Israelis love timeless music that define the country. That was the result of various rankings determined as part of the celebration of Israel’s 75th Independence Day. Fans of Israeli music had many opportunities to choose their favorite songs and artists of all time, and some oldies but goodies topped the two big polls, one for songs from a Kan/Israel Hayom poll and the other of the most loved Israeli artists of all time, called “The Voice of Israel,” from the Mako website.
All the songs and artists at the top of the lists were from at least 30 years ago and the songs chosen reflect a Zionist love of Israel and focus on traditional themes, such as prayer, as well as some which celebrate pride in a Mizrahi identity.
Gali Atari’s “I Have No Other Country” was voted the no. 1 Israeli song of all time in the Kan/Israel Hayom poll, which was an especially timely choice because it has become a kind of anthem of the anti-judicial reform protests and such singers as Efrat Gosh have performed it as rallies. This lilting Zionist tune was written by Ehud Manor and Corinne Allal.
Protest movement songs through the years
Another song that has been associated with protests over the years came in second, “Me and You,” by Arik Einstein, an idealistic and optimistic tune.
In third place was Zohar Argov’s “The Flower in My Garden,” a love song to a pulsing Mizrahi beat. Argov was one of the first Mizrahi artists to achieve mainstream success in Israel and helped mainstream that type of music in the country.
Arik Einstein was in fourth place again, accompanied by Yehudit Ravitz and Corinne Allal, on “Your Forehead is Crowned with Black Gold,” a beautifully poetic song by Abraham Halfi and Yoni Rechter.
An actual prayer set to music, “Lord of the World,” (Adon Olam), by Uzi Hitman and Oded Ben Hur took the fifth spot on the list.
Looking at the songs and artists dominating both rankings, veteran music promoter Hillel Wachs said, “Fifteen of the top 20 are not new artists, which reflects Israelis’ close ties to their musical and historical heritage. Also nine of the top 20 are Mizrahi artists, which reflect a newfound appreciation for all genres by the masses in an all-time ranking.”
Not surprisingly, there was a good deal of crossover between the two lists. Arik Einstein took the top spot of the top Israeli artists of all time in the Mako poll, proving that his popularity has not waned at all in the nearly 10 years since his death and that his music is as relevant now as ever.
The beloved crooner and songwriter Shlomo Artzi took the second spot on the list, while Zohar Argov came in third, followed by another Mizrahi performer who transformed Israeli music and put Mizrahi music on the charts, Ofra Haza, who was known for performing traditional Yemenite songs. And it wouldn’t be Friday afternoon in Israel without the lovely voice of the fifth-ranked performer, Chava Alberstein, whose soaring sound is a staple of winding down for Shabbat on Israeli radio. Gali Atari came in on the 26th place.
And proving that all roads in Israeli pop music lead eventually to Eurovision, Atari was spoofed Wednesday night in a sketch on Eretz Nehederet, where a cast member imitating her appeared as one of the Israeli Eurovision winners, since she was part of the Milk and Honey group that won in 1979 with “Hallelujah.” Atari was parodied on the show giving advice to Noa Kirel, who will represent Israel at Eurovision next week.