Analasyis of Ukrainian ESC contributions

Last semester Helena and I discussed whether we should make an analysis of the songs contributed to the Eurovision Song Contest by eastern European countries. This was supposed to analyze the quality, style and score of the performances from a political point of view. 

Our main focus was Ukraine who has gone through a big change in recent years. The part of my and Helena’s analysis of the scores that Ukraine has received in the last couple of years is hard to do as it mostly depends on the quality of the performances in comparison to those of the other competing countries. That’s why I will leave it out of this ‘report’.

Here is a summary of all Ukrainian contributions to the Eurovision Song Contest from 2003 to 2009: 

If you compare all the acts with one another the trend is pretty clear. First of all, the styling of the performers have improved and moved from the almost embarrassing white suit and bad hairdo of Olexander Ponomaryov in 2003 (that looked bad and hopelessly out of date even then) to something in the same class as other southern European singers 2008 and 2009. The southern European style in costume, hair and makeup in this competition  is for me defined as very short skirts, glitter, lots of colour, high heels and that big, wavy hairdo that all female singers from Iceland to Turkey have worn the last couple of years. 

The southern European trend is also visible in the general sound of the songs who tend to be as flaming and colourful as the singers clothes and also tend do have an eastern Mediterranean sound to it, much alike the contributions of Greece and Turkey and not at al like the performances contributed to the competition by Belarus and some of the Baltic states during the same period. This marks Ukraine’s will to define itself as a southern European country more than it wants to be associated with its former siblings in the Soviet family.

One thing that is also clearly noticable is the language. All contributions have been performed in english (except from the song form 2005 which I will come to later) and in pretty bad english too. The worst example of bad english is that of Ruslana in 2004 but since then things have improved greatly. Another fun example of Ukraine trying to define itself as more belonging to the ‘old Europe’ than to the former Soviet states is the performance from 2007, performed by Verka Serduchka.

The singer and drag show artist Verka Serduchka normally perform his songs in russian. For this performance though he sings in two other big European languages – english and german. This for me is a clear statement of how Ukraine sees itself, or more how the country wishes to se itself.

To bring up the question about the Orange Revolution that took place in late november 2004 – january 2004, I have to say that it has clearly put it’s marks on the songs Ukraine sent to the competition in those years. 2004 was the year Ukraine took its first steps towards sending more western European songs. The song then was ‘Wild Dances’ performed by Ruslana and as most of you remember it actually won that years Eurovision Song Contest. The year after, in 2005, the theme for everyone was obvious. That years number was a rap song (does it get anymore western than that?) performed by the band GreenJolly, the singer dressed in a t-shirt with Che Guevara’s face on it and dancers in handcuffs. The song was partially sung in ukrainian, partially english and has a clear revolutionary motive.

It will be interesting to se what kind of song Ukraine will send to the competition this year in Oslo, mostly because of the quite recent presidential elections where the more Russian oriented candidate Viktor Yanukovych won. Hopefully this will show in the style of the performance sent, that way my theory is confirmed. The tendency towards a more Russian style could be hard to prove though, as Russia’s contributions have been excellent and anything from those of for example Latvia and Belarus.

These kind of analyses may seem silly, and at first I thought about doing this as a joke, but I then realised that the Eurovision Song Contest is a really good instrument to use as a contributing countries send what they think is a good song, but also what they think that they can be proud of in an international context.

I would be happy to receive a comment of this text by you, dear reader. What do you think about my analysis? And what do you think of making political analyses in popular culture?



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3 responses to “Analasyis of Ukrainian ESC contributions

  1. Pingback: Sanningen om studier i Eurasiakunskap « Zara i Österled

  2. rasmusnl

    Cool! I got interested and did a google-frenzy on ukrainian eurovision 2010

    There seems to be a big ukrainan ESC-controversy going on. First of all, they’ve been fined two times – for delaying the election of their entrant, and for not paying the competition fee in time.
    The first entry by “Vasyl Lazarovych” got cancelled for strange reasons regarding the rules. And that’s not it – the finalist “Alyosha” got disqualified for using a song from 2008 which has already been available for a long time on the internet.

    Now, it has finally been decided that this “Alyosha” will compete with another song.

    ..and here is an interesting post from a travel forum (according to the poster, there seems to be a Yanukovych-connection to the controversies)

  3. Thanks a lot Rasmus! I love that you allways look up your facts and keep us up to date with fun and interesting news.

    I guess you can say, with a reference to the last article you linked in your comment, that president Yanukovych really has put his mark on this years competition. Not in the style of the apperance of the performance itself, but in the way it’s been selected. That man is so brave to, now for the second time, intervene in an election in such obvious ways.

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