Given everything that’s happening in Ukraine right now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the country might sit out this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. But it most certainly isn’t. Ukraine isn’t just performing – the country is runaway favourite to win the entire thing.
Having made it through the semi-final earlier in the week (May 10), Ukraine will be performing in the Eurovision ‘Grand Final’. The country will be represented on stage in Turin by Kalush Orchestra, who’ll be performing a song titled ‘Stefania’.
So who are Kalush Orchestra? Well, they’re a six-person rap group consisting of main rapper Oleh Psiuk, vocalists Tymofii Muzychuk and Oleksandr Slobodianyk, multi-instrumentalist Ihor Didenchuk, sopilka (a kind of woodwind instrument) player Vitalii Duzhyk and dancer Vlad Kurochka.
Kalush Orchestra are known for combining hip hop with elements of Ukrainian folk music. As an all-male group, they had to get special permits to leave their home country as all Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 currently have to report for military duty.
‘Stefania’ was chosen for Eurovision before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but since the war it has taken on special significance. The song is about Psiuk’s mother and features lyrics expressing his longing for home. One line goes: ‘I‘ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,’ which, thanks to the war, now feels pretty damn powerful. You can listen to ‘Stefania’ here.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t the winner of Eurovision usually host the event the following year? What’ll happen if Kalush Orchestra win and Russia’s invasion is still under way in 2023? Well, honestly, we’ve no idea. The European Broadcasting Union hasn’t yet commented on what might happen in that scenario. The last time that kind of thing happened was in 1979, when Israel won the competition but couldn’t host, so the 1980 edition was simply held in the Netherlands instead.
In any case, Kalush Orchestra are the bookies’ favourite to win Eurovision 2022 by a pretty long way. Russia, by contrast, has been banned from competing. Want to find out more about Eurovision 2022? Read our full guide here.
Looking to do your bit? Here are 23 ways you can help the people of Ukraine right now.