Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hevel on Harel

Yesterday @bmojsilo commented to @Cestovatelka on my previous post that a rundown on Harel Skaat was in order. I did realise that while half of my blog has to do with the awesomeness that's Harel Skaat, I never quite wrote a proper introduction.

So, what can I say about Harel Skaat? He is currently my favourite Israeli pop singer and has been for about two years now. He just turned 30 yesterday, and he was born to an Iraqi-Yemenite Jewish family in Kfar Saba. He was discovered to be talented in gan (pre-school) and after winning a singing contest as a child he got a small role on one of the children's shows. See below:

The original video I wanted to post (that has much more of cute little Harel) was deleted from YouTube, so now you have to put up with cute big Harel as well.
Somewhere between then and entering the second season of Kokhav Nolad, Israel's version of the Idol shows, he sustained injuries consistent with close contact of a glass door.
During his school career he kept singing. He sang in his school band and then in the IDF communication corps band during his mandatory military service.
After the military Mr. Skaat attended Beit Zvi, a theatre arts college in Ramat Gan. There he won some of the most prestigious awards, Wikipedia tells me. I have to admit that I wasn't quite aware of Beit Zvi till he was already done with it. There are various clips on YouTube of Harel in Beit Zvi shows, if anyone wants to look them up.
The big thing happened when 23-year-old Skaat entered Kokhav Nolad 2 in 2004. Among the other entrants that year were Adi Cohen and Harel Moyal, who placed in the top three. While Skaat seemed to be the more popular, it was Moyal who won the final. Does that sound familiar? Just think of American Idol 2 and Clay Aiken. Oh, yes, I'm a Clay Aiken fan boy as well. :)
My two youngest siblings at the time (Yaron and Ester weren't born then) were dedicated Adi Cohen and Harel Moyal fans, so they kept taping the show and sending it to Hungary for me to decide which one was better. To be honest, I initially preferred Moyal over Skaat, but then Mr. Skaat won me over. Especially in the final with the song "Hineni Kan", I'm here.
So while I wish he had won, neither Harels seemed too bothered with the outcome, and they appeared in that year's Festigal together. The infamous Hebrew Numa Numa song had them (and Ran Danker and a bunch of other Israeli stars) being very... pink.
 Festigal is a yearly children's show and song contest that happens during Chanukah. It usually features some if that year's most popular artists, and Mr Skaat has been invited to participate several times. 2004 was his first year, and he sang the song Lauf, "To Fly", a song based on Peter Pan. For English translations click here.
 2005 marked the year when Harel Skaat's album, titled simply Harel Skaat, was published. It was immensely successful, with several music videos made from it, including Ve'at (And You), which has been Harel's biggest hit to date, and Im Hu Yelech, which won the year's best video. He won several awards, including Children's choice twice in a row, and he became involved with children's charities.
Oddly enough, my favourite song from this first album is not one of those big hits. It's this one below, titled "The Wind Will Change Its Coourse".
A few years passed, and there was no second album. There were disputes and court cases involving his label and management. He was considered for Eurovision in 2009, but because of his inability to record anything, that fell through. Finally, though, things were settled, and in 2009 his second album, Dmuyot, or Figures, was released. While I had several songs on his first album I didn't like, I fell head over heels in love with this album. My favorite song is the first one "Tmimuti", alternatively translated as "My Innocence" or "My Naivete ". But Boi Hayom (Come Today) had the cutest video:
In 2010 the IBA internally selected Harel Skaat to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. I was becoming quite a fan of Mr. Skaat around this time, but I wasn't too excited at first: I was pretty sure that quite an awful song would be selected at Kdam.
I was wrong. Milim was actually a very nice song.
Milim placed 14th in the final, out of 25 finalists and 39 entrants overall. The song, however, took home three first prizes: prize of the creators of the competition, prize of the reporters and prize of the commentators. This was the first time in the 55 year history of ESC that the same song took home three of these prizes. 
2010 was a year that brought even more headlines to Harel Skaat due to his sexuality. For years there had been speculation about whether Harel was straight or not. In July 2010 he performed at the memorial of the Tel Aviv gay center shooting, after whiche there was a public outing. Harel remained silent then, but after there was more criticism from public figures, going as far as calling him a bad role model for gay youth, Harel had his public coming out on Israeli TV in October of that year. Since then he has often been seen at public events with his boyfriend, the model Idan Roll.
Of course being openly gay in a country that defines itself as a Jewish state is not easy. He has been attacked by religious organizations, and his performance at the National Volunteers gala was controversial. This happened just around the time that he released the first song from his third album, "Love Awaits Me". The song is about shameless love that is still there. And the video does include something easily interpreted as two men on a date.

 On July 16 Harel had his traditional birthday concert 3 weeks early. Part of the concert involved his mother reading a letter to her son.Translation is by someone on Facebook:
‎"I'll be quick so he would not say i talk a lot. At every event where I have to carry things Harel says "do it short and businesslike. But he sometimes cannot stop talking at the shows. Harel complains that every year on his birthday we are abroad. Also this year the initial date fell on a trip, but our dear Harel was ahead of the date of the show and I'm glad.
It was a year full of changes, a powerful year. To you Harel, to the family and to the Israeli society that in part still can't accept the secrets of life".

Harelush, Like Grandpa used to call you. This life is your – I love and admire you for taking the power to choose what you want to do. Take the power to love what you want to love. To take the power to control your life, because nobody will do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy and we strengthen your hands".

And this is the Punchline:
"I don't like that you're ride on a bike, and sometimes your crazy haircut will drive me nuts",
And it ends with a blessing: " Continue to fulfill all the dreams, because dreams come true".

 And no, the title is not serious. I don't think Idan Roll or my Kevin would approve.


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