Sunday, 13 February 2022

Ukraine 2022 - Kalush Orchestra - Stefania


(Click here if you can't see the panel above for a peek into the Ukrainian psyche…)

Ukraine's Vidbir selection show is always a curiously charged affair. Indeed, daily life in the country bubbles with politics at the best of times, but with their neighbours to the north knocking belligerently on the back door, and talk of war being only a matter of days away this was always going to be a stranger edition than most. For a start, we couldn't quite tell if the audience were having the best night of their lives, or getting in the fun times before their darkest days began. And while there was a feeling of fiddling while Rome burns about the whole affair, it's an easy thing for we into the West to read into the event without knowing the entire story.

And of course, the show wasn't without its controversies. It never is. There had already been considerably bad blood between the Kalush Orchestra here and the eventual winner Alina Pash, who claimed that the band had ripped off the bassline to her song Bosorkayna for their Vidbir effort. In turn there were many who were accusing Pash of having visited Crimea in recent times - a move completely against the competition rules - as well as questioning why her musical collaborator Tina Karol was allowed on the panel. There were even accusations that there was some dark money behind Pash's win by a single solitary point at the end of the evening - which were particularly heightened when the scoreboard apparently broke down right at the crux moment in the voting.

When the eventual result was announced you could have tinned the angry scowls of Kalush, as the camera lingered on them just that bit too long to be comfortable. And while Ms Pash's song, on musical terms at least, is going to be a welcome addition to the slate in Turin, there's already much disquiet bubbling up at home in Ukraine about what actually happened last night, and who the winning artist is friends with. This was never going to be a normal year for Vidbir, but somehow they seem to have surpassed themselves with the complications. One suspects this isn't the last bit of news we're going to hear about the Ukrainian song this year.

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