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The History of Israeli Pop Music
by Alex Cosper (5/28/13)

The popular music of Israel embodies centuries of Jewish music traditions as well as contemporary musical genres. Klezmer has been a popular style in Israel since it arrived from immigrants in the early 1900s. Folk music has also been part of long term fabric of the culture. Much of the nation's culture developed after Israel was established in 1948. The three main types of music that have permeated as part of the nation's musical heritage have been Israeli folk music, Israeli rock and Oriental music. These style form the core of Israeli pop music, although there have also been many other genres to merge with Israeli culture.

The nation started embracing popular music from the United States in the early sixties. Since that era Israel has developed its own pop and rock music scene, which has been heavily influenced by international music, particularly from the United States. Israel won the top song in Eurovision Song Contest in 1978, 1979 and 1998. David D'Or won the Israeli Singer of the Year competition in 2001, 2002 and 2004.

Kaveret was one of the first popular recording acts to emerge in Israel following the influence of American and British pop music. The group mixed comedy skits with music and generally released humorous material. The band was formed by members of the Israeli Defense Forces in 1973. Even though the band broke up three years later, they are considered one of the most influential groups in Israeli music history. Spinoff groups of Kaveret called Gazoz and Doda kept the creative spirit going for singers Gidi Gov and Danny Sanderson. Kaveret later regrouped for a series of reunion tours.

Shalom Hanoch is credited as the "father of Israeli rock" or sometimes even the "king of Israeli rock." He recorded his first songs in the late sixties with Arik Einstein. Since then he has released over a dozen albums through the new century. His album Shablul was released in 1970 and became a huge influence on many other rock artists since. Hanoch went on to write music for Elton John's publishing company Dick James.

One of the most popular Broadway musicals of the 1960s and films of the 1970s about Jewish culture was Fiddler on the Roof. The movie starred Chaim Topol from Tel Aviv. The song from the 1964 play and 1971 film called "If I Were a Rich Man" has become one of the all time most remembered classics in the history of musicals. New Yorker Zero Mostel, who came from a Jewish family, was noted for playing the lead character Tevye for the Broadway stage performance.

Etti Ankri started releasing pop albums in 1990 and has been a popular singer/songwriter in Israel since that time. After a string of pop songs in 2004 her music shifted toward a spiritual direction. By 2009 her music mixed folk and classical styles. Another artist who has been popular since the early 90s has been Aviv Geffen, who also appeared in a teen TV show called A Matter of Time. He has since written a diverse collection of songs, many of which deal with peace and love. Rita gained popularity in the mid-eighties after performing for the Israeli Army. Between 1985 and 2008 she released eleven big selling albums.

Music of the 21st century has become a wide mix of many genres thanks to the internet. Regional music is developing in cities throughout the country. Much of the nation's popular music still reflects the international music scene fueled by America and Europe.

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