A Ukrainian band is seen as the favorite to win a popular European television competition as the country continues to resist Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
Bookmakers have given the Kalush Orchestra’s song “Stefania” a 46 percent chance of winning the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, which has been televised annually across the continent since 1956.
Oleh Psiuk, 27, the band’s rapping frontman, insists his song will win the competition on merit, not a wave of support for his war-torn homeland, according to The Times of London.
The competition is decided by both a jury of music industry experts and viewers at home.
“Now we have first place in the bookies, but before the start of the war we were fifth. It turns out that people really like our song, so a big thanks to everyone who paid attention to Ukrainian music,” Psiuk said.
“Stefania,” a love song to Psiuk’s mother that includes elements of traditional music and rap, was written before the war began but has taken on a new meaning as fans equate the lyrics with motherland Ukraine, the artist told the newspaper.
It includes stanzas like “I’ll always find my way home, even if all the roads are ruined” and “Mother sing me the lullaby, I want to hear your kind word.”
“Our song is loved by Europeans not only because of the war. The more people pay attention to Ukraine, the more they hear about the song, so this song is loved by an ever wider audience,” he said.
According to the Times of London, members of the Kalush Orchestra needed special government permission to leave Ukraine to take part in the finals of the competition in Turin, Italy next week. All able-bodied men under the age of 60 must remain in Ukraine and take up arms against the Russians.
Winning the competition would “really boost the country’s morale,” Psiuk told the newspaper.
Expert observers of the competition told the newspaper that such a “morale” boost was likely.
“You’re going to win the public vote by a landslide,” said Paul Jordan, who has a Ph.D. Diploma thesis on the Eurovision Song Contest and later worked for the organization. “That [expert] The jury’s vote will be different and difficult to predict.”
Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest twice since it first appeared 19 years ago.
Russia has been banned from participating in this year’s event.