Monday, March 05, 2007

"Push The Button" pushes some buttons

The buzz around the Jewish - and not so Jewish - Internet is all about Israel's entry in the 20o7 Eurovision Song Contest - "Push the Button" by Teapacks.

The lyrics are dark, to say the least. The fact that Israeli's overwhelmingly chose this song to represent them in Helsinki, says something significant about the national mood. And the fact that the Eurovision management is considering disqualifying the song for being "too political", has only fueled passions about the song, and given it tons of free publicity outside of Israel.

You can hear the song here, or you can see a video of Teapacks performing it here.

Most commentary has focused on the fact that the song reflects Israeli's existential angst (true), and that it points a finger at Iran's president Ahmadinejad as being the "crazy leader" who will "push the button" and send us all to kingdom come (party true.)

But look at the lyrics below. The song seems to say that existential danger coming from many quarters: Iran - probably - but also terrorists, Hizbollah, and whomever. However, in the Hebrew-Rap part of the song, Israel's own leaders, as well as the "I" of the song - in other words the Israeli (or is it the Jewish, or the general Western) public itself - is also fingered as source of danger. Thus the song is both a laughing-in-the-face-of-danger critique of all those "crazy leaders" (and thus the perfect combination of Jewish humour and Jewish chutzpah), as well as a parody of - and warning about - the dangers of excessive paranoia.

The danger is real, the song implies, but we are all capable of overreacting when we feel threatened and of becoming the very evil which we fear. Best to keep a cool head. "The world is a very narrow bridge: the key thing is not to be afraid."

Below are the lyrics of "Push the Button". The song is sung in English, French, and Hebrew. The translated bits are unofficial.

{English}
The world is full of terror
If someone makes an error
He's gonna blow us up to itty bitty kingdom come.
There are some crazy rulers
They hide and try to fool us
With demonic, technologique willingness to harm.

They're gonna push the button, push the button,
Push the button, push the button, push the button,
Push the button, push the button,
Push the button, push the button, push the button.

{translated from French}
There is a lot of pain
Too much violence in the street
But we stand a chance of living, maybe.
The tactical promotion of a fanatical regime
Is a tragic situation, that brings tears to my eyes

{English}
And I don't want to die
I want to see the flowers bloom
Don't want to go kaboom kaboom
And I don't want to cry
I want to have a lot of fun - just sitting in the sun.

But nevertheless ...

He's gonna push the button, push the button,
etc

{Translated from Hebrew}
Messages exploding all around me
Missiles flying, falling on me
Cops and robbers running on me
Jumping on me, getting on my case.
Answer me, my God
This torture is too long
When I'm barely alive and everyone aiming at me
Its too early, maybe, to sing 'I gave her my life.'
Police, rescue team !
Here I am in the prelims, a song without peace.
Red is not just a colour, it's more like blood.
Again I've stopped my breathing
In my heart
So my soul won't leave.
First it's war, now it's rescue.
Boom boom, that's what's happening now.
In between rocket and machete, viewer and reporter
Underhanded opportunism and hostages, rain and heatwave
Escalating levelsare getting out of hand.
Nothing, nothing, that's what everyone is doing.
Hardliners become more extreme and officers more serious,
The bleeding-hearts become more moderate,
Waiting for more data.
And reply "There is nothing anyone can do."
The world is full of demons, we are nothing but pawns.
Champions with poker chips decide what will be.
Slow lazy management, a ship filling with water,
And everyone is drinking "l'chaim!" And drowning.

Maybe, maybe this is too sharp?
We need to sing of palm trees, desert songs with no flags
I'm still alive, alive, alive.

And if it keeps on being scary, only then will I say:

{English}
I'm gonna push the button, push the button
etc.
etc ...

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