LISBON – Israel's Netta Barzilai reached the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday night with her song "Toy". The 25-year-old is set to perform in the finals on Saturday night in Portugal, facing off against representatives from Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom – all countries that automatically qualify for the finals – as well as Portugal, which won the competition last year.
The other countries that qualified on Tuesday were Estonia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Finland, all of which will be among the 26 countries vying for the prize this weekend.
Barzilay's success means Israel is reaching the finals for the fourth year in a row.
The second round of semi-finals is set to take place on Thursday.
The music video for "Toy" has to date garnered an impressive following of over 17 million views on YouTube – more than any of the other songs in the contest. It hit the No. 1 spot on Spotify Israel and is on the iTunes hit parade at home and in Europe.
The appeal of "Toy" is evident in hundreds of videos that have been posted, showing everyone from tourists on islands in Thailand to girls in Ghana dancing to the song and enjoying Barzilai’s quirky crowing-rooster sounds. For her part, the singer this week explained that the cackling is meant to symbolize men who are afraid of strong women – like her.