Fresh from its Eurovision win, Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra released a new music clip Sunday featuring its hit “Stefania”. It features scenes of war-ravaged Ukraine as well as women wearing combat gear. The annual song contest has taken on more political tones due to Russia’s war.
Kalush frontman Oleh Psiuk stated that this is how Ukrainian mothers see themselves today. The video had been viewed millions of times within hours of its release. “We wanted to convey the message of Ukraine’s current state.”
After Kalush Orchestra won Ukraine’s third Eurovision victory, the video was made public hours later. The surge in popular votes from some 200 million viewers across 40 countries helped Britain win the grand finale. This win lifted Ukrainian spirits and was a strong affirmation for Ukrainian culture. Psiuk stated that Russia had invaded Ukraine.
The band members took photos outside the three-star Turin hotel and signed autographs. They then packed their own luggage into taxis to go to an interview with RAI, the Italian host broadcaster. After being granted special permission to leave Ukraine for the competition, they must return to Ukraine Monday. Most Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 cannot leave in the event of a fight.
This stark reality resulted in a bittersweet moment in Turin when Kalush vocalist Sasha Tab had the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to Yuliia, his wife, and their two children. They fled Ukraine one month ago and now live with a host family in Alba. Tab was holding his daughter in his arms as he drove her to the band’s hotel.
After Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, organizers banned Russia from the Eurovision Song Contest. This was in an effort to protect the contest’s integrity and promote friendship and diversity among nations.
Politics stepped in to the fray. Psiuk ended his winning performance on Sunday night with a plea from stage: “I ask everyone, please help Ukraine. Mariupol. He referred to the besieged steel mill in the strategic port city, Azovstal.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, praised the win and said he hoped Ukraine could host the contest next year. He also predicted that the “victorious chord” in the battle against the enemy was not far away.
Psiuk wrote “Stefania” as a tribute for his mother. However, since Russia’s invasion, it has become a national anthem. The lyrics promise: “I’ll never lose my way home, even though all roads are destroyed.”
New music video featuring women soldiers carrying children out from bombed-out buildings, greeting them in shelters, and then leaving them to board trains. According to the video credits, it was shot in areas that suffered the most destruction during the war like Bucha, Irpin and Borodyanka.
This video clearly was made before the band left Ukraine. It features members of the band and, presumably, actors who perform in the rubble.
It read, “Dedicated to the brave Ukrainian people and to the mothers protecting their kids, to all who gave their lives in order to our freedom.”
Ukrainians celebrated the win Sunday. The national rail operator announced that the train which passes through Kalush (the birthplace of Psiuk) will be renamed “Stefania Express.”
Svitlana Nekruten, a Kyiv resident, stated that every victory is important for Ukraine and Ukraine for each of us.
Albert Sokolov, a Mariupol evacuee, stated that he was certain that Ukraine would win.
He said in Kyiv Sunday, “I listened in Mariupol to this song when we were being bombarded so I was certain that they would win.”
Russians claimed that the vote was ultimately political but also indicated that Kalush Orchestra, Ukraine and other organizations had support.
Moscow resident Olga Shlyakhova stated that Eurovision is always about politically motivated choices. However, some situations require a particular choice. “Of course, most people support Ukrainians. Because they know it’s a tragedy, they can’t believe any other. They chose the winners with their hearts.
Anastasiya perfiryeva, another Moscow resident noted the importance of the popular vote in the victory.
“It was ordinary people that voted. They supported (the winners). Well done. In any case, I believe the team was strong and that the outside support is always appreciated.
Kalush Orchestra is made up of folklore specialists and mixes traditional folk songs with contemporary hip-hop in a strong defense for Ukrainian culture. This has been added to the meaning when Russia falsely claimed that Ukraine’s culture was not unique.
In his pink bucket hat, Psiuk said that the band isn’t trying to be cool with its unique blend of old- and new. However, it struck a chord and gained broad support, which helped propel Ukraine to victory.
He said, “We aren’t trying to be American hip-hop bands.” “We’re trying to show our culture, slightly mixed.”