Lusil Blek is an Israeli graphic designer. Her mother constantly reminds her that she started singing when she was only two months. At 17 she appeared on the TV show The Voice Israel but has since taken a step back to focus, for now, on her other passion – design. Here are some of her favourite Israeli songs.
Ofra Haza, ‘Tefila’
It might sound silly, but I thought this song was about my dad. Let me explain. In the 90s my parents immigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel, as part of a program named ‘Aliyah’. I am the first ‘Zabar’ in the family, which means I’m the first Jewish born on the holy land in my family. Until I was about three years old, I only spoke and understood Russian. I started speaking and hearing Hebrew for the first time in Preschool, and that’s when I first heard this song. Growing up in a Russian – Jewish – post-Soviet home, we didn’t speak of God and religion. Russian Jews were not allowed to preserve the religion, so I didn’t know what ‘God’ was at all. So when I heard the words ‘He who keeps us from trouble’ I naturally thought the song was about my dad. Looking back, I don’t understand how and why I ignored the rest of the song, because clearly my dad is not sitting in the sky and curing all people. Well, I guess was an innocent child with a language barrier.
When I first heard this song I felt so empowered and refreshed! It’s rare to find a female artist who is so relatable and who can actually rap. She is not afraid of expressing herself and you can hear that she loves making her music. In this song she expresses her struggles with the pressure of being labelled – ‘They say you’re not Indie enough to be rap, but you’re not rap enough to be hip hop. Not tight enough to bring the pop, not loose enough to give up on the drop’. In my opinion Echo is very underrated in Israel, because she is not mainstream. She is not your typical ‘Poppy’ looking kind of girl, and her lyrics are smart and into your face, and I love it. Fun fact, her fiancé studied with me at the academy.
Hadag Nahash, ‘Lo Fraierim’
Hadag Nahash is a very popular hip hop/ funk Israeli band. They were founded in Jerusalem in 1996. Their songs usually have a view and influence on political issues. ‘Fraier’ is originally from Yiddish and it’s a modern Israeli slang for someone who is a sucker or a loser. The name of the song ‘Not suckers’ is used ironically. This song reminds me of the road trips with my dad. We used to sing it together and talk about how this song is so accurate and will stay relevant after 10 years and more. Which is true, nothing really changed politically or socially in Israel. We still close our eyes and ignore important subjects, we still get screwed by politicians all the time. But we still keep the laws and continue to be good citizens. Ironically we are ‘Fraerim’.
Static and Ben El & Neta Brazilai, ‘Efes Maamaz’
Static and Ben El are an enigma. When they first started I didn’t love their songs, but I knew all the words, like most Israelis. They found great success in the Israeli music industry, and they even made a song with The Black Eyed Peas. And Neta? She won the Eurovision, so this combo was amazing. From the first seconds of this song I knew I loved it. The beat is addictive so I start dancing immediately when I hear this song. The combination of the middle eastern ripples and the soft pop vocals are working right together, and the hook is playing in my head all the time.
Mercedes Band, ‘Hamashbir’
This song brings me back to my late teenage years, when I started going out and ׳maybe׳ sneaking into pubs with my friends. Every time I hear this song there’s just a big smile on my face. Who doesn’t know all the words for this anthem? I mean all the Israeli millennials know this song. Mercedes Band were founded in 1998 in Jerusalem and moved to Tel Aviv where they found great success. Their vibe is energetic and pure fun.
HaBanot Nechama, ‘So Far’
HaBanot Nechama (The Comfort Girls) is an Israeli folk band. The group is composed of three female vocalists – Dana Adini, Karolina and Yael Deckelbaum. When I first heard this song I remember thinking that it was an American song, but fast I realised that I was wrong because after the chorus I heard Hebrew words. Their acapella is so unique and magical. This song reminds me of soft clouds and bright colors. After a long time not hearing this song I still get goosebumps and I get excited when singing along.
Ely Botner Ran Danker, ‘Bio Nazov
Ran Danker is my childhood crush. I was obsessed with the TV show he was starring in ‘Hashir Shelanu’ (‘Our song’). When I say ‘I was obsessed’ I am not exaggerating, I was so convinced that some day he and I would somehow, someday be together. My chances got even smaller when he came out as gay. Still, when I hear this song I get a warm nostalgic feeling and I sing along with joy. This song reminds me of long bus rides on ‘Kvish HaChof’ (Coastal Road) in front of landscapes of agriculture and the Mediterranean Sea.
Teddy Neguse & Jasmin Moallem, ‘Ze Badam Sheli’
Teddy Neguse is an Israeli Ethiopian rapper, he represents the peripheries with pride. In this song he even says his town Lod is running through his veins. Jasmin Moallem is an upcoming singer with a soft melodic voice, she found great success with her other song ‘Mesiba’. This song has an addictive beat and Teddy plays lyrically with meanings and rhymes in a clever and catchy way. The combination of this type of rap and the cool way Jasmin brings her vocals in this song, made me fall in love with it.
Mosh Ben Ari, ‘Jah Is One’
This song is an innocent hope for peace, or at least I thought so when I was younger. ‘Jah is one’ means God is one. ‘Jah’ is a shortened form of Jehovah, God’s personal name in the Bible. I remember listening to this song while I was in Eilat on a summer vacation with my highschool friends. This song always reminds me of freedom, the beach, light blue colors and flowers. Every time I hear this song I smile with a nostalgic feel.
Noa kirel, ‘Pouch’
Noa Kirel has grown up in the Israeli music industry, since a teenage girl who was too young to talk to the star she is today. She has faced a lot of criticism about her looks and her vocal abilities. In my opinion, Israeli society can sometimes be too dramatic, maybe because we face extreme situations all the time. We become overheated and over opinionated. However, her song Pouch is on every Israeli party playlist. It’s fun, refreshing and the beat is awesome. When I hear this song I have to dance! Noa Kirel is the new wave of pop Israeli music, and she is here to stay – I am here for it.