Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra Releases New War Video After Winning Eurovision – Billboard

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, fresh off their Eurovision victory, released a new music video on Sunday (May 15) for their winning hit “Stefania” that features scenes of war-torn Ukraine and women in combat gear, while the annual song contest was developing more and more. more political tones given the war in Russia.

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“This is how we see Ukrainian mothers today,” Kalush leader Oleh Psiuk said of the video, which had already racked up millions of views within hours of its release. “We were trying to convey the message of what Ukraine looks like today.”

The video was released hours after the Kalush Orchestra gave Ukraine its third Eurovision victory, moving ahead of Great Britain in the grand final thanks to a surge of popular votes from some of the estimated 200 million viewers from 40 participating countries. The victory lifted Ukrainian spirits and represented a strong affirmation of Ukrainian culture, which Psiuk said was “under attack” by the Russian invasion.

The band members posed for photos and signed autographs outside their three-star hotel in Turin on Sunday, while loading their own luggage into taxis on their way to an interview with Italian broadcaster RAI before heading home. They are due to return to Ukraine on Monday after receiving special permission to leave the country to attend the competition; most Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to go out in case they are needed to fight.

That harsh reality led to a bittersweet moment in Turin on Sunday, when Kalush frontman Sasha Tab had to say goodbye to his wife Yuliia and their two children, who fled Ukraine a month ago and live with an Italian host family nearby. from Alba. She and the children were at the band’s hotel and she cried as Tab held his daughter in his arms before they got into the taxi.

Russia was banned from participating in the Eurovision Song Contest this year after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a move organizers say seeks to keep politics out of the contest that promotes diversity and friendship between the nations.

However, politics entered the fray, with Psiuk ending his winning performance on Sunday night with a plea from the stage: “I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now!” he said he, referring to the besieged steel plant in the strategic port city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the victory, saying he hoped that Ukraine would be able to host the contest next year, predicting that “the victorious chord in the battle against the enemy is not far off.”

“Stefania” was written by lead singer Psiuk as a tribute to his mother, but since the invasion of Russia it has become a hymn to the motherland, with lyrics that promise: “I will always find my way home, even if all roads fail.” they are destroyed. .”

The new music video features female soldiers pulling children out of bombed-out buildings, greeting children in shelters, and leaving them behind as they board trains. The video credits say that it was filmed in cities that have seen some of the worst destruction of the war, including Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka and Hostomel.

The video was clearly made before the band left Ukraine, as it features the band members and presumably the actors performing in the rubble.

“Dedicated to the brave Ukrainian people, to the mothers who protect their children, to all those who gave their lives for our freedom,” he said.

Ukrainians hailed the victory on Sunday as a much-needed boost, with the national rail operator announcing that the train passing through Kalush, Psiuk’s birthplace, will be renamed the “Stefania Express.”

“Each small victory is important for every Ukrainian, for our Ukraine, for each of us,” said Svitlana Nekruten, a resident of kyiv.

Albert Sokolov, an evacuee from Mariupol, said he had no doubt Ukraine would emerge victorious.

“I heard this song in Mariupol when we were being bombed so I was sure they would win,” he said in kyiv on Sunday.

The Russians said the vote was ultimately political, but it also showed that the Kalush Orchestra and Ukraine had support.

“Eurovision is always about politicized elections; some situations require a certain choice,” said Moscow resident Olga Shlyakhova. “Of course, I think most people support the Ukrainians. They cannot think differently, because they understand that it is a tragedy. that’s why they chose [the winners] with their hearts.”

Anastasiya Perfiryeva, another Moscow resident, highlighted the popular vote that was so decisive in the victory.

“It was the common people who voted. They supported (the winners). Well done. I think in any case the team was strong and external support is always nice.”

Kalush Orchestra includes folklore experts and mixes traditional folk melodies and contemporary hip-hop in a strong defense of Ukrainian culture that has taken on additional meaning as Russia has tried to falsely claim that Ukraine’s culture is not unique.

Psiuk, wearing his trademark pink bucket hat, said the band isn’t trying to be “cool” with its unusual mix of old and new, but that it clearly struck a chord and found widespread popular support that led to Ukraine. to victory.

“We’re not trying to be like an American hip-hop band,” he said. “We are trying to present our culture, slightly mixed.”