Ukraine, You Saw, You Conquered



Ukraine, You Saw, You Conquered

by Luke Owen

We bring terrible news.

Ukraine have had to withdraw from the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.

Their national broadcaster, NTU, is understandably a little preoccupied reporting on the dreadful actions of Russian-backed separatists in the east. To put this into perspective, imagine the BBC spunking money on a selection process and hotels for Graham Norton while Ireland is trying to annex Scotland on the grounds of their ‘shared linguistic heritage’.

This is dreadful news, of course, for many everyday people in Ukraine’s south and east, but also for fans of pop across the European continent. And, by ‘fans of pop’, I mean the gays.

You see, Ukraine has a pretty impressive knack of sending along great songs from one contest to the next – in fact, they’ve averaged 143 points a year since their debut in 2003, never failing to reach the final. During that run they’ve scored eight top 10 finishes, one win, finished runners up twice, and were in bronze position in 2013.

Now there will be detractors who argue that it’s all political and blah, blah, blah, but the fact remains that modern Eurovision, with its 50/50 jury/televote split, is really about which is the best song. The best song sung by a pretty girl in English, mostly – as the rest of this article evidences.

However, in this instance Russia is making it political. Russia famously hates gays, and by destabilising Ukraine it is waging war on Europe’s homosexuals by cutting off their supplies – of pop.

Let’s see what’s in the store cupboard:

Gaitana – Be My Guest


Gaitana wasn’t a popular choice among Ukrainians in 2012 – something to do with ‘not representing traditional Ukraine’, which approximately translates as ‘she’s mixed race’ – but she did her best to appeal to everyone, everywhere. For instance, there’s lots of football motifs in the official video (Ukrainians love the beautiful game) while those sports kit-clad backing dancers were swapped for oiled up shirtless chaps at the finals.

Her track was blessed with a killer singalong ‘na na na’ bit in the chorus, and was sonically somewhere between Samantha Mumba and Ultra Nate. Which is, as you can imagine, pretty phenomenal.

Final placing: 15th, 65 points

Entered chart: did not chart

Svetlana Loboda – Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)

Svetlana Loboda

2009 was the year of Svetlana Loboda, a former girlband member (woo!) whose personal style is probably best described as Holly Valance recreating Christina Milian’s Dip It Low video. The live performance featured a ‘Hell Machine’, for which Svetlana re-mortgaged her home and which now lives in her father’s garage (ACTUAL true story.)

Track down a copy of the official DVD and you can sort of tell that the Russian-hosted 2009 contest was paid for while oil prices were still buoyant and before Cyprus’s banking system wiped a few million roubles off assorted oligarchs’ balance sheets. Things have been marginally less ‘hyper-produced’ in the intervening years, which is a disappointing development for everyone involved really.

Final placing: 12th, 76 points

Entered chart: 30/05/2009

Peak chart position: 167

Weeks on chart: 1

Mariya Yaremchuk – Tick Tock

Mariya Yaremchuk digi single

In 2014, the Yooks scored another impressive result, especially – as any Eurovisionphile will attest – considering Mariya Yaremchuk was first on the bill come final day. While Russia’s twins with the intertwined hair were getting booed by the possibly-a-bit-gay audience, Ukraine got a rousing reception – and finished just above them in the final standings.

Not to be outdone by the aforementioned Ms Loboda, Mariya’s on-stage presentation featured a not-unattractive man in an oversized hamster wheel. Everyone needs a USP, right?

Final placing: 6th, 113 points

Entered chart: 24/05/2014

Peak chart position: 190

Weeks on chart: 1

Ani Lorak – Shady Lady


By far the greatest injustice was 2008, however. Strut on down to London’s legendary Royal Vauxhall Tavern on the right night and you can still witness the crowd going wild in the aisles for this nonsensical belter from Ani Lorak (real name Karolina – read it backwards.)

With Ukraine having finished second in 2007 with Verka Serduchka – a sort of Timmy Mallet dressed as The Tin Man character – Ani also finished the night as the runner up. Behind (you guessed it) Russia.

Proof, if any were needed, that we need world peace. For the love of pop.

Final placing: 2nd, 230 points

Entered chart: did not chart

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