Some of you may recall that last year I published a best and worst at Eurovision article for every country that was taking part in Eurovision 2016 with the exception of Australia who were only competing for the second time. So this year I will publish one for Australia and Portugal who are returning. Also I will revisit each of the other countries to see if last years entry has entered the best or worst hall of fame. Now that the National Finals season is finished and all songs for Eurovision 2017 have been selected we now have 3 weeks where we wait for the rehearsals to begin in Kiev. What better way to fill the time than to look back over the 61 years of Eurovision at some of the best and worst entries that countries have sent to the Eurovision stage. There were 43 countries going to Kiev to take part in the 2017 edition of our favourite musical extravaganza, until 22nd March when Ukraine authorities placed a ban on the Russian entrant Yulia Samoylova entering Ukraine. Then on April 13th it was announced that Russia had officially withdrawn from this year’s contest as announced in our article here. So we continue our journey with Ukraine who have an amazing record having won the contest twice, finished second twice and third on one occasion. They have also reached the top 10 on four other occasions. This has been achieved in only 13 participations. You can check out the previous articles from last year in the best and worst series for Ireland HERE ,Spain HERE, Austria HERE, Bosnia & Herzegovina HERE, Iceland HERE, Belarus HERE, Denmark HERE, Georgia HERE, Germany HERE, Cyprus HERE, Finland HERE, Belgium HERE, Hungary HERE, Switzerland HERE, Ukraine HERE , Moldova HERE, Estonia HERE, Norway HERE, Italy HERE, Slovenia HERE,The Netherlands HERE, Armenia HERE, Azerbaijan HERE, San Marino HERE, Israel HERE, Albania HERE, Poland HERE, Serbia HERE, France HERE, Romania HERE, Russia HERE, Croatia HERE, Czech Republic HERE, Malta HERE., Macedonia HERE, Lithuania HERE, Latvia HERE, Sweden HERE, United Kingdom HERE, Greece HERE, Bulgaria HERE and Montenegro HERE. Also the articles for this year for Belarus HERE., Germany HERE., Hungary HERE., Austria HERE., Cyprus HERE. , Denmark HERE. , The Netherlands HERE. , Finland HERE. ,Poland HERE. , Australia HERE. , Romania HERE. , Belgium HERE. , Slovenia HERE. , Croatia HERE. , Montenegro HERE. , Ireland HERE. , Malta HERE. , Macedonia HERE., Azerbaijan HERE. , Portugal HERE. , Czech Republic HERE. , France HERE. , Serbia HERE. , Georgia HERE. , United Kingdom HERE. , Sweden HERE. , Norway HERE. and Switzerland HERE.
So this year Ukraine are represented by O.Torvald with the song ‘Time’. We will have to wait and see if it turns out to be more of a best or worst song for Ukraine but the overall reaction is fairly mixed so far. You can catch up on our recent article telling us who had won the Ukrainian Final here.
So last year Ukraine were represented by Jamala with the song ‘1944’. So how did Jamala do in Stockholm? Well she won the whole darn thing after coming 2nd in her Semi Final, she went on to win the Final with a record total because of the new scoring system. She placed 2nd in both the Jury and Televote results to win with 534 points overall. Therefore I am happy to welcome her into the hall of fame as one of the best entries for Ukraine.
The song was sung in English and Crimean Tatar and was written and performed by Susana Jamaladinova better known as Jamala. The lyrics for “1944” concern the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, in the 1940s, by the Soviet Union at the hands of Joseph Stalin because of their alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Jamala was particularly inspired by the story of her great-grandmother who was deported to barren Central Asia with her children. The song features the duduk played by Aram Kostanyan and the use of the mugham vocal style. Jamala had tried for Eurovision before in 2011 with the song ‘Smile’ but withdrew from the Final in protest at irregularities in the voting.
