Eurovision 2018: Israel Wins Contest With Netta's 'Toy'

netta-eurovision-2018-billboard
Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS, Getty Images

Singer Netta Barzilai, representing Israel, wins the Grand Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest at Altice Arena in Lisbon.

In a closely-fought competition that wasn’t decided until the last minute, Israel won the 63rd Eurovision Contest with the upbeat pop song “Toy” by 25-year-old Netta.

The lead changed hands many times during the evening, with Austria, Sweden and Cyprus looking like the likeliest winners during reporting of the jury votes from each of the 43 countries that participated this year. To achieve the most dramatic effect, the popular vote is added in after the jury votes are reported. Austria was in first place after the jury vote and Sweden was runner-up, but the public put the oddsmakers’ favorite, Eleni Foureira’s “Fuego” from Cyprus, in second place and handed the victory to Israel.

It’s Israel first win in exactly 20 years. In 1998, transsexual singer Dana International triumphed with “Diva.” Netta’s win gives Israel its fourth victory overall. Israel first won in 1978 with “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” by Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta and then took home the trophy again in 1979, a rare consecutive victory, with “Hallelujah” by Milk and Honey.

Dana International’s win was controversial in Israel, as some members of the Orthodox community condemned the idea of the country being represented by a transsexual performer. Netta was not without controversy when she sang “Toy” on Israeli television this year, and many viewers thought she sang the word “motherfucker.” Eurovision officials then released the official lyrics, which contained the words “MadaBaka beat.”

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lisbon after Portgual’s victory in 2017 with Salvador Sobral’s “Amar Pelos Dois,” a quiet, reflective and timeless song. In his victory speech, Sobral said, “Music is not fireworks; music is feeling,” a slam against many of the flashier entries, some of which used pyro on stage. Two days ago, Sobral caused some controversy when he labeled “Toy” a “horrible song.” In response, Netta tweeted, “Sending only love to Salvador, and to all artists of all genres.”

This year’s most dramatic moment during the live broadcast, aside from the last-minute victory for Israel, took place during the performance of the entry from the United Kingdom. While SuRie was singing “Storm,” a member of the audience wearing a black and red bandana ran on stage and grabbed her microphone, yelling what sounded like, “For the Nazis of the U.K. media, we demand freedom.” SuRie looked stunned and stopped singing until she was handed another microphone and then resumed as the male intruder was rushed away by security.

The top 10 entries from the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest and their combined point totals from the jury and the popular votes are:

1) Israel (529 points)

2) Cyprus (436)

3) Austria (342)

4) Germany (340)

5) Italy (308)

6) Czech Republic (281)

7) Sweden (274)

8) Estonia (245)

9) Denmark (226)

10) Moldova (209)

The result gave Cyprus its highest finish. Previously, the country placed fifth three times, in 1992, 1997 and 2004. Host country Portugal was in last place this year, with 39 points.

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.