Amid War, Ukraine Is Favored to Win Eurovision Song Contest

For 11 weeks, Ukrainians have been braving conflict, destruction and loss. However on Saturday, they might be celebrating victory: The nation’s rousing, hip-hop infused music “Stefania” is favored to win the Eurovision Music Contest, the cultural phenomenon that helped launch Abba and Celine Dion and is watched yearly by 200 million folks.

“Stefania,” an anthemic music from Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, was initially written to honor the mom of the group’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk. However for the reason that conflict, it has been reinterpreted as a tribute to Ukraine as a motherland. The music consists of lyrics that roughly translate to, “You may’t take my willpower from me, as I acquired it from her,” and “I’ll at all times discover my means residence, even when the roads are destroyed.”

The wildly fashionable Eurovision Music Contest, a famously over-the-top show of kitsch, whose previous winners embrace a Finnish heavy steel monster band keen on blowing up smoking slabs of meat onstage, has taken on notably political overtones this yr.

In February, the occasion’s organizers banned Russia from collaborating within the contest, a showcase meant to advertise European unity and cultural trade, citing fears that Russia’s inclusion would injury its fame.

The transfer underlined Russia’s intensifying estrangement from the worldwide group, together with within the realm of tradition. Russia started competing within the music contest, the world’s largest, in 1994, and has competed greater than 20 occasions. Its participation has been a cultural touchstone of types for the nation’s rebound and engagement with the world after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia got here to energy within the wake of the political and financial chaos of the Nineteen Nineties.

In 2008, when Dima Bilan, a Russian pop star, gained Eurovision with the music “Believe,” Mr. Putin weighed in promptly with congratulations, thanking him for additional burnishing Russia’s picture.

It isn’t the primary time that politics have encroached on the competition, which premiered in 1956. In 2005, Ukraine’s entry music was rewritten after being deemed too political as a result of it celebrated the Orange Revolution. When Dana Worldwide, an Israeli transgender lady, gained in 1998 along with her hit music “Diva,” rabbis accused her of flouting the values of the Jewish state.

Several bookmakers have stated that Ukraine is by far the presumptive favourite to win the competitors this yr. Winners are dete rmined primarily based on votes from nationwide juries and viewers at residence.

Ukraine’s entry “Stefania” comes from a band that blends conventional Ukrainian people music with rap and hip-hop. Kalush Orchestra introduced the semifinal viewers in Turin, Italy, to its ft on Tuesday with a spirited efficiency that despatched them via to Saturday’s Grand Ultimate.

The band traveled for Eurovision with particular permission to bypass a martial regulation stopping most Ukrainian males from leaving the nation, in keeping with the Ukrainian public broadcasting firm Suspilne.

Warfare has necessitated different changes. The Ukrainian commentator for the present, Timur Miroshnychenko, has been broadcasting from a bomb shelter.

A photo posted by Suspilne confirmed the veteran presenter at a desk in a bunkerlike room, surrounded by computer systems, wires, a digicam and eroding partitions that exposed patches of brick beneath. It was not clear what metropolis he was in.

The bunker had been ready to forestall disruptions from air raid sirens, Mr. Miroshnychenko instructed BBC Radio 5 Reside. He stated Ukrainians love the competition and have been “attempting to catch any peaceable second” they may.

“Nothing goes to interrupt the printed of Eurovision,” he stated.

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