Israel’s entry for the 2018 Eurovision song contest has soared to the top of the betting charts immediately after its release, making the country the favorite to win this year’s competition with odds of 3-1 on several betting websites.
On Sunday, it was officially revealed that Israel’s candidate, Netta Barzilai, will sing “Toy,” written by Doron Medley and Stav Beger, at the contest on May 12.
Potential voters across Europe have hailed the song for its lyrics, which ride the tide of the past year’s #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, as well as for its catchiness and some quirks which include chicken sounds and a chicken dance by the idiosyncratic Barzilai.
It also refers to Israeli Hollywood sensation Gal Gadot, who starred in last summer’s blockbuster “Wonder Woman.” The lyrics of the song’s chorus are: “Wonder woman don’t you ever forget, you’re divine and he’s about to regret. I’m not your toy, you stupid boy.”
The song has been called “current, catchy and powerful” by British tabloid Metro, saying that Netta “can own a stage” and that audiences should “expect this one to go big” in the contest.
Before the song was leaked a day ahead of its official release, “Toy” was ranked ninth with odds of 20-1 to win, according to a combination of several betting sites, including Ladbrokes. After the release, it quickly climbed to the top, with winning odds of 3/1.
However, not all countries’ songs have been released yet. The current second place in the rankings, Bulgaria, which has odds of 7-1, is set to officially unveil its entry on Monday, which could see it give real competition to the Israeli song.
Israel has won three times in the contest’s 60-plus-year history, the last being in 1998 with a song by Dana International. While votes are tallied according to quality and performance, regional geopolitics often also play a part, with culturally or politically linked countries often voting for each other.
Israel and Australia, which joined last year, are the only non-European countries in the contest.
It’s the third year that a song by Doron Medley has been chosen to represent Israel. He wrote “Golden Boy” for Nadav Guedj, the 2016 Eurovision contestant from Israel, and “Made of Stars” for 2017’s Hovi Star.
“Toy” is almost entirely in English, with some Hebrew words such as “ani lo buba” (“I’m not a puppet”).
The 25-year-old Barzilai, who usually performs in clubs and at weddings, sang the Eurovision-winning “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” sung by Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta in 1978 at HaKochav Haba L’Eurovision, Israel’s pre-Eurovision song contest, which she won beating out 19 other contestants.
Barzilai’s jury included pop duo Static & Ben-El Tavori, Asaf Amdursky, Keren Peles and Harel Skaat, the 2010 Israeli Eurovision participant.
Barzilai told the Israeli Eurovision site that she would love nothing more than to win for Israel on its 70th birthday.
Israel will perform in the first semifinal in Lisbon on May 8.
Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.