Eurovision season

Israel’s Eden Alene makes it into Eurovision finals

Despite social media calls to boycott Israel, Alene’s ‘Set Me Free’ — complete with super-high ‘whistle note’ — wins place in Saturday’s song contest

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Eden Alene performing at the semifinal round of the 2021 Eurovision in Rotterdam, Netherlands (Courtesy screengrab)
Eden Alene performing at the semifinal round of the 2021 Eurovision in Rotterdam, Netherlands (Courtesy screengrab)

Despite the war raging at home in Israel, and social media calls to boycott Israel, Eurovision contestant Eden Alene on Tuesday night won one of the 26 final spots for the song contest on Saturday, May 22.

It may have been Alene’s signature “whistle note” in her song “Set Me Free” that won fans over, it being the highest note ever in Eurovision history.

In Tuesday night’s semifinal round, 16 countries battled it out for 10 of 26 final spots — from which one winner will be crowned on Saturday, May 22. Another 10 spots will be awarded to winners of the second semifinal on Thursday, May 18, along with six more reserved for the Big Five (Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the UK) and incumbent winner the Netherlands.

Alene performed in front of a smaller-than-usual audience, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 Eurovision song contest held in Israel, after Israeli Netta Barzilai won in 2018.

Eden Alene – Set Me Free – LIVE – Israel ???????? – First Semi-Final – Eurovision 2021

Posted by Պավլիկ Ավդալյան on Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Israel was also inadvertently represented at the Eurovision semifinals by Russia, whose song, “Russian Woman,” sung by Manizha, was written by Ori Avni and Ori Kaplan of Balkan Beat Box, an Israeli band known for its mix of rap, Balkan, Middle Eastern and electronic sound.

The two Israeli musicians met Manizha at a music festival in Israel, and collaborated on the song, an anthem to Russian women’s resilience, which ended up being chosen as the country’s choice for Eurovision.

Russia was another of the ten countries that made it through Tuesday’s semifinals into the Saturday final.

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