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Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra performing at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Semi Final One
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest
Photo: EBU/Sarah Louise Bennett

From '1944' to 2022: A history of Ukraine at Eurovision 🇺🇦

With the sound of flute-fuelled rap still ringing in our ears, we hit play on 'Stefania' once again, and take a yellow and blue hued glimpse back over the eclectic history of Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Jamala won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine with her song '1944'Thomas Hanses (EBU)

Since making its debut at the Contest in 2003, Ukraine has competed at Eurovision 17 times.

Of those 17 Contests, Ukraine has placed outside the Top 10 of the Grand Final only six times.

One of those times was in Ukraine’s first participation, in 2003. Since becoming the first artist to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, singer Oleksandr Ponomariov has gone on to release a Best Of album called Golden Hits. Incidentally, Golden Hits is also the name of a popular karaoke bar and cabaret club in Stockholm, owned by Richard Herrey, who won the Contest for Sweden in 1984 as part of the group Herreys.

The following year, 2004, saw the introduction of the Semi-Final round at the Eurovision Song Contest. Ukraine is the only country to have qualified from the Semi-Final to the Grand Final of every Eurovision it has competed in.

Tina Karol represented Ukraine with the song 'Show Me Your Love’ in 2006EBU

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest on only its second attempt, in 2004. Ruslana brought her country victory with the song Wild Dances.

Subsequent to her Eurovision win, Ruslana served as an MP in Ukrainian parliament for over a year, was hired by UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador, and was honoured with an International Women of Courage Award by the US Secretary of State in 2014.

📺 Watch: Ruslana brought Ukraine its first Eurovision win with Wild Dances

In 2005, Ukraine hosted its first Eurovision Song Contest (the Contest’s 50th!) in the country’s capital, Kyiv. The city would go on to host the Contest a second time in 2017.

📺 Watch: When Kyiv was announced as the host city for the 2017 Contest, we took a look back at the time they hosted in 2005

15 years on, and no Eurovision party is truly complete without a spin of Verka Serduchka’s iconic Dancing Lasha Tumbai; preferably within the smaller hours of the fiesta, for maximum effect. The song, which finished runner-up for Ukraine at the 2007 Contest, has to date amassed over ten million streams on Spotify alone. That’s a lot of aux-chord passing, right there.

📺 Watch: Eins, Zwei, Drei… DANZIG!!!

The following year, in 2008, Ukraine achieved a second runner-up finish in a row at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade. Did you know that the artist Ani Lorak isn’t actually called Ani at all? The Shady Lady’s real name is Karolina, which is Ani Lorak spelled backwards.

One year later, Svetlana Loboda scored one of those rare placings outside the Top 10 for Ukraine, with Be My Valentine. But over a decade on from her participation at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009, the artist (now known mononymously as LOBODA) has gone on to earn cult status amongst pop fans around the world, thanks to a recent slew of boundary-pushing singles and the eye-popping music videos she releases to accompany them.

📺 Watch: Viewer discretion is advised for LOBODA’s more recent pop blockbuster Пуля-Дура

As well as serving as Ukraine’s Eurovision entry in 2012, Be My Guest by Gaitana was also the official song for Ukraine at the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament, which was co-hosted by Ukraine (along with Poland) for the very first time.

The second Eurovision winning song for Ukraine, 1944 by Jamala, also had the honour of being the second triumph for Ukraine that had won the Contest with a record-breaking points tally at the time. Wild Dances' 280 and 1944's 534 were all-time high scores in 2004 and 2016 respectively.

📺 Watch: Jamala wins the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with 1944

He represented Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest with Under The Ladder in 2018, and now Mélovin is the reigning champ of The Masked Singer Ukraine. He won series 2 of Macka under his Giraffe guise in December 2021.

In the Contest that never was, in 2020, Go_A were due to compete for Ukraine with their song Solovey. The band were invited back to participate in the 2021 Contest in Rotterdam, this time with Shum, with which they placed 5th in the Grand Final. Band member Ihor Didenchuk is also a member of Kalush Orchestra, who won the contest for Ukraine in 2022.

📺 Watch: Go_A’s music video for Ukraine’s planned 2020 Eurovision Song Contest entry – Solovey

With Stefania, Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine with 631 points. The 439 points received by Ukraine from the televote in the Grand Final are the most televoting points received in the Contest’s history to date. Ukraine was just 29 points away from receiving the maximum possible score from the televoting.

Now on its third win, Ukraine is the country with the most wins of the 21st Century, and the only nation to have won the Eurovision Song Contest three times since the year 2000 ushered us into a new millennium.

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 EBU/Sarah Louise Bennett

In the 17 Contests Ukraine has competed in, as well as its impressive three wins, the country can also be proud of a scorecard that has seen it placed in the Top 10 on 11 occasions and in the Top 5 on eight attempts.

We already look forward to the next 17 years – and beyond – of music contributions from a country that has well and truly left its mark on the Eurovision Song Contest in the 21st Century, since its very welcome debut in 2003.

📺 Watch: Eurovision songs… The Ukrainian way!

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