Saturday, April 26, 2008

כמו ציפור בשבי בין קירות לבנים מסתגרת

Let me preface this post by saying that my knowledge of Israeli music is incredibly limited, as is my knowledge of music beyond the past few years, so if I get something wrong or leave something important out, please let me know!

Let's go back to Israel, 1986. Though this year and last year Israel may have internally selected the artist they'd send to Eurovision and just let the public vote on the song, that's not how it's been for the majority of the past three decades; most of these years the singer and song has been chosen through the Kdam, a national final pretty much in the vein of what you usually think of when you hear the term. In 1986 (as in most years), there were twelve entries; Israel ended up choosing Moti Giladi and Saraï Tsuriël with "Yavo Yom," which went on to take second to last at Eurovision that year. As often happens with Eurovision, though, that loss meant that a fantastic song was consigned to never make it past the level of national finals. That song? Rita's "Shvil Habricha" (meaning "Escape Route").

(I know I've gone slightly YouTube crazy recently, but if there was ever one to watch, it's this one.)

Shvil Habricha

The performance was so memorable (not least for the yellow jacket--those were big in 1986, I take it?--and its slip) and iconic, though, that it helped make Rita famous. Not winning the Kdam didn't prevent "Shvil Habricha" from becoming a massive hit either. In the following years, Rita would go on to have many more hits and become a classic case of "lost in the national finals with a great song and then made it to Eurovision with an inferior song"--chosen by internal selection, she represented Israel in Eurovision in 1990 with "Shara Barkhovot" (which took eighteenth place out of twenty-two).

She's moved on since 1986, of course, becoming a true star in Israel, but "Shvil Habricha" has more than stood the test of time. The performance alone would be enough to make me love the song--sure, it's easy enough to mock '80's style now, but this is the epitome of a fantastic performance for me; simple as it is, there's something very powerful about it and very charismatic and commanding about her (and I don't even have to mention the vocals because they're so assured that it never even occurs to you to worry about them)--but the song on its own is still top-quality, epic-sounding '80's pop that I wouldn't change a single thing about. That powerful chorus? The sparse synths sounds in the background? The climax? Everything? Perfect--and all delivered perfectly by Rita.

To buy Rita's debut album Rita, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe something British.

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