Hovi Star with Made of Stars to represent Israel in Eurovision 2016

After a long selection process that started back in December, the Israeli participant artist and entry were decided tonight during the live final of HaKokhav HaBa L’Eirovizion (The Next Star for Eurovision). Israel has chosen Hovi Star and Made Of Stars to represent the country in Stockholm this May.

HaKokhav HaBa L’Eirovizion (The Next Star for Eurovision) is a revamped Eurovision version of reality singing competition Rising Star, the format through which Nadav Guedj, Israel’s participant last year in Vienna, was selected, too. From open auditions and hopefuls being narrowed down to sixteen, then nine, then six, tonight was the time when the four 2016 Israeli finalists battled it out for the chance to represent their county in Eurovision.

The Songs

Out of the more than 100 songs submitted, three were internally shortlisted and were offered to the four finalists. Each finalist had the chance to choose the song they preferred. Their choices, as well as a short description of each rendition, can be seen below:

Ella DanielSomebody Out There

Somebody Out There is mid-tempo dance song requiring strong vocals, which Azerbaijan-born Ella delivers pitch-perfectly in the recorded version of the song.

Hovi StarMade of Stars

Made of Stars has been chosen by two out of the four contestants tonight as the song with which they wish to compete trying to get the ticket to Stockholm. It is an atmospheric contemporary ballad with a characteristic baseline in its introduction. The song builds up as it goes along. Hovi Star, a former contestant of the talent show A Star Is Born, has a distinctive look stylistically, having appeared on stage in full make up. He delivers the song, in particular the difficult big notes in the end, competently.

Gil HadashFollow The Sun

Another poignant, dramatic start and another song about celestial bodies. Think of an Adelesque start before the song progressing into a more rhythmic section and an imposing musical arrangement. Quite classy actually – like the rest of the songs in tonight’s final in fact. Gil is currently serving her military service in the Israeli army.

Nofar SalmanMade Of Stars

It is the Eastern element that has been highlighted in this take compared to Hovi Star’s rendition of the same song earlier on. The musical arrangement is more discreet, though unmistakably Eastern Mediterranean, setting off Nofar’s voice. This is indeed a vocals-based delivery, rich in oriental semi-tone musical phrases delivered by the teenage singer, who allegedly specializes in the genre.

The Show

Israel’s national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 was organized by commercial broadcaster Keshet in collaboration with Tedy Productions after a commission by the outgoing Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which is to be replaced by the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation (IBC).

Contrary to the previous heats of HaKokhav HaBa L’Eirovizion, which were pre-recorded, tonight’s final came live from Jerusalem’s G.G. Studios

The show was presented by Assi Azar and Rotem Sela and opened with a ‘footage’ sequence that, thanks to technological advances in video editing, appeared to be documenting the two presenters’ ‘presence’ as backing vocalists in pretty much every successful Israeli entry – from Halleluja to Dana International’s Diva – to date.

All four participants first appeared on stage singing together a rendition of current Eurovision winner Heroes, complete with a take on the song’s Eurovision 2015 backdrop effects, to great applause from the crowd.

There were two rounds. The format of duels between contestants singing known songs (used already as a format in previous heats) was preserved for the first round. This consisted of two duels, one between Ella and Hovi and one between Gil and Nofar. After each performance, the judges gave their feedback. The winners of each duel automatically advanced to the second round.

The interval act included last year’s Israeli Eurovision entrant Nadav Guedj performing his song Jump. Nadav was soon joined on stage by the four hopefuls singing to Golden Boy, last year’s Eurovision entry.

The First Round Duels

1st duel – Ella vs. Hovi:

Ella sang Happy by Pharrell Williams in her best Amy Winehouse impersonation, complete with a sizeable 60’s hair bun and large hoop earings. Ella definitely pulled this off and got a 67% score from the public and the four member jury.

It was therefore Ella’s 67% that Hovi had to beat. The only male in tonight’s shortlist chose Stay With Me by Sam Smith. Wearing an evening suit and bow tie, Hovi did a very good job and, a few minutes into his performance, managed to pass Ella’s score, thus managing to have the screen in front of him (a major gimmick of the show’s concept) lifted. Hovi ended up with 79%.

2nd duel – Gil vs. Nofar:

Gil sang The Show Must Go On by Queen. Gil attacked the stage with attitude and her close-ups were full of character. She gave a good vocal performance that was nevertheless a tad thinner compared to the previous two contestants. Gill struggled to get a high score finishing at 49%.

Nofar was the only contestant to be opting for a song not sung in English, Mangina by Eden Ben Zaken. The teenager has a beautiful, expressive voice though some high notes sounded vaguely placed. Her face was a bit tense on occasion but this is perhaps to be expected when singing a demanding song. The singer managed to win the duel with 72%.

Ella and Gill were brought on stage for a second chance ticket given by the jury members, which was awarded to Ella. Ella, Hovi and Nofar therefore made it to the second round.

The Second Round

Each of the three qualifiers performed their chosen song.

Hovi StarMade of Stars

Hovi is still sporting his eye-liner, this time dressed in a black long coat with sparkly details on the lapel and hem. His performance is perhaps a bit too concentrated but good. In this version, the song is a little reminiscent of 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst’s 2015 song Out Of Body Experience. The backdrop display consists of moving little panels with different people singing along to Hovi’s song. Hovi gets a 68%.

Ella DanielSomebody Out There

Ella gives a good performance to a song that suits her voice, managing to get the crowd animated. In a little black dress this time, she can be seen by the crowd through a curved monitor behind which she is actually singing. The performance manages to get 58%.

Nofar SalmanMade Of Stars

Nofar looks comfortable in her black trousers/shirt combo on stage and the oriental take is interesting. If that won, it would make for a distinctly Israeli entry. There are musical phrases that hit a nerve even though, somehow, the song sounds more repetitive this time round. The crowd goes crazy as they realize that Nofar has not met Hovi’s score and, therefore, Hovi has won.

The Results

Having won the second round of tonight’s final, Hovi Star is going to represent Israel in Stockholm this May.

contestant song score result
1st Round Duel 1 Ella Daniel Happy (Pharrell Williams) 67%
Hovi Star Stay With Me (Sam Smith) 79% qualifier to 2nd round
Duel 2 Gil Hadash The Show Must Go On (Queen) 49%
Nofar Salman Mangina (Eden Ben Zaken)
72% qualifier to 2nd round
2nd Round Duel 3 Hovi Star Made of Stars 68% WINNER
Ella Daniel Somebody Out There 58%
Nofar Salman Made of Stars 67%

You can watch this year’s Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest in the video below:

Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest

It was back in 1973 that Israel first joined the Eurovision Song Contest and, with three victories in 1978, 1979 and 1998 and no less than twenty top ten placements in 38 appearances, the country has been rather successful. Since the introduction of semi-finals in 2004, results took a turn for the worse however.

Israel failed to qualify for the grand final in 2004 when David D’Or finished twelfth in the semi-final. In 2007, Teapacks missed out on the final as well, and, in 2011, Eurovision 1998 winner Dana International’s comeback kicked off a four year run of Israel not reaching the final.

Last year however, Nadav Guedj did qualify for the final where he pulled off another one of those top ten results the country had been so used to in the past. His song Golden Boy came ninth, after ranking third in its semi-final.

Due to the fact that the 2016 first semi-final of 10th May coincides with Israel’s official Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, the country will compete in the second semi-final (first-half of the show) in Stockholm.

Below you can watch our highlights of Israel’s recent Eurovision participations, which includes Eurovision performances as well as clips from concerts.

Source: EuroVisionary, maco.co.il, Wikipedia.
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