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Israel: Netta – Toy

  As predicted, Israel have dropped a banger in the form of Toy, performed by the gifted Netta Barzilai. Netta will perform Toy in the congested first half of semi-final 1. It's safe to say that opinion has been divided so far and I would tend to agree with the more moderate analysis. Toy is certainly esoteric and a tad aggressive in parts, but that overlooks the core component of the song: Netta Barzilai. The Israeli phenomenon has caused a storm back at home which has seen everyday folk dressing up as Netta for the annual Purim holiday, which is…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal


It is understanding Netta's galvanising effect on people that makes her such an interesting prospect and why she could defy Eurovision convention.

User Rating: 3.32 ( 149 votes)

As predicted, Israel have dropped a banger in the form of Toy, performed by the gifted Netta Barzilai.

Netta will perform Toy in the congested first half of semi-final 1.

It’s safe to say that opinion has been divided so far and I would tend to agree with the more moderate analysis. Toy is certainly esoteric and a tad aggressive in parts, but that overlooks the core component of the song: Netta Barzilai. The Israeli phenomenon has caused a storm back at home which has seen everyday folk dressing up as Netta for the annual Purim holiday, which is the Jewish equivalent of Hallowe’en. Netta has become the biggest Eurovision icon since Dana International!

It is understanding Netta’s galvanising effect on people that makes her such an interesting prospect and why she could defy Eurovision convention. There is a Susan Boyle air about her where one draws conclusions based on her sizeable frame and geeky styling and is quickly won over by her unique talent and likeable, tour-de-force gusto.

As for the song, Toy is a powerful and catchy 3-minutes with eastern-sounding Mizrachi flourishes. It is modern, extremely radio friendly and stands out as a bold Contest-song versus the some of the safer beige entries chosen to date. Why wouldn’t the juries like the song given its professionalism? The juries aren’t all grey haired, bespectacled purists, most are rooted in the music industry as writers, singers and radio DJs. In most circumstances, this is the sort of music they would listen to, or at least commend for originality and commercial potential. Last year they ranked JOWST 3rd in the semi and 6th in the final, so they have form for recognising modern and unique musical flavours.

The televote could get behind Netta in the same way it supported Verka, the Russian Grannies and even Conchita given her distinctive appearance. However, I concede that Netta might be too overpowering for some, but until we see the Israeli staging and how Netta plays her trump card: the looper machine, it’s best not to rule out them out. It is also likely Israel will perform strongly on the OGAE fan poll, which should keep them short on the outright markets.

  • Modern credible and radio friendly
  • Excellent vocals
  • Looper provides excellent visual gimmick
  • Needs to be careful not to appear too aggressive

Top-3, Top-5, Top-10, or non-qualifier?

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. I know, I know what you all were thinking
    That we aren’t gonna have a real contender
    But don’t, don’t give up
    Cause we got Toy, cause we got Toy

  2. This will either fail miserably and we all ask what happened or more likely it gets huge momentum and we have a massive favourite with a translatable message to voters. The plunge on Exchanges since the original leak has been very significant.

  3. Likely Jury Appeal … Zero. The same jury that gave 18 x 12 points to Amar Pelos Dois never in life will score this song.
    I would never bet on this song: no hope of getting the jury vote and it is impossible to attract the most demanding televoting above the age of 30.

    • I don’t really understand this sentiment of juries tearing this apart. I think it is a mistake to assume that slightly gimmicky = jury poison.

      The juries will recognise this as what it is: an excellent slice of forward thinking pop. It contains the most modern production of the contest, sonically bordering on what PC Music have been playing with in the more underground realms of pop, has a massive hook, and Netta oozes charisma. The jury will reward all of these things.

    • The juries often get behind modern songs. In 2015, Sweden was the jury’s winner, with the most 12 pointers (14) and the most points overall (353 to Latvia’s 249 in 2nd place). “Euphoria” was also the juries’ winner in 2012.

  4. My prediction:

    Televoting: Top 3
    Juries: 7th – 15th

    • Catriona Colville

      That’s your prediction for the semi, right? Because no way it does that in the final…if it even gets there.

