Last year’s winners Ukraine are up next, and once again find a place in my top 10, just missing out on the top 5 this year. Of course, Kalush Orchestra‘s victory would ordinarily have meant a contest in Ukraine but given the well-known circumstances and the UK is hosting on their behalf. Quite rightly though, Ukraine is an automatic qualifier to the grand final – and it’s there that we will see if TVORCHI can get two wins in a row for Ukraine.
Defying air raids and attacks on their energy infrastructure, Ukraine remarkably held the first national final of the season in an underground metro station that was acting as a TV studio and bomb shelter. The production values and staging/lighting were impressive, putting many other shows to shame. Established electronic music duo TVORCHI won the televote and came second in the jury with “Heart of Steel”, which was enough to win. It’s a mix of dark electronic pop and some R&B – it’s mostly in English, but has had some Ukrainian added in a small revamp they did. The focus of the song is all about bravery and standing up in the face of adversity – such a resonant theme.
TVORCHI are made up of producer Andrii Hutsuliak and vocalist Jimoh Augustus Kehinde (alias Jeffrey Kenny). They met while they were students in Ternopil and formed the band in 2017 – Jeffrey had actually come from his home country of Nigeria to study in Ukraine. They’ve subsequently released several albums and singles since then, so they have got experience with commercial success and of course performing live. Like many Ukrainian artists over the past year, they’ve been playing their part in raising funds and other support in the ongoing struggle to defend the country.
I really enjoy this entry from Ukraine – so different from their previous few entries, yet it still feels true to Ukraine – not only do we have some Ukrainian language in there, but the message and spirit of the song is so representative of the country, and the fact they are an already popular/known band there. From what we saw in the national final (in the underground station) and also the music video they’ve made, suggest some really dark and impressive staging and lighting. There’s huge drama potential in this performance allied with a really modern sound. The mini revamp they did helped to elevate it even more.
I really feel the fandom have slept on this one – I don’t know if it’s the genre, the fact it’s not a big ethnobop or something else. I personally think this is really quality – and we know Ukraine are brilliant at the staging, so I think you have a strong modern song with an effective message, confident and experienced performers and some striking staging and you’ve got something that could be competitive. I don’t know yet how much solidarity vote Ukraine will get, but there will be some, on top of plenty of people who like the song. I suspect it won’t win, but this definitely could be another good result for Ukraine.
Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2003
Appearances (excluding this year): 17
Best result: Winner 2004, 2016 and 2022
Last year’s result: Winner