First Listen: Ukraine Brings the History with “1944”

Because it’s not really a contest until someone has royally pissed off Russia.

Ukraine is back! We last saw them in 2014; Mariya Yaremchuk brought her hamster wheel along for a pretty great entry, before the country took a year off to handle some issues with their next door neighbor. Speaking of whom …

I LOVE EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT THIS ENTRY. The mixed-language lyrics, the foreboding and yet almost completely absent instrumentation, the effective use-not-overuse of CGI, Jamala’s amazing voice (she is a jazz and opera singer, y’all) and even the stupid little microphone pouch attached to the back of Jamala’s dresspants. Mostly I love that this entry pulls exactly zero punches about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, and manages to point the finger squarely at Russia without ever actually naming them.

My one problem with this entry: I honestly don’t see how it makes it to the Contest. Last year’s controversial song, Armenia’s “Face the Shadow” by a group named Genealogy, used much more oblique references and ended up having to change the name of the song (originally it was “Don’t Deny”). If the song does make it to the Contest stage, though? DOUZE POINTS. Seriously. I had the same reaction to this song as I did to last year’s “Love Injected” — meaning that I’m instantly and irrevocably obsessed with it.

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