    • Yes, I am having same initial impression. To be a top 3 material or a contender the song should be in top 5 with jury I would think. There are easily 5-6 songs/ performers who are likely to be scored higher by the jury. My thoughts on top 6 with jury based on potential for vocal performance and an overall quality of entry (in no particular order): Estonia, Armenia, Italy, Norway, Albania, Austria. So this probably leaves Toy as top 10-15 provided they are not perceived as over aggressive.

      I was listening to a Swiss blogger (Chevs choice) who mentioned that a generalisation like ‘you stupid boy’ might upset male viewers. Women empowerment is a great thing but let’s not make all men villains and predators by default.

  5. False Favorit. Same like the Monkey last year but this time the Chicken will struggle.

  6. Lovely original song, def high in my top!

    Now objective: The juries will destroy this and it might alienate people at home too.

  7. Mikey from Australia

    There’s no way on God’s Green Earth this is going to win…

  8. Right now this is p***ing over the competition in the semi. I think every singer/delegation want to perform as far away as possible from this one.

  9. Hugely talented artist and a very brave entry and from the first moment of seeing Netta perform in Israel in the selection show it was obvious she was special and priced wrong.Is it novelty?.No,i dont think it is,its a very clever bit of pop with a hook laden melody that grabs you from the intro.The juries wont slaughter it because i think they will spot its not novelty,well apart from the chickens that is.However at the same time they are unlikely to score it high enough for the win,unless there is a huge televote.Is it 4th-7th maybe?
    Fantastic entry,and i think it will suck away a lot of any votes Estonia might of got and is a casualty from this,as are other televote songs.The price with the bookies now is nuts though,carpet best price seems barmy,but the bookies will love a fav like this to suck money onto at those prices and could shorten more yet.

  10. Too many non objective remarks about this song. EscTips should not allow comments not based on objective criteria.

    A song that begins in tango, passes through rap, hip hop, pop … and in which refrain the voice struggles among so many instrumental artillery, should be pulverized by the jury for lack of coherence and consistency. Authenticity zero.

    Let us not deceive ourselves. The betting experts are “further down”, waiting for a revamp in a quiet, contemporary ballad that has the magic to draw televote and jury crosswise.

  11. Some here and a lot on the Wiwiblogs thread saying the juries will kill this. Maybe they’re not so predictably regimented. They didn’t kill the Russian grannies. And this has more musicality.

    And the “message” which is always a plus at ESC (womens’ empowerment bs in this case).

    • Attention should be paid to EBU’s increased requirements for recruitment of jury members since 2017.

      • Can you post them here or link to them pls?

        • Check the professional areas of each, please, and compare with previous years.

        • Originally, the rules only required national jury members to be “music industry professionals.

          But in recent years, at least since 2014, this has been the wording of the rule:

          “Members of the National Juries must pursue one of the following professions within the music industry: radio DJ, artist, composer, author of lyrics or music producer.”

  12. People think its easy to predict what juries will do as opposed to televoters. Let me help you out of your dream: It is not. It. Is. Not. We haven’t seen an entry like Israel before in the past years. I’m now thinking of Serbia 2015, Moldova 2017 (3rd overall), Ukraine 2007, Israel 2015 and Turkey 2004. But even those comparisons have distinct flaws. If Netta performs the way she does in the videoclip, then Israel can risk a 3rd place with the jury if it massively wins the televoters. Then it still wins overall.

    I think Israel is the one to beat now, BUT we have to wait how this will looks on stage. We don’t know the finalized stage concept yet. And with countries like Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Estonia, Belgium and Austria you have a bit more certainty that their stage concepts will be good to perfect. Even at this stage.

  13. Stating the obvs but this is only 3/1 at the bookies because it’s linked to the #MeToo movement.

    Doesn’t sound like a winner to me.

  14. looks a bit of a false favourite to me. its sort of everything i hate about the Katy Perry style modern pop. over-produced to within its life with throwaway lyrics that try to give the impression of something important – in this case female empowerment. i could be wrong but it seems a little bit too in yer face to carry the vote. many saying the jury vote will kill it but i think the opposite – i think it will be top 5 jury with a lower televote score. if it has an absolute killer presentation then i’ll reassess.

