After weeks of moving from one country to the next, we have come to our final destination on this preview journey, this year’s host nation. It is a land of sunflowers, bread and Lasha Tumbai. It’s Ukraine!!!
Ukraine first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003. One year after their debut, Ruslana gave Ukraine their first ever win with the song “Wild Dances”. Ukraine then went on to place in the top 10 on eight occasions from 2005-2014, four of those being top 5 placings. After withdrawing due to the crisis in eastern Ukraine in 2015, they returned to the contest last year. Jamala gave its second victory with “1944”, making Ukraine the first Eastern European country to win the contest twice. Because of Jamala’s victory, the contest heads back to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv this year.
The Ukrainian broadcaster, National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA: PBC), organised the second edition of Vidbir, due to its success in picking a Eurovision winner last year. 24 songs, one of which was selected from an online wildcard selection, competed over three semi-finals. In each semi-final, an in-studio jury (50%) and public voting (50%) selected two entries to proceed to the final. In the final, the same system was used to select a winner. Like last year, there was a tie in the final, so the public vote took preference. Much like how Jamala won the Eurovision, O.Torvald came second in both the jury and public vote but secured enough points to win the right to defend Ukrainian colours on home ground.
O.Torvald are a rock band from Poltava in central Ukraine. The current line-up consists of: Yevhen Halych – vocals, guitar (2005–present), Denys Myzyuk – guitar, backing vocals (2005–present), Oleksandr Solokha – drums (2011–present), Mykyta Vasylʹyev – bass (2014–present),Mykola Rayda – piano, DJ (2008–present). The band moved to Kyiv in 2006 to start performing live and they released their self-titled debut album in 2008. They are one of the most popular rock bands in Ukraine and have released five albums to date, with the latest one “#нашiлюдивсюди” (#ourpeopleareeverywhere) being released in September last year. The band will perform “Time” in front of the home crowd. The song was written and composed by band members Yevhen Halych and Denys Myzyuk. It is the band’s first recording in English.
I do like a good rock song and this is one of the better examples that we have seen in the contest. This song is gritty, dark and almost serves as a commentary on the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. However, it doesn’t instantly jump out at me. Having had a listen to some of their other songs, I find this a bit tame in comparison. A late draw in the running order and its own rocky niche may boost its chances. Besides that, I don’t think we will be in Ukraine for next year’s contest.
What Could Have Been
If the jury vote took preference in the tiebreak, Tayanna with “I Love You” would have been heading to Eurovision instead. Emotional yet sultry, fragile yet powerful, this was miles ahead of many of the songs in what was a pretty lacklustre Ukrainian selection this year. If Ukraine really wanted to try for two in a row, this should have been their choice. I think it would have been a top 5 finisher at the very least but then again, I can only think about what could have been…
Is it time for Ukraine’s third win or has time run out for O.Torvald? Leave your comments below.
Lastly, thank you for following me on this preview journey. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. I wish you all a fabulous Eurovision week and stay tuned for more posts from this blog about anything and everything!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, UA:PBC, YouTube)