Kalush Orchestra, a Ukrainian folk-rap group, has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 on Saturday. The 66th edition of the competition was completed in Turin, Italy, with Ukraine best of 40 participating countries.
The winning (and extremely catchy) song “Stefania” was written in honor of the group members’ mothers. Given the public sentiment for Ukraine after Russia’s recent invasion, it’s not surprising that they could be ahead in the vote. But when you hear this song, you’ll recognize that it’s a catchy and groovy окер that deserved its win.
During competition performances, the group “Ukraine!” chants as many in the audience waved blue-and-yellow flags. “Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now,” group leader By Psiuk shouted from the stage after the last performance.
An energetic tune, “Stefania” features two Ukrainian folk instruments, the sopilka and telenka, both woodwinds. Also, in their qualifying video and in later appearances, members of the group wear keepars, traditional Carpathian sheepskin vests. (Kalush is a city in this region, and where the band comes from, hence their name.) The projected sunflower images are in keeping with the country’s national flower, a persistent image of solidarity seen around the world since the invasion. is. (In more stable times, Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflower seeds and oils in the entire world.)
However, the pink embroidered bucket hat that Psiuk wears has no specific cultural resonance, other than that it looks cool.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the group in an Instagram post. The translated message read in part: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!”
According to tradition, the winning country hosts the tournament the following year. Zelenskyy seemed confident that Ukraine would be up to the task. “We will do our best to one day receive Eurovision participants and guests in Mariupol, Ukraine. Free, peaceful, rebuilt!”
Although the song predates the Russian invasion, the lyrics of “Stefania” have taken on additional meaning. The overall tone of the piece is one of honoring a mother who “turns gray” as the “field blooms”. Emotion has also been added with the line “I will always find my way home, even if all the roads are destroyed.”
A recently released video, specially saved until after the match, visually references the conflict directly.