A Brief History of Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest25 July 2022 at 11:31 CEST
They’re the only country (‘Big Five’ aside) to have qualified for the Grand Final on every occasion since the Semi-Finals were introduced in 2004, and it was at that Contest in Istanbul that Ukraine won for the first time.
Hasta La Vista
Razom Nas Bahato
Show Me Your Love
Dancing Lasha Tumbai
Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)
Be My Guest
Under the Ladder
Leather-clad Ruslana took the trophy after topping the scoreboard with her song Wild Dances. This meant that the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, had the chance to host the next Contest, which took place in May 2005 in the Palace of Sports.
Relishing the chance to invite Europe to a party in Ukraine, show organisers opted for the slogan 'Awakening', which reflected political developments in the country at the time.
Ukraine continued to produce iconic performances and memorable moments over the next decade, often contributing songs that are now considered quintessential Eurovision bangers; in both 2007 and 2008 they came close to winning with up-tempo party anthems.
Verka Serduchka produced the catchy Dancing Lasha Tumbai (‘lasha tumbai’ apparently Mongolian for ‘whipped cream’...), and so enduring was the performance that she has appeared in multiple other Contests and even cameoed in the 2015 movie Spy.
Ani Lorak also came close to victory the following year with Shady Lady, but was kept from the top by Dima Bilan.
It wouldn’t be until 2016 when Ukraine would win the Contest for a second time, thanks to Jamala and her song 1944, which reflected upon the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, in the 1940s. The song touched a nerve across Europe, and came second in both the jury and televotes, cumulatively scoring 534 points - enough to win.
Ukraine would host once more in 2017, inviting audiences to ‘Celebrate Diversity’ - a slogan which played out across the capital Kyiv as fans flocked from across the globe to discover a City that had evolved since it first hosted the Contest in 2005.
Also evolving are the styles currently being entered into Eurovision by Ukraine. From their pop-heavy routes, the last few years have seen Ukrainian entries pivot towards a unique blend of traditional elements fused with electronic beats.
In 2020 and 2021, Ukraine chose to send Go_A, a band specialising in modern reinterpretations of Ukrainian folklore ditties upcycled into electro stompers. This enigmatic form of story-telling proved a hit with audiences, securing a 5th place finish and laying the groundwork for their third champions the following year.
The original trio of performers that make up the group Kalush (rapper Oleh Psiuk, multi-instrumentalist Ihor Didenchuk, and dancer Vlad Kurochka) were joined by sopilka player Vitalii Duzhyk and vocalists Tymofii Muzychuk and Oleksandr Slobodianyk to create Kalush Orchestra.
The band, once again, represents a Ukraine that looks both to its past and the future.
On stage, some members wore traditional Ukrainian historical dress from the early 20th century: Oleh was in an authentic festive keptar, a vest from the Hutsul, an ethnic group from the Carpathian Mountains, while Tymofiy wore the full costume of the same traditional origin. Oleh’s pink bucket hat, however, is a more modern touch.
We can't wait to see what Ukraine sends to the Eurovision Song Contest next year!