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Ukraine rides sentiment to win in record fashion – Billboard

Ukrainian rap and folk group Kalush Orchestra, with a record number of public votes and a kinetic song that has become an anthem for ailing mothers, overtook the UK, Sweden and Spain to capture the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in a Turin, Italy.

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While bettors, pundits and fans voted Ukraine as heavy favorites for Saturday’s final, it didn’t look good after the jury vote, when Ukraine was in fourth place with 192 points. and that the UK was first with 283.

The juries weren’t particularly kind to Ukraine, with some countries, like the Netherlands, giving them no points. Poland, Moldova, Latvia, Romania and Lithuania – all countries concerned about possible Russian military incursions into their territory – each gave Ukraine 12 points. (Votes from small juries of music professionals in each country make up 50% of a country’s score. Audiences also vote during the live stream, which makes up the other half of the total.)

Ukraine’s victory was not assured until shortly after, when televised public votes were added. With a public record of 438 points, Ukraine overtook the United Kingdom. With 40 countries voting, the public’s best possible score was 480, so a score of 438 meant Ukraine received the highest score of 12 of almost any country.

Public votes gave Ukraine a combined total of 631 to the UK’s 466. Ukraine’s total score was the second-highest point tally in Eurovision history, surpassed only by Portugal’s Salvador Sobral, who scored a combined 758 points in 2017 with his simple statement, “Amar Pelos Dois », sung quietly in Portuguese.

It was a victory for Kalush Orchestra, which is signed to Sony Music’s Columbia Germany imprint, just to show up for the competition in Turin given the brutal invasion of their country by Russia in February – a war that continues to continue. On Saturday, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video statement that a victory for Ukraine would be symbolic of his country winning the war against Russia.

The deadly conflict between Ukraine and Russia was at the center of this year’s Eurovision. The show opened with the Rockin’ 1000, an assemblage of rock musicians mostly from Italy, singing John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” in Piazza San Carlo, one of the main public squares from Torino. At the end of their performance, the Icelandic trio System said: “Peace for Ukraine.” And after Kalush was announced as the winner, host Laura Pausini said: “Everyone wants peace. And music is peace.

Although European Broadcasting Union policy is to avoid politics during Eurovision, many performers wore bands displaying Ukraine’s blue and yellow colors or waved small replicas of the country’s flag. And this year the EBU banned Russia, one of Ukraine’s traditional rivals, from singing competition after the Russian president Vladimir PoutineThe invading forces invaded on February 24.

During the winner’s press conference after the live stream, Kalush Orchestra founder/rapper Oleh Psyuk was asked if Ukraine would be able to host the contest in 2023, as is the tradition for the winning country. “Next year, Ukraine will be happy to welcome Europe to the new integrated and happy Ukraine,” he replied. He said his personal favorite songs this year were “Italy, UK, Poland and Moldova”.

Before Saturday’s final, European punters taking bets on the outcome of the contest had Ukraine in first place and the United Kingdom in second, and that’s exactly how things played out.

Whether it was a vote of sympathy or just a love for the song “Stefania”, Ukraine finally claimed the country’s third victory after the victories of Ruslana in 2004 with “Wild Dances” and by jamala with “1944” in 2016. After its second victory, Ukraine had already won the record for the most victories by an Eastern European country, so this new victory extends this record.

‘Stefania’ was meant to be an ode to Psyuk’s mother, but by the time he hit the Eurovision stage the song had taken on new meaning, honoring all mothers in Ukraine as they live through the attacks of missiles and the death and destruction in schools, hospitals and residential buildings as well as the love of Mother Ukraine for all her children.

All six members of the Kalush Orchestra wore authentic outfits from the Bukovyna region of Ukraine, although Psyuk added the stunning bubblegum pink bucket hat he often wears. Fellow band member Tima Muzychuk was captivating as he played the traditional Ukrainian folk wind instrument known as the telenka, and the six-man outfit was in constant motion, generating a kinetic display of energy .

Sam RyderThe performance of “Space Man” retained second place, bringing redemption to the UK after years of low scores. The United Kingdom finished with zero points from the jury and the public last year, which represents one of the last five places of this millennium (on Saturday, Germany finished last with six points).

