This year’s hosts, and two-times winners, in spite of only being in Eurovision since 2003, Ukraine’s approach to the contest could never be described as “uninteresting”. They’s brought us Xena: Warrior princess, a giant carrying a princess, a man in a hamster wheel, a sand artist, a drag queen and her “mother”, rippling, oiled up men in skimpy silver Roman centurion outfits, and winning songs about mass deportations from now-a. Where to start picking my top 5 from this eclectic selection?!
5. Mariya Yaremchuk “Tick-Tock” (2014, 6th place, 113 points)
A classic example of how a re-work of a song can transform the song and its fortunes. The original version of the song that won the Ukrainian national final was pretty poor but a rework and the song was transformed. Assisted by a suitably sassy and confident performance by Maria, plus the man in the hamster wheel, and it proved a recipe for top 10 success again.
4. Ani Lorak “Shady Lady” (2008, 2nd place, 230 points)
A favourite song of the UK’s Lucie Jones, Shady Lady dances its way into my top 5. Classic upbeat pop and delivered Ukraine’s second runner-up spot in a row.
3. Ruslana “Wild Dances” (2004, winner, 280 points)
Storming to victory in just their second appearance in the contest, Ruslana danced her drummed her way to a memorable win. She went on to become an member of the Ukrainian parliament and continues to release music to this day. She’s the only winner to make my top 5 – my friend Phil will be relieved not to see Ukraine’s other winner here…
2. Svetlana Loboda “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)” (2009, 12th place, 76 points)
Utterly bonkers in its staging and magnificently performed, I think this deserved a higher placing (though still did well). Best just watched to describe the experience – and those centurion dancers are seared into my memory!
1. Verka Serduchka “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (2007, 2nd place, 235 points)
Long live Verka Serduchka! One of the great Eurovision songs and performances of recent times; we were reminded of its infectious nature during 2017’s contest when Verka led the crowd in dancing to it during the voting sequence in the grand final.
No place for Jamala I’m afraid – I think she would have placed around 8th in my list if I had done a top 10 – not to say I don’t appreciate the message, performance and staging of “1944” though. Do you agree with my choices? What’s your favourite Ukrainian entry?