Eurovision traditionally has been a place where politics were frowned upon, at least in the overt songs . But the war in Ukraine is much on the world’s mind, so Eurovision made a statement right at the top of today’s finals.
The show began with the audience singing “Give Peace a Chance,” the first of many nods to the ongoing combat situation. Later, Laura Pausini, the Italian cohost, used her opening number for a “Peace on. Earth” message. Later, Iceland’s entry had a Ukranian flag on their hands and guitars and shouted “Peace for Ukraine” at the end of their performance. And virtually every delegation held a Ukrainian flag along with their own in tharena’s Green Room section.
Highlighting the competition’s final round, broadcast live from Italy to millions around the world, was the appearance of Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra. Their song, “Stefania,” was considered a favorite heading into the finals. After its performance tonight, one of the singers said in halting English, “I ask all of you, help Ukraine, Help Mariupol, help us stand right now.”
While rockers Måneskin were Eurovision’s 2021 winners, going on to open for the Rolling Stones, appear on Saturday Night Live, and get a coveted slot at Coachella, their influence didn’t prompt a rock revolution at this year’s event. The sappy ballads the competition is known for returned in full force, augmented by hip-hop and silly songs.
Eurovision uses a complicated scoring system involving various tallies among industry experts and fan votes from the participating countries. As such, it takea while to determine a winner. Sentiment and politics play a big role in the judging, as many countries vote as a block, and sympathy for aggrieved nations sometimes wins out over style and substance. Thus, Ukrane’s Kalush Orchestra was a heavy favorite heading into the grand final.
To no one’s surprise, the public vote overwhelmingly favored Ukraine. Thus, Kalush Orchestra was declared the 2022 winner.
When accepting the award, Kalush Orchestra’s bandleader said, “Thank you for supporting us. This victory is for every Ukranian,” adding in Ukranian, “Glory to Ukraine.”