Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on Saturday 12 May, bringing Israel its fourth victory in the glitzy pageant, watched by over 200 million people around the world, and winning the right to host the event next year.
There was a strong field of contestants at this year’s event. The votes coming in live from the capitals of participating countries delivered a tense finale, with Israel gripped in a tight, five-way race with Cyprus, Austria, Sweden and Germany.
With the song “Toy” the 25-year-old pre-competition favorite won over competitors from 42 other countries.
Barzilai, known more usually as Netta, has a witty and endearing personality. Before the Grand Final, her song had already racked up more than 20 million views on Eurovision’s YouTube channel. In “Toy”, Netta makes funny noises, including a clucking sound like a chicken and barely decipherable words, and uses a looping machine and synthesizer. The lyrics say, “I am not your toy, you stupid boy, I will take you down.”
“Next time in Jersualem!” Barzilai shouted to the audience as she picked up her award.
She eventually racked up 529 points, compared with 436 for runner-up Cyprus with “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira, and 342 for third-place Austria with Cesar Sampson’s “Nobody but You”. Portugal came last, with 39 points.
The British entrant, SuRie, singing “Storm” was interrupted by a protester who rushed on stage and grabbed her microphone. Offered the opportunity to repeat her performance, she declined. The UK got 48 votes.