Kalush Orchestra, a Ukrainian folk rap group, won the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 on Saturday. The 66th edition of the competition finished in Turin, Italy, with Ukraine topping out of 40 competing countries.
The winning (and hugely catchy), “Stefania,” was written in honor of the group members’ mothers. Given the public’s sentiments for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s recent invasion, it’s no surprise that they could have an edge in the vote. But when you listen to this song, you will realize that it is an infectious and enjoyable рокер, well-deserving of its victory.
During competitive performances, the group met “Ukraine!” Many spectators waved green and yellow flags. “Help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal now, ‘team leader’ Oleh Psiuk called from the stage after the final performance.
“Stefania”, an energetic tune, features two Ukrainian folk instruments, the sopilka and telenka, both wooden sticks. In addition, in their qualifying video and in subsequent performances, the group’s members all wore souvenirs, traditional sheepskin coats from the Carpathain Mountains. (Kalush is a city in this region, and the band’s birthplace, hence their name.) (In more stable times, Ukraine was the leading producer of sunflower seeds and oil worldwide.)
However, the pink embroidered bucket hat that Psiuk wears doesn’t create any particular cultural resonance, other than just looking cool.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the group in an Instagram post. Part of the translated message reads, “Our bravery impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!”
Tradition holds that the winning nation will host the tournament the following year. Zelenskyy seems confident that Ukraine will get the job done. “We will do our best so that one day we can hold an event for Eurovision participants and guests in Mariupol Ukraine. Freedom, Peace, Rebuilt! ”
Although the song predates the Russian invasion, the lyrics of “Stefania” take on additional meaning. The overall tone of the work is to honor a mother who is “turning gray” as “the field blooms”. There’s also added poignancy with the line “I will always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed.”
A recently released video, specially held until after the competition, deals directly with the conflict.
https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2022/05/ukraine-wins-eurovision-with-heartstring-pulling-folk-rap Ukraine Wins Eurovision With Heartstring-Pulling Folk-Rap