Israel’s song motif – Fun and empowerment, the voice of #MeToo at Eurovision

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The winning track, which contained refrains such as “I am not your toy, you stupid boy”, summed up the concerns of many women who have adopted the growing global movement against sexual harassment. The singer also said that her victory is a celebration of being different. Netta told BBC News that she came to realise that she was “different” because of her size and found out that “different is often not accepted”.

The singer – The 25-year-old Israel-born performer Netta Barzilai, worked as a singer in the Israeli Navy Band before tackling Eurovision Song Contest qualification show HaKokhav HaBa, which she won earlier this year. She impressed judges and viewers with innovative covers of songs such as Psy’s Gangnam Style and Ke$ha’s Tik Tok built on vocal loops.

The song – “The song has an important message — the awakening of female power and social justice, wrapped in a colorful, happy vibe,” Barzilai was quoted as saying by Eurovision site wiwibloggs earlier this week.

Her uptempo song “Toy” — which include the lines “I am not your toy, you stupid boy” and “the Barbie’s got something to say” — has grabbed the limelight, summing up the concerns of many women who have adopted the movement. “I think the song is #MeToo, but it’s an empowerment song for everybody, and everybody can find themselves in it,” she told OUTtv, a Netherlands-based specialty cable channel.

When it was released the European media gave it favourable reviews and noted that it integrates messages of female empowerment in the spirit of the #MeToo movement. It also has fans in the Arab world. After the video was posted on the Foreign Ministry’s Arabic Facebook page, it got good responses from viewers in several Arab countries.

The song was written by Doron Medalie, known as Israel’s hitmaker and who thinks of the annual song contest as part of his DNA. Medalie grew up on Eurovision, the annual music competition that is beloved but often derided by Israelis, learning all the songs by heart with his friends. He later studied music and dance.

Once Medalie and his writing partner, Stav Beger, found their beat for “Toy,”” they began working with the toy theme, a motif that Medalie couldn’t find in any past Eurovision song, much less any pop song in recent history.

“That’s a bingo for me,” he said. “And when Netta looks and behaves the way she does, so it turn toys into ‘I’m not your toy, don’t play with me.’ Let’s use toys to say something different about the #MeToo movement.”

Potential Eurovision voters across Europe have hailed the song for its lyrics, which ride the tide of the past year’s #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, as well as for its catchiness and quirks.


Sources: BBC, France 24, The Times of Israel, Radio Times

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