Eurovision has traditionally been a place where politics has been frowned upon, at least in the overt songs. But the war in Ukraine is much in the mind of the world, so Eurovision made a statement at the top of today’s final.
The show began with the audience chanting “Give Peace a Chance,” the first of many nods to the ongoing battle situation. Later, Laura Pausini, the Italian cohost, used her opening track for a “Peace on Earth” message. Later, Iceland’s entry had a Ukrainian flag on their hands and guitars and shouted “Peace to Ukraine” at the end of their performance. And pretty much every delegation had a Ukrainian flag and their own flag in the Green Room section of thaena.
The highlight of the final round of the competition, broadcast live from Italy to millions of people around the world, was the performance by the Ukrainian Kalush Orchestra. Their song, “Stefania”, was considered a favorite en route to the final. After tonight’s performance, one of the singers said in hesitating English: “I ask all of you, help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help us stand now.”
While rockers Moonlight were the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, which would open for the Rolling Stones, appear on Saturday Night Live and receive a coveted slot at Coachella, their influence did not lead to a rock revolution this year. The spirited ballads for which the competition is known made a full return, supplemented by hip-hop and crazy songs.
Eurovision uses a complicated scoring system involving different votes between industry experts and votes from fans from the participating countries. As such, it takes some time to determine a winner. Sentiment and politics play a big part in the judging as many countries vote as a bloc, and sympathy for disadvantaged nations sometimes outweighs style and substance. Ukrane’s Kalush Orchestra was a big favorite on the way to the grand finale.
To no one’s surprise, the public vote was overwhelmingly in favor of Ukraine. For example, Kalush Orchestra was declared the winner of 2022.
Receiving the award, the Kalush Orchestra bandleader said: “Thank you for your support. This victory is for every Ukrainian,” he added in Ukrainian: “Glory to Ukraine.”