The Unexpected Stars of Eurovision 2019

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most-watched non-sporting events, with audience figures of between 100 million and 600 million internationally. In 2018 it achieved an audience of around 186 million people.

So it is no surprise that Israel has launched into hosting the 2019 contest with great enthusiasm this week, after winning last year’s contest with the song ‘Toy’, performed by Netta Barzilai. Overall this is the third time that Israel has hosted the contest; with Tel Aviv as the host city this time, rather than Jerusalem.

The two semi-finals seem to have gone well (although not completely without technical issues) and the running order for Saturday’s final has now been published.

Thus the stage is set for a final extravaganza in Tel Aviv on Saturday after a number of the fan’s favorite songs got through in Thursday’s semi-finals. There was also final confirmation that Madonna will perform on Saturday, after some weeks of delay.

So enthusiastic are the Israelis that news sites are even publishing guides to the various events and facilities that have been arranged for the thousands of visitors the contest has attracted.

But an unexpected result of the second semi-final was the acclaim for the Shalva Band, who made a guest appearance having pulled out of representing Israel when the dress rehearsal was scheduled for Friday night. The Jewish Sabbath, a day set aside within Judaism for rest and worship of God, starts on Friday evening.

The band is made up of musicians with disabilities. Their performance of the song “A Million Dreams” was such that reporters claimed they were the real winners on Thursday and that ‘there was not a dry eye in the house’. Experience it for yourself with this video clip.