Israel’s Eurovision Entry Is the Odds-on Favorite to Win Song Contest

'Toy' and Netta Barzilai are ‘authentic, poppy and catchy’ says major Eurovision blog

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Netta Barzilai in the clip for her Eurovision song "Toy."
Netta Barzilai in the clip for her Eurovision song "Toy."
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

The Israeli song "Toy" performed by Netta Barzilai is the favorite – for now – to win the 2018 Eurovision song contest, based on the betting on bookmaking sites. The contest will be held in Lisbon in May.

 Written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger, “Toy” was released Sunday and has overtaken the previous favorite, “Goodbye,” sung by the Romanian band "The Humans."

Netta Barzilai's 'Toy'

Since “Toy” leaked before its official release, many people put down early bets and the odds on “Toy” rose from 20 to 1 last week to 3 to 1 today.

Toy was officially released Sunday night on the website of the Israeli public broadcaster Kan and has 1.3 million page views and counting.

The song was only recorded and filmed in the last two weeks, Medalie, the song’s composer, told Haaretz. He had predicted it would surge to the top of the betting sites, not because of arrogance but based on his "professionalism and strategic understanding of the Eurovision contest."

Netta barzilai - Tik Tok / Gangnam Style

The phone hasn't stopped ringing since Sunday, he added – messages from around Europe, singers and Eurovision people he has met over the years. "Everybody says it's in the bag," said Medalie.

Isn't the self-congratulation a tad premature? Medalie says the odds favoring them aren't going to their heads, and even if they fall back in the betting, the backwind from the Israeli public gives the band its "real motivation to do everything to really win."

"If every person in Israel thinks it's possible and that it will happen, then it will happen," Medalie says. "It's fun to be part of such a gigantic team that decided it's time to bring the Eurovision [contest] back to Israel," he says.

The Eurovision blog Wiwibloggs ascribes Toy's surge among betters to its beat, which combines catchy oriental music with feminist phrases suitable to the #Metoo era. Calling the song "authentic," meaning faithful to Barzilai's style, Wiwi points out that it fits "this year’s desperate need for something poppy and catchy. Netta gets it." In contrast, last year’s contest was won by Portuguese singer Salvador Sobral singing the dismal ballad "Amar Pelos Dois."

The Eurovision's first semifinal, with Israel participating, will be held on May 8 in Lisbon. The final is scheduled for May 12.

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