  15. Toy is sharply dividing opinion. As much as to try to clarify my own thoughts I’ll list what I see as the positives and negatives:

    + the song has a fun/novelty appeal in a year where there are probably only 3 songs in this category – so it will stand out
    + at the same time (when you close your eyes and listen to the audio) musically its quite strong and contemporary so there is something for the juries there and musically it has the edge over Rybak and Moldova
    + I’m assuming Netta can sing
    + Israel are good at fun staging
    + This feels like it’s something new for Eurovision

    – Is it just too left field for sizeable numbers of jurors and televoters?
    – Is Netta voteable? Will she come across as too scary, mad or (sorry Netta) fat?
    – Will the fact that Toy is Israel’s entry harm it in some quarters?
    – If they get the staging wrong or the vocal is off, this could absolutely bomb

    In answer to your question Gav, I have it down provisionally as possible top 5 and one of 6 or 7 potential winners, but I won’t be backing it at 3/1 – not before dress rehearsals at any rate.

  16. Mikey from Australia

    Songs that are too left field don’t tend to do well… Just look at Artsvik from last year… There were comments that she was a potential winner too, remember?

  17. Where did Rockefeller Street finish?

  18. Look like the big winner song

  19. So after 2016 and 2017 it is now the third time in the row we have a (clear) market leader with a questionable jury appeal. Maybe not as questionable as ‘You are the Only One’, but more questionable than ‘Occidentali’s Karma’.
    Lazarev received 130 jury points (being Russia that is pretty low); Gabbani received 126 jury points. What’s interesting, he even got less points from juries than JOWST or O’G3NE (who would have thought that before rehearsals?!)

    It does not sound like the following two songs, but somehow to me ‘Toy’ feels like a mixture of ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ and ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’. Going into rehearsals I am pretty sure this is going to be the most hyped entry of the year, topping ogae and other polls.

    We have not seen the staging of the song so far and I do think it has great potential for doing really great with the public. But how well could that be? ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ as a fun party song only received 235 points with the televoters in field of 42 songs.
    Maybe I am wrong, but to me it does not feel like a song the juries will totally go far. The main(!) problem for Israel is, we have a year with too many songs for the juries to pick from. I can see the juries rewarding Sweden, Bulgaria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany more than Israel. Maybe even Australia, Italy, Austria, Estonia or Portugal could be higher with juries. I am sure there are 2-3 further songs in the mix that do have the potential to do really well with juries.

    All in all, I find it hard to imagine Israel getting more than 450 points overall. Let’s see what happens in May 🙂

    • A particular negative for Israel is the ranking system. It’s the type of entry that if a juror doesn’t like it they really won’t like it. This will be 20th or lower from a lot of individual jurors which will really hit it.

    • All good points, but remember that Lazarev in 2016, despite the handicap of those 130 jury points came within 30 odd points of stealing it with his massive 361 Televotes…..it wouldn’t take much adjustment of the maths for Netta to come up on the rails if she totally nails the televote.

      • Not saying it is impossible, it just won’t be easy to achieve.
        Remember last year, when people were expecting Italy to get at the very least(!) 300 televoting points? In the end, it got even beaten by Moldova. And Moldova’s odds were 500+ all the time before rehearsals (on the final day it was still around 150-200)

  20. I think at this stage of the season we are looking for any ‘phenomenon’ we can possibly find and I guess Netta just got lucky.
    Apart from the clucking, there isn’t much originality in the song in this forum – Eastern influenced pop we hear but once a year – Eurovision has churned it out in spades since the expansion in the 90s.
    It lives on the novelty she can carry off a Björk costume, and sure, it might just work in the semi. Don’t think it’ll trouble the top-10 when it matters.

  21. This is a song where I really have to separate my personal feelings from betting judgement.

    Personally, I really enjoy this. Its one of the rare songs in this years contest that I can dance to and brings a smile to my face.

    But betting-wise, Netta is setting off a heap of red flags for me.

    Firstly, its just on that wrong side of quirky. It might not be a novelty in our eyes knowing her history with the looper (and its brave choice for EBU rulings on such matters), but I cant imagine the average viewer at home OR jury is going to see and hear a bundle of clucking noises and likely dancers doing chicken moves on stage and think “wow, what a great tune – lets vote!”. More likely, they will laughing far too hard to take note.

    Next, Nettas appearance. Not that I am judgemental in the slightest being that I am overweight myself, but I do think people will judge the fact she is a bigger Jewish girl; compared to say a cute boy or a good looking woman in a little dress.

