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Israeli Singer Netta's "Toy" Is the Winning Entry for Eurovision 2018

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 13, 2018 19:02

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Netta Barzilai sang Israel's entry for Eurovision 2018 and won with a quirky song that was not without controversy, big and small.

The winner of this year's Eurovision pop song contest was the Israeli pop singer Netta, for her song "Toy."

Netta Barzilai, a 25-year-old performer from Israel, won with a quirky tune that features lyrics of a moderately feminist attitude, with lines such as "Don't you go and play with me, boy."

The song, mostly in English, does sprinkle in a few Hebrew words ("Ani lo buba," which translates to "I'm not your toy") and sound effects resembling a chicken -- hence the song has birthed a hashtag, #Chickensong.

There is also a reference to Wonder Woman, touching upon the fact that Israeli actress Gal Gadot played her in the recent hit movie. 

Eurovision 2018 took place in Lisbon, in its 63rd year as a popular culture sensation. Singers from European countries as well as Australia and Israel competed for bragging rights.

Winners are determined by both popular voting from many countries as well as a jury on the show. Perhaps the most famous winners of past Eurovision contests are the Swedish band Abba (for "Waterloo") and the Swiss singer Celine Dion. 

Netta wore a kimono and had infused other elements of Japanese pop culture in her stage set. She claims that she did not know initially that she had won because she was not wearing her eye glasses and could not see the scoreboard.

Along with her win and acclaim, Israel now earns the privilege of hosting the next year's Eurovision contest.

"Toy" and Netta have generated a certain amount of controversy. She has been accused by some people of committing cultural appropriation, for sampling bits of Japanese culture into her performance (the kimono, in particular, as well as twin bunning her hair).

Other people have posted on social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram, to mock the song's "chicken" noises and also to complain about the fact that an Israeli singer was the Eurovision victor.

Some of the Tweets were accompanied by pro-Palestinian sentiments, and others with anti-Semitic commentary. And there was also commentary on Netta's looks, for she is a plus-size performer. 

This is the fourth time an Israeli singer or group has won Eurovision: in 1978, 1979 and 1998 were the previous wins. Israelis singers also came in second twice, in 1982 and 1983. The 1998 winner, Dana International, made headlines for being a transsexual singer (she was male at birth).

Netta's win this year coincided with Jerusalem Day, rendered in Hebrew as Yom Yerushalayim, as well as modern-day Israel's 70th anniversary. 

Eurovision is an annual splashy spectacle of music, dance, costumes and hoopla. Music fans from all around the world root for their own countries but also cross over when cheering on performers.

While most international competitions tend to be sporting events (the Olympics and the World Cup the most prominent), Eurovision is an example of musical jousting and jostling for accolades. It is fun and loud, emotional in various ways, and a microcosm of global entertainment.

 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 13, 2018 19:02

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Source: People
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