Ukraine decidedly won Eurovision 2022 last Saturday, with an outpouring of support from across Europe in response to the ongoing Russian invasion.
‘Stefania’ performed by Kalush Orchestra marks the third win for Ukraine, who last triumphed in 2016 with Jamala’s harrowing ‘1944’. Both songs have since become an anthem for the Ukraine war.
Kalush Orchestra’s ‘Stefania’ finished the night with 631 points – a staggering 165 points ahead of the United Kingdom in second place with Sam Ryder’s ‘Space Man’. Spain’s Chanel with the high-energy and meticulously choreographed ‘SloMo’ finishing in third place.
Kalush Orchestra has experienced quite the Eurovision journey, especially since they were not Ukraine’s original Eurovision act. Alina Pash was initially set to represent the country, but she quit after claims surfaced that she illegally travelled to Russia-controlled Crimea in 2015. Kalush Orchestra as runners-up took on the task of representing Ukraine at Eurovision, and now they’ve won the whole thing, waving the Ukrainian flag with pride.
Voice Magazine asked Kalush Orchestra what they hope their win represents to Europe and the global stage, to which Oleh Psiuk replied in Ukrainian:
“As I mentioned before, any victory is very meaningful to Ukraine these days. Here, lately, the Ukrainian culture has been attacked. Attempts were made to attack Ukrainian culture, and we are here to prove that Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian music are alive – and they have their own very special and very beautiful signature.”
‘Stefania’ certainly has a beautiful signature style, mixing rap with folk singing. Their entry experiments with instrumentation from double bass to electronic drums, making the track a melting pot of influences that makes it incredibly memorable and a deserving Eurovision winner. Plus, it has the best Ukrainian sopilka solo.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Kalush Orchestra on Instagram saying: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision! For the third time in its history. And I believe - not for the last time. We will do everything so that one day the participants and guests of Eurovision hosted Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, restored!”.
“Glory to Ukraine!” Zelensky concludes his caption. A phrase echoed throughout Kalush Orchestra’s winner’s press conference held shortly after their win on Saturday.
Kalush Orchestra is comprised of members Ivan Klymenko, Oleh Psiuk, Ihor Didenchuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, and Vitalii Duzhyk. Frontman Oleh Psiuk wrote the song about his mother Stefania, who is still in Ukraine currently. At the winner’s press conference, Oleh Psiuk was asked whether he had contacted his mother yet and the rapper replied that he would be contacting her in the morning.
The band has temporary authorisation to attend Eurovision, which has now ended. At the time of writing, Kalush Orchestra will be back in Ukraine. “Like every Ukrainian, we are going to fight, and fight until the end,” frontman Oleh says.
There is still speculation about where the event will be hosted, the EBU and Eurovision themselves have not confirmed a specific location as of yet. Kalush Orchestra expects it to be held in a rebuilt Ukraine.
“Next year, Ukraine will be happy to host the Eurovision Song Contest, and indeed all of Europe, in the new, integrated, happy Ukraine. It is too soon to talk about our plans, but of course, we will do everything possible to make the next Eurovision happen in the new, peaceful Ukraine,” they said.
Others have speculated countries like Poland and the UK could be nominated locations for Eurovision Song Contest 2023 to be held.
Following performances of the 25 Grand Finalists, perhaps the most bizarre voting sequence occurred when the jury votes of all 40 participating nations were announced. The United Kingdom were in the lead with jury votes, receiving ‘douze points’ from countries like France and Germany. Twitter users took their digital stage poking fun at how Sam Ryder has done more for international relations than the UK government.
This was a shock for one of two reasons. Last year, the UK received ‘nul points’ from both the jury and public vote for James Newman’s ‘Embers’ – a situation that had never occurred in Eurovision before, and meant we were beyond last place. The United Kingdom were scoreless with ‘zero’. This year, Sam Ryder secured the United Kingdom a total of 466 points (183 from televotes, and a whopping 283 from the Jury).
The UK jumped from dead last to 2nd place in the space of a year. However, the jury votes were not enough to secure a UK win – and it was generally expected that Ukraine would take this year’s contest. All of the participating countries expressed solidarity with Ukraine, to the point where Italy’s competing act Mahmood said last month “if it could help in some way, I would be the first to want Ukraine to win”.
Solely based on jury votes, Ukraine came 4th with 192 points. When the televotes were revealed in a tense nerve-wracking moment, it was revealed that Ukraine scored 439 points. Televoters from 28 out of 39 countries gave 12 points to Ukraine, which means it is the most points a country has ever received from the public televote.
It’s been an extraordinary year for Eurovision this year. Marked with some of the most memorable Eurovision acts of all time – we’re looking at you Moldova and Norway. Sam Ryder has done the United Kingdom a massive favour with how we perceive the contest “To change attitudes – that is the prize. Imagine you can do that. And I think that’s possible,” the out-of-this-world star said.
Of course, Eurovision has its 66th winner with Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra. An incredibly worthy winner at that. A win that represents Ukraine’s resilience and drive to rebuild their country, and it definitely sends a strong message to those who think otherwise.
Onto Eurovision Song Contest 2023!