For weeks they had the favorite role, on Saturday evening European living rooms voted for them en masse. Ukraine has won the 66th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin with the folk-rap formation Kalush Orchestra. The victory for the battle song ‘Stefania’ can be seen as a statement of support, as a sign of musical social fraternization and a voice against war.
Frontman Oleh Psiuk, who mixes his raps in Kalush Orchestra with folkloric elements, called it an important victory on Saturday night. “We underlined here that Ukrainian culture is very much alive,” he said. It is the third time that Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest – singer Jamala won in 2016. Psiuk expressed the wish that Ukraine can host the festival next year. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is investigating this possibility. Several countries have already offered their help. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced via Instagram that he was doing everything he could to host Eurovision in Mariupol. “Free, peaceful and restored.”
The sympathy votes of European television voters for Ukraine were not unexpected, but the vote counting was still exciting. The European juries saw more in the British Sam Riley, the amiable bearded TikTok star who suddenly made Great Britain a serious contender for the win. He ran out at one point. And the seductive Latin pop of Spain and the modern Swedish tearjerker of Cornelia Jakobs also won the jury points.
Also read: Song festival candidate Kalush Orchestra: ‘This is a victory song, not a war song’
S10 in eleventh place
Singer S10 fell just outside the top ten in the PalaOlimpico of Turin with her song ‘De Diepte’ for the Netherlands. She came in eleventh place – the same as the previous Dutch candidates Douwe Bob and Og3ne. The European juries appreciated her song, but the televote proved unfavorable to her.
S10, who sang to her younger self’s mental turmoil in Turin, said she was happy that she participated “with my story and in my way”. Like all her performances this week, the singer with the back-length blond hair started the performance somewhat hesitantly. Although this final was also palpable how she could have screamed out her emotion. Step by step she came out of her ‘room of light’, singing more and more powerfully and relaxed.
The emotions were on the table at all this edition. Many artists offered a glimpse into their heads, such as the Australian queer singer who sang about his homosexuality and autism at the same time from behind his crystal veil, Iceland that touched on the problem of transgender children and the Italian duet about the fear of not being understood was beautiful. The sensitive songs of Switzerland and Azerbaijan also stood out.
The final show of the Eurovision Song Contest – the EBU again estimates some 200 million TV viewers – was also a multi-colored tableau. The Italian edition had a stage like a fountain and a ‘greenroom’, literally styled after Italian gardens, with artists between real hedges and plants. The shows were full of glitter, scripted jokes for slightly too happy presenters in bright outfits and their own performances.
That the Eurovision Song Contest is a ‘non-political’ event and usually forbids political statements, this final show was remarkably parked. The show opened with John Lennon’s peace song ‘Give Peace a Chance’, from the square in the host city of Turin to the hall with the audience singing at the encouragement of the presenters. And various artists also made statements. Such as the Icelandic trio Systur who, with Ukrainian flags on their hands and guitars, called for peace even after their performance.