So my selections for best and worst entries are based on a combination of actual results and personal taste. Now Ukraine have only thirteen entries to choose from making the task of choice easier. As I tend to choose 3 in each category it will only leave 6 Ukrainian entries out of the selection here.
We do not have to go very far back in time to find our first song that is one of the best for Ukraine. The year was 2007 and we were in Helsinki to see Verka Serduchka singing the song ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’.
Now Verka is a drag character invented by the Ukranian singer and comedian Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko. Many people in Ukraine tried to organise a protest when he was selected stating it was grotesque and vulgar. The song was sung in German, English, Ukranian and Russian. The costumes were very outlandish all in silver. Verka’s outfit was made by Dolce & Gabbana. Some of the lyrics were considered controversial as a dig at Russia but it went on to do very well finishing in 2nd place with 235 points.
Moving along we look at one of the worst entries for Ukraine. We were in Kiev to see the hosts in 2005 being represented by Greenjolly singing ‘Razom nas bahato’.
Now Greenjolly are a Ukrainian rap/hip hop group and were a late addition to the National selection process as they were popular due to the song being the unofficial song for the Orange Revolution. The lyrics had to be substantially changed to comply with EBU rules about political lyrics. It finished in 19th place with 30 points.
So now we move back to look at another best of entry for Ukraine. We were in Istanbul in 2004 to see the second entry for Ukraine the performer was Ruslana with the song ‘Wild Dances’.
Now this was a fun energetic song. Ruslana and her male dancers were all dressed in leather outfits and were in fact so energetic they broke the stage during one of their rehearsals. The song was the first song to go onto win the contest since 1999 that had lyrics other than English as it also had Ukranian in it too. It amassed a record total of 280 points. The song also went on to big chart success in parts of Europe and catapulted Ruslana to becoming a bigger star as well as furthering political ambitions.
Our next song that has to be considered one of the worst for Ukraine was performed in 2012 and we were in Baku to witness the spectacle that was Gaitana singing ‘Be My Guest’.
There is no doubt that this song would not be a worst song with more entries to choose from as I loved it and it was a good enough performance. But in the restriction of only having a few entries to choose from and picking three songs that were at the bottom this is why it finds itself here. Gaitana was the first singer of Afro-Ukrainian descent to represent her country. Her usual styles of jazz funk and soul could all be felt in her song. It qualified for the final in 8th and then went on to finish in 15th with 65 points which is Ukraine’s worst finish since hosting the competition.
So onto our last song that was one of Ukraine’s best. It was in 2008 and Belgrade was witness to a nice piece of pop music from Ani Lorak with the song ‘Shady Lady’.
Now the song was written by Philipp Kirkorov and was a very upbeat piece of pop. The performance was very energetic making use of a large box that lit up and also which Ani stood atop at one stage. For Ani Lorak this was her second time of being involved in Eurovision sort of. In 2005 she came very close to be the host countries entry but failed at the last hurdle to Greenjolly. But this time she was internally selected and only had to have the song chosen by the public from a selection of 5. She ended up winning her Semi Final and then going on to come 2nd in the Final with 230 points.
We now arrive at the last song for Ukraine and it was the debut entry for them. In 2003 we saw Oleksandr Ponomariov in Riga with the song ‘Hasta la Vista’.
It was a song that was performed in English by a singer that at the time was one of the most popular in Ukraine. The performance included a contortionist dancer and an Apollo rocket in the backdrop. The song was written by the well known Israeli composer Sviki Pick who wrote many Eurovision entries including Dana International’s winning entry in 1998. It was a decent attempt at a debut for Ukraine but ultimately finished in 14th place with 30 points.
So there we have it folks, my little delve into Ukrainian Eurovision history and some of the best and worst moments over the years. Do you agree with all or even any of my choices? Feel free to comment below.
This series will continue with another look at songs over the years for each and every country competing in Eurovision 2017 so keep coming back for more reflections of the best and worst that Eurovision has had to offer us.
Author: Andrew Main
Source: Eurovision Ireland