The Shmooze

The Diva Sings Once More: Dana International Returns to Eurovision

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

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It’s a bit ironic that it happened on International Women’s Day. Israel’s most prominent female-by-choice, Dana International, scored a big victory last night when her song “Ding Dong” was chosen to represent the country at the glitzy annual Eurovision Song Contest, the kitchy and politicized competition that, ironically, spawned international stars like Abba and Celine Dion.

Dana International was born Yaron Cohen into a traditional Yemenite family in 1972 and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1993. In 1998, the performer’s song “Diva” took the first-place crown in the contest and was later chosen as one of the 14 most-popular songs in the history of Eurovision.

The undisputed Israeli disco queen struck gold again last night. “Ding Dong” was the favorite among television viewers, who texted votes to choose the winner following live performances. The song beat out nine other tunes sung by Israelis competing to be this year’s Eurovision entry.

In a less traditional move, Dana International wrote the song herself (the vast majority of Eurovision songs are not written by the artists). “Ding Dong” will now go up against the competition from the rest of the region on May 14, when the contest will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany.

An excited Dana International reacted to her victory: “It was important for me to represent Israel in Germany of all places, and I hope I won’t disappoint anyone. I thank the viewers for choosing me.”


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