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Eurovision 2010: Israel

April 24, 2010

Israel’s song for 2010 is sure to set many hearts a flutter. Not only because 28 year old singer Harel Skaat boyish good looks make presenting him an effortless process, but also because the boy clearly shows his experience and stamina delivering this song live.

Clearly the time Skaat spent on Israel’s equivalent of American Idol paid off. The singer successfully sustains his crystal clear melancholic voice from the quiet beginning right through to the big finish.

It’s a natural performance too. None of those cheesy looks to camera lesser-able performers fall back on when they don’t what to do with their hands. This is a heartfelt performance. His voice implies emotion instead of him relying on signposting it to the camera.

I hope what we see on stage in this video is not the same effect as Alexander Rybak pulled off time after time after time with his winning song Fairytale from last year’s contest.

Rybak looked every bit the performer as he thundered through his song at the Norwegian national final last year. But when it later became apparent he was delivering exactly the same looks to camera every time he was on stage for every single performance, something of that original magic was lost.

It would be a shame for Harel Skaat’s performance (just take a look at a live performance of ‘Bird’ for another example) to be cheapened by an over-rehearsed act, especially given how beautifully simple the song is.

‘Milim’ – written by Tomer Addadi – is clearly created with Skaat in mind. The song sits comfortably in the singer’s range. The effortlessly executed melismatic melody is underpinned by an authentic instrumental backing track – different from the usual saccharin power ballads which grace the Eurovision stage. Little wonder people are keeping an eye on this entry from Israel as a potential winner. Good show.

There’s one other thing to look out for in the forthcoming Eurovision performance. Harel was interviewed by Eurovision.tv during a recording session with a ‘full’ orchestra (full in that there were some string players, some wind players and a handful of brass). During that interview Skaat explains how it was important to get a proper orchestral sound for the backing track. And from the snippets we hear, its clear that the song benefits from this treatment.

Given that Eurovision only allows live vocals to a backing track, a deliberate move to enhance a backing track with a real band seems almost like a retrospective move, but also makes a return to the orchestra in the song contest not that a distant or ridiculous a possibility. If there’s a rule that live vocals need to be sung with a live orchestra instead of a backing track, then might that see a return to a certain level of musical ability right across the board? Maybe?

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