Ukraine Favored at Eurovision Song Contest Amid War
Against the backdrop of war in Europe, the hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest entered its flamboyant climax Saturday night (May 14) as 25 bands performed in front of a live audience in the Italian city of Turin, while millions more watched on television around the world.
Bookmakers are giving the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra a 60% chance to win. They believe that it mixes traditional Ukrainian dance moves, costumes, and rhythms with contemporary hip-hop.
Despite Ukraine’s position in the oddsmakers’ and sentimental favourite, fans from Spain and Britain who entered the PalaOlimpico venue from all over Europe were rooting for their country to win.
Iryna Lasiy, a Ukrainian music fan, said that she felt worldwide support for her country during the war and not just for the music .”
Russia was exempted this year following its February 24 invasion in Ukraine. Organisers said that the move was to keep politics from the contest, which promotes diversity and friendship between nations.
Ukraine’s song “Stefania” was originally written to honor the mother of the frontman. However, it has become an anthem for the nation since the war, as the lyrics take on new meanings. Oleh Psiuk, Kalush Orchestra frontman, wrote that “I’ll always find the way home, even though all roads are destroyed.”
The six-member, all male band was granted permission to leave the country in order to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture during the music contest. One of the original members was able to fight, while the rest plan to return once the contest is over.
Back In Ukraine, in the battered northeastern town of Kharkiv. The participation of Kalush Orchestra in the contest is seen by the nation as another platform to gain international support.
” The whole country is growing, everyone around the world supports us. This is extremely nice,” said Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old teacher.
“I believe that wherever there is Ukraine now and there is an opportunity to talk about the war, we need to talk,” said Alexandra Konovalova, a 23-year-old make-up artist in Kharkiv. “Any competitions are very important because they help more people understand what is happening .”
Anastasia Khardikova, a 24-year-old Ukrainian living in Sweden, said she intends to vote for Kalush Orchestra, and is persuading her friends abroad to do the same.
The winner is selected by a panel of music experts from each country and voted by the public. There is always room for an upset. Britain’s Sam Ryder and Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs are each given a 10% shot while the Italian duo of Mahmood & Blanco have a 6% chance of winning.
The winner receives a glass microphone trophy, as well as a career boost.
The event was hosted by Italy after local rock band Maneskin won last year in Rotterdam. The victory brought the Rome-based band international fame. They opened for the Rolling Stones, and appeared on Saturday Night Live as well as numerous magazine covers wearing their often genderless costumes.
Twenty bands were selected in the semifinals this week and will compete alongside the Big Five from Italy, Britain France, Germany, Spain and France. They have permanent berths thanks to their financial support for the contest.
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