For 11 weeks, Ukrainians have been braving struggle, destruction and loss. However on Saturday, they may very well be celebrating victory: The nation’s rousing, hip-hop infused track “Stefania” is favored to win the Eurovision Track Contest, the cultural phenomenon that helped launch Abba and Celine Dion and is watched yearly by 200 million individuals.
“Stefania,” an anthemic track from Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, was initially written to honor the mom of the group’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk. However because the struggle, it has been reinterpreted as a tribute to Ukraine as a motherland. The track contains lyrics that roughly translate to, “You may’t take my willpower from me, as I bought it from her,” and “I’ll at all times discover my method dwelling, even when the roads are destroyed.”
The wildly fashionable Eurovision Track Contest, a famously over-the-top show of kitsch, whose previous winners embody a Finnish heavy metal monster band keen on blowing up smoking slabs of meat onstage, has taken on notably political overtones this yr.
In February, the occasion’s organizers banned Russia from collaborating within the contest, a showcase meant to advertise European unity and cultural trade, citing fears that Russia’s inclusion would harm its status.
The transfer underlined Russia’s intensifying estrangement from the worldwide group, together with within the realm of tradition. Russia started competing within the track contest, the world’s largest, in 1994, and has competed greater than 20 occasions. Its participation has been a cultural touchstone of kinds for the nation’s rebound and engagement with the world after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia got here to energy within the wake of the political and financial chaos of the Nineties.
In 2008, when Dima Bilan, a Russian pop star, received Eurovision with the track “Believe,” Mr. Putin weighed in promptly with congratulations, thanking him for additional burnishing Russia’s picture.
It’s not the primary time that politics have encroached on the competition, which premiered in 1956. In 2005, Ukraine’s entry track was rewritten after being deemed too political as a result of it celebrated the Orange Revolution. When Dana Worldwide, an Israeli transgender lady, received in 1998 along with her hit track “Diva,” rabbis accused her of flouting the values of the Jewish state.
Several bookmakers have mentioned that Ukraine is by far the presumptive favourite to win the competitors this yr. Winners are dete rmined based mostly on votes from nationwide juries and viewers at dwelling.
Ukraine’s entry “Stefania” comes from a band that blends conventional Ukrainian people music with rap and hip-hop. Kalush Orchestra introduced the semifinal viewers in Turin, Italy, to its toes on Tuesday with a spirited efficiency that despatched them by way of to Saturday’s Grand Remaining.
The band traveled for Eurovision with particular permission to bypass a martial legislation stopping most Ukrainian males from leaving the nation, in line with the Ukrainian public broadcasting firm Suspilne.
Battle has necessitated different changes. The Ukrainian commentator for the present, Timur Miroshnychenko, has been broadcasting from a bomb shelter.
A photo posted by Suspilne confirmed the veteran presenter at a desk in a bunkerlike room, surrounded by computer systems, wires, a digital camera and eroding partitions that exposed patches of brick beneath. It was not clear what metropolis he was in.
The bunker had been ready to forestall disruptions from air raid sirens, Mr. Miroshnychenko advised BBC Radio 5 Dwell. He mentioned Ukrainians love the competition and had been “attempting to catch any peaceable second” they might.
“Nothing goes to interrupt the printed of Eurovision,” he mentioned.