Idol Chatter

Every year the Eurovision song contest pits countries against each other in an international battle of the bands, which CNN describes as “a 50-year-old pan-European institution renowned less for serious music than for unbridled kitsch and terrible costumes but which is nonetheless a major TV event every year.” (Yes, just like Mamma Mia is on Broadway.)

But at this year’s contest controversy is afoot, as host city Helsinki has said “hell, no” to Israel’s entry, a song called “Push the Button,” which is about exactly what it sounds like–living under the threat of nuclear war. (Click below to watch the video for this song.)

The song–a tongue-in-cheek melange of styles that is sung in three languages (English, French and Hebrew)–refers to “some crazy rulers” who “hide and try to fool us with demonic technologic willingness to harm.” Never mind that the song (from a band called Teapacks) appears to be a general meditation on the dangers of life in the nuclear age, or that Finland’s 1982 Eurovision entry, “Nuku Pommiin,” was also about the threat of nuclear war. (It came in last.)

Teapacks was founded in 1988 and dominated the Israeli pop charts throughout the 1990s with a blend of Eastern rhythms and Western pop accompanied by offbeat lyrics. The band has been out of the limelight for some time until the recent controversy boosted their popularity.

Israel previously won the Eurovision song contest three times. In 1988 transsexual singer Dana International won with the over-the-top song “Diva,” a tune that made RuPaul’s “Work It” seem conservative and horrified religious Jews everywhere. Previous wins happened in the 1970s: In 1978 Izhar Cohen won for “Abani-Bi,” and Gali Atari & Milk and Honey won in 1979 for “Halleluyah.”

And here’s your additional Israeli music trivia note of the day: While the band’s name is currently being transliterated as “Teapacks,” I always see it written in English as “Tipex.” Why? Because the band is named after an Israeli product similar to “Wite-Out,” which helps you to erase (or “x-out”) type. Voila: Tipex.

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