As The Eurovision Song Contest first semi-final kicks off, Spencer Barnett speaks to 16-year-old Nadav Guedj who will be representing Israel in the competition.
Israel brings undoubtedly its best entry in years to the Eurovision, thanks to the talent of Nadav Guedj. This charismatic young singer has shot to instant fame since winning The Rising Star. Similar in format to our X Factor, he was one of thousands of hopefuls who eventually made it to the live shows and subsequently won the final in Israel in February. Composed and written by Doron Medalie, ‘Golden Boy’ will be performed by Nadav in the second semi final in Vienna on 21 May.
Austria has the dubious pleasure and massive expense of hosting this years’ show following their unforgettable victory last year. Conchita Wurst happened to be the best and ran away with the contest claiming 290 points. ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ swept the scoreboard in Copenhagen but many remember her beard as opposed to the song… has anyone seen my razor!
One of five children, Guedj was born in Paris and moved to Israel with his family at the age of three. He spoke exclusively to the Jewish News in Tel Aviv and started by telling me about his younger years. “As a kid I remember always being into music. I was always listening either around the house or on the go. I love R&B and Jazz. I recall everyone thought Eurovision was such a big deal. I used to sing in my bedroom and at parties and family occasions. I take a lot of my musical inspiration from Stevie Wonder, Usher and Pharrell Williams.”
Still at school, Guedj told me what the transformation from pupil to pop star has been like: “It’s been a massive journey so far – one week I’m studying in class and the next week I was singing on live television to the whole of the country. Rising Star is the most watched reality show in Israel – It’s strange as I get recognised on the street here but also have to think about my studying and exams. However I am being very well looked after by blendr PR. There is a big team behind the scenes who I can see are really working hard taking care of everything. This enables me to concentrate on practicing my performance and focussing all my energies on that. All my friends and family are proud and happy, everyone is very supportive.”
Guedj went on to tell me about his preparations for Vienna. “During Rising Star I appeared on stage about eight or nine times so this has prepared me well for singing to a large audience. I’ve heard that about 300 million people actually watch Eurovision live; it’s hard to believe that many people will be watching me at once. We had planned to come to London to promote the song. I know there is a very supportive strong Jewish community there and I would love to have performed for them. Unfortunately we had pre-booked appearances in Moscow and Amsterdam so couldn’t fit London in but I hope to be able to appear in the UK sometime soon after Eurovision. You can watch my video on line at eurovision.tv or visit my you tube page which has already had nearly 2 million views. Every spare moment I get in Israel I use to perfect my performance.”
‘Golden Boy’ is an energetic up- tempo number mixing different genres appealing to many different musical tastes. It was selected by a panel made up from the IBA (Israel Broadcasting Authority) and Teddy Productions and should see Israel progress from the semis to the finals at Eurovision for the first time since 2010. Although politics have invariably played a part in the voting over the years, Guedj isn’t at all bothered about this.
“I’m not worried about the politics. I think some countries who are friends will vote for each other but for me Eurovision is about everyone having those 3 minutes on stage in front of the world. By this we can build bridges and break down barriers through music and represent Israel in a positive light although we have a difficult situation at home.”
Over the years stage gimmicks and trickery have often triumphed over talent. I finally wanted to ask him what we can expect from his performance.
“We have a huge production team including choreography, backing singers and dancers. A lot of money has been put into this and hope you will feel the song as we do when we perform. I hope everyone will be singing and dancing together with us. There are a couple of surprises we have for our live performance but I can’t let that secret out-you’ll just have to watch! What I can tell you is that I will give 100% in Vienna on 21 May.”
With Nadav’s real enthusiasm and raw energy, that is not in doubt.