Eurovision 2022 Israel profile: 'I.M' by Michael Ben David
Israel at Eurovision
Since debuting in 1973, Israel has been a highly successful entrant at Eurovision, winning on four occasions. Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta gave Israel its first victory in 1978 with 'A-Ba-Ni-Bi', and remarkably, Milk and Honey defended the title on home soil in 1979, winning with the song 'Hallelujah'.
It would take another 20 years for Israel to win again, with the iconic and groundbreaking Dana International taking the title in 1998 with 'Diva', truly being a watershed moment for the Contest as a whole. Keeping with the 20 year theme, it was in Lisbon in 2018 where Netta delivered Israel its fourth win, with the female-empowerment track 'Toy' beating out some stiff competition.
In the most recent Contest, Eden Alene carried the flag and set a record for singing the highest note in Eurovision history in 'Set Me Free', on her way to a solid 17th place finish.
2022 Entry - Michael Ben David (מיכאל בן דוד) - 'I.M'
Israel will perform in second spot in the second semi-final
My Eurovision Scoreboard ranking: 30th
Odds to win ranking: 34th
(Odds accurate as of April 11)
Who is Michael Ben David?
Michael Ben David (מיכאל בן דוד) is from Petah Tikva, a town just outside Tel Aviv, and is 25-years-old. Michael has Russian/Ukrainian and Georgian roots. Michael is quoted talking about his experience growing up and about the difficulties he faced as a child. From being bullied at school for singing in a high-pitched voice, to the trouble that his mother initially had accepting him when he came out as gay.
After completing his Army service, Michael studied at the Beit Zvi School of Performing Arts, where he sang and acted in plays and musicals. Michael has not released any music besides his Eurovision entry, so the Contest will mark a great opportunity to make a name for himself in the industry. While on the X Factor, Michael sang a version of a Hebrew song called 'Mother', which was truly a magic moment given his strained relationship with her. Michael's mother joined him on stage for the final part of the performance, a very emotional climax to the performance and a sign of her eventual acceptance.
About the song
'I.M' is composed by Chen Aharoni, Lidor Saadia, Asi Tal, and is an upbeat number with a strong instrumental beat and hints of traditional sounds. Michael is able to show off his impressive vocals, especially in the high register, and he has a great stage presence. The song can be described as camp, but Michael performs well and it's a catchy dance track.
While he did not write the song, the message speaks to Michael's struggles for acceptance as a child and how he has managed to overcome that. Speaking to Israeli TV station Kan 11, Michael said:
"People voted for me and that means they accept me for who I am. This isn’t only for me. This is for so many people who feel worthless and useless."
So while the musical style may be seen by some as being slightly clichéd, the message of the song is strong.
How did 'I.M' get to Eurovision?
Israel had a very drawn out process to find its Eurovision song for 2022, using the X Factor format to select its entry. The show held auditions, home visits and live shows in regular X Factor style. When the final four artists were chosen, each was given two songs to perform in a semi-final, one of which made it to the Grand Final.
The voting in the Grand Final was chosen by 50% audience vote, 25% X Factor judges (including 2018 Eurovision winner Netta) and 25% professional music jury. Michael had a nail-biting one point victory over runner-up Eli Huli, storming the televote to take the victory.
'I.M' recently underwent a revamp, with the production tightening and a flute melody added into the instrumental break. Michael's vocals are still powerful and we can expect to see some dancing and high energy on the stage.
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Israel will compete in semi-final two on May 12 (European time) in Turin.