We are now in the last phase before the Eurovision and this Sunday, Noa Kirel and the members of the Israeli delegation will board a special El Al flight, which will take her "Unicorn" song straight to Liverpool, where this year's competition will take place.
To make sure the stage is ready for the arrival of Kirel and artists from 36 other countries, their Majesties the King and Queen Consort of England, Charles and Camilla, arrived at the Grand Arena to inaugurate the stage and reveal it to the world.
Along with the stage, the soundtrack that will accompany the contest was also revealed and the excitement of the Eurovision fans is increasing towards the climax expected on May 9, when the first semi-final will be held with the participation of Israel.
Lights, camera, action! The #Eurovision2023 arena lights are up and running in Liverpool - thanks to Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort @RoyalFamily pic.twitter.com/MhclBzjWPy— BBC Eurovision (@bbceurovision) April 26, 2023
So just before they boarding the flight, let's do a short tour of the world and see how Kirel and "Unicorn" are doing.
The Germans are expected to burp
Let's take a short moment for time travel. The year is 1982 and Israel is represented in a competition held in Harrogate, Great Britain, by the singer Avi Toledano. In those years, every country was obliged to sing in its official language, and today there still is no Israeli who does not know how to scream "Hora! The one with the Hey."
The Finnish and Swedish judging teams didn't understand the lyrics, but they did hear Toledano and his team of dancers yelling "whore" while smiling and dancing. The Finns gave us 12 points and Sweden added 10 more, giving the Hora a very respectable second place.
Fast forward 41 years, the Eurovision is once again taking place on British soil, and this time the overwhelming majority of the words are in English.
There is no problem here, until you realize that if Noa makes the unicorn sign associated with the music video, thunderous laughter will be heard all over Germany, the viewers will look at each other, shout the word "Schultz" and wonder who burped.
Why? According to tradition, after someone burps, it is obligatory to say "Schultz!" and accompany this by placing the thumb on the forehead - a particularly popular action in drinking games.
German internet personality Kayla Shyx said: "Do you realize that an entire country is going to do Schultz?"Generally, she didn't relate to the song. "Really? Is that the song you wrote? I have unicorn powers?" she said.
Overall, participants in a program by the German Broadcasting Corporation reviewing the songs, in which Shyx also participated, were not particularly impressed. Here are some main sentiments.
"Oh, it doesn't have to be a ballad for it to be a really bad song."
"The song is called "Unicorn", which is supposed to be something special, but for me it's more of a horse."
"Sounds like the song was written by ChatGPT."
"When I heard that Noa Kirel would represent Israel, I listened to her songs and was amazed, it's at an international level. In the last minute of the song, I lost it, they put it in just so she could dance. You try to love the song, but then they change it to floor gymnastics and I ask why."
And finally: "It's like Aunt Claudia's pasta salad, she adds oranges or tangerines that no one wants. If only they would stick to pasta salad."
In the end, the Germans ranked Israel 20th overall, with 11.6 points out of a possible 20, 5.7 points coming from the program staff and 5.9 coming from the viewers. Ouch.
Even Eurovision fans don't like Israel, for now
Walla went to check what they were saying about Israel on the leading fan site, WiwiBloggs. They aren't exactly crazy about Israel in 2023 either, and their team of reporters gives Israel 6.58 points out of 10.
As of the time of writing, Israel is ranked 18th on the site out of 34 songs reviewed, with the potential to drop to 21st place considering that the last three countries to be reviewed are Spain, Finland and Sweden.
True, one of the reporters gave Israel a round score of 10, but you shouldn't be surprised: He also told us last year that Michael Ben David would go to the finals. The harshest ones in the team gave us scores like 1.5 and 3.5, definitely not something we would wish Noa Kirel to receive.
Those are the full numbers after 35 OGAE clubs got voted! Top 3:1. - Finland 366 pt 2. - Sweden 346 pt 3. - France 254 pt pic.twitter.com/HeO3LgMoYI— Eurovision News (@EurovisionNewZ) April 26, 2023
So maybe the OGAE Eurovision Fan Club's annual survey will save our national pride? Not exactly, but almost. After the publication of the votes of 35 clubs, Israel is placed in tenth place, but with only 64 points, compared to Finland, which leads with 355 points, and Sweden, which is breathing down its neck with 346 points.
So far only 19 clubs have awarded Israel a score, most of them in the range of 1 to 4 points. It is important to emphasize that this year, the finalists will be determined only by the audience's vote, without professional judging teams.
The semi-finals suffer from low ratings compared to the finals and Eurovision fans watch all broadcasts religiously, so this year, the opinion of Eurovision fans has a higher weight compared to previous years.
What do the agencies say?
Israel is currently ranked seventh in chances of winning with a negative sentiment that is expressed in the drop to a 2% chance, while in the past, it was already given a 4% chance to get the victory. In chances of qualifying for the final, Noa is ranked fourth with 95%, only one percent less than the northern countries, Finland, Sweden and Norway, which are ranked above it.
At the moment we are all hoping for the "Foureira miracle", that happened to dear Eleni who represented Cyprus in 2018. Foureira came to Eurovision with no trust from the betting agencies and cold reviews from the fans, but when the rehearsals began she showed us all what can be done with hair extensions and almost stole the victory from Neta Barzilai.
So what's next?
If Noa succeeds in performing the miracle - we will know as soon as next week. On Sunday, as mentioned, the Israeli delegation will take off for Liverpool - and already on Monday it will hold the first rehearsal at 12:30 p.m. Israel time. A little later we are expected to receive the first and only pictures of the Israeli stage design.
On Wednesday, Kirel will take the stage at 4:50 p.m. Israel time, for the second rehearsal. Unlike the previous years, this time the European Broadcasting Union will not allow journalists to attend the second rehearsal and there will be no press conferences with the participants "in order to allow them to concentrate on their song", according to the organizers' statement.
A part of the performance will be revealed so that we will know a bit more about how the song will look on stage, and how it will be received. On Monday, May 8, we will be able to reveal our photos from the hall and what exactly will happen on stage in the first dress rehearsal.
We already know that during the voting Rita Ora will perform a string of her greatest hits, as well as her new song "Praising You". In the grand finale that will be held on Saturday, May 13, Neta Barzilai will also participate, and we already can't wait any longer.