Right now, many people all around the world are following the FIFA World Cup. Others are having trouble to understand why some are so passionate about it. “It’s just sport”, they might say. So did Dafna Dekel back in 1992.
Dancing away all the distress
Dafna’s point of view was quite different though. In the song she sings about being addicted to the rhythm of the music. While it’s bit unclear what Dafna thinks is “just a sport”, it seems that she is talking about the life itself. While she wants to “dance away all the distress, to sing into the darkness”, she won’t cry if she fails to do it. “It’s just sport, yes, it’s just sport”.
In the live performance Dafna really danced and sang her heart out. She was joined by two male backing singers, who also played bongo drums. The organizers in Malmö didn’t probably know about microphone stands, as the backing singers had their microphones stuck on their chests. Israel finished sixth with 85 points and the song became a big dance hit in Dafna’s home country. Later she also hosted the contest in 1999.
The English version of the song “Viva Sport” was made to salute the 1992 Summer Olympics, where Israel won their first gold medals. When it comes to the FIFA World Cup, Israel has qualified only once to the tournament. In 1970 they finished last in the group stage.
Personally, I absolutely love “Ze rak sport”. I think it really has everything I love about 90s Eurovision. Colourful outfits, drums and lots of dancing. The chorus, while being slightly repetitive, is extremely catchy and I just always have to sing along.
What the others had to say:
Luke: So there’s only one or two pre-2000 songs that I REALLY like from Eurovision. “Ze rak sport” is not one of them. It’s just….too nineties, which is not my taste. Not just that, it feels like it’s a bit of a mess, as if they couldn’t decide on which of 50 ways to take the song, so have tried to take all of them in one go. The performance as well should’ve had double the energy level – if you’re performing an uptempo song and want people to dance along… you can’t just stand still for most of the song!
Dan: “Ze Rak Sport” is a fun uptempo number with a catchy, flamenco sound. Given the year it participated in, I can see how it received its 6th placing. However, had this been entered a few years later, I could see it easily ending up near the bottom of the scoreboard. In terms of the live performance, Dafna has fantastic charisma which comes across really well on camera.
Rigmo: Now THIS is a festival. Re-watching this now is like getting blasted in the face by a cannon fully loaded with the 90’s! Everything about this just SCREAMS the era, the beat, the awkward dance moves, the blindingly garish outfits (I think I’ve seen my grandmother wear that same green jacket) the…the…the microphones superglued to some chest hair? No time to think about that, there is far too much bongo drumming to do! I doubt this will ever be taught in class as a masterpiece in musical composition, but it’s FUN and a wonderful nostalgic blast to experience again these days. The only problem is that now I need to get through the day somehow with THIS stuck in my head and my hips shaking involuntarily.
Vincent: I didn’t know this song before writing this review, and I still don’t know much of 1992, but this does sound very euro-90’s. And not in the best way. It sounds like a badly generic pop, even though the Hebrew sound and voice does lift the song a bit for me. As for the lyrics, they are nice, without being fully original: at least they are not cheesy. I have nothing that bad to say about the performance, and I actually kinda like the big mics stuck on the backing singers/dancers/drummers’s collars.