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Israel: four original songs chosen for X-Factor Grand Final

(L-R): Michael Ben David, Sapir Saban, Inbal Bibi, Eli Huli

The four songs in contention to represent Israel at Eurovision 2022 in Turin have been finalised.

Israel has used the X-Factor to narrow down the field of singers to four, who were then each given two original songs.

In a special broadcast by KAN 11, only one song per artist would make it through to the X-Factor Grand Final taking place this Saturday night (Sunday morning Australian time). Through a mix of televote, a jury vote and the X-Factor judges (one of whom is Eurovision 2018 winner Netta), the four competing songs are:

Eli Huli (אלי חולי) - 'Blinded Dreamers'

Composers: Roby Fayer, Eli Huli

Eli Huli is a 24-year-old singer from the city of Lod, in central Israel, about 15km inland from Tel Aviv. He rose to prominence after placing fourth on Season 4 of The Voice Israel. Eli spoke recently about that experience, about having anxiety attacks before performing, and how he has learned to manage that being just a teenager at the time. He stated that now, he is a much more mature artist who can handle the stress of performing live, and as has been seen through his X-Factor renditions, he has a great voice and has real artistry, especially his cover of Netta's 'Toy. He will go into the Grand Final as a real contender.

Eli's greatest asset on stage is his understated presence and smooth vocals, and 'Blinded Dreamers' suits this style to a tee. It was delivered live with Eli roaming in and out of some glass panes and a few dancers on stage. 'Blinded Dreamers' won the duel over Eli's other song 'Nostalgia' by 67-33 points.

Inbal Bibi (ענבל ביבי) - 'Marionette'

Composers: Tzlil Klifi, Tal Forer, Mai Cohen

Inbal Bibi is 23-years-old and actually competed on Season 1 of X-Factor Israel at just 15-years-old, and finished in a very respectable fifth place. She is back now for a shot at Eurovision glory and is in with a real chance. Inbal has done some acting as a teen, appearing in the Israeli show 'Disappearing'. Inbal has released a handful of singles over the years, and has impressed on the X-Factor this year with her variety of performances. The songwriters of 'Marionette' stated that they loved Inbal's dancing ability, but they were drawn to her delivery of ballads, and the emotion she is able to convey on stage, so they wrote her this song.

In the live presentation of her two potential songs, Inbal really showed off her flexibility as a performer, and totally owned the stage in both performances. 'Marionette' gave Inbal a chance to deliver a power pop vocal, while 'ZaZa' was performed with some slick choreography and a more contemporary instrumental. The vote really came down to a matter of taste, as both songs were great in their own right; the jury and judges vote was locked at 25 points each, and the public chose 'Marionette' by just six points over 'ZaZa', winning by 53-47 points, the closest vote of the night.

Michael Ben David (מיכאל בן דוד) - 'I.M'

Composers: Chen Aharoni, Lidor Saadia, Asi Tal

Michael Ben David is from Petah Tikva, a town just outside Tel Aviv, and is 25-years-old. Michael has Russian/Ukrainian and Georgian roots, and was subject to bullying from a young age because of his high pitched voice and his homosexuality. After completing his army service, Ben David studied acting for a few years. His cover of a Hebrew song called 'Mother' during the show was a particularly heart-wrenching moment, as Michael's relationship with his mother was tested when he was a child; his mum joined him on stage for the last part of the song whih was truly magic. Michael will be looking to show off his impressive vocal range in the Grand Final.

The song 'I.M' was delivered in the Semi-Final with great choreography, and Michael has a great stage presence, so there was no doubt that this got the ticket for the Grand Final, Michael really brings the song to life on stage. 'I.M' comprehensively won the duel over the other prospective song 'Don't' by 83-17 points.

Sapir Saban (ספיר סבן) - 'Breaking My Own Walls'

Composers: Gal Joe Cohen, Eyal Yishay, Dikla Dori, Ido Dankner

Sapir Saban is a 27-year-old singer from Yehud, located in central Israel. She is or Turkish origin, and is known for singing in Hebrew, English and Turkish. She gained popularity after winning the fourth season of The Voice Israel. She released her first album last year, and has released several singles as well. Sapir has also done some acting and theatre in her career, so she certainly knows how to put on a show.

Both of Sapir's performances were delivered with great power and vocals, and Sapir has a great stage presence. Both songs sounded clinical in studio, but Sapir really brought both songs to life on stage. After a clean sweep of 25 points for 'Breaking My Own Walls', it was too much of a lead, and despite only winning the public vote by eight points, it was enough to win the duel over 'Head Up' by 69-31 points.

X-Factor For Eurovision: Grand Final

These four songs will compete in the Grand Final on Saturday night in Europe. All four artists will sing a cover in the first round of performances. Viewers will then be able to vote to send one artist home, leaving just three.

The final three artists will perform the "Eurovision song", and together with the jury, the X-Factor judges, viewers will once again vote on which song should go to Turin. Viewers are being advised to vote based on a combination of the song and the singing ability of the performers. At this stage, Eli Huli and Inbal Bibi seem to be the favourites to win, but it is a very even competition, so it really is anyone's game.

The Grand Final will be broadcast on tv station Reshet 13, on Saturday night European time, or Sunday morning Australian time.


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