For the first time in the Eurovision Song Contest history, it will be broadcast on American television (Logo, Saturday 5/14 at 3pm). Last night, Israel’s Hovi Star was qualified for the Eurovision final in Sweden, after his moving performance of ‘Made of Stars’ made it to the top 10 in the competition Semi-Final. Hovi joins many other successful Israeli performances at the annual European music competition that has been running for over 60 years. Here’re the top 10 performances.
“Today is Israel’s Independence Day and I’m so happy to give the country this little gift,” said Hovi Star after the semi-finals Thursday. “I could never have done that without all of those who texted me and sent me support from home. I can not even describe how much I feel this energy, so thank you everybody.”
For those who missed Hovi’s performance on Thursday, you can watch it below.
While Israel might not be in Europe, it is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, and therefore has been taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1973. In recent years, Eurovision has been ‘accused’ of political voting, and despite the fact that most countries vote for their friendly neighbors,Israel has been doing (mostly) rather well.
Israel has won three times in the competition: the first time was in 1978, starring Izhar Cohen with ‘A-Ba-Ni-Bi.’
A year later, while hosting the competition in Jerusalem, Israel won again with ‘Hallelujah’, sung by Milk and Honey featuring Gali Atari.
But most famously it was Dana International, who took Europe by storm in 1998 and won the competition with the song “Diva”
Throughout the years, Israel sent entertaining, moving and memorable acts that didn’t win but did pretty well.
In 1983, singer Ofra Haza was sent to represent Israel in Germany. She did it with the song ‘Chai’ that had an extra special and moving meaning for the Jewish singer, singing “The People of Israel Live ” on a stage in Berlin. The song ended up at the number 2 spot, and Ofra Haza went on to become an international superstar.
In 1985 Izhar Cohen came back to the competition, representing Israel with the uplifting and catchy song ‘O’le O’le’, that was a favorite to win, but ended up in the 5th spot.
In 1991 Orna and Moshe Datz (then a couple) represented Israel with the very Zionist song “Kan” (‘Here’), representing the country in Italy right after the Gulf war. The song is a love song for Israel: “Here is my home where I was born, here is where my children were born, here is where I built my home.” Throughout the course of the first 45 minutes of the voting, Israel was in first place, but ended up third.
In 1995 the contest was held in Ireland and Israel sent a ballad that became one of the most moving performances of all time. Liora and her song “Amen” moved the audience with her teary eyes singing a verse of the bible “Kol Hanshama Teihalelyah” in a song that was a prayer for peace.
Ten years later Israel almost won again sending Shiri Maimon to Kiev with “Hasheket Shenishar,” an outstanding power-ballad that was so memorable due to Shiri’s powerful voice and revealing dress. Shiri, who went on stage with a high fever, didn’t show any sign of weakness and ended up in the 4th spot.
And last year, Israel was also an audience favorite, as Nadav Guedj was sent to Austria with “Golden Boy,” that held the catchy line “Let me show you Tel Aviv,” which became the competition’s gay fans’ favorite. ‘Golden Boy’ ended up in the 9th spot.
And if you really want to know more about the Eurovision Song Contest, watch this wonderful opening number performed by last year’s winner Mans Zelmerlow, who co-hosts the competition this year with Petra Mede.