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Monday, 21 April 2014 22:45

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Israel

It has become customary for the editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #2, we catch up with Israel (IBA) who will be represented by Mei Feingold and the song Same Heart written by Rami Talmid.

At the age of just 8 months old, Mei Finegold was whistling melodies in her crib. Her family says she was born to sing. It was only a matter of time before she became one of the most unique singers on the Israeli musical scene. Now her career has taken another step, as Mei will be representing Israel at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen with the song Same Heart. What few people knew was that one of Mei's biggest dreams was to do musical theatre. In 2010, her dream came true: Mei was offered a part in a huge musical production at the Cameri Theatre. 

She played a young woman who had lost her husband, struggling to start a new romantic relationship with her husband's best friend. Mei was praised by the critics and audiences for her performance and won the respected "Best New Actress 2010" award for her role.  During that time, Mei released her debut album Soda Pop, which she wrote herself. Ever since, Mei has been working with human rights organisations, volunteering and empowering the fight against violence. Mei's story encouraged hundreds of men and women to share their own personal experiences and start a healing process. In 2011, Mei "started working" on what she refers to as "the most meaningful project of her life". 

She gave birth to her baby daughter, Emily, and became a mother. During her pregnancy, Mei joined the electronic pop rock group, Limozina Express as their lead singer. The members of the band have been very well known and extremely respected musicians in Israel for decades. Together they perform on the largest stages across the country. An evening where Mei started on stage ended with her in the delivery room giving birth. In 2012, Mei was cast once again in a musical production at the Cameri theatre. This time it was Kazablan, a classic Israeli musical. Mei plays a character called Roza, a larger than life local bar owner which the critics and audiences fall in love with.

In May 2013 at the annual Israeli Theatre Awards, Mei was nominated for and won the prestigious award "Best Supporting Actress Of The Year" for her role as Roza. Israel has been successful at the Eurovision Song Contest on three occasions, the most recent being back in 1998 when Dana International managed to strut her way to an astonishing victory with the track Diva beating stiff competition from both Malta and the United Kingdom. In the past couple of years, the country has failed to get out of the semi-final despite sending some pretty strong songs, putting all their hopes on Mei Finegold and her entry Same Heart.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 66%

Greig Watts: She has an interesting low voice, so im waiting for the chorus to have an impact as she goes high, and its just ok for me and then goes to the typical dance riff. Just ok for me to be honest, but interestingly I like the song more when she goes into the other language (Hebrew I presume) and nice key change at the end, still I think not a winner.

Joseph Zammit: What can I say, this lady has clearly had some issues with relationships in the past. A tough woman who is no longer going to be pushed around. This message is clearly shown with the rough heavy guitar riffs in the beginning. A good start I thought. Pity that it didn't keep on going like this all the way. Half way through it, the song brings in a synth and turns into a hard club piece and ruins it, turning it into a generic piece. 

The fact that in the chorus, the lyrics 'We don't beat from the same heart' are hurried up to fit in with the music clearly shows that it was originally written in her mother tongue and then hastily changed to English for the sake of the competition, which is a pity, because when she does sing in Hebrew in a portion of the song, it does sound much better. This is a song which had potential to be a stand-alone, however it conceded to commercial beats. It will undoubtedly appeal to a wider demographic of Eurovision viewers, however, it makes it less special of a song in itself. 

Sharon Vaughn: Skinning you out is a quite bizarre phrase to use in a pop song. And I am afraid the female warrior theme has been done and done better.

John Scott: She has a very interesting and unique voice. The song builds nicely and the chorus is instantly memorable. The hook stayed in my head long after I first listened to the song.


Published in Editorials

In 2013, Moran Mazor was given the opportunity to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest with the beautiful Rak Bishvilo, a track which was seemingly ascertained a position in the final prior to the competition. Unfortunately, Israel suffered a third consecutive semi-final crash-out, one which they will be hoping to turn around in 2014 by virtue of Mei Finegold, a female singer/songwriter who took part in the local version of Pop Idol which has given the nation talents such as Boaz Mauda and Harel Skaat.

On the 5th March 2014, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, will be hosting a song selection, broadcast directly from Jerusalem at 20:00 CET. Mei Finegold will be interpreting three (3) entries, one (1) of which has also been written by herself. In the past couple of weeks, Mei Finegold has been busy recording the music videos of each of the three (3) songs, all of which will be presented on television, radio and internet through the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

Nish'eret iti (Loren de Paz & Chen Metzger Eder)

Same Heart (Rami Talmid)

Be Proud (Mei Finegold)

'I didn't realise the fact that we shot three videoclips in one week. It was challenging and interesting. Facing a project like this is more different than anything I knew, as decisions must be made right away and without a plan B, but this was very magical as well. The whole team gave its heart and soul to this project and the work was very professional and fun. Every location turned right away to a place of joy and laughter. The final results are being prepared right now in the editing rooms and I can’t wait to let the public hear the songs and watch the videoclips. I hope that everyone will be pleased, just like me.'

Mei Finegold was very adamnant about representing the songs in the best possible manner and the locations selected for the recordings were thought of beforehand. Nish'eret iti was filed at the Israeli Rail Museum in Haifa, with an old train being representative of the mood, Same Heart was shot at the Hameginim Forest just outside Jerusalem and last but not least, Be Proud was recorded at the Reading Power Station in Tel-Aviv. Stay tuned to for all the latest news about the participation of Israel in the 2014 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.