|Eurovision Song Contest 1987 entry|
|◄ "Yavo Yom" (1986)|
|"Ben Adam" (1988) ►|
"Shir Habatlanim" (Hebrew script: שיר הבטלנים, English translation: The Bums' Song) was the Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1987. It was performed in Hebrew by the comedic duo Lazy Bums (heb. "הבטלנים", HaBatlanim) and came 8th, scoring 73 points. It was the subject of a resignation threat by the Israeli Minister of Culture.
The act consisted of two comedians, Natan Datner and Avi Kushnir, dressed in black suits and ties in the style of the Blues Brothers, who performed alone in a talking style presentation, accompanied by a minimalist orchestra score conducted by a similarly attired conductor. The two men danced in unison, with coordinated arm and feet shuffling, walking across the stage which at times descended into chaotic flailing, pulling faces and a handstand. At times they pulled sunglasses perched off their heads down, and concluded their performance by falsely walking away before jumping back at the audience.
The lyrics describe the daily routine of an idle loafer, evidently unemployed, who wakes up in the morning at 10 a.m., and who cannot see the sun because the shutters, and then a block of buildings impedes his view. It describes his routine of making coffee and smoking, and feeding the birds so that they come and sing the Lazy Bums' Song. It then describes how the lazy guy directs his dog to do the grocery errands, before going for a walk with the dog (accompanied with a pantomimed lifted-leg gesture), and then at the end of the day, having his view of the moon blocked by the buildings. The verses are interspersed with the "Lazy Bums" chorus, a repetition of the nonsense words "Hupa, Hole Hupa, Hupa Hole".
It was selected to represent Israel after placing first in the 1987 Kdam-Eurovision preliminaries, where it tallied 79 points, defeating fifteen other Israeli artists' entries including as 1978 Eurovision winner Izhar Cohen. This was the largest pre-Eurovision competition to date, presented by Yardena Arazi and Yoram Arbell on April 1, 1987.
It was the first time that a satirical comic act had been selected to represent Israel, and this raised the ire of the Minister of Culture, Yitzhak Navon, who threatened his resignation if the song represented Israel on the night of the contest. Although the performance went ahead, he did not fulfil his threat to resign.
The song went on to achieve success, primarily amongst the younger demographic who appreciated their slapstick style presentation, especially in Iceland, where the duo later toured and performed live and in television shows. An English version of the song was also recorded.
In 1988, Swedish record company manager and former politician Bert Karlsson recorded a Swedish cover version entitled "Hoppa Hulle".