Monday, January 11, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Fourth Judge

There has been a great amount of buzz about COL's Jewish Star and without any doubt, this initiative is revolutionary in JM. This proves again that Chabad dominates Jewish Music big time - it's no surprise that they had the courage to create this event and that most of the contestants are Chabadniks.

A Jewish Star comes after American Idol's success and this is pretty much a copycat, in a JM version. I have no problem with that, since American Idol's formula has been copied in almost everywhere and it seems like this is what people want to see today. But the only thing we are missing is Simon's fearless comments and I'm afraid A. Fried, Peilin and the Neshoma guy will not say the truth as it is. So here I am, the fourth judge!

Moishe Savoy - Good potential but he needs more time - he's too young - and coaching. The chair holding the door closed was funny!

Binyomin Schapiro
- Bad song choice. If you are recording professionally like he did, you should choose a more challenging song. It's a very easy song - no words and very small range.

Itzchak Bondarev-Dobruskin - From Azerbaijan! Wow! But this is another bad song choice - Keili Ato is far to easy and doesn't allow him to show off his voice. Also, a funny clip - Walking around Azerbaijan's beaches with a Tallis!

Yisroel Koch
- Reminds me of Chaim David a little. It's nice to see a simple, heimish guitar solo and it's a nice niggun.

Moshe Lehr - Although the intro was a little over-the-top, Moshe has a very strong presence and this will work in his favor. He has a nice voice timber and could make into the top three.

Gershon Shapiro
- Nothing wrong with this clip but is forgettable, and this clip doesn't stands out. But it does stands in the roof-top - an hilarious play with the words of this song "Omed al Gag Beit Hamikdash". Intentional?

Mendel Markel - I disagree with the song choice again. Mendel has a great voice but a more mainstream song would surely work better for him, but it's possible that this Fabrengen-style song will please the Chabad judges.

Shuky Sadon
- A solid professional recording, although he could use some voice coaching. Well done and we will see what the judges think.

Benny Gammerman
- Probably the most Heimish video of all, this is not an easy song to sing and Benny carries it with confidence and with a well-coached voice, reminding me of one of Lev Tahor's soloists. I think he will do very well with a better production, so Benny has good chances of going to the next stage.

Choni Teitelbaum
- Choni has a very sweet and pleasant voice, and he does a fantastic job in the piano. He might be the dark-horse.

Avraham Ohayon
- A sure winner, this Frenchmen is the best video in this competition. Professional recording, superb song choice from Ohad's latest album and a distinctive voice, this video propelled this anonymous talent into the JM scene. Exciting!

Aryeh Greenberg
- Very simple setting, this video has nothing bad but it doesn't stands out. And he is often off tune, so I don't know if he was successful in "bringing Nachas to the Rebbe".

Sam Omari
- The oldest contestant, this very professional video is reminiscent from JM old days. But a lot has changed and this video seems out of place.

Motti Flikshtein
- The low point of this competition, I don't consider this to be a song; Mor To Life should've written a letter instead. And "MorToLife" actually has better recordings in his site, so it remains a mystery why he decided to send this thing in.

Boruch Sholom Blesofsky
- The most innovative video, it starts with a cute piano intro that steers to a whole other direction. Boruch tried to do something cool, and he was actually successful in that, but I don't like the song and he is off tune.

Nissen Brenenson - Too much hand-gesturing, but Nissen's voice is very promising. But I don't think this was enough to make him pass.

Yermi Udkoff - It was a mistake to sing two songs - it made this video forgettable and long. But Yermi has a very good voice and if the judges take only this into account, he might have a chance.

Shmuli Stiefel
- Shmuli is evidently trying to imitate Helfgot and that's a big bill. I wonder if a Chazzan will pass, but Shmuli could be a decent Chazan with a good voice coach.

Yisroel Dovid Shmueli
- The bad song choice made this video forgettable.

Noach Reshef
- Long live Topol!

Tzvi Russell - Very spirited performance, but another bad song choice.

Avremel Blesofsky - Waaaay to much digital manipulation half-way. Over-the-top.

Shmuly Rimler
- Simple setting. I think Aderaba was too hard.

