Static and Ben El, the pop music duo from Israel whose success in their home country led to a rich deal with Saban Music Group (via Virgin), has called it quits after seven years together. Backed by American-Israeli entertainment mogul Haim Saban, the group hit the ground running in 2018 with the English-language version of “Tudo Bom,” a bouncy Reggaeton track featuring J. Balvin.
“Dear Friends – this was not an easy decision, however the duo known as Static and Ben El has decided to part ways,” the pair posted on Aug. 25 in a joint statement on their social media account.
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“We also wanted to thank you for being so supportive and for helping us to live our dreams,” they continued. “Of course — the shows already scheduled will still take place. We love you very much, see you in our new incarnation.”
Comprising co-vocalists Liraz Russo (“Static,” a nickname he earned as a wiley teen) and Ben-El Tavori, the son of legendary Israeli singer Shimi Tavori, the two met as childhood friends and partnered in music for seven years, working with producer Yarden Peleg, aka Jordi and amassing a superstar following in Israel, particularly among the tween crowd. Tracks “Barbie,” “Silsulim” and “Zahav” were all instant hits locally, and the video for the original Hebrew-language version of “Tudo Bom” stands as the most-watched video in Israeli YouTube history, garnering some 300 million views.
“Objectively it’s not the best music that you can find, but here you had these two Israeli guys singing pop music in Hebrew with reggaeton sounds — and they were the first ones to do it,” notes Isaac de Castro, editor of Jewcy, an online Jewish pop culture publication.
“Now, you have Noa Kirel doing it. You have Omer Adam doing it in collaboration with Nicky Jam, which is amazing,” de Castro continues. “ I think [Static and Ben El] being the first took a lot of people by surprise. Even if the music was bad or, you know, not at the highest standards of reggaeton or Israeli pop music, there was something about it that made it fun and interesting.”
But making it internationally proved more difficult for Static and Ben El. Despite releasing a string of songs with star features — including a duet with Grammy-winning multi-hyphenate Pitbull on the 2020 single “Further Up (Na, Na, Na, Na, Na),” a catchy interpretation of reggae artist Ini Kamoze’s 1994 hit “Here Comes the Hotstepper,” and recording “Shake Ya Boom Boom” with the Black Eyed Peas that same year — the duo never quite found their commercial or critical footing in the United States. The artists’ collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Lil Baby on dance tune “Ziki Ziki” in March of this year was also not enough to sustain their fledgling staying power.
The duo was additionally dogged by personal scandal. Earlier this month, recordings of Tavori threatening his ex-wife, Ortal Amar, and their son, Tav-Prince, were leaked publicly, stirring up controversy. Many have speculated that this PR debacle is the reason behind the sudden split.
Tension between the two spilled onto the stage, too. At a recent show in Eilat, Static walked off from a performance after two songs.
But de Castro points out that no press is bad press, and hardcore fans of Static and Ben El will no doubt have solo careers to get behind.
“Publicity of their breakup is going to have people waiting to see what they do next,” adds de Castro. “I definitely will be on the lookout for future solo music endeavors and if they continue on the path of exploring the same sounds they were within Latino music and Israeli rap. If that’s the case, then everyone wins.”
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