Dana International is probably most well-known for winning the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest (with ‘Diva’), but there’s much more to her than that. Her first album, Danna International, a refreshing blend of Middle Eastern motifs and house beats, was released in 1993 and kick-started a career that continues today – Dana has just released a new single (‘Hakol ze letova’) and a new album will follow in the summer.
Yoter ve-Yoter was released in 2001. Dana said of the album, “It’s the first time I’m truly proud of my work. I worked with a great team, and we invested so many hours of work in every second of it.” Those hours of work resulted in an album that took Dana’s music into the new millennium.
Her last album, Free, released internationally in 1999, did not do well in the charts and was considered a flop. Although Free has a few great songs, overall it felt uninspired and was a rather disappointing effort, especially coming after Dana’s Eurovision victory. Free featured Eurodance-infused tracks that seemed to lack the charm and cheek of her previous work. The album suggested that Dana’s music needed an update.
After releasing Free, Dana did not continue in the Eurodance direction, and instead began working with songwriter Dani Dotan and songwriter/producer Eli Avramov on a new album. Dana noted that this was her first time “working with a team that wrote everything for me.” That close teamwork produced a collection of songs with engaging lyrics that were much more personal than her earlier tracks, backed by fresh dance sounds with touches of electronica. This album also included two ballads, proving that Dana could tackle melancholy material just as well as dancefloor-ready tunes.
The dance/electronica sound of Yoter ve-Yoter probably owes a bit to Madonna’s 2000 release Music, particularly the ballad ‘Shir,’ which takes after ‘I Deserve It’ with its wailing synths and acoustic guitar. The chopped-up production style heard in ‘Don’t Tell Me’ also finds its way into a few of Yoter ve-Yoter‘s tracks.
While Dana’s album certainly has roots in Music, the result is all Dana. She turns in a more mature, subtle vocal, years away from the shrieks and trills of ‘Sa’ida Sultana’. ‘Nizachti’ is a confident proclamation of victory, set to explosive synths and a hard dance beat. In contrast, my favorite track, ‘Hargasha Tova’, explains amidst downtempo beats and understated electronica elements that she doesn’t know if it’s love but she doesn’t really want to know, because he simply ‘makes me feel good.’
Other highlights of the album are ‘Shir,’ ‘La-qum ba-boqer,’ and ‘Ata hores’ – overall a very solid album, with only one track that I tend to skip (‘Ba-derekh el ha-chofesh’: over-long and with a chorus consisting of one phrase that Dana seems to be yelling!). Yoter ve-Yoter signaled the start of the second phase of Dana’s career: a move to a more mature, sophisticated style of dance music, with less overt cheekiness but with tongue still firmly in cheek.