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Facing Westward. Israel’s 2017 Eurovision Entry.

May 10, 2017


“I Feel Alive” sings Imri – which is nice to know, especially when you consider the only other alternative.

The arguments about Israel’s inclusion at Europe are complicated and knotty, and perhaps beyond the scope of the sort of blog I feel like writing today.  The technical explanation involves membership of the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) to which Israel belongs while neighboring Arab nations do not.

Eurovision Europe not only now includes Australia (and we all thought that was going to be a one-off joke now didn’t we?) but Azerbaijan and Armenia – which are both far further from any notional mitteleuropa reference point than Tel Aviv.  Morocco, of all places, competed once in 1980 – but that didn’t work out too well.  Azerbaijan and Armenia are historically associated with Europe as a result of their long association with Russia, which doubtless makes Russia’s absence this year feel slightly awkward for them.

I have mixed feelings about this infinitely elastic Europe.  Europe itself of course has no geological integrity at all – it’s just a way of ascribing a degree of cultural autonomy to the western section of the Eurasian landmass.  But if “Europe” only exists as a norm of value, then is it some qualitative standard to which “backward” Asians are encouraged to somehow aspire?  If everyone can be European – does this mean there’s something retrograde about remaining African or Asian?

Or is some more fundamental reconfiguration of historical inheritance called for – one that recognises that Athens was far far better networked with Egypt and Mesopotamia than it ever was with shadowy Germanic and Celtic peoples to the North and West?

Imri was one of the backing singers helping out with the rather remarkable “Golden Boy” Israeli entry in 2015.  He now has his own place in the sun, and the video is a commentary on this promotion.  In the actual song Imri claims to be of a fragile disposition, just like an “hourglass”.  Why add this peculiar temporal dimension to fragility?  Is an hourglass more fragile than any other kind of glass?  What are the implications of being broken like an hourglass rather than any other kind of fragmentation?

Breaking me to pieces

I wanted you to know that

Every piece broke from you

Breaking me to pieces

‘Coz every time

You come around I feel alive

Now I’m trying I’m trying

I feel alive!

So alive

Like “Golden Boy”, this song is all about Tel Aviv, partly because it is anxious to present Israel as a Mediterranean European nation.  It is set very close to the beach which not only facilitates the presence of young people who dance while wearing not very much but which also reinforces the westward facing nature of the performance.  This is a video that makes Europe look even more like a yearning aspiration.  Something to lean towards.

The song itself is unremarkable enough.  At one point I’m not sure if Imri doesn’t have a Cher-ish (“do you be-LEEIVE”) bit of digital enhancement on a few of the high notes.  I’m not sure if this is legal.  Is there such a thing as an ethical “spirit of Eurovision” and is it capable of being violated?

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

Lithuania’s entry  is flashy… that’s all I can say:

For fresh-faced innocence – Bulgaria’s yer only man:

But if you prefer something jolly and sinister at the same time – you’ll prefer Belarus:

There’s something a bit too tasteful about Switzerland’s entry:

For something superficially a bit “edgy” – try Norway:

Croatia, on the other hand,  offers two voices for the price of one:

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

For youthful angst – Ireland:

Ireland’s entry is, I think, more emotionally involving than Denmark’s:

Right now I prefer cultural nationalism when it isn’t Hungarian:

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

So you might prefer Macedonia:

Or you can “Climb Every Mountain” with Nathan from Austria:

Serbia offers a big ballad about rising and falling and falling and rising:

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

Here, meanwhile, is Omar belting it out for Slovenia:

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:

A man who needs a deal of personal space is this guy from Montenegro:

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:

Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

I’ll be sorely vexed if Finland doesn’t do better than Cyprus

Frankly I’d rather the Czech Republic won – though they won’t…

Belgium looks like a better bet:

But if it isn’t, maybe it will go to Azerbaijan with this…

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Australian entry:

And here’s Albania…



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