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Ukraine’s most memorable Eurovision moments

12 May 2023 at 23:23 CEST
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra Wins at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Grand Final EBU / Corinne Cumming
The Eurovision Song Contest has been a story of success for Ukraine, and the country has brought us plenty of unforgettable moments.
Go_A - Ukraine - Grand Final - Eurovision Song Contest 2021 - Rotterdam Ahoy EBU / Thomas Hanses

Ukraine only joined the Eurovision family in 2003, but they took their first crown in just their second year. And they’ve had plenty of success since. Ukraine have given us some of the most memorable Eurovision moments, and now seems like a very good time to relive them. 

When Verka Serduchka became queen of the party banger

Where better place to start, than with Verka Serduchka and her iconic performance of Dancing Lasha Tumbai. The silver mirrored outfit and star headpiece, the unmatchable energy, and the catchy lyrics: “Sieben, sieben, ai lyu lyu, sieben, sieben, ein, zwei!” This was a definitive Eurovision moment, and we have it in our memories thanks to Ukraine.

When drag act Verka took to the stage in the 2007 Contest in Helsinki, she raised the roof. The stage came alive with 5 dancers, mirrorball video screens, and an up-tempo song that has since entered the Eurovision hall of fame. However, Verka didn’t quite snatch the Eurovision trophy, and came in second place to Serbia’s Marija Šerifović, who won with the song Molitva.

Listen to any Eurovision party playlist, and you can bet the Eurovision trophy that Verka will be on it. She told Europe to dance, and dance we did.

When Ruslana took home Ukraine’s first win

Almost 2 decades ago, Ukraine took home their first Eurovision win. Alongside flame jets and leather-clad dancers, Ruslana rocked the Eurovision 2004 stadium in Istanbul with her song Wild Dances and won the show with 280 points. 

As she stepped onto the stage, shed her fur cape, and got the audience clapping, it was clear something special was on the way. What came next was a powerful song with choreography to match. In fact, during the rehearsals she even broke one of the glass panels with her whip.

When Ukraine hosted Eurovision for the first time

After Ruslana’s epic 2004 win, Eurovision went to the Palace of Sports in Kyiv for the 2005 Contest, which was also Eurovision’s 50th anniversary. The slogan for the Contest was ‘Awakening,’ which reflected political developments in Ukraine at the time. Ruslana opened the Grand Final in a similar look to her 2004 costume, but this time with sparkles. Needless to say, she rocked the arena once again.

Despite the eventual success, the show nearly didn’t happen. The Orange Revolution had caused political turmoil in the country, and preparations for Eurovision got held up. But the show did go on, and history was made in more ways than one. Not only did Ukraine host for the first time, it was also the largest international event ever staged in the country.

When Jamala moved Europe

In 2016, Ukraine got their hands on the Eurovision trophy once again, and this time it was thanks to Jamala’s 1944. The song, written by Jamala herself, is about her great grandmother and the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. The singer is the daughter of a  Crimean Tatar father and Armenian mother.

After her win, Jamala said: “I don't have the words to describe my feelings in English. It was amazing. It was crazy. I was sure that, if you sing about truth, it can really touch people.”

Jamala’s emotional investment in the song clearly resonated with Europe, because she collected 534 points in the Grand Final and took home the win.

When Kalush Orchestra brought the heart of Ukraine to Eurovision

Kalush Orchestra’s win at Eurovision 2022 in Turin with their song Stefania will likely be an unforgettable Eurovision moment — the iconic pink bucket hat, the combination of traditional folk music and rap, and the song's rousing chorus. The song somehow had everyone dancing, but having their heartstrings tugged at the same time.

Thanks to Kalush Orchestra’s performance, Ukraine took the win and were named as hosts for Eurovision 2023. 

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Grand Final EBU/Sarah Louise Bennett

When Ukraine came to Liverpool

When Ukraine was unable to host Eurovision 2023 in the country due to the ongoing war, the United Kingdom handed over Liverpool as the host city. Ukrainian culture filled Liverpool, but one of the most poignant moments was the interval act in the First Semi-Final, when Rebecca Ferguson and Alyosha came together to perform Welcome To Our House and Ordinary World. As the singers performed the moving number, a videoscape transformed the stage. Cities crumbled, messages between loved ones pinged in, and the Ukrainian flag became a set of wings.

With the United Kingdom hosting Eurovision 2023 on behalf of Ukraine, some of Ukraine’s previous Eurovision competitors are coming back to the stage. More memorable moments are in the making.