    Lastly, its the strength of that semi final overall. It just makes qualification a little bit tougher, in amongst the more traditional looking and sounding songs. Eurovision may be moving on, but I don’t think its entirely caught up with the times in terms of music. People are still awarding the acts that feel safe and look impressive on TV.

    I expect she will qualify (just), but it will be lost in the pack come finals.

  22. So in the comments here there is a strong sentiment that this is going to be a flop, and the expressed opinions are backed by very logical arguments. However all the bookies, who obviously make mistakes but they are still professionals, are giving her the best chances to win and by a huge margin (the previous leaders didn’t get odds better than 1:7, Israel is getting 1:3’s). So what do they know that we don’t? What makes them asses Toy as the undisputed favorite? Or do they just want to create a hype of ‘a safe bet’, to convince people to throw away their money?

    • The bookmakers only react to public money. They shorten based on what they deem is the %age chance of a particular country winning along with the volume of money flowing in. They will change their odds when a certain liabilities threshold is reached.

      The bookmakers are there to make money, so it is part of their business model to get the best return on investment. So why keep Israel’s odds at 10/1 or 20/1 when people are willing to back at 3/1?

  23. 3,000,000 views in 24HR – LOL, see you in the contest
    Go girl power – Netta!!!

  24. This is a top 3 televote hitter for sure, she can even top it. Juries wont destroy this but they wont let it win either. Guessing they will rate her around 7-13.
    So a country that will do really well in both televote and jury vote ( Estonia, Australia ) may grab the win even if Netta tops the televote.

  25. It seems to me that with a successful staging and charisma of the performer, this can do moderately well with the audience (in the region of the 5th place). The assessment of the jury I think depends on the ability of the performer to stay on stage and whether she will sing well in vocal. But I think that it will not be too low. It seems to me that the jury is in the 10th place.

    In general, it seems to me, even in the worst case scenario, not to fall below the 10th place. At best I think it’s 3-5 place.

  26. So today escXtra published a wonderful video from Uganda. A local dance group called Spoon Yourh are doing a cracking job of combining ethnic African dancing with… Netta’s song. If I may, I will publish the link. https://www.escxtra.com/2018/03/18/uganda-spoon-youth-toy/

    And while I was watching these teens dancing (all against a painstakingly honest Ugandan slum background). I was thinking that maybe, just maybe we are witnessing here something bigger in formation. Netta’s Live performance will still be key, but I am amazed by how many folks start relating to the song.

    • I feel like people are getting swept up in it too much. There was a proliferation of Occidentalis Karma Youtube clips as well, but it didn’t win.
      The more I think about it with the song, the more I actually get annoyed. Firstly, I feel its more jumped on a bandwagon of this whole #metoo thing rather than it actually be specifically written for it. There is female empowerment and there is this. I wonder how many men would appreciate the sentiments.
      I like Netta as a performer, but watching her on-screen she reminds of a comedian rather than an artist with the noises, the chicken moves, the face pulling… I don’t think what seems like a novelty element is going to work for votes.
      Then there are the lyrics. We tear apart so many songs over the lyrical content, but I don’t think Toy is really any better (toy/stupid boy, etc etc); what it does have going for it is that it is easy to understand and the chorus is easy to pickup for singalong on a first listen.
      I hope it qualifies, the final will be better for a few good pop tunes in the mix, but it’s not a winner in my mind. What worries me is when betting brings big focus to a tune which inevitably becomes a winner on expectation (and a sheep mentality) rather than quality.

      • That doesn’t really happen, certainly not winner wise. Take recent years, the bandwagon songs of Italy and previously Russia were beaten by the best song in the competition, irrespective of the hype. I suppose this year could be different as there’s no obvious contenders for the win, but rather a lot of pretty decent songs which could end up winning by default if Netta fails to deliver, a-la 2011 and Vasily

  27. This feels like either the runaway winner or finish nowhere. Staging and vocal is everything with this as it could be a car crash. Too short in the betting but there is little or no competition if this does come across well live. The clucking is extremely off-putting, however. It’s Loreen or Getter Jaani

  28. Israel win every 20 years – 1978, 1998, 2018 (and 1979).

  29. Meanwhile, one of Netta’s dancers dyed her hair pink, switching from the turquoise from the official clip.

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