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Nine Things We Expect From Israel And Eurovision 2019 Written by on May 13, 2018 | 15 Comments

As Ola Melzig and the tech team dismantle the stage in the Altice Arena, Ewan Spence looks forward to what we could expect to see from Israel 2019 and next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.


With even more sun than Lisbon, a late-May Contest in Israel is going to be scorchio!

Let Me Show You…

…Tel Aviv? If you believe ‘Golden Boy’ we’ll have a host city decision in three minutes. Tel Aviv is the obvious and likely option, although consideration will have to be made for Jerusalem following its previous hosting in 1999, and Haifa may pop up in the negotiations just to remind the world there’s more to Israel than the two major cities. Even though Netta and Benjamin Netanyahu have both said ‘Next year in Jerusalem’, remember that L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim is the last line of the Seder ceremony. 

 More ‘Modern’ Music

Eurovision 2018 was won by a joyously daft experimental K-pop influenced floor-filler, followed by hair-flicking sunscreen-scented Med-pop and the smoothest modern anthemic soul you can imagine.  In fourth place, we even had a song which Ed Sheeran would happily take to number one. The time for dated tracks is over. Expect delegations to look up, look forwards, and prepare to exploit all sorts of emerging musical trends.

I guess JOWST was a few years too early. But maybe he’ll be back? He’s already offered to write the UK a song.

Goodbye To The Swedish Sound

For years the dominant sound in the Song Contest could be best described as ‘slick and Swedish’. While that may be enough for the juries, it’s clear that something about Benjamin Ingrosso’s ‘Dance you Off‘ failed to connect to the audiences across Europe in the way it did with the Melodifestivalen audience. Is it time for SVT and those who follow its approach to move on?

That said, Abba have a new single out in December 2018…

How Many Delegations?

A trip to Israel may prove problematic for the delegations of a number of countries,. This year’s record-equalling 43-strong entry list is certainly an ambition, but one that may be harder to achieve. Looking back at the 1999 Contest, the seven withdrawing countries may make you think the number will be higher – but that was in the period before Semi Finals and low scoring countries had to sit out the following year to give everyone a chance to enter.

Will The Community Join Us?

As well as a potentially smaller entry list, the trip to Israel may not to be as attractive to the press and community as Lisbon. This year’s Contest saw record levels of interest in the world’s media – potentially in part due to the attractiveness of the destination. I expect that to change next year.

Australia, Australia, Australia

Then there’s the question of Australia. As with every year it enters, it will need to be invited by the EBU, but with one of their biggest singers in Jessica Mauboy finishing in 20th place, the highly competitive nation may push back on the Contest that is seen to be ‘ignoring’ their top talent.

Can Israel Change The Show?

For all of the innovation on the staging and the use of social media, this year’s Song Contest spent twenty minutes before reaching the first competitive entry and nearly an hour between the end of the 26 songs and the start of the voting sequence – and while the presentation of the public voting leads to tension at the end of the show it is still difficult to follow. There is scope to look at the structure of the show to create more ‘competitive’ elements and reduce the saggy parts. Can the new broadcaster in Israel bring new ideas to the table with a blank sheet of paper, or are we locked into this rhythm of presentation for the foreseeable future.

An Instrument!

What I am looking forward to will be Netta’s reprise of ‘Toy’ just before the obligatory follow-up single gets played. As she will be out of competition, will we finally get to hear her at Eurovision with an active and fully-operational looping machine?

What are you looking forward to for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest? Have you hopes and dreams, or are you at all worried? Let us know in the comments.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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15 responses to “Nine Things We Expect From Israel And Eurovision 2019”

  1. Shai says:

    According to Israeli media dates are set to 21/23 and 25 May. A little bit later than the last 2 years and Jerusalem is probably the one to host.

    I don’t think we will see the return of LED screens and I doubt if M&M production will be involved.It’s a question of logistics.
    Trucks from Europe, can’t go to Israel without going through any of the Arab countries surrounding Israel and this is not going to happen.
    If they manage to get M&M involved, that will be great as their experience is invaluable.

  2. Seán T says:

    Agreed with your thoughts Ewan, it will be interesting one of the most interesting (and possibly controversial) contests for the future.

    I certainly was considering attending the 2019 contest, but that now looks to be deferred to 2020, given there’s no way I would travel to the middle east. I suspect I will not be the only Euro-fan with that feeling.

    Also fully agree with your thoughts on the length of the contest. There’s no need to keep voting open for so long and no reason the contest cannot be delivered in less than 3 hours 15 mins, particularly with the current voting system. Countries should be limited to one opener, one interval act between voting and juries. Cut down on the Green room and audience coverage too.

    I was also disappointed with the quality of the shows in the semi-finals. I really think more money should be diverted to quality acts in the semi finals rather than extra interval acts in the semis. Aside from these points, Portugal really delivered on a superb contest.

