Teapacks fails to push button in Eurovision semifinals

Israeli band doesn't make top ten; Serbia wins song competition.

teapacks eurovision 298. (photo credit: AP)
teapacks eurovision 298.
(photo credit: AP)
The 2007 Eurovision Song Contest proved short - and not very sweet - for Israel's representatives Thursday night, with veteran pop band Teapacks getting eliminated alongside 17 other countries in the competition's semi-finals in Helsinki. "We're disappointed, but we enjoyed ourselves," lead singer Kobi Oz, told the YNet Web site. Israel's bid for its fourth Eurovision victory had run into the trouble even before Teapacks' January selection as Israel's representatives. Anastasia Michaeli, a broadcaster for one of the country's Russian-language channels, earned widespread condemnation while serving on the selection committee by reportedly telling her fellow panelists that Israel should avoid choosing a performer with an "Arab look" - a remark apparently made in reference to another prospective performer, Jewish Mizrahi singer Liel. Two months later, the Finnish hosts of the 2007 contest threatened to ban Israel because of the "political" nature of the Teapacks' song, a satirical anti-war number called "Push the Button." And last weekend, Oz and his bandmates threatened to walk out of the contest after its Finnish director changed the video art accompanying the group's stage act. Oz stayed conciliatory in his post-competition remarks Thursday night, praising the rest of Israel's Eurovision delegation and even paying tribute to the Finnish director with whom he'd battled earlier in the week. The Israel Broadcasting Association, the body responsible for choosing the country's Eurovision entry, will undoubtedly retool its approach before next year's contest. With the exception of Shiri Maimon's fourth-place finish in 2005, Israel has performed poorly at Eurovision in recent years, placing 23rd in 2006 and failing to reach the finals in 2004. The country's most recent victory, its third, came in 1998 with "Diva," a disco-ready song performed by transsexual pop star Dana International. This year, another gender-bending performer, Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serduchka, was considered a favorite for victory before Saturday night's final. An estimated 100 million TV viewers across Europe were expected to tune in, with the winner set to join the ranks for previous Eurovision victors, including ABBA and Celine Dion. Contest results were announced after press time.