The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Test Contest 2022 in Turin, Italy, finished on Saturday night with Ukraine’s victory far ahead of the other contenders after triumphing in the popular vote.
The Kalush Orchestra won the contest with Stefania! with Ukraine amassing a total of 631 points. They were followed by the United Kingdom (466 points), Spain (459 points), Sweden (438 points), Serbia (312 points), and Italy (268 points).
The United Kingdom finished second for the 16th time, thanks to Sam Ryder and his song Space Man.
Belgium finished in 19th place with Jérémie Makiese – Miss You (64 points).
Other notable performances included Moldova's folk-punk (7th), Norways's catchy electro-comedy act (10th) and Serbia's protest song against the state of the country's healthcare system (5th).
Hip-hop and folklore
Kalush Orchestra is a Ukrainian hip-hop band that combines folkloric motifs with modern sounds using different traditional instruments. The band was named after the Ukrainian city of Kalush, just south of Lviv in the west of the country.
Set in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, it serves as a mascot that inspires the band to involve different folk elements and authentic Ukrainian music within their songs. Moreover, it is the hometown of band member Oleh Psiuk.
At the winners press conference, the band began with a message of gratitude to all the voters across Europe who had awarded their song with a record-breaking tally of points, as well as the juries who had voted in their favour, too.
“We want to thank everyone out there who voted for Ukraine. The victory is very important to Ukraine, especially this year. For us, this support is even more important for Ukraine in these times. And we really appreciate that you helped us with your votes.
The artists expressed their belief that while this is a great win for Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, it is also a tremendous victory for Ukrainian music, which they hope is going to be explored and spread widely as a result of them taking the Eurovision trophy.
“Any victory is very meaningful to Ukraine these days,” Oleh Psiuk said. “We are here to prove that Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian music are alive, and they have their very own sound and special signature. You can listen to Ukrainian music, watch Ukrainian films, and visit Ukraine.”
”Help Ukraine, help Mariupol!” the band pleaded from the stage.
Music and war
As Ukraine barred all men of fighting age from leaving the country on 24 February after Russia's invasion, the band were granted special temporary leave to represent Ukraine on the Eurovision stage.
All band members say they have been involved in the war effort in some way or another.
They also stated in an interview to Rolling Stone in the lead up to the event that they expect to be called up to fight for the army on their return. One of their dancers is serving in the Territorial Army and will return to the band after his service.
The band had plans to tour before outbreak of the war, but under the special temporary leave agreement with the government they must return to Ukraine the day after the event.
Eurovision 2023 in Ukraine?
As is tradition in the contest, the winning nation at Eurovision gets to host the contest in their country the following year. The press conference finished on positive note.
“Next year, Ukraine will be happy to host the Eurovision Song Contest, and indeed all of Europe, in the new, integrated, happy Ukraine. It´s 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.”
Their Eurovision song, Stefania, is a tribute to Oleh’s mother, which she only heard for the very first time when she saw the band compete in Ukraine’s Eurovision selection show.
The lyrics of the song begins: “Stephania mother, The field is blooming, but her hair is getting grey, Mother, sing me the lullaby I want to hear your dear word, She was rocking me as a baby, she gave me a rhythm.”
To watch Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra’s performance at the Grand Final, click here.