Michael Ben David
It’s easy to think that fake news and the information wars are new. Well I’ve got news for you, sunshine.
During its showing the 1978 contest, Jordanian broadcaster JRTV decided to replace the performance of the Israeli entry with pictures of daffodils.
Then, three quarters of the way through the voting when it was clear that they were cruising towards a win with their classic “Ah! Barnaby!” JRTV yanked the broadcast, cut to the news, and falsely announced that the winner was… Belgium!
That’s the thing about fake news. When you stop and think for a minute, it’s just so unbelievable.
Now for most years after that big win, Israel’s entry has just been a downbeat ballad in Hebrew, but it’s all fun and games when they deviate from the blueprint.
In 2000 their entry PingPong waved Syrian flags during a rehearsal of their song “Sameach” (Be Happy) in what was apparently a symbolic gesture to promote peace. The song’s lyrics mention an Israeli girl with a boyfriend in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the music video sees her channel her yearning for him by indulging in suggestive acts with fruit and vegetables, outraging the more conservative sectors of Israeli society. The locals went absolutely cucumbers and the IBA ended up having to pull all support, although that may also have been because the song itself there on the night was an absolute shovel of tuneless shite.
More ballads for years, but then I think we can all remember that moment in 2015 when Nadav Guedj appeared with his big golden boots and delivered a massive party banger about being the King of Fun. “Before you leave let me show you Tel Aviv” he said, and then did in 2019, after which Armenia, Belarus, Hungary and Montenegro then did leave.
We were there because of that chicken song. Not Ireland 2008 (that was a much drier bird) and nor was it the 1986 rubber puppets summer holiday parody of disco songs literally called The Chicken Song, (to which I sold photocopied lyrics for 10p a go in the playground, including the lyrics to the anti-apartheid B-Side as a bonus, which didn’t half baffle Mrs Garbutt after break when 3C starting singing it), I mean Netta Barzilai’s funny chicken noises song “Toy”, a #MeToo movement anthem whose chorus went “I’m not your toy, you stupid boy”.
This year’s hopeful is Michael Ben David, the most recent winner of “The X Factor Israel” where one of the judges was Netta. To read the press release you’d think that we are in Hebrew ballad territory again – Michael’s raw, “emotional openness” won him “more and more fans” as he went on a “journey of self-affirmation” that’s “thoroughly explored in his Eurovision entry”, but the good news is that in reality this is pure Eurovision camp as Christmas cheese, with nonsense lyrics like “Middle east is the new sex appeal, Bam-Bam! this is how it feels”.