From Izhar Cohen to Netta Barizlay: The biggest hits of Israeli pop music

Prepare your headphones or make sure the speakers of whatever device you are using to read this article are working just fine. Today, we are going to take you on a musical trip around Israeli music. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics yet (but you could by joining one of Rosen’s online courses), you will be able to identify from which decade and to which musical genre each one of these Israeli songs belongs.

Are you ready to dance, cry, and remember? Allow us to show you a selection of a few of the best hits Israeli pop music has had over the past few decades.

We know, the Jewish people have been making music from long before the 70 years of independence of the State of Israel, but today, we are not going back that far and we are leaving the “Ma’oz Tzur” hit for a post more related to the holidays in Israel (if you didn’t notice, we just told you what are we going to be writing about in the next few weeks. Enjoy the teaser!).

Let’s go over Israel’s greatest pop hits: Some of them even won the Eurovision contest

Izhar Cohen: Hebrew or Gibberish?

We’re going to reveal a secret that some of you might already know. Izhar Cohen is actually saying “I love you” in the song A-Ba-Ni-Bi. Yes, I love you.

If you pay close attention to the lyrics and you forget for a while about the extraordinary afro-hair style they used to have, you’ll see that they are actually singing “Ani Ohev Otach” (adding some words after each syllable), which is the Hebrew for “I love you”.

This song was part of the Eurovision contest in 1978 and with the creativity of these phenomenal lyrics, they won! Israel took the award back to the Land of Milk and Honey.

Arik Einstein: Uf gozal turned into an anthem!

Arik Einstein was one of Israel’s favorites. He passed away in 2013 leaving an empty space in many hearts and homes all over the world. One of his biggest hits and most recognizable songs is Uf Gozal, which means “Fly Fledgling”.

In this song, Arik lets his very own little chickens fly away, spread their wings and go meet their own destiny. Worried, as any father could be, he sings in the most emotional way to let them know that they are prepared and that the nest, that is now empty, will always be waiting for them to come back. Are the tissues ready? Then you can hit the play button!

David Broza: Everything will be ok!

Do you remember when we spoke about the Hebrew sentences you should learn before coming to Israel? Well, David Broza grabbed one of them and a few decades ago, he came up with this song.

This phenomenal singer has been traveling the world with his music, Israeli background, and great charisma to make thousands of people feel at home, even while he is thousands of miles away.

With his unique voice and touching lyrics, David Broza tells us in this song that everything will be ok. And we’re sure, it will be…

Another band telling us that “HaKol Yihie BeSeder”, but in a completely different way are the new-ish youth sensation: Static and Ben El Taburi. Mixing hip-hop, reggaeton and melodic phrases, they tell us in this song that everything will be ok … while on your way to the beach. A little less poetic, but still worth a dance!

Shiri Maimon: Melting hearts since 2005

Who would have thought that the young and beautiful star that once represented Israel in the Eurovision contest in 2005 would then become one of the most respected judges in the local version of X Factor? Well, maybe some of you did…

Shiri Maimon melted more than one heart when she first appeared in the hall of fame, with a spectacular voice and lyrics that massage the soul, she conquered the music industry quite fast. Many of her songs are still number one in the current rankings, but today we want you to listen to the one that transformed a young blonde lady into a superstar.

Idan Raichel: Representing Israel’s mix of cultures

Idan has gone through a number of style changes, but his music has always been around, reminding us that Israel’s culture is a mix of various ways to see and to interact with both society and the planet.

In this phenomenal song, Idan Raichel focused on the Ethiopian part of Israeli culture and society (very soon we’re going to speak a bit more about this big and great immigration process), and included them in the lyrics, the essence and the spirit of this song.

With some phrases in Amharic, Idan Raichel presented this song a few years ago, and enabled many people around the world to sing in many languages at the same time, just like we do on the streets of Israel every day.

Sarit Haddad: When the prayer became even stronger

We cannot deny it, Sarit Haddad is a living legend in Israeli music. She was born in 1978 and in 2009 she was recognized as the best female singer of the 2000’s. Mixing pop and dance with Mizrahi music, Sarit Haddad has created tons of spectacular songs that are played loudly in every club, party, and wedding in Israel.

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In the song we want to show you today, she took some sentences from the “Shema Israel” prayer and included them in this breathtaking song. Even if we aren’t able to dance so actively when listening to this piece, we will for sure appreciate the immense quality of Sarit’s voice. Hit the play button and enjoy yourself!

New Eurovision winner: Meet Netta!

Netta Barzilay is the newest music star in Israel. After winning a TV show where the next Israeli representative for Eurovision was being chosen, her song got onto every radio station, club, bar, pub, party and even classrooms around the country.

In her unique style and with a similar effect to the one Nadav Guedj had in 2015 with his song Golden Boy, Netta appeared to show both young and old people in Israel that a totally different and extremely unique music style could actually drive Israel to win this contest once again.

During the 2018 Eurovision contest, Netta conquered the hearts of the juries and of the entire world, winning the contest and bringing the big prize back to Israel, after 20 years! Her song and speech about respecting the differences between each other, and with some quotes from the #MeToo movement deserved 1st place, and indeed, got it.

Prepare the chicken sounds, because this song is definitely going to surprise you.

We truly hope Moshe Peretz, Ivri Leader, and Eyal Golan don’t get mad at us. We will be preparing the second part of this article where we’ll include more voices that didn’t make it to the first selection. If you have any names in mind, just let us know who you think deserves to appear in the 2nd part of this post in the comments below.

Never forget that you could enjoy these songs much more if you actually understood what they say in their lyrics. So what’s the first step? Register for one of our online courses and start learning today! Yalla!

About the author

Arie Elbelman R.Arie was born and raised in Chile, and immigrated to Israel in his early twenties. He wants to take an active role in the development of this young and smart country. Arie believes that the best way to shape our present and future is to live with more horizontal hierarchies, to smile a whole lot, and to always, always respect each other.

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