I came to Israel this summer with absolutely zero knowledge of Israeli music and artists, having been immersed in the music of my own American culture.
However, music is a huge passion of mine, and I was ready to learn more. Who better to teach me than Israelis themselves, so I went out on the streets of Tel Aviv to ask people to introduce me to their favorite Israeli songs and singers.
These random strangers were so friendly and excited to give me recommendations, and they did not disappoint.
The songs they named were from diverse genres and really increased my knowledge of Israeli music. I recognized familiar sounds, beats and even some words, and appreciated the talented performances.
Yoni expressed how much he loves Mergui, saying that the song is so sweet and “just the vibe.” “It’s hella underrated and it needs more love,” he said.
On Apple Music’s list of top Israeli songs for 2022, Moallem and Mergui each appear twice, but not for “Tsunami,” so I guess Yoni is right.
Max, 22, loves the song “Time to Wake Up” by veteran hip-hop/funk band Hadag Nahash because of their “amazing” instrumentals. “It’s good rock. Good rap. Great guys,” said Max.
He also loves “The Breaker” by Mercedes Band for some more great rock.
Michael, 28, really wanted to give his respect to Gal Nisman, band member of Full Trunk. He said, “He is amazing at mixing rock with mizrachit [Middle Eastern sounds].” Michael’s top pick from the band is “Mufleta Blues.”
Mufleta (also spelled “moufleta”), by the way, are sweet buttery pancakes traditionally served at the Mimouna festival celebrated by Moroccan Jews immediately after Passover.
Noga told me that she has liked Mosh Ben Ari from a very young age. She connects with the lyrics and music and she loves the beats.
Adi, 25, is currently obsessed with the new song “DXB to TLV” by Omer Adam, who consistently ranks among Israelis’ most listened-to pop stars. When asked why, she kept it short and sweet, saying “I don’t know; summer vibes.”
According to Uriel, Vibe Ish is the “only one” making good hip-hop music in Israel.
I discovered this tune during my first week in Israel while doing a DJ activity with my Birthright group, and it’s kind of become “our” song. It’s super catchy and upbeat with beautiful vocals that pair perfectly.
I was fascinated by this whole new type of music and surprised by how many elements are similar to the American music I know and love.
Rock, rap and pop are my favorite genres and it was amazing to get a taste of it in Israel.
While I really enjoyed listening to all of the recommended songs, my favorites were “Time to Wake Up” because of the funky rock instrumentals throughout the song, especially in the pre-chorus and chorus, and “Max” because of the cool beat and melody and Vibe Ish’s smooth flow.
“My Brother is Getting Married” has an upbeat and summery sound, and “DXB to TLV” has an electronic feel but includes a lot of other unique sounds. These were both unfamiliar styles for me, but delightful to listen to.
Below is a Spotify playlist that I created, featuring the 10 songs mentioned above. Have a listen and get a taste of the sounds of Tel Aviv!