2016 Review: Ukraine

There’s probably a reason why Ukrainian national selections aren’t on the top of ESC fans’ NF priority list: They start on a Sunday, they start at 9AM CET, and often the songs still go through a lot of extra revamping and polishing. Now fans can add another reason: Too. Much. Drama.


Andrey Danilko (Verka Serduchka out of drag) has to check the EBU rules on his phone. And probably also catching up on the latest drama in the ESC world.

Six songs, three judges arguing over rules and performances, an hour’s ad break for voting, and guest performer Nicky Byrne’s interval act added up to somewhere around four hours. It was that or something close to the length of San Remo, except Italy can shove 20 acts into the program. Throw in an un-named person on Twitter spreading false rumors of one of the entrants withdrawing and Supernova in Latvia starting, and that resulted in a lot of angry online fans that only calmed down after hearing that Ukraine finally chose a winner: Jamala’s 1944.

Song-wise, 1944 seems to follow the footsteps of Latvia last year, as a more experimental entry rather than the typical schlager/pop/generic female peace or love ballad. The song sits somewhere in the a/political grey zone, somewhat like Armenia’s “Don’t forget your heritage/1.5 million people died 100 years ago because XXX” entry: while about the forced deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia in 1944 and a major event to Jamala’s family history, the lyrics still seem to touch on the Ukraine/Russia events happening today. Given how much the news has covered the “Cry Me a River” situation, the news of “1944” winning has already appeared on major international news stations. There’s already a lot of fans worried that Rossiya 1 is going to complain to the EBU that the song’s got a political nature and should be banned (like Georgia in 2009), but given that the lyrics aren’t blatantly political and that Sweden, not Russia, is hosting this year, it should be fine save maybe a title change.

On a completely separate note, it’s nice to see less fighting in the YouTube comment section from Azerbaijani/Turkish fans (as Crimean Tatars are Turkic people) and Armenian fans (as Jamala is part Armenian) this year. There might be an occasional troll (as always), but it’s mainly just the two groups supporting the song together, and that’s one step closer to Marcel Bezençon’s “Put down your weapons and enjoy the music.”


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