First Listen Review attempts to capture my first impressions of the year’s Eurovision entries as and when they’re released. My opinion is liable to change as certain songs grow on me or get revamped, but based on the principle that most listeners will only hear each entry once (or twice) before voting, hopefully it’ll provide some insight.

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Israel: Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy

Nadav Guedj - Golden Boy | Eurovision 2015 Israel

Nadav Guedj won the right to represent Israel at Eurovision after his victory on TV talent show ‘The Next Star’. He was born in Paris, and describes his musical influences as RnB, hip-hop and soul.

Israel is a country with a rich Eurovision heritage, including three victories and a number of all-time classic entries besides. Recently though, their fortunes have dipped considerably, and it’s now five years since they last saw a final. You couldn’t blame them for feeling frustrated – they’ve made creditable efforts at a range of different sounds in recent years, from modern pop to diva balladry, but for whatever reason they just haven’t connected.

This may explain why ‘Golden Boy’ feels like an attempt to be as universally appealing as possible. It’s entirely in English – a first for Israel – and bounces between at least three genres in an effort to hook in as many listeners as it can within the time limit. The opening is a soulful fake-out that gives 16-year old Nadav Guedj an opportunity to showcase his strong – if slightly faceless – vocals. Then it moves into budget-Timberlake territory with an RnB flavoured verse, before finally launching into a silly, danceable chorus that’s pure Eurovision.

It’s a lot of plates to keep in the air, but surprisingly ‘Golden Boy’ just about holds together. It’s definitely not an entry for the ages, but the sheer enthusiasm is rather infectious. Guedj may have a rather nondescript voice, but he delivers a game performance that sells the silliness of the lyrics as charming rather than amateurish. (I particularly enjoy the crowbarred-in reference to Tel Aviv).

There’s a strange dearth of straightforwardly danceable pop in this year’s contest, so Israel may have been wise to choose something this crowd-pleasing. It’s a song that actively invites audience participation, and if the Israeli team can pull together a performance as youthful and energetic as the song, they might just be back in the finals. I hope so anyway – a Eurovision without entries like this in the mix just wouldn’t feel right.