It’s been just over a month since the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 took place in Lisbon, Portugal. On 12 May 2018, Netta – who represented Israel – won the Grand Final with the song “Toy”, gaining 529 points and earning Israel the right to host the contest in 2019.
Her song, “Toy”, has gone on to chart all over Europe, hitting number one in Israel, and peaking inside the Top 10 in Sweden and Finland. The song was written by Doron Medalie and Stav Berger. It is the fourth time that Israel has won the Eurovision Song Contest, following their double win in 1978 and 1979 where they were represented by Izhar Cohen & The Alphabeta with “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” and Gali Atari & Milk And Honey with “Hallelujah”, respectively. They also won in 1998 where they were represented by Dana International with “Diva”. Netta’s win is Israel’s first win in 20 years.
Netta, full name Netta Barzilai, won the right to represent Israel in a national selection show titled HaKokhav HaBa (which means “The Next Star” in English) which has spawned many international versions as part of a franchise called Rising Star.
We were lucky enough to interview Netta where we chatted about her winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, her winning song “Toy”, her love of Pokémon, and what we can expect from her in the future.
Hi Netta, how are you today? What have you been up to recently?
I’m good! I’m in Zurich, Switzerland, about to play Pride here, and I keep meeting fans wherever I go. It’s busy – just this week I’ve been in London and Sardinia and now I’m here, its crazy. But I’m playing my music and living my dream, I love it.
Congratulations on winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, what was it like to find out that you had won? What was going through your mind as the points were being called out?
It felt like being on a rollercoaster – I remember all this amazing energy from everyone, it was all a blur. But it was incredible.
It’s been 20 years since Israel has won the contest, how does it feel to be the latest winner? What was it like lifting that trophy?
Amazing – I felt all the hard work had finally paid off and now I could do whatever I wanted. I felt really proud and I wanted everyone at home to be proud as well.
Now, let’s talk about your song, “Toy”. Can you tell us more about the track?
“Toy” is about empowerment – about being who you want to be and standing up to bullies, and not being scared to be yourself. Everyone is different and we should celebrate that and be proud. It’s a strong message about #metoo, in a pop song with a happy vibe.
We heard that you weren’t so keen on the song at first and it wasn’t until you made your own composition of the track that you connected with it. Why do you think that was?
I realised I could make it my own, so I did!
How did you come up with the loop arrangement and the idea to include chicken noises?
I wanted to make funky sounds that sound like what fear might sound like, or what it might feel like to be scared. Those noises just came to me and I used them and they worked. I’ve used loop arrangements before, and on “Toy” I could combine everything into this amazingly catchy song.
Do you believe the song was difficult to sing live? We loved your performance.
Thank you! I was nervous but no, I knew I could sing it well live, I just went out and did it.
You’ve received a lot of comments on the Japanese styling of the stage, can you tell us about the concept of the staging?
I grew up loving Pokémon and anime cartoons and culture – it’s really big in Israel like it is all over the world. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone it was a compliment – I love it!
We also heard you are into Pokémon, so no surprise that you sing “I’m taking my Pikachu home”. What is it about Pokémon that you love?
I love everything about Pokémon – who doesn’t? I’ve grown up with Pokémon, it’s part of my life.
If you were an actual Pokémon trainer, what six Pokémon would you choose to be on your team? And which one would you be taking home?
Ok, I’d have 1. Pikachu, 2. Snorlax, 3. Butterfree, 4. Charizard, 5. Bulbasaur, and 6. Jigglypuff
And who would I take home – are you kidding me?! I think you can guess! (Answer: Pikachu).
Eurovision isn’t the only competition you’ve won, you also won HaKokhav HaBa, which won you the right to represent Israel at Eurovision 2018, can you tell us more about the show and what it was like to win?
It’s a national talent show in Israel like the ones you have in the UK. I didn’t expect to win – I’m a musician but also a niche artist, so I didn’t ever think I might win it. But when I did, it was incredible and proves if you believe in yourself you can go on to do great things.
Have you got any advice for future contestants of HaKokhav HaBa? As well as advice for the acts of Eurovision 2019?
You have to be prepared to work really, really hard. You can’t expect to win things unless you work at it. And you have to be fresh and special – but still be yourself. But most of all keep working hard to be the best you can be.
What can we expect from you in the future, now that you’ve won Eurovision?
Lots of new material, some of it a bit crazy. Now I’m representing myself, I can do things my own way! This is just the beginning and I have so much more to offer, but I will be keeping it fresh and surprising people.
Finally, do you have a message for your fans all over the world?
Yes! I’d say to everyone, life is short, be yourself, go wild and do what you want to do. And never let people tell you otherwise! See you soon, love from Netta xxx
Thank you so much, Netta, for taking the time out for this interview. We can’t wait for the new material – the crazier the better in our opinion. We can’t wait to see what the future brings to you, we’re hoping for continued international success.
Netta’s single “Toy” is available to download and stream right now. Her music video for the song is officially the most viewed video on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube Channel, currently standing at 73,000,000 views.