Madonna’s hugely anticipated performance during the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel drew plaudits from the crowd but raised eyebrows among the show’s viewers, as the pop legend mixed new material with a hugely popular classic, and a noticeable political statement.
Her futuristic and somewhat surreal set dressing attracted plenty of attention on social media.
She performed during the interval of the wildly popular European singing competition, hosted this year in Israel after the country won last year’s contest. Despite political backlash over this year’s host country of Israel, Madonna had a message of her own.
She kicked off her set with her hugely popular 1989 hit “Like A Prayer,” draped in a Gothic cloak and black eye-patch.
Drawing a huge reception from the crowd in Tel Aviv, she moved onto her new single “Future” alongside Atlanta rapper Quavo.
As the set ended, two dancers walked off arm-in-arm, with an Israeli flag on the back of one and the Palestinian flag on the other.
Beforehand, Madonna joined in with a few of Eurovision’s trademark oddities, engaging in a somewhat awkward back-and-forth with one of the show’s presenters.
“I go from my hotel to rehearsal. I look at the beach,” she said of her time in Israel. “You’re all winners,” she added to the show’s contestants before taking to the stage. “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”
The superstar’s performance had been shrouded in controversy and confusion, with some activists calling for her to boycott the event due to its host country — especially after a flare-up of violence between militants in Gaza and Israeli forces
Four people in Israel and more than 20 people in Gaza were killed in two days of fighting, before mediators managed to restore a ceasefire, even as rehearsals for the competition were getting underway.
But in a statement to CNN, the singer said: “I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.”
“My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict. I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace,” the statement continued.