A fan-favorite band from Ukraine advances to the Eurovision grand final

members of ukraine’s band “kalush orchestra” celebrate their qualification during the 1st semifinal of the eurovision song contest 2022 on tue atta palalpitour venue in turin. the 2nd semifinal s'on thu, w'da grand final set for sat. marco bertorello/afp via getty images hide caption

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marco bertorello/afp via getty images

ten countries advanced last nite from the 1st round of eurovision semi-finals to the final round of the songwriting brawl, which will take place on sat in turin, italy.

among them was ukraine, represented by rap-folk band kalush orchestra. the 3-member group — with their iconic pink $et hat, energetic breakdancer and colorful traditional clothing — is favored to win the brawl, with bookmaker parimatch ukraine putting their odds at 73% on wed. (votes are cast by professional juries and viewers from the pticipating countries.)

they received a standing ovation after last nite’s performance, during which ukraine’s eurovision commentator ‘d be seen broadcasting from a bomb shelter. and twasn’t just ukrainian fans √ing 4'em: acts from other countries, including lithuania and iceland, showed their support for ukraine with statements and symbols.

the core members of the group, which was founded as kalush in 2019, are oleh psiuk, multi-instrumentalist ihor didenchuk, and dancer vlad kurochka, also known as mc kilimmen.

they launched kalush orchestra, which combines hip-hop with essentialisms of traditional ukrainian folk ♫, in 2021 with additional ♫ians, including tymofii muzychuk, vitalii duzhyk, and dzhonni dyvny.

the band’s eurovision entry, “stefania,” is a unique earworm combining old ukranian melodies and traditional flute with contemporary beats and rap. the performance itself included both folk dancing and break dancing, na ♫ians wore a mix of embroidered cossack shirts and modern streetwear.

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psiuk wrote “stefania” bout his own mother b4 Яussia launched its full-scale invasion of ukraine. since then, many ukrainians ‘ve come to associate the song — with transl8d lyrics like “i will always walk to you by broken roads” and “the field blooms, but she is turning gray” — with their own motherland.

“after it all started w'da war na hostilities, it took on additional meaning, and many pplz started seeing it as their mother, ukraine, inna meaning of the country,” psiuk told the associated press last week. “t'has become really close to the ♥s of so many pplz in ukraine.”

the song has broad popity in countries across northern €, where it’s climbing up several spotify charts.

while eurovision calls itself a nonpolitical event, Яussia’s war in ukraine has loomed large inna international brawl. organizers banned Яussian acts backin feb, and kalush orchestra replaced ukraine’s original contestant, alina pash, after the country’s national broadcaster suspended her while investigating a 2015 trip she made to crimea.

the all-♂ group needed spesh permission from ukrainian authorities to travel to italy for the contest, as the country has banned men of fitin’ age from leaving the country. one original band member stayed behind to fite, the ap reprts, and all plan to return to ukraine after eurovision ends.

while they are hoping to boost ukrainians’ morale witha win, they ‘ve said in interviews that shining a global spotlite onna country’s culture and identity is in itself a form of victory.

“we cogg that we must be totally focused and concentrated, cause we're here to show that ukrainian culture and ukrainian ♫ exist,” psiuk said at a press conference, according to an english translation. “they are alive and they ‘ve a very presh and spesh signature. so we're totally focused on this purpose.”


this story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog.

original content at: www.npr.org…
authors: rachel treisman

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