  3. Jake says:

    While I do agree with you that the pendulum will swing back to more modern sound in the entries, i have to imagine that the winner will be something else entirely. The beauty of the contest is that it seems like voters want something different Year to year. So Salvador stood out because it was different as did Netta. They both seemed “fresh” for the contest and different than previous entries/winners. I also think that Europe wants real emotions in songs which is why the joy of Netta or the longing of Salvador or the sultryness of Eleni resonated and Sweden and Australia felt too technical and cold.

  4. James says:

    Hi Ewan. Can we confirm if the piano used during Salvador’s interval act was played live? I’m quite curious how the sound mix really gelled on my ears as if I’m actually hearing an actual instrument being played, unless it’s good quality playback.

    Thanks and thank you for all the hard work, swear and tears you put into covering Eurovision all year-round. 🙂

  5. Marc says:

    I’m expecting much better security given that there have been stage invasions in both 2017 and 2018. Perhaps the standing area should be eliminated altogether (it’s always looked messy to me), and dare I say that the number of press/fan accreditations should be limited. Every year there seem to be a load of extra people who aren’t doing much work.

  6. Jake says:

    Based on an interview with Salvador, the piano during his performance was indeed played live

  7. Jonny H says:

    “This year’s Contest saw record levels of interest in the world’s media – potentially in part due to the attractiveness of the destination. I expect that to change next year.”

    Funny, Israel gets more than its fair share of interest from the world’s media all year round (and not for the right reasons); I don’t see why next year should be any different. As for the “attractiveness of the destination”, I understand that beauty is entirely subjective, but have you actually visited Jerusalem/Israel? If you have, you’ll be aware of its unique charms and incomparable beauty. I’d argue that Jerusalem is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world!

  8. 4porcelli says:

    Another great article – wanted to thank you all for always providing us with true insights during the past season and lookinbg forward to read more as we prepare for Tel Aviv (hopefully) or Jerusalem!

  9. MrWebsky says:

    If I could propose something for ESC 2019 it would be:

    -abolition of special voting period
    Lines should be open during the entire show up to the result gathering.
    Songs are known in advance so it’s unlikely that presentation of all song is necessary for fair voting.

    -SMS voting should use country letter codes (i.e. UK, FR, RU) instead of numbers
    indicating presentation order.
    Letter codes are intuitive and far easier to memorize.

    -show participants should be gathered in green room outside the stage and should not reappear life on TV until result presentation begins.
    There’s no reason to let them advertise themself more than by stage performace.

    -soreboard should be filled with televoting results first and only then a pooling trip around Europe should beging.
    (Actually televoting result presentation washes away emotions invested in Euro-trip in few minutes – a “300 point Joker” is that kills the show at the very end).

  10. Ewan Spence says:

    Thank you 4porcelli! The summer investigatons start soon, Castaways returns, and the delights of Young Musicians await!

  11. Marc says:

    “… the public voting leads to tension at the end of the show it is still difficult to follow”
    I’m glad you mentioned that, people say it’s exciting but a lot of the tension is fake. Showing Austria and Italy in a split screen with Cyprus and Israel was disingenuous, because we didn’t need an Ellie Chalkley spreadsheet to tell us that the first two of those countries had no chance of winning. The pre-2016 version was much more honest. Let’s have one set of voting with the spokespersons off screen. So much time is wasted by those “congratulations on a great show” moments, which add nothing to proceedings.

  12. Dave Cargill says:

    Great observations, Ewan. Based on the immense delegation interest in ‘Israel Calling’ and the media interest in anything about Jerusalem, I would expect to see 40+ countries again. Smaller populated countries without bloc voting neighbors can now win Eurovision under this points system, and that’s very attractive to artists & composers from countries such as Austria, Portugal and Israel.

  13. Ewan Spence says:

    James, watching back the interval act, there’s a lot of improv and hesitation from Salvador and Caetano, so I suspect the piano was ‘live’ so all three could riff off each other as required on the night. I think that would have been a lot easier than trying to sync that to a backing track.

  14. unsilencedepiphany77 says:

    Just curious, why are Europeans so against Australia being in the ESC? I can’t help but feel the reasons a country such as Israel is seen as “European” match that of Australias, but there’s clearly a difference based on popular opinion. I don’t necessarily understand…

    Josh (A curious American)

    PS – I’m so happy the states are now televising Eurovision, but I hope America never enters the contest… I feel like we would ruin it. Haha!

  15. Shai says:

    @Josh- Israel has been a member of the EBU for 40 years or longer and therefore is eligible to participate in Eurovision.
    The current broadcaster is not yet a member of the EBU, but has applied for memebersme, which will be approved, somewhere in November/December. Waiting for aproval, the broadcaster has been granted permission to participate this year, eventhough not yet a memeber.

    Australia is an associate member of the EBU.As such it is not eligible to participate in Eurovision.
    In 2015, as part of the celebration of 60th contest, the EBU has invited Australia to participate in the contest. It was supposed to be a one time participation but since then, the EBU invite Australia to participate every year.
    Rumors are that this is done because Australia pay an handsome fee, which the EBU doesn’t want to loose.
    Fans, on the other hand, are not amused.

    Hope this clarifies the matter.

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