The UK has won Eurovision five times, but not since 1997, when Katrina and the waves came out on top with “Love Shine a Light”. The UK have finished second a record 16 times, but not since 1998, when Imaani took a last minute step to second place with “Where Are You”.

Ryder’s performance was enhanced by set designers Dan Shipton and Marvin Deetman, who surrounded the singer with a sculpture of lights, inspired by the stage work of Queen and David Bowie, to give the impression that Ryder was floating in space. . While Ryder didn’t stay still, he didn’t move much from his mark, letting the light set him in motion.

The 2022 competition featured the usual mix of camp, outrageous costumes and unique production values. spain Chanel sizzled onstage performing “Slo Mo,” wearing a costume that barely covered her behind (emphasis on nude). Her male dancers also wore revealing outfits and the number was one of the sexiest performances in Eurovision history. It was Spain’s best performance since Anabel Conde came second in 1995 with “Vuelve Conmigo”.

Sweden Cornelia Jacobs won votes with a performance of “Hold Me Close” that was low-key at first, but built to a shattering crescendo. She performed the song for the first time in February for the Swedish national final, Melodifestivalen. Her stage routine has remained locked ever since. “She’s a pro”, co-writer Isa Molin recount Billboard. “Why change a winning performance? »

Serbia Konstrakta garnered 225 votes from the audience with a message-laden creative performance. She sat with a basin in front of her as she washed her hands several times while singing “In Corpore Sano” (Latin for “in a healthy body”), which some have interpreted as a satirical commentary on the systems of health care and beauty standards. “What could be the secret to Meghan Markle’s healthy hair? the song begins. “What could it be? I think it’s all about deep hydration.

Monika Liu from Lithuania channeled Sally Bowles of Cabaret, singing the jazzy “Sentimentai” in a tight, sexy dress with her hair cut in a bob. The performance was reminiscent of France’s second-place finish in 2021, but Lithuania failed to replicate the result finishing 14th.

Norway subwoofer came closest to parodying a Eurovision song, dressed in yellow paper wolf masks – suggesting that to stop a wolf from eating your grandma, you should give her a banana. And if viewers didn’t know what the song was about, they added on-screen captions to clarify.

Italians Mahmood & Blanco looked like they were about to share a kiss on stage at the end of their song ‘Brividi’, but they settled for a warm embrace.

Australian Sheldon Riley poured out his emotions in ‘Not the Same’, a song about growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome and being secretly gay and not being like other kids. He wore a mask made up of chains of jewelry which he removed towards the end of his performance, eventually revealing his face. But the public did not reward him; he only received two points from the tele-vote.

Poland Ochman gave a powerful performance of “River”, without extra bells and whistles. If his English seemed perfect, it’s because he was born in Massachusetts.

from Portugal MOROCCO (“Saudade, Saudade”) and Switzerland Marius Bear (“Boys Do Cry”) both sang understated ballads without dance, pyro, or glitzy costumes.

Between performances and voting reporting, last year’s winner Måneskin surprised with a cover of Elvis Presley’s 1969 hit ‘If I Can Dream’, which features a relevant 2022 lyric: ‘He must there may sometimes be peace and understanding”. The Italian group recorded the song for the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmannthe upcoming biopic Elvis.

Måneskin hasn’t been shy about using covers before, as their remake of The Four Seasons’ “Beggin” was a worldwide hit. But having the Eurovision 2021 champions sing an Elvis song in a Luhrmann film at the director’s request illustrates how winning the contest can translate to worldwide fame.

Additional reporting by Silvia Danielli of Billboard Italia.

Here’s how the 25 countries competing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 ranked after jury and public votes were combined for the final score:

1. Ukraine 631 points
2. UK 466
3. Spain 459
4. Sweden 438
5. Serbia 312
6. Italy 268
7. Moldova 253
8. Greece 215
9.Portugal 207
10. Norway 182
11. Netherlands 171
12. Poland 151
13. Estonia 141
14. Lithuania 128
15. Australia 125
16. Azerbaijan 106
17. Switzerland 78
18. Romania 65
19. Belgium 64
20. Armenia 61
21. Finland 38
22. Czech Republic 38
23. Iceland 20
24. France 17
25. Germany 6