Israel: Noa Kirel and Unicorn


I really wish we could scrub the term “female empowerment” from Eurovision.

Sure, it sometimes has relevance, like that powerful moment in Russian Woman when Manizha was singing with a video wall full of ordinary Russian women, all having their moment to publicly asset their existence.

But more often, it’s used to describe any mildly assertive banger by a pop girlie. “Look at how strong she is!” the press releases will gush. “What an absolute paragon of a modern empowered woman!”

I mean, doing Eurovision is likely empowering for that particular person. But that doesn’t mean it translates into anything that will improve the lives of the women who are at home watching the contest.

And one particularly egregious example of this “female empowerment aren’t I clever” marketing is Noa Kirel’s Unicorn, released on International Women’s Day in a poor attempt at synergy.

What evidence is there for this song being a female empowerment anthem? Well, Kirel’s lyrics include one chant of “feminine-feminine-feminal” as well as the chorus:

“History caught in a loop
Don’t you wanna change it?
You know that we can, you and me
Can write a new book
Don’t you wanna change it now?”

Which could be great, if Kirel in any way indicated that this section of the song was meant to be a feminist call to arms. But she doesn’t. The video features no shots of her with a group of women storming the Bastille in a dance break; no shots of her standing on a picket line protesting for equal pay; no shots of her standing in a kitchen cutting up tea towels in protest of a disproportionate burden of housework.

No. Instead, the rest of the song (along with the visuals of the video), centre Kirel and her specialness. She’s the one separate from everyone else. It’s not about women – it’s about her.

And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with singing about how fabulous YOU are…except if you’re billing the song as a female empowerment anthem. Because there’s nothing empowering about a woman singing about how she stands apart from everyone. There’s no way you can be one of the girls if you’re deliberately setting yourself apart from them. It’s like a weird mix of the chosen one/cool girl tropes, and I’m not a fan of either.

But enough with the feminism – what about the song? Well, it’s okay. It’s a slickly produced, pop girl banger. There are moments for slut drops and moments for jury bait and little ear popping samples peppered throughout. But it’s nothing groundbreaking. And while I fully support trumpeting one’s accomplishments, that “You wanna see me dance?” breakdown in the last 30 seconds of the song is SUCH a “pick me girl” moment. How ironic that a song that purports to be about women’s empowerment ends with a moment where Kirel makes a naked appeal to be liked for her dancing abilities.

As a banger slut, I want to be more positive about this. But all of Unicorn just feels like a joyless grind to the end, less a song for Eurovision than a stepping stone for Kirel’s bid for international superstardom. I admire her ambition, but that doesn’t mean I need to be a fan.

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