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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sweden Emerges Victorious in Eurovision Song Contest, Demonstrating Solidarity with Ukraine

The final of the Eurovision Song Contest, held on Saturday in Liverpool, England, was supposed to be Ukraine’s big night out.

Ukraine will host this year’s tournament since they came out on top in last year’s edition of the cherished, campy singing competition. However, since the Russian invasion showed no signs of stopping, the gathering had to be moved to Liverpool.

Tvorchi, Ukraine’s entry, was considered a frontrunner to win this year’s version of the lavish and, sometimes, bizarre event despite the fact that the country is now at war with Russia and millions of viewers will be tuning in to watch the competition live.

Instead, Swedes barged in on the party. Loreen, a pop artist, won Eurovision with her song “Tattoo,” a dance tune that builds in intensity with each lyric. The announcement was made at midnight in the M&S Bank Arena.

Loreen was the odds-on favourite to win the competition because to her infectious song and previous Eurovision victory in 2012. Because of her success, Eurovision-crazed Sweden will be the host country for the following year.

Tvorchi, the Ukrainian pop duet that competed, placed sixth.

The 67th edition of Eurovision, which began in 1956, is the most widely seen cultural event in the world. Competitors from all around Europe and beyond play their own original songs each year in the hopes of winning the hearts of viewers and the judges.

This year’s competition was organised by Britain’s national broadcaster, the BBC, and the BBC’s pledge to throw a celebration for war-torn Ukraine was palpable in Liverpool on Saturday. Fans of the Eurovision Song Contest could be seen all over the city waving Ukrainian flags, and there were hundreds of Ukrainian artworks displayed in public spaces.

This Saturday’s gathering in Kyiv provided a welcome distraction from the conflict outside. Eurovision fans congregated at the city’s Squat 17b pub to watch the programme, where they gave the Ukrainian Army a standing ovation.

The pub closed around 8:30 p.m. so patrons could go home before Kyiv’s daily curfew began at midnight, meaning supporters couldn’t stay for the duration of the game. A group of pals at one table continued to sing along, though.

The Liverpool event on Saturday was a clear display of European solidarity with Ukraine. The show began up with a video of Kalush Orchestra playing on a Kyiv metro car, and the crowd went wild when the band finally took the stage.

Television presenter Julia Sanina afterwards ventured into the crowd to interview Ukrainian refugees residing in Britain who had received deeply reduced tickets to the final. And Dutch pop sensation Duncan Laurence, joined by a choir in Kyiv via video, sang a powerful version of the show classic “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which became famous in Britain thanks to a cover by Gerry and the Pacemakers. The choir sang, “Keep the faith, keep the hope, and you’ll never walk alone.”

Russia, which was barred from competing last year due to its invasion of Ukraine, was not directly mentioned or criticised on the performance. Overt political comments are forbidden during Eurovision, since the competition is intended to be apolitical.

After Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was denied permission to speak during the final on Friday, this restriction sparked uproar in Britain. In a press statement, the European Broadcasting Union, the organisation in charge of Eurovision, said that “regrettably” President Zelensky’s presentation would have been in violation of EBU regulations.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters that Eurovision’s apolitical character wasn’t a sufficient reason shortly after the union’s decision. The spokesperson was quoted as saying, “The values and freedoms that President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine are fighting for are not political, they’re fundamental,” in a BBC article.

Saturday night, however, the nonpolitical rule was tested to its limits as numerous performers sang songs that alluded to an invasion by Russia. Tvorchi performed “Heart of Steel,” with the band’s rendition of the lines “Despite the pain, I continue my fight.”

Ukrainian TV anchor Julia Sanina came out after Loreen collected the Eurovision prize to express her gratitude to Liverpool for being “an amazing host on behalf of Ukraine.” She continued by paraphrasing this year’s competition’s slogan: “We will always be united by music.”

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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