The Teapacks Push the Envelope

Melody Macher

By Mordechai Shinefield

Published October 11, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

This past May, the Israeli band the Teapacks were eliminated in the semifinals of the Eurovision song competition, along with bands representing 17 other countries. Their elimination capped a months-long saga in which pop music collided with geopolitics, garnering international headlines for the six-member, ska-inflected group originally hailing from the now-embattled town of Sderot.

Some Eurovision organizers had initially threatened to ban the Teapacks, Israel’s entry in the international song contest contest, due to the content of the band’s nominated song, “Push the Button.” The multilingual song seemed to reference Iran and its nuclear ambitions with its verse, “There are some crazy rulers/They hide and try to fool us/With demonic, technologic willingness to harm.” And then the chorus: “They’re gonna push the button, push the button!” One organizer cautioned, “It’s absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition.” Ultimately, however, the band was allowed to participate.

The song is a frantic hodgepodge of hip-hop, klezmer and French cabaret sang in French, English and Hebrew. The band’s aesthetic consists of bright red sweaters, brown tweed jackets and matching caps. The song is delivered with an explosive sound that calls to mind the best bands on the Warped Tour.

While the band’s frontman has protested that the song is “apolitical,” the comments left on the band’s YouTube page suggest that few people see it that way. They read like a virtual fight club, complete with hundreds of unpublishable explicatives.

Neko6: “The song seems to be pacifist, I wonder how it can even be interpreted to be pro-war – he’s crying about how he doesn’t wanna die, but all sorts of crazy leaders in the world can push the red button and kill him.”

Francogiovanni: “no, these political songs belong elsewhere. NOT in the Eurovision song contest! Familys watch this program their small children. its not right!”

Golfertig: “great song! And all you muslim terorists [sic] can shut up!”

Liguil: “this song is a killer!!!”

MELONfusion1: “that’s a load of racist **** punk whats your life story”

Hatemyneighbors: “You can just read the hatred between the people here.”

Although they failed to win Eurovision, the Teapacks may have unwittingly accomplished something else entirely — they started a discussion. While that interaction is often adversarial, and not infrequently vicious, it’s still the rare pop song that gets people thinking, and debating, across hostile frontiers. That’s why, to quote YouTube poster Telitothejudge, “This song is a breath of fresh air.”

The Teapacks are playing October 21 at New York’s Highline Ballroom as part of the Oyhoo Festival. Watch the Teapacks Eurovision performance here:

Mordechai Shinefield has written about music for Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and the New York Press.

For more Melody Macher columns, click here.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.