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Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, speaks during the Eurovision Semi-Final allocation draw, in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel January 28, 2019.(Photo by: CORINNA KERN/REUTERS)
UK, Australia, Russia, Italy pick their Eurovision acts
An Icelandic Eurovision hopeful challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a wrestling match.
With three months until Eurovision 2019 kicks off in Tel Aviv, more and more countries are selecting the singers who will represent them this year.

While Israel will pick its contestant on Tuesday, over the weekend five countries selected their competitors for the international song contest this year: Australia, Russia, Italy, Montenegro and the UK. So far, 18 out of 42 participating countries have picked their contestants, and the competition is already heating up.

On Friday evening, the BBC show You Decide voted to send 21-year-old Michael Rice to the contest to perform “Bigger Than Us.” In an interview with the BBC after he won, Rice said, “I’m not really into politics and stuff because I just don’t have a clue about it. It’s a singing competition and I’m just thinking, work hard and get the best result and hopefully turn a few heads and see if we can get a better score,” he said. “I don’t know a lot about what’s going on over there [in Israel], and music unites everyone, so hopefully we can do something positive.”

On Saturday, Australia voted to send Kate Miller-Heidke to what will be the country’s fifth Eurovision, with the song “Zero Gravity.” Two days before she won, Miller-Heidke told The Courier Mail that she “loved Netta who won Eurovision last year and her chicken noises. That spoke to me.”

This year, Russia also selected a well-known face to represent it at the Eurovision. Sergey Lazarev, a 35-year-old singer and former member of the band Smash!, represented Russia at the 2016 Eurovision in Stockholm. He came in third place overall that year and first place among tele-voters, proving he’s a serious contender in 2019.

In 2016, Lazarev visited Israel as part of the “Israel Calling” pre-Eurovision trip for contestants. At the time, he wrote on Instagram: “Thank you Israel! Thank you Tel Aviv!! Thank you for having and inviting us! Hope to come back again very soon!” Looks like Lazarev will be getting his wish this May.
On Saturday evening at the Sanremo Festival, Italy selected Mahmood and his song “Soldi” for the 2019 Eurovision. Mahmood, whose real name is Alessandro Mahmoud and is of Egyptian descent, will include a few lines in Arabic in the mostly Italian song. While the winner of the Sanremo Festival is not required to appear at the Eurovision, Mahmood immediately confirmed that he will be attending this year.

Also on Saturday, Montenegro selected its Eurovision 2019 contestant: the group D-moll, who will perform “Heaven.”

While Iceland has yet to pick its act for this year’s competition, one of its top contenders is already making headlines.

Hatari, a techno band that has already qualified for the finals of the Söngvakeppnin show which picks Iceland’s entry, challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a wrestling match. Hatari said it was challenging the Israeli prime minister “to a friendly match of traditional Icelandic trouser-grip wrestling, or glíma.” The band said the match would take place “on May 19 at the time of your choosing” and include a “neutral UN-sponsored referee.”

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The prize? If Hatari wins, it will be allowed to “settle within your borders, establishing the first ever Hatari-sponsored liberal BDSM colony on the Mediterranian [sic] coast.” And if Netanyahu wins, “The Israeli government will be given full political and economic control of South-Icelandic Island municipality Vestmannaeyjar.”

Netanyahu has not publicly responded to the challenge.
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