Arts & Culture

The Eurovision Song Contest: Like American Idol Multiplied by ABBA, Plus Israelis!

I love "American Idol," but there is really only one music competition for me. It's poppy, international, and full of gorgeous ethnic superstars. It is also, criminally, not broadcast in the United States. It’s the annual Eurovision Song Contest, and … Read More

By / March 10, 2008

I love "American Idol," but there is really only one music competition for me. It's poppy, international, and full of gorgeous ethnic superstars. It is also, criminally, not broadcast in the United States. It’s the annual Eurovision Song Contest, and it’s back.

Briefly, for the uninitiated, Eurovision is the "American Idol" of European countries. Each participating country (which includes our Israeli homeboys – more on them later) chooses one representative to compete. Those representatives choose one song to perform live on television. Then everyone in Europe votes (you can’t vote for your own country’s song). There’s also a semi-final qualification round and a finals round and whatnot – but since they change the rules every few years, it can be hard to keep abreast of the Byzantine rule structure. As of last year there are now two semi-finals, then a grand finale. The Big Four (France, Germany, Spain and the UK) always automatically qualify for the grand finale.

This year, Israel is sending Boaz Mauda, the bronzed winner of "Kokhav Nolad," Israel’s "American Idol," to Belgrade (Serbia, whose native Marijua Serifovic won Eurovision in 2007, gets to host 2008’s competition). Mauda’s music is totally awesome, falling somewhere between Mizrachi crooning and soft, understated acoustic balladeering. And he’s going to Belgrade with a certifiable gangbuster song to sing—“Ke’ilo Kan,” written by former winner Dana International.

As your Jewcy Eurovision correspondent, I’ll be bringing you breathless Eurovision updates, along with some Israel participation history (we’ve won numerous times!), and maybe a liveblogging or two of the proceedings. I feel slightly ambiguous using the term “we,” being that I’m not a citizen of Israel and this is a national contest as much as anything. But it’s not like Americans can root for a USA candidate, and since it’s a lot more fun when you personalize the contest, I’m going to stick with the second person.

So with our fingers crossed and our lighters held aloft, let's toast to May in Belgrade. L’chaim, Boaz!