Three-Minute Throwdown: Israel 2020 Edition

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After a months-long voting process, it was decided that Eden Alene would represent Israel. This past week, the songs that were shortlisted were released to the public. One of these songs, all to be performed at 21:30 local/20:30 CET on Tuesday evening, will advance to the Rotterdam stage and represent Israel in Eurovision 2020. As with all other articles in the Three-Minute Throwdown series, these songs will be analyzed for their musical details. These songs have not been performed live, so there are no performance details to analyze. Without further ado, let’s begin!


Savior in the Sound

G minor (technically more Aeolian than major/minor mode due to the presence of v instead of tonal V). Ballad with piano, electric guitar, deep synth-driven sounds; almost like if they put “Arcade” in an electronic Red Sea. The lyrics have a lot of military and Israel references, which may make sense given her background in the military band. Military snare drum in the second verse, which includes faint four-on-the-floor bass drum as well. For a contest espousing love and peace according to 2016 hosts Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede, these lyrics are strangely violent… almost as if Eurovision were a song battle! …Oh, wait. I guess it kind of is, considering that both Eurovision and its direct ancestor Sanremo were meant to bring something peaceful to the table following World War II.

Epic delay of drop into the lyrics “Tell Me Why” at the end, though. There was a riser, then a severe drop in instrumentation, which increased the anticipation. There was a marked lack of non-vocal sounds at the end “savior in the sound”. Interesting ideas throughout.

Roots

E minor. Cool overblowing of whatever woodwind this is over a synth pad playing E2. Starts off as an ethnic-inspired pop song and morphs into a high-pitched rap in the chorus. Catchy, though the transition between the chorus and bridge is a bit abrupt. Did Alene sing that rap with her natural, unadulterated voice, or did someone else sing that? Or did she use helium even? The sound was so much more high-pitched and sounded pitch-shifted based on its shrillness.

Rakata

C# minor. Israeli folk music (and a lot of different folk music around Europe) tends to use similar ornamentation in their woodwind playing.

I think I saw comparisons with “Me tana” and “Wild” and think that those are appropriate. It’s a dancy song with tresillo rhythms and ethnic flair. If she can sing this well, however, I can see this song doing quite well. Airhorn sound: was that necessary?? Nice blend of straight and swung rhythms throughout, and the syllables of “rakata” add to the percussive nature of the song; “k” and “t” are often used in beatboxing. Cool vibe, and I would love to see how the staging goes with this.

Feker Libi

C minor. Cool usage of multiple languages. I find this song to most embrace her Ethiopian heritage. The percussion section is extremely active. Tango begins around 0:17. Nice usage of brass on the “Maka Lakuma” lines. I find this easier to digest than “Too Late for Love” (John Lundvik, Sweden 2019; to be referred to as TLFL) because TLFL uses too many contrasting syncopated rhythms in the chorus that may make it hard to get into the actual groove. In contrast, Alene’s part in this chorus is a very non-syncopated rhythm, which allows for the beat to be felt clearly (which was an issue for “Friend of a Friend”) while also highlighting how the backing instrumentation grooves in the back. Not a fan of the interlude before the second verse having an overall bright sound (focusing on high frequencies) and a riser going back to the tango verse with a rich, warm, and rounded tone overall. More gradual changes would be nice. This would probably sound better live and with a bit of extra production time, as it still sounds canned with good headphones.


After listening through these four songs with this potentially new information, which of these songs stands out most to you? The program is slated to begin at 21:30 local/20:30 CET via KAN 11.

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