Israel’s 2014 Song for Europe will be Mei Finegold and “Same Heart.” Finegold was picked by the Israeli broadcaster IBA, and the song received 55% of the public vote during Israel’s selection show.
There was some internal controversy about the song’s selection. Israel’s rules state that their Eurovision entry must have at least 50% Hebrew lyrics. “Same Heart” is a tad shy in that respect, and the writers of one of the losing songs called for its disqualification. Regardless, IBA has given “Same Heart” the pass. The language rule, in our opinion, does the song a disservice. The Hebrew middle section doesn’t feel internally motivated. It’s just there because it has to be. Frankly, “Same Heart” would work better if it was all in one language.
“Same Heart” is a tough song for us to critique: a two-and-a-half star song. We can praise good songs to the skies and tear bad songs to shreds. But competent songs don’t provoke any emotions in us. They’re not bad, per se, but they don’t wow us either. As technically good as “Same Heart” is, it lacks a visceral “it” factor to make it stand out from the pack.
Part of the problem may be the clinical treatment the song was given in the studio. We have been unable to find a live performance, so we’re relying on the recorded version of “Same Heart” for our assessment. While Finegold’s earthy alto is a good fit for this gritty rock song, her vocal is too deliberate. In a song that’s as emotional as this – “Same Heart” is an angry song – Finegold’s recording leaves us cold. We could chalk this up as an artifact of seeking the perfect vocal in a sterile studio setting. If Finegold brings some dynamism and abandon to her performance in Copenhagen, then “Same Heart” could come to life.
But we have a sneaking suspicion that Finegold is a cautious performer live. She finished third in Kochav Nolad, Isarel’s Pop Idol equivalent. Looking at clips of her performances on the show, we see that same inhibited approach to performing that we hear on “Same Heart.” Since her stint on Kochav Nolad, Finegold has been in the theater world. In 2012, she won the Israel Theater Prize for best supporting actress for a revival of the musical Kazablan. We’re not sure if that background will help her or hinder her. Will she bring theatricality, or will she come off as being a bit too self-conscious trying to sell a song with a rock edge?