Israel's 2024 Eurovision Song 'Hurricane' Is Here – Kveller
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Israel’s 2024 Eurovision Song ‘Hurricane’ Is Here

Despite having to rewrite the song twice and worldwide protests, Eden Golan will be taking the stage at Malmö with this powerful ballad.


Israel’s 2024 Eurovision song is here. “Hurricane” by Eden Golan, 20, who won the “Kochav Haba” or “Next Star to the Eurovision” reality competition, is a dramatic power ballad, unusually somber and dark in the landscape of previous Israeli entries to the contest, which are usually more upbeat. It’s a worthy contender for the beloved and extremely popular European TV event — or at least it would’ve been, any other year.

It took Israel three tries and two weeks to get their song approved by the European Broadcast Union, or EBU, who are in charge of the competition. Two previous songs, “October Rain” and “Dance Forever,” were both rejected for having lyrics that were too political, with direct references to the October 7 attack. According to the Israeli songwriting team, the EBU didn’t give them any clear guidelines as to what would or wouldn’t be acceptable. The organization affirmed that Israel meets the qualifications to participate in the competition despite the protests of other participating countries like Iceland and Sweden.

“Who told you boys don’t cry / Hours and hours / and flowers / Life is not a game for the cowards” — are lines from “October Rain,” with “flowers” being a Hebrew reference to fallen Israeli soldiers. In “Hurricane,” which uses the same melody, the new lyrics are, “Hours and hours, empowers / Life is no game but it’s ours / While the time goes wild.”

The lyrics to “Dance Forever” were very clearly about the Nova party, where over 300 people were killed, with lyrics like, “Oh, dance like an angel / Oh, you will remember / That I will dance forever.” A song titled “You Will Dance Forever” by Omer Adam and Infected Mushroom, which honored the victims of the festival, became a big hit in Israel in the weeks after October 7, as did “Dance” by Osher Cohen, which is also about the attack at the party and the victims of October 7.

“Hurricane” was written Avi Ohayon and renowned Israeli pop star Keren Peles, and the melody was co-written by Stav Beger, who also wrote the tune for the beloved 2015 Israeli Eurovision entry “Golden Boy.”

Peles is known for her more personal pop tunes and ballads, and this song certainly has a more personal feel. Golan said it is a song about a woman in the midst of a personal storm, but many of its references can very easily be interpreted to be about Israel in the aftermath of the October 7 attack. The official music video features a group of dancers doing a pained interpretive dance around Golan as she sings in a field with an uprooted upside-down tree. The clip, according to its makers is “to show a little bit the broken, and the growth.”

Some have said the imagery is eerily similar to that of 2018 Eurovision winner Netta’s “I Love My Nails” video — though Netta and her team haven’t directly addressed this, they did wish Golan and her Eurovision team the best of luck in the competition. Musician Noy Alooshe said the song’s melody also appeared to be making reference to the Manic Street Preacher’s “If You Tolerate This,” a song that’s resonated with Israelis since October as well.

It’s clear that every lyric, image and note of “Hurricane” is going to be picked apart. The references to dancing feel like an obvious allusion to the Nova party. “Everything is black and white,” may be referring to the perception of Israel. “People walk away but never say goodbye” can be a reference to the victims of the attack, while “baby promise me you’ll hold me again” could be a call to the return of the hostages. And the violent imagery of being struck by something as powerful as a hurricane, and being broken in its aftermath, does very much seem to describe the Israeli state of mind post-October 7.

“Those words can mean a lot of different things,” Shayna Weiss told JTA. “That’s probably how they were allowed. But it’s obvious what they mean when it’s Israel’s entry to Eurovision.”

In a press conference this week, the songwriters all said they wrote this year’s entry from a place of grief, saying, “It’s impossible to write about anything else these days, this is what we’re going through right now.” Peles’ good friend from Kibbutz Be’eri had her house burned down, while Ohayon’s son is on reserves duty in Gaza and he hasn’t heard from him in a month. They shared that they “tried to make a song about their pain more than about politics.”

During the two weeks in which it was uncertain whether or not Israel would participate in this year’s Eurovision, it was reported that Kan, Israel’s broadcast network, refused to revise the song for the EBU. However, Israel’s president Itzhak Herzog urged them to, saying how important the competition would be for the country’s morale (the Eurovision is extremely popular in Israel, and the country has won it four times, including in 1998, with Dana International, who became the contest’s first transgender winner, and most recently in 2018 with Netta’s “Toy”).

To Peles, participating felt important, too. “There are hostages who came back from captivity and went to the U.N. If they do it, who are we not to do this? It’s just music and words — not to sit and just feel sorry for ourselves, we have to change the picture as much as we can.”

“It’s not just a year of grief,” Peles said. “There’s grief, but also an existential struggle, and [a struggle] for our voices to be heard… there are people alive that we want to get back. It’s not just grief. We want to keep living, and we have a desire to keep flourishing.”

Kan shared a video of Noa Kirel, last year’s contender, passing the baton to Golan, both singing the 2023 entry, “Unicorn.” Just like “Hurricane,” “Unicorn” can also be interpreted as a song about a woman going through an upheaval, and standing up to those who hate her, but it is also a song about Israel itself, having the “power of unicorn” and being “out here on my own,” while also alluding to a better future: “History caught in a loop / Don’t you want to change it?” Kirel re-released a more ballad-like version of “Unicorn” after October 7.

There is a precedent of countries in war being barred from the Eurovision — Russia’s broadcasting networks left the EBU after the union decided that it would not be allowed to participate in the 2022 competition. However, the EBU claims that the competition is between broadcasting networks, not governments, and that Israel’s Kan has met all of its guidelines to compete.

And so, Golan will be taking the stage in Sweden this May, along with another singer of Israeli descent, Tali, who is representing Luxembourg. While celebrities like Helen Mirren, Boy George and Gene Simmons have signed a petition in support of Israel’s Eurovision participation, many artists, politicians and organizations are continuing to vociferously call for boycotts of Eurovision over Israel’s participation, and as pro-Palestinian protests have become par for the course at big cultural events, like the Oscars and the Grammys, they will likely affect the Eurovision as well.

Golan, however, is undeterred. While she told the Times of Israel that she’s “competing in not a simple year,” she said that “on the other hand, I even more so want to represent the country this year, because of its meaning — it has a totally different significance. And we can bring everything we’re feeling, and everything the country is going through, in those three minutes. To speak through the song to the world.”

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