel won the contest in 1978 and 1979, and 1998.

UK's artist SuRie, who performed Storm, was interrupted in her performance when a stage invader snatched her microphone. UK was given another chance to perform, but SuRie declined after discussing with her team. SuRie said, "We had that conversation, but I was really proud of that performance." "You don't get to do the 100m sprint at the Olympics again because your shoelace is untied or something. You had that one shot and that was my moment, and we didn't need to repeat that [...] We had those conversations backstage, I saw the reaction and faces of my team, who were very proud of the recovery and the power of that, and we didn't need to go again", the British singer added.

As the winner of this edition of the competition, Israel is to host next year's competition. Last year, then 27-year-old Salvador Sobral won the competition, receiving 758 points for the song Amar Pelos Dois, a ballad written by his sister.

For the preparations of next year's contest, Israeli Deputy Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman wrote a letter to Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev asking shabbat, the Jewish holy day to rest, not to be violated. In the letter, he wrote, "In the name of hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens from all the populations and communities for whom Shabbat observance is close to their hearts, I appeal to you, already at this early stage, before production and all the other details of the event has begun, to be strict [in ensuring] that this matter does not harm the holiness of Shabbat and to work in every way to prevent the desecration of Shabbat, God forbid, as the law and the status quo requires". Last year, he submitted resignation after Jewish workers were made to undertake railway work on shabbat. That time, both Israeli welfare minister Haim Katz and Israeli transportation minister Yisrael Katz expressed potential threat to passengers if the railway work was postponed.



Order Country Artist(s) Song Music & lyrics Total points Ranking
01 🇺🇦 Ukraine Mélovin Under the Ladder Mélovin & Mike Ryals 130 17
02 🇪🇸 Spain Amaia & Alfred Tu canción Raul Gomez Garcia, Sylvia Ruth Santoro Lopez 61 23
03 🇸🇮 Slovenia Lea Sirk Hvala, ne! Lea Sirk, Tomy DeClerque & Lea Sirk 64 22
04 🇱🇹 Lithuania Ieva Zasimauskaitė When We're Old Vytautas Bikus 181 12
05 🇦🇹 Austria Cesár Sampson Nobody but You Sebastian Arman, Cesár Sampson, Joacim Persson, Johan Alkenäs, Borislav Milanov 342 3
06 🇪🇪 Estonia Elina Nechayeva La forza Mihkel Mattinsen, Timo Vendt & Elina Nechayeva, Ksenia Kuchukova 245 8
07 🇳🇴 Norway Alexander Rybak That's How You Write a Song Alexander Rybak 144 15
08 🇵🇹 Portugal Cláudia Pascoal O Jardim Isaura 39 26
09 🇬🇧 United Kingdom SuRie Storm Nicole Blair, Gill Lewis, Sean Hergreaves 48 24
10 🇷🇸 Serbia Sanja Ilić & Balkanika Nova deca Aleksandar Sanja Ilić, Tatjana Karajanov Ilić & Danica Krstajić 113 19
11 🇩🇪 Germany Michael Schulte You Let Me Walk Alone Michael Schulte, Thomas Stengaard, Katharina Müller, Nisse Ingwersen 340 4
12 🇦🇱 Albania Eugent Bushpepa Mall Eugent Bushpepa 184 11
13 🇫🇷 France Madame Monsieur Mercy Emilie Satt, Jean-Karl Lucas 173 13
14 🇨🇿 Czech Republic Mikoláš Josef Lie to Me Mikoláš Josef 281 6
15 🇩🇰 Denmark Rasmussen Higher Ground Niclas Arn, Karl Eurén 226 9
16 🇦🇺 Australia Jessica Mauboy We Got Love Anthony Egizii, David Musumeci & Anthony Egizii, David Musumeci, Jessica Mauboy 99 20
17 🇫🇮 Finland Saara Aalto Monsters Saara Alto, Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Ki Fitzgerald 46 25
18 🇧🇬 Bulgaria Equinox Bones Borislav Milanov, Joacim Persson, Brandon Treyshun Campbell, Dag Lundberg 166 14
19 🇲🇩 Moldova DoReDoS My Lucky Day Philipp Kirkorov & John Ballard 209 10
20 🇸🇪 Sweden Benjamin Ingrosso Dance You Off MAG, Louis Schoorl & K Nita, Benjamin Ingrosso 274 7
21 🇭🇺 Hungary AWS Viszlát nyár Dániel Kökényes, Bence Brucker, Áron Veress, Soma Schiszler & Örs Siklósi 93 21
22 🇮🇱 Israel Netta Barzilai Toy Doron Medalie, Stav Beger 529 1
23 🇳🇱 Netherlands, The Waylon Outlaw in 'Em Waylon, Ilya Toshinskiy, Jim Beavers 121 18
24 🇮🇪 Ireland Ryan O'Shaughnessy Together Ryan O'Shaughnessy, Mark Caplice, Laura Elizabeth Hughes 136 16
25 🇨🇾 Cyprus Eleni Foureira Fuego Alex Papaconstantinou, Geraldo Sandell, Anderz Wrethov, Viktor Svensson, Didrick 436 2
26 🇮🇹 Italy Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro Non mi avete fatto niente Ermal Meta, Fabrizio Moro, Andrea Febo 308 5

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