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19 April 2019, 14:27
As the Eurovision circus rolls into Tel Aviv next month, we take a look at the 'TOY' singer who last year brought the trophy home to Israel.
Eurovision 2019 is almost here - bringing with it questionable outfits, crazy dance moves and catchy tunes.
But who was last year's winner? We take a look at Israel's 2018 entry, Netta Barzilai...
Netta Barzilai was born in January 1993, in the Israeli town of Hod HaSharon. After spending the first four years of her life in Nigeria, her family returned to Israel where she spent the rest of her childhood.
Netta – as she is more commonly known – had always been a keen musician from an early age, but didn’t have the confidence to pursue music as a career. Instead she worked a variety of jobs, from waitressing to primary school teaching, and even as a counsellor in the Israeli youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed.
The turning point in her life was to come during her military service when she was 18, where she joined the Israeli Navy Band and two significant things happened: first, she came across a video by an artist playing the looper, a musical instrument which she would quickly master; and second, meeting Avshalom Ariel, who would go on to produce her Eurovision-winning track.
After a year’s study at the Rimon School of Music, Netta decided the time was right to audition for season five of HaKokhav HaBa, Israel’s selection process for the Eurovision Song Contest. Having reached the final of the competition, Netta was knocked out in the first stage, only to be saved by the judges. That fateful decision proved to be wise indeed, with Netta eventually topping the voting process thanks to her mashup of Psy’s 'Gangnam Style' and 'TiK ToK' by Kesha.
Written by Doron Medalie and Stav Berger, 'TOY' was the first Eurovision song to use a vocal looper arrangement.
The song was performed in English with the exception of a few Hebrew phrases, and focused on the subject of female empowerment.
Combined with a potent mix of oversized hair buns, a set choc-full of lucky fortune cats, innovative soundscapes and that crazed chicken dance, Netta was onto a sure-fire winner, romping home with 529 points.
And the popularity of the track didn’t just stop at the voting process. News of Netta’s victory spread quickly, with the song since racking up more than one million views on Eurovision’s YouTube channel.
So will we see more of the same this year? Hardly. Apart from the traditional performance of the previous year’s winning song, flying the flag for Israel in 2019 will be Kobi Marimi: an award-winning actor who, alongside a black-and-white video, will be crooning the stripped-back ballad, 'Home'.
It's one of the most-watched TV events of the year with people watching all over the world. Last year a peak of 8.1 million UK viewers watched the 2018 song programme. This year, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place on Saturday 18 May. The 2019 song contest will be held in Israel, thanks to their victory at the 2018 Grand Final in Lisbon, Portugal.
Michael Rice and his version 'Bigger Than Us' will represent the UK in the Grand Final of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
To find out more about Michael click here