Israel’s Netta won Eurovision 2018 with the song ‘Toy’ but does it really deserve to win?
Last weekend the grand final of the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) was broadcast live from Lisbon, Portugal on SBS at 5am AEST. After three hours of watching the final 26 acts as well as waiting in anticipation for the results from both the jury and tele votes across 43 countries, it was announced that Israel won the song contest with the song ‘Toy’ by Netta.
I’ve been following the news and updates since December 2017 from social media such as Tumblr, independent news sites such as Wiwibloggs, and the Eurovision YouTube channel itself during the lead up towards the event. Comments indicated that Israel was more likely to win due to how ‘unique’ the song is.
Toy is indeed a somewhat unique song; singer Netta makes chicken noises and the lyrics contain a powerful message inspired by the #MeToo movement.
Last year’s winner, Salvador Sobral, did not hesitate to voice his opinion on the song: “YouTube thought I would like the Israeli song. I opened it and a horrible song came out of it.”
But since the announcement of the winner, fans are now divided on whether the song deserved to win or not. Just in the WSUP Editors room, we are also divided on our thoughts on the winning song. I’ve asked a few students who watched this year’s competition on their thoughts of the song.
“Hated it at first and grown on me” says Cameron Clark, a 3rd year communications student. “It wasn’t one of my favourites but the fact that it won, I’m ok with it”.
“I actually kinda like it, it’s really catchy. But I probably think it shouldn’t win – it’s too comedic” says Shawn Armstrong, who is also a communication student.
A majority of the songs that were submitted for the ESC 2018 were ballads which this year’s fans were not really enthused about. When fans want to describe what Eurovision is to the outsiders who are unaware or uninformed, the first that comes to mind is Ukraine’s Dancing Lasha Tumbai by Verka Serduchka’s (2007).
Eurovision is usually a balance of taking it seriously and a show to entertain all of Europe, hence why Australia gets criticized for taking it too seriously with our entries. If you compare the acts of some previous winners and favourites such as Rock Hard Halleluiah by Lordi (Finland 2006), You are the only one by Sergay Lazarev (Russia 2016), and Occidentali’s Karma by Francesco Gabbani (Italy 2017), you can see there is a mix between the seriousness of the song contest and something that shocks the audience. The music is good but the way it’s presented live is what makes it better.
Toy is is also like that – at least to me. It took the contest seriously yet the singer obviously had a lot of fun performing it. It attracted a massive audience, especially when the music video got released, reaching 30 million views on YouTube.
As stated above, Eurovision is a mix of both seriousness and entertainment. But some contestants and probably a few fans as well, think that Eurovision has become too much of a joke and some see the song as quite problematic.
One criticism that the song was that the song was culturally appropriating Asian themes with the use of kimonos and golden cats. Oddly enough, this was the same argument that happened last year with Italy and other past entries.
Another argument was the fact that there were other songs that deserved better. 2018 has been the year where a majority of the songs became fan favourites. Countries such as Greece, Georgia and Montenegro had brilliant entries, representing their own language and culture through song and performance which sadly didn’t qualify to the finals. During to the press conference from the second semi-finals in 2018, Serbia’s entry this year was the first in the country that made it to grand finals. Cyprus’ entry this year got the best results overall since it joined with 436 points and was leading the betting odds since the semi-finals.
Lastly is the argument that Netta’s song will make Eurovision even more of a joke than it already is. A popular Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, quoted Netherland’s representative, Waylon as saying: “Israel is the rightful winner if we talk about what we are always talking about: the circus and the craziness. But what I just said, it will not add up to much change in [that type of] Eurovision. And that’s what I think is sad. Something should change one time. Last time, it was a woman with a beard, now it’s a chicken.”
It’s clear that this year’s Eurovision win is controversial and opinion is widely divided. To some it’s powerful and catchy while others think it’s ridiculous. Overall, music is subjective and there will be those who support the music style of the winner and those who are against it. Congratulations to Netta for making it through the grand final and I look forward to seeing Eurovision taking place in Israel in 2019.
Author: Erielle Sudario