Skip To Content

These Jewish Eurovision songs are terrible. Listen to them anyway

For every awful song, there’s a moment when nothing else works

If you haven’t been following Eurovision, you’ve missed out on a lot of weird Jewish moments.

Israeli Eurovision contestants like Netta Barzilai and Eden Alene garner scores of Jewish fans every year. But other Jewish artists in the annual song contest often fly under the radar. Ahead of this Saturday’s Eurovision’s Grand Final in Liverpool, during which Israel’s Noa Kirel will face off against 25 other contestants, I took a trip through the archives in search of Jewish singers representing diaspora countries. 

Did I enjoy listening to these songs? As Americans with no stake in the contest, I think we can admit that, with the exception of ABBA’s 1974 rendition of “Waterloo,” which is possibly the best musical performance of all time, most Eurovision entries would find little success outside of this annual pageant of competing nationalisms thinly disguised as a display of continental unity. However, it’s my firm belief that no matter how schlocky a song may be, a moment will come when it’s the only appropriate song to play. And I’ve thought of such a situation for each of the numbers below. 

While I was researching this article, I accidentally subscribed to the official Eurovision YouTube channel, which is going to mess up my recommendations for weeks. Let my sacrifice inspire you to do the same — and always have a song for the moment. 

The 2023 Eurovision Grand Final will take place on Saturday, May 13. Photo by Getty Images

2005: “Chacun pense à soi” by Ortal, representing France

You just flamed out at a karaoke bar, embarrassing yourself before a choice selection of friends and strangers. Listen to Ortal’s 2005 Eurovision performance, during which she went flat on every chorus in front of an entire continent, and feel better. The 21st century started out on a (literal) low note for world Jewry.

2006: “Show Me Your Love” by Tina Karol, representing Ukraine

You’re a millennial woman having a full meltdown because the worst trends of your adolescence — babydoll dresses, beachy waves, and slouchy riding boots — have somehow come back into style. Watch Tina Karol’s 2006 Eurovision performance, which showcases all of the above, while arranging your hair in a heatless curls setup you already know is going to look like trash in the morning. If you can’t make it work, at least she can. 

2009: “Cipela” by Marko Kon and Milaan, representing Serbia

You are at Brighton Beach and several old men are gathered around a speaker blaring “Cipela” at a wildly inappropriate volume. The silver suits, accordion interludes, and modest hip-swiveling on display in this 2009 performance are actually pretty amazing. However, the European public, evidently immune to the charms of Brighton Beach, knocked this number out before the Grand Final.

2012: “Love Me Back” by Can Bonomo, representing Turkey

You are on a boat, but you are also a bat. This is the only explanation for the sexy sailor-slash-bat costumes worn by Can Bonomo and all his backup dancers. Unfortunately, the maritime metaphors in “Love Me Back” are not quite seaworthy. What are we supposed to make of lyrics like “Hop onto my ship baby/ I’ll make you fly”? Ships don’t fly!

Can Bonomo competed in in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with “Love Me Back.” Photo by Getty Images

2016: “J’ai Cherché,” by Amir Haddad, representing France

You’re in a movie about scrappy teenagers working hard to get into their dream colleges. This is the song that plays during the montage that shows you learning all of AP chemistry, getting in shape, and making inroads with your crush in the span of three minutes.  

2017: “City Lights,” Blanche, representing Belgium

You’re waiting for a delayed bus in the pouring rain, so you put on Blanche’s “City Lights” to make the situation seem romantic instead of soul-crushing. The only problem is that this situation would never arise in Belgium, where they invest in public infrastructure and the buses are not delayed. 

Blanche represented Belgium at Eurovision in 2017. Photo by Getty Images

2021: “Voila,” Barbara Previ, representing France

You’re doing your makeup, flawlessly of course, before attending a party at which you’ll see your ex and show him how completely you’ve moved on. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, bookmark “Voila” anyway. You never know when you’ll need it. 

2023: “I Wrote a Song,” Mae Muller, representing the United Kingdom

This is the only Eurovision song I’ve ever encountered in the wild, because it’s on my Spotify-generated workout playlist. The perfect song to listen to while struggling through 10-pound dumbbell curls in a room full of men dropping weights on the ground. No notes. 

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.