Welcome to the Eurovision Championships Semi Finals! That’s right, we are just three match-ups away from learning who this year’s Eurovision Champions will be! Now that we are at the Semi-Final stage of proceedings, we are upping the stakes and will force our four semi-finalists through five gruelling rounds of competition for your consideration. As with all knock-out rounds so far though, one will go through and one will go home so let’s meet our teams!
Every step that Israel have taken at the Eurovision Championships has required a tough opponent to be beaten. The group stages saw them progress past Italy, Portugal and Azerbaijan to finish top of their group. The last 16 saw them beat away Russia and the Quarter Finals marked their ending of the spirited run of Iceland in the competition. Having come this far now and with four Eurovision victories under their belt, they will feel extremely keen to make the final.
The Netherlands are one of the only original Eurovision nations left in the competition after Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany were knocked out in the group stages and Italy edged past France in the Quarter Finals. The Dutch were top seeds in their group but still had to dig deep to progress past the Germans, Yugoslavia and Slovenia. In the last 16, they stunned everybody by knocking out top seeds Ireland and in the Quarter Finals, they ended Estonia’s time in the competition. Can they avenge the disappointment of their most recent contest on home soil being postponed by reaching the final of the Eurovision Championships?
As previously stated, this battle will take place over five Eurovision editions from Brighton, Munich, Brussels, Birmingham & Jerusalem
The year is 1974 and following Luxembourg’s second consecutive Eurovision victory, they have waived their right to host and so the BBC stepped in to host the contest in Brighton. It was also the year of Katie Boyle’s fourth and final presentation of the Eurovision Song Contest and the second ever victory for a Scandinavian nation as a Swedish quartet called ABBA brought the contest back to Sweden for the first time with ‘Waterloo’. Israel performed 6th on the night with rock band Kaveret performing ‘Natati La Khayay’, a plodding rock song with an unusual imagery that would turn out to be a veiled protest against the Israeli leader of the time and pro a Palestinian state existing alongside an Israeli one. The song finished 7th in the final standings. The Netherlands performed 12th on the night with Mouth & McNeal performing ‘I See a Star’, a love duet with hints of cannabis metaphors and some barrel organs and puppets to boot that would earn the Dutch a 3rd place finish.
1983 was a unique year for the Eurovision Song Contest. It was the second to be hosted and Germany (and the first to follow a German victory). It was the first edition of the contest to be televised in Australia and set in motion the love for the contest down under. Most momentously though, it was the last time that Luxembourg won with Corinne Hermès singing ‘Si la vie est cadeau’, the Eurovision Song Contest setting in motion the beginning of the end of regular participation for one of the contest’s original participants. The Netherlands performed 11th on the night as Bernadette showcased ‘Sing Me a Song’, a sweet plea for global unity which proved good enough for 7th. Israel performed 16th on the night as Ofra Haza belted out ‘Hi’, a joyous anthem for life, resilience and the glory of Israel that earned Israel a very respectable 2nd place finish.
There was always going to be an air of excitement about Eurovision finally taking place in the de-facto capital of Europe, in 1987. The contest had a very ‘80s sound all over but in the end, it was won again by Johnny Logan singing the most classic ballad one could ever dream up and bringing the contest to Ireland for the third time. Israel performed 2nd on the night with Natan Datner and Avi Kushnir (performing as ‘The Lazy Bums’) performed ‘Shir Habatlanim’, a satirical comedy number so controversial that the Israeli cultural minister of the time threatened to resign if their participation went ahead, but it did and the pair finished 8th overall. The Netherlands performed 12th on the night as Marcha sang ‘Rechtop in de wind’ a dramatic ballad about the end of a relationship with a lovely beat under it that would earn The Netherlands 5th place.
In many ways, Birmingham 1998 represented the end of many things at Eurovision, it was the last year of the language rule which perhaps explains how it was also the last year of the UK putting up a proper challenge for victory and more interestingly, the vocal arena crowd combined with Dana International’s victory marked a clear transition that the Eurovision identity was moving towards the contest we see today. Israel performed 8th on the night with Dana International singing ‘Diva’, an ode to powerful women in history and mythology that today represents so much of the modern Eurovision performance identity and is etched firmly into the halls of classic Eurovision winners. The Netherlands performed 18th on the night as Edsilia Rombley performed ‘Hemel en aarde’, a ballad with heart about the feelings she has of being with her lover, finishing 4th in the final standings.
We head to the South-Eastern corner of the continent as it was the turn of Jerusalem to host the contest in 1999, a year when the abolition of the language rule took centre stage as 14 of the 22 competing songs contained at least some English with one of them winning in Sweden’s Charlotte Nilsson and ‘Take Me to Your Heaven’. The Netherlands performed 11th on the night with Marlayne singing ‘One Good Reason’, a folksy, feel-good number about overcoming the issues in life by holding on to the love they share, placing 8th overall. Israel performed 19th on the night as boyband Eden performed ‘Yom Huledet (Happy Birthday)’, an English and Hebrew uptempo song about having a massive party with classic smiles down the camera and general excitement that scored Israel a 5th place finish.
Here is a selection of their work that didn’t quite make the contest..
Please vote no later than September 11 when we will be back with the other Semi Final as Italy faces off against Norway for the other spot in the Eurovision Championship Final.
All Eurovision Championships articles have been written by Fin Ross Russell (Internationalist Eurovision Blog)