Dorai Natanel
- I like this "back-to-Yeshiva" video. Recorded in the boys' room in France, this is a duet, so the question is if duos can win or not. Nice, and I like very much the guy in the piano.

Binyamin Moshe - This is a very Israeli-styled video. I believe the American judges will not appreciate this original composition, but this is one of my favs. It reminds me of Adi Ran's uber-famous Ata Kadosh and I am a fan of Israeli JM as well, so kudos to this youngster from Lod.

Choni Grunblatt - In the boring side but not a bad video.


bored soul said...

you write that they made a bad song choice but you have to remember in the beginning they only allowed lubavicher nigunim

YK said...

I didn't know that.
If that's the case it's not a fair competition. Why did they change the rules?


Anonymous said...

They changed rules during the competition, you right it's not fair !!

YK said...

I guess they didn't have enough niggun videos and decided to accept anything..

In addition, from this text in their website it seems like they were restricting the videos to the Chabad crowd:

"The first of its kind in the Chabad music world, the competition seeks to discover the next Jewish singing star .."

What you think?

Yehuda said...

The competition is linked part of the annual Soul to Soul concert.

The concert is geared towards Chabad specifically. It is held in Crown Heights, and the show's content always reflects that.

Of course, the competition will reflect that.

The concert director said the rule was changed to due to complaints that it limited participation. He specifically mentioned those that wanted to sing Chazanus. (but only one person did in the end anyways...)

Anonymous said...


Sim said...

I actually put together a video to send in but as the samples started coming I realized that being that Ia m not Lubavitch (in the slightest, I even tried finding a distant cousin that was and I couldnt...) my style of singing was totally different and it was almost embarrassing to participate...

sarah said...

For sure Avi Ohayon is the winner!!!!!!!

Sarah ;)

amazing said...

firstly cute idea- second, the rules clearly state not to judge on video quality or composition,. so why do you keep mentioning the video?
the best way to judge is actually to turn the monitor off and only listen.
but that aside- i came across this link on another site- this is shmuly rimler singing again with no laringitis.

amazing said...

sorry! link is

YK said...


If what you saying is true, I think that's a missed opportunity then. To in one hand limit this competition to Chabad and in the other to make everyone believe they can become the next Jewish Star by accepting all videos is just pure lack of direction. They got the buzz around the show but it can turn against them.


YK said...


Read the rules again:
"You may record your performance in any manner you see fit, professionally, with music or without. The quality of the recording may influence the vote."
In other words, quality does matter.


amazing said...

then they contradict themselves because they write on collive,

How did you like this audition? vote today (Please note: auditions should be judged on the quality of the voice, not the video production)

whats your opinion on rimmlers new video?

Yehuda said...

I do not believe anyone is being misled, or that they are limiting the competition. I was just trying to provide perspective with my comment.

Take American Idol: You can have a far better voice than 99% of the contestants and not get through if you sing a piece of opera.

It is a matter of what is popular amongst the competition's target audience, which in this case is Chabad.

There are plenty of contestants who do not look Lubavitch (perhaps they are, I wouldn't know), and they have every chance of winning. However, as it is a Crown Heights based show, it is a Crown Heights style competition, and most of the participants, and possibly the results, will reflect that.

Sim, above, realized this and chose not to enter. He was not forbidden from entering, but understood he had slimmer chances of winning.

If an organization in Lakewood had a singing competition, no doubt the participation and results would look entirely different to this one, and once again, it would not "lack direction."

It is simply a matter of taste, which is different in different cultures.

About the need for good video quality, well there are two ways of looking at:

1) The contestant:
He has to realize, that although it's a singing competition, people will be listening "with their eyes" at the same time, and so he should make every effort to ensure the video quality be as good as possible.

2) The voters:
Although you are watching a video, you should be judging the voice, it is a singing competition!

YK said...


Rimler's new video is definitely better. He has a nice voice timber and I think his future rests in Chazzanus alone, not mainstream JM. But he needs a good voice teacher if he wants to move forward, otherwise he will remain just a good baal tefila.


YK said...


Singing opera has worked in the british version of American Idol - Britain's Got Talent, and Paul Potts was the winner. I don't necessarily disagree with what you said, but a one-of-a-kind talent with star quality will always shine through even in unfavorable conditions. If a new Dedi comes to a Jewish Star, he will surely win.

You also said: "It is simply a matter of taste, which is different in different cultures" - Chabad is not a different culture. In fact, mainstream JM is dominated by Chabad and they have shaped the JM we hear these days(A. Fried, B. Friedman,Avremi G,S. Simcha and many others).


Yehuda said...

Just for the sake of being argumentative, 'cause we basically agree:

Paul Potts won Britain's Got Talent, which is a talent show with much broader parameters than "Pop Idols" the British equivalent to American Idol. (Not sure if it still exists, perhaps the X Factor is now the equivalent)

Chabad is not ENTIRELY a different culture, but our tastes are different.

While mine and many of my friends' favorite video was Choni Grunblatt's, you barely gave him 10 words. In fact, I just heard someone singing "Yismechu" while walking down Montgomery St!

There are many current "stars" selling out concerts, who to me sound like kittens being strangled by a pack of wild hyenas.

And in answer to your OLD question of why Chabad dominates the JM scene, it's quite simple:

We Rock.

YK said...

We do basically agree, I was just making a side point.

But I do not believe Chabad is a whole segment within JM. Ok, Chabadniks are very into niggunim and stuff, but all Chasidim are. And yet they all buy A. Fried, Shwekey and MBD.


amazing said...

new video

Aaron Sures said...

PURIM is in the month of Adar not Teves as an american idol judge I would say your opinion is totally wrong
A)Grunblatt is VERY good if you find him boring, you dont know what music means at all!
Blesofsky is not off tune he sings rock. hence rock bends notes its called chormmanic in musical terms! NOT off tune!
I personally dont like neither for other reasons
A)grunblat has not enough character in his video but his voice is great!
B)Blesofsky is not my style but what he did he did well
No offence!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! your opinion sounds like a 770 shmuzz gone bad, nice intro though go into sales

Anonymous said...

no need to apologize
your criticism holds no water.
but nice blog

Anonymous said...

From someone who knows how to sing and knows Shlomie gertners style of singing benny gammerman did not sing this song well at all. Shuky sadon happens to have an amazing voice and picked a great song and sang it very well. You were right though about Ohayon he picked a great song and sang it very well. You have to understand that Avraham fried is a professional singer and is in the business for many yrs. He will definetly pick someone he sees potential in. As far as not being honest we shall wait and see what will happen.

YK said...


Not my opinion is wrong, not yours. And if anything, I'm at least not biased, unlike you - your blog is named "Blesofsky's Chachel Blog", so whatever you say about Blesofsky will obviously carry some added emotions.And that's ok.


YK said...

Anon 1,

I am in sales.

Anon 2,

Agree with what you said. In regards to Gammerman's vid, he twisted this non-kumzits song into a kumzits setting, so I'm guessing he was not intending to copy Gertner, but doing it in his own way. That's a positive thing, and he is running as the "dark horse" of this competition.


Jewish Orchestra said...

Great article. I'm curious to know what the age span is. I have been in the business for quite some time and I never came across any of these names which is interesting.

Anonymous said...

The fourth judge!!!



Y W said...

I do not think Gershon Shapiro's video does not stand out his voice is nice and strong good song and sings it well my top are

Gershon Shapiro
Shuky Sadon
Avraham Ohayon

Aaron Sureson said...

Hi there, thanks for your time A) Im not arron, Im his son. The miszunick lol
B) In response to your claim of me being bias, I must admit, you make a valid point. But bias does not mean wrong, apparently (according to votes) your opinion on grunblat was wrong, and my was correct.

YK said...

I don't know.. I disagree with their top ten. But the public vote is never the same as the critics'!

Anonymous said...

Grunblatt, Markel, Breneson, Blesofsky, Sadon and Koch Can sing. They can carry a tone. The rest of the guys are flat. They simply don’t belong in a SINGING competition, although they’d do well entertaining at a nursing home.

Now let’s talk MUSIC!

Grunblatt is good! His voice is pleasant and interesting.
Markel, Has a husky voice.
Brenenson has a tense squeeze.
Blesofsky sings nice. Good control and feels the Music.
Sadon, has a Shweky –esque placement. His high note is electric.
Koch sings all American. If your into that genre, he does it correct.

itzikbd said...