We’ve already encountered many American and European influences on Israeli popular music. This week, we dive into them by following two parallel threads.

On the one hand, we explore the rise of song contests, which since the 1960’s translated earlier (and still persistent) modes of communal singing (shirah be-tzibur) into organized events celebrating national identity, but also the connections between Israeli culture and its European counterparts. This is a topic that speaks to me on many levels, especially since it has to do with explicit musical links between Israel and Italy, which I have explored elsewhere (in an article poetically titled Crossing the Sea of Song).

Here are the week’s assignments:

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My favorite examples of the Italian-Israeli connections are probably the remakes of Azzurro and L’italiano into Israeli popular songs.

Here is Adriano Celentano singing Azzurro (1968)

A song by the legendary Italian lawyer-turned-singer-songwriter, Paolo Conte (the French love him almost as much as Jerry Lewis and Woody Allen…):

And here’s Arik Einstein’s remake, Amru lo, which is reminiscent of both versions listed above:

And here’s Italy’s “national-popular” song par excellence: Toto Cotugno’s L’italiano:

Remade in a Song of the Land of Israel with some mizrachi echoes:

And the two songs (in Italian and in Hebrew), brought together in a restaurant in Kfar Saba (a city in Israel’s Sharon Plain that maintains a municipal website in both Hebrew and Spanish, and that is Idan Reichel’s hometown, among other things) by an Israeli community chorus last year (have I ever mentioned that I think YouTube is truly changing our ways to study popular culture?):

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On the other hand, we go deeper into the influence of rock music on Israeli popular music, and will be listening to early examples of songs written and performed by what our textbook defines the “elite of Israeli rock.” I’ve already posted on this topic before.

In any case, the assignments for the current week are here:

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