Yes, Ukraine Did Win Eurovision 2022 Mostly Due People Supporting Them During the War. But At Least They Won with a Good Song.
Well, another Eurovision year has passed, but the war in Ukraine is still ongoing. And since a lot of people want to support the country, it’s no surprise to see that Kalush Orchestra, who represented Ukraine this year, won the contest with the song “Stefania”.
Funny thing about this song…it almost didn’t make it to the concert. Just like it does every other year, Ukraine chose its Eurovision entry via its national selection called Vidbir. And let’s just say that the less we say about Vidbir’s controversies, the better (Seriously, Ukraine. Can we go one year without any drama during Vidbir?). Anyway, the song that originally won Vidbir and was supposed to represent Ukraine in Eurovision this year was Alina Pash’s “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”.
But controversy arose when Alina Pash had allegedly traveled to Crimea in 2015 via Russia instead of Ukraine. Crimea, as you might know (if you don’t live under a rock) has been seized by Russia since 2014. Not only that, but Pash herself was accused of forging her travel documents to say that she had traveled to Crimea via Ukraine. With a heavy heart, Alina Pash made a mutual agreement Vidbir’s organizing committee and the broadcaster UA:PBC that she would withdraw from participating in Eurovision. As a result, Kalush Orchestra, who were the runner-ups behind Pash, were chosen to represent Ukraine instead.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time Crimea had been a source of controversy for Vidbir. Ukraine had actually withdrawn from Eurovision in 2019 when it was alleged that the winner of Vidbir that year, was regularly performing in concerts in Russia. This lead to a very infamous meme among us Eurovision fans when one of the jurors Jamala (who had won Eurovision in 2016) asked —
Despite Maruv’s answer, she saw no problem performing in Russia since she claimed she was trying to bring peace to Ukraine. Therefore, there was no way the singer was giving up performing in “an enemy country”, which was against Vidbir’s contract. Since Maruv did not sign the contract, the Ukrainian broadcaster had to choose another act — the runners-up Freedom Jazz. They, too, declined the offer to go to Eurovision as did third-place group Kazka. Thus, Ukraine withdrew from participating in Eurovision 2019.
Flash forward to three years later and after Alina Pash had withdrawn from taking part in Eurovision, a VK (Russian social media) user alleged that Kalush Orchestra member Tymofii Muzychuk had gone to Russia and posed in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Muzychuk had supposedly gone to perform at a Mykhailo Poplavskyi concert in Krasnodar; the musician claimed the photo had been taken before 2014 and that the event was the last time he had gone to Russia. After some details about the Vidbir results were released, Kalush Orchestra accepted the offer to go to Eurovision in 2022.
And then Russia invaded Ukraine.
Would these talented men be able to compete in Eurovision, or would they have to stay and fight for their country? Fans were anxious to find out. On the 14th of March, the executive producers of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 confirmed that the group would still be able to participate, with Suspilne reaffirming it five days later. If they couldn’t compete on the stage, they could still compete via a backup “live-on-tape” performance. But fans didn’t have to worry because on the 2nd of April, state authorities granted Kalush Orchestra and the rest of the Ukrainian delegation permission to perform live in Eurovision. Not only that, but the group would perform in promotional events all across Europe to raise donations for war relief efforts.
And with all of that background information out of the way, it’s easy to see why Ukraine won Eurovision with 631 points, 439 of them being from the televote. As of this article’s publication, “Stefania” has received the most amount of televoting points in the contest’s history. And it most likely is due to the war against Russia.
Now, before anyone accuses me of being pro-Russia and hating the song, let me say that I do not condone Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and I do not hate “Stefania”. Quite the contrary, actually — I love the song. It was my winner for Vidbir, and I was happy to hear that they were going to represent Ukraine in Eurovision this year. I’m just saying that the reason why “Stefania” got as many points as it did, specifically from the televote, may be due to Russia’s invasion.
Am I saying the song would have done poorly if not for the war? No, absolutely not. Had the invasion not have happened, Kalush Orchestra still would’ve done extremely well in Eurovision (making it to the top five at the very least); they could’ve even won. But if I factor the alternate universe where Ukraine had never been invaded by Russia, I would have a hard time believing that “Stefania” would have won by such a large margin.
Besides, this isn’t the first time a country participated in Eurovision despite it going through a war. Back in 1993, the original conductor for Bosnia and Herzegovina Sinan Alimanović wasn’t able to safely make it to Ireland due to the ongoing Bosnian War, so the contest’s musical director Noel Kelehan had to substitute as the Bosnian conductor. Not only that, but the Bosnian representative Fazla had a tumultuous journey to Ireland due to the war. And when the spokesperson Dejan Zagorac announced the Bosnian jury’s points, the audience gave the whole country a warm applause for their arrival at the contest. Despite the country only placing 16th out of 25 countries, it was clear that all of Europe stood with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Yes, Ukraine did win Eurovision 2022 mostly due to the war in the country, but at least they won with a good song. If they had won with a terrible song, then I’d be upset. No, I am not afraid to admit that I hold this double standard. Yes, I do think more people have this double standard. After all, this is not the first time a country had gotten warm support from all of Europe due to said country being in a war. Besides, “Stefania” would’ve done well regardless whether the country was in a war or not. Let’s just be happy that a good song won